We’re titillated. Oh, yes, we’re titillated. After the endless Obama-Romney campaign, with the bland leading the bland, we’re finally back to tawdry scandal.
The formerly untouchable General David Petraeus, head of the CIA, messes with his hardbody biographer. Then the top general in Afghanistan gets in trouble for sending thousands of emails to the woman who tipped off an FBI agent, who in turn emailed shirtless pictures of himself to… Can you just feel the rhetoric, people?
No, we can’t either. But all those emails raised privacy questions, which produced a good quote in the New York Times, which gives us today’s figure.
If the C.I.A. director can get caught, it’s pretty much open season on everyone else.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of theElectronic Privacy Information Center in Washington
Figure of Speech: argumentum a fortiori (ah-for-tee-OR-ee), argument from strength.
The a fortiori argument goes like this: If it works for a hard case, it will certainly work for an easy one.You’d think the head of the CIA could conduct a clandestine affair, you know, clandestinely. And if he can’t, think what government investigators could do with the emails of us non-spy types. (You’ll find a fortiori on page 7 of Thank You for Arguing.)
Figaro uses fortiori with his work all the time. “Hey,” he tells clients. “High school kids are learning these techniques. Sophisticated persuaders like you can learn them, too.” Of course, high school kids also learn calculus. But Figaro doesn’t mention that.
So what’s your own best argument from strength? Put it in the comments below. No shirtless photos, please.