Definitions

read for

For the children (politics)

The phrase "for the children", or "think of the children," is an appeal to emotion and can be used to support an irrelevant conclusion (both logical fallacies) when used in an argument. The phrase may also be seen as a valid appeal to a moral value that may be the basis for logical argument or action.

Reasoning

  1. X is good for children
  2. Anything good for children is good
  3. Therefore, X is good

Logical fallacy

"For the children" suffers from the logical fallacies of appeal to emotion and irrelevant conclusion. This argument can simply appeal to the listener's emotion by connecting an argument to innocent children that many people feel an instinctual need to protect. Using such an argument may not even be related to the topic. For example, a politician could claim that a policy to ban oil drilling would protect the children, even if the oil drilling was in the ocean. In this example, the politician is appealing to others' emotional desire to protect children. However, any impact it would have on children would be indirect, so "protecting the children" with this policy is rather irrelevant. It also can contain an abdication of responsibility of "think of the children, so I don't have to".

Examples

  • A 2006 ballot initiative before the voters of Cook County, Illinois read, "For the health and safety of children and the entire community, shall the State of Illinois enact a comprehensive ban on the manufacture, sale, delivery and possession of military-style assault weapons and .50 caliber rifles?
  • Rod Serling: "For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own — for the children, and the children yet unborn.
  • "Won't someone think of the children?", a critical essay from USA Today.
  • The phrase "Won't somebody please think of the children?" is a running gag on The Simpsons, most often spoken by the character Helen Lovejoy, the minister's wife.
  • "We are fighting for freedom for our children every bit as much as in any war we've ever been in." Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).
  • In the 2008 New Zealand election, this is a theme of the Green Party's billboard campaign, including a picture of a young girl with the words "Vote for me, and a baby in a pram giving the viewer the finger, under the caption "Vote Green, or your grandchildren will be really pissed off!.

References

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