Tortured Analogies

The tortured analogy is a device used by the ignorant (or those preaching to the ignorant) usually in an attempt to make something sound bad by fabricating a non-existent comparability to something horrific.


“Serving on that committee is like watching the extermination of the Jews in concentration camps.”

No, it’s not.

In political terms, the tortured analogy is often used because the ignorant (or the one preaching to the ignorant) would rather not addresss the actual facts of the issue and so tries to make the issue itself seem ridiculous to short-circuit real discussion.

We see this in drug policy a lot.

“If you want to legalize drugs, why don’t you just go ahead and legalize rape while you’re at it?”

It’s a classic tortured analogy misdirection. Of course, my favorite response to that is a rather facetious “If you don’t know the difference between drugs and rape, you’re not going to get invited to the good parties.”

All of us know why that’s a tortured analogy. It’s an attempt to avoid any real discussion of the issues. Drug transactions are consensual, rape is not. Drugs are demand commodities; rape is not. If you arrest a drug dealer, it creates an immediate job opening caused by demand, so the net effect of the arrest is an increase in drug dealers, whereas if you arrest a rapist, you get the rapist off the street, and it doesn’t result in a demand for new rapists. The illegality of drugs makes them so valuable that corruption in law enforcement and other areas inevitably ensues; the illegality of rape doesn’t make rape valuable.

These things are completely incomparable.

So here, my friends, for your amusement, is the Tortured Analogy of the Day!

This comes from the Katz Litterbox at the Pacovilla Corrections blog. Howie Katz is a former law enforcement officer and retired professor of criminal justice.

Law Enforcement For Pedophilia

A prominent group of former law enforcement officials announced the formation of Law Enforcement for Pedophilia (LEP), an organization whose goal is to repeal the laws against pedophilia.

“I was a police officer for 34 years, the last six as chief of police in Grossville,” retired law enforcement veteran Norm Stoner told the press conference held to announce the formation of LEP. “At one point in my career, I had an epiphany. I came to the appreciation that police officers could be doing better things with their time and that we were causing more harm than good by arresting pedophiles. My position is that we need to end the prohibition against pedophilia. We need to replace our Victorian laws by following the lead of Thailand and other enlightened countries that allow sexual relations between adults and children.”

The formation of LEP is ridiculous, isn’t it? Well, it’s not much more ridiculous than Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a tiny group of former law enforcement officials urging an end to the war on drugs and advocating the decriminalization of recreational drug use.

Actually, to compose Norm Stoner’s absurd LEP statement, I paraphrased a statement about the war on drugs made by LEAP member Norm Stamper, former police chief of Seattle.

Congratulations, Howie! You have the ability to paraphrase.

Taking a criminal justice class from you must have been like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.

I think I’ll sit back with a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster and let my readers take your silliness apart.

[Thanks, Tom]
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31 Responses to Tortured Analogies

  1. strayan says:

    We are all doomed if people think he has a point.

    Which means essentially, we’re doomed.

  2. Ben says:

    What a juvenile response from this cop. I guess that’s what prohibitionists are left to work with. Bereft of logic or reason to back up their arguments, some devolve to playground name-calling. Or, of course, their preferred modus operandi: violence.

  3. tintguy says:

    That was a kick!… This is a joke, right?

  4. eBeavis says:

    Hee hee…Norm Stoner.

  5. malcolm kyle says:

    My dear Mr Katz, It is extremely disingenuous to compare laws that are obviously there to protect us from each other, such as those pertaining to Pedophilia, Rape and Murder, with laws solely and foolishly designed to protect individuals from themselves –such as prohibition. If it’s not directly hurting you, and you forbid it, then you can be sure that it will create unforeseen circumstances which WILL have an adverse affect on YOUR wellbeing. While it is true that taking any drug, including alcohol and tobacco, can sometimes indirectly affect others, this exact same argument was used to implement and painfully prolong alcohol prohibition. But wife battering and child neglect were definitely not curtailed, or even ameliorated, by alcohol prohibition. Prohibition actually increased usage and all related problems, while bootleggers, just like many of our present day drug lords, became rich and powerful folk heroes as a result.

    Prohibition has given us huge corruption. Prohibition has given us the planet’s highest incarceration rate. Prohibition has given us civil war in Mexico. Prohibition has given us an un-winnable war in Afghanistan. And Prohibition has given us a far higher rate of drug-use than in all other countries with a more sensible policy.

    We should all be aware by now of the difference between sensible public policies designed to protect us, and idiotic public policies designed by despotic imbeciles to create as much mayhem as possible.

    When we regulate the use of something we do NOT automatically condone it’s use; the regulations concerning alcohol and tobacco are there to protect us from the vast increase in criminality that would otherwise exist if these substances were not regulated.

    A regulated and licensed distribution network for all mind altering substances would put responsible adult supervision in between children and premature access to drug distribution outlets. Regulated and licensed distribution would reflect and respect society’s values, thus preventing children obtaining easy access to these dangerous substances. What we need is legalized regulation, but what we have at the moment is a non-regulated black market to which everybody, including our children, has easy access, and where all the vast profits go to organized crime and terrorists.

    Mr Katz, you may now hang your head in abject shame, sir!

    • strayan says:

      malcolm, just be aware of this graph when you make claims about the increase in alcohol consumption during National Prohibition:

      • malcolm kyle says:

        Thanks! The graph appears to support the claim that consumption increased after implementation of prohibition.

        We also have the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings of 1926:

        “For the first time in our history, full faith and confidence in and respect for the hitherto sacred Constitution of the United States has been weakened and impaired because this terrifying invasion of natural rights has been engrafted upon the fundamental law of our land, and experience has shown that it is being wantonly and derisively violated in every State, city, and hamlet in the country.”

        “It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature. It has brought into our midst the intemperate woman, the most fearsome and menacing thing for the future of our national life.”

        “It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law.”

        And we also have the following paragraphs from WALTER E. EDGE’s testimony, a Senator from New Jersey:

        “Any law that brings in its wake such wide corruption in the public service, increased alcoholic insanity, and deaths, increased arrests for drunkenness, home barrooms, and development among young boys and young women of the use of the flask never heard of before prohibition can not be successfully defended.”

        “I unhesitatingly contend that those who recognize existing evils and sincerely endeavor to correct them are contributing more toward temperance than those who stubbornly refuse to admit the facts.”

        “The opposition always proceeds on the theory that give them time and they will stop the habit of indulging in intoxicating beverages. This can not be accomplished. We should recognize our problem is not to persist in the impossible, but to recognize a situation and bring about common-sense temperance through reason.”

        “This is not a campaign to bring back intoxicating liquor, as is so often claimed by the fanatical dry. Intoxicating liquor is with us to-day and practically as accessible as it ever was. The difference mainly because of its illegality, is its greater destructive power, as evidenced on every hand. The sincere advocates of prohibition welcome efforts for real temperance rather than a continuation of the present bluff.”

        And here is Julien Codman’s testimony, who was a member of the Massachusetts bar.

        “we will produce additional evidence on this point, that it is not appropriate legislation to enforce the eighteenth amendment; that it has done incredible harm instead of good; that as a temperance measure it has been a pitiable failure; that it as failed to prevent drinking; that it has failed to decrease crime; that, as a matter of fact, it has increased both; that it has promoted bootlegging and smuggling to an extent never known before”

        “We believe that the time has come for definite action, but it is impossible to lay before Congress any one bill which, while clearly within the provisions of the Constitution, will be a panacea for the evils that the Volstead Act has caused. We must not be vain enough to believe, as the prohibitionists do, that the age-old question of the regulation of alcohol can be settled forever by the passage of a single law. With the experience of the Volstead law as a warning, it behooves us to proceed with caution, one step at a time, to climb out of the legislative well into which we have been pushed.”

        “If you gentlemen are satisfied, after hearing the evidence supplemented by the broad general knowledge which each of you already possesses, that the remedy that will tend most quickly to correct the wretched social conditions that now exist, to promote temperance, find to allay the discontent and unrest that the Volstead Act has caused, is to be found in the passage of one of the proposed bills legalizing the production of beer of an alcoholic content of 4 per cent or less. We do not claim that it will do away with all the evils produced by attempted prohibition, but it would be a step in the right direction.”

      • Duncan20903 says:

        You legalizers are always splitting hairs. The war on (some) drugs isn’t about results, it’s about good intentions. I’d ask if you people understand the difference but we know for a fact that the legalizers don’t care about, or are even capable of looking at something that’s intended to better our civilization and deprive Cheech & Chong of their ill got gain from making fun of all the traditions we as Americans hold dear. Just what kind of a message do you think it sends the children if we discard our good intentions and demand actual results?

      • Duncan20903 says:

        Well this is off topic, so let me apologize in advance. It seems that the Blow family is trying to make a name for themselves:

        “CHARLOTTE — A former Lansing police officer who was convicted of leaving two gas stations without paying and passing a bad check will serve 83 days in jail after having his probation terminated, officials said.

        Officials said Jerry Blow, 43, submitted fake or altered documentation that was intended to show he had passed Breathalyzer tests that were required as part of his probation in Eaton County.”

        Of course it was just 11 days ago when we ridiculed Charlie Blow in this very column for his op-ed in the New York Times:

  6. Chris says:

    My favorite recent tortured analogy:

    Should we legalize murder because then there would be less arrests? Just because legalization would lessen the load on our law enforcement doesn’t mean that its the right thing to do.

    The second argument: “Legalizing marijuana would deprive pushers of their illegal, expensive market, for all of the addicts would have their needs met legally.” Again, this argument speaks nothing as to what is right. Let’s say there’s a serial killer stalking innocent victims. Should the government say: “To deprive this killer of his victims, let’s kill them before he does. Then, he’ll be deprived of his ‘market.’?” This is ridiculous.

    Author is Drue Berry. Just putting his name in another place on the internet that can’t be erased so he can be ridiculed 30 years from now.

  7. Eridani says:

    Well, Mr. Howie Katz-Litterbox sure has an imagination. It’s really funny that he’s taking it so seriously. Interestingly, Mr. Litterbox was a refugee who escaped from Nazi Germany. Hell, he should have joined them if he is supporting the Gestapo-like enforcement of our current drug laws!

    A word of advice for you Mr. Katz: don’t put the word “litterbox” in your blog title…people probably won’t take you seriously. I mean, they wouldn’t take you seriously anyway after reading your inane banter. Though Mr. Katz seems unaware of the irony…

  8. darkcycle says:

    Irony? Aptly named! After all, a litterbox is where kitty goes to drop stinky little nuggets.

  9. Servetus says:

    Really bad case of cognitive dissonance for Mr. Litterbox.

    The world didn’t end. A healthy percentage of healthy adults played contact sports with non-alcohol/non-tobacco drugs for most their lives, with no harm to themselves or others. Encounters with the law, notwithstanding.

    Like anyone disappointed the world is still here, both end-timers and prohibitionists will redouble their efforts to preach that prosperity and the end of demon drugs is just around the corner; or the end of the world is coming, depending on which spin is necessary to get more funding for next year.

    A trillion dollars spent on a drug war and all we have are thousands of cult-minded parasitic bureaucrats eating their free lunch at our expense.

  10. Fairuse says:

    Gargleblaster, now THAT’S funny!
    thanx fer puttin a grin on my face after the frown Howie the Dick put there.

  11. DdC says:

    CC: Raw Opium: U2b Official Trailer
    The Best Documentary of the Year

    The world is in a state of decay thanks in part to the USA government and its greedy policies. Those destructive policies include the county’s hypocritical approach to fighting drugs. full story

    Evaluating the Drug War, By the Numbers
    Jun 21 2011
    At the estimated cost of $1 trillion, the War on Drugs has triggered the mass incarceration, mostly of black and brown people through harsh penalties for non-violent drug violations like simple possession.

    The Drug War Created the Cartels.
    Only Ending it Can Destroy Them

    Hypocrisy, Locked And Loaded
    US NY: Editorial: New York Times 20 Jun 2011

  12. kaptinemo says:

    At first, I thought to add my tuppence to his comment section, but why grace it with the traffic?

    The prohib mind (and that is what comprises the majority of his audience) is largely impervious to logic, particularly when that logic threatens a paycheck.

    But they do understand – in the dimmest, most inchoate way possible – that when ‘their own’ start making the same observations as their opponents that the entire enterprise they derive sustenance from is inherently immoral and corrupt, and that those who’ve become ‘heretics’ from the Church of the Holy Drug War are becoming an even greater threat than their original opponents because said heretics have the cachet of having been a part of the machinery and their protests are being taken seriously by the Media, then they begin to fear for the future of that enterprise…and act in a thoroughly predictable fashion. As has Mr. Katz.

    And having had cats (I didn’t say ‘own’, as no one truly owns a cat) I can’t help but think that the choice of a litterbox for an ensign had to be a Freudian slip. It’s just too appropriate.

  13. Maria says:

    Guys like Howie and Berry display a profoundly deep and disturbing ignorance of consensual actions, not to say anything about the liberty of choice.

    Hell, they seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that other human beings are in fact other human beings separate from them. And isn’t that something we’re supposed to have figured out by the age of six?

    They seem not to understand how other people can choose to do things that they themselves wouldn’t do. I guess, due in part to this cognitive dissonance they always seem to fall back into a corner; if they would not do it then it MUST be a crime for someone else to.

    Also every time I hear the “well you might as well legalize rape” argument (I’ve heard it often enough) … I get the urge to go all stabby and someones ass. This and arguments like it reveal a mindbogglingly creepy and anti-social mentality.

    • Windy says:

      Maria, “if they would not do it then it MUST be a crime for someone else to.”

      Actually it is more like: “if it is not a crime then I will be too tempted to try it, so it MUST remain a crime, to keep ME from doing it.”

      There is also the groups of people who are so afraid that somewhere, somehow, some people are having fun, “and we can’t have that because God doesn’t like us to have fun until we get to Heaven”.

  14. Yage Panther says:

    From the prohibionist’s mind set: Ere to comparing weed with alcohol please check similarites with pedophilia…..

  15. palemalemarcher says: Governor Scott Scheme for those applying for relief are still going foward. The plan for state employees has been suspended pending lawsuits!

  16. nice work on the comments on katz’ blog guys.

    here’s the good news: nobody really gives a shit what the guy says — in fact, he may have gotten the most reads of any of his articles simply because Pete paid attention to his latest tripe and we all went to his blog ;^)

  17. Dante says:

    Tortured Analogy dejour:

    Innocent Citizen: Why did you break into my house and kill my 7 year old child?

    SWAT Team Leader: We had to send the right message. A snitch said you were endangering your child by smoking pot and our mission is to save the children. Oh, and we’re going to charge you for the death of your kid at our hands.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  18. Ziggy says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that people who write such drivel are probably sociopaths? To even draw the comparison between pedophilia and drug prohibition, at least to me, means you have some pretty dark thoughts. The more holy you are the more you have to hide…

  19. Paul-UK says:

    Sounds like the person who wrote the story should take up Vogon poetry.

  20. nacl says:

    If anyone ever needed proof the prison system can really screw people up, that guy is it.

  21. Duncan20903 says:

    It really is a crying shame that there are people lacking the native intelligence to be able to differentiate between pedophilia and enjoying cannabis. We can presume that they also think the plantation owners got ripped off by the Emancipation Proclamation.

    One of my favorites to follow that is to point out that cannabis has approaching 50% support for decriminalization; now would you really have us believe that there is even a single percent of Americans who are in favor of decriminalizing kiddie diddling?

    Now that oral sex has been recognized as a Constitutionally protected right, is there any criminal law which enjoys that much support for repeal? Any law at all? Now don’t go and guess “the income tax”, just because it’s universally loathed. In 2008 Massachusetts had an initiative on the ballot to decriminalize petty possession of cannabis, which passed 65-35. On the same ballot there was an initiative to repeal the income tax, and it lost 30-70. Go figure that one out yourself because it’s beyond my ken.

    We should start calling the critics Know Nothing loyalists because you’d better believe that they would have supported criminal convictions for all 56 of the signers of the DoI in 1776. The law is the law don’t you know. Good gravy, this country was founded by felons and we’ve had a steady stream of people breaking laws because they thought the law an ass and have withdrawn their consent to be governed* by that particular law. I think the only major change in our society that by and large wasn’t changed by civil disobedience was women getting the vote. I’m presuming that I didn’t miss women voting illegally before that happened.

    Breaking the law is a time honored tradition in American political life. It’s recognized as valid in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, *deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    — -TJ in the DoI 7/4/1776

  22. ezrydn says:

    OK, Do they start with the children in HIS family thee? Hum?

  23. rita says:

    Dear Mr. Litterbox — Rape, like murder and robbery, is something that people do to other people AGAINST THEIR WILL. The unwilling party in the crime is called the “victim.” When you can explain to me just how a person might unwillingly spend his own money to purchase drugs that he doesn’t want to possess and put those drugs into his own body without his own permission, then I will concede that drug use has something in common with rape. Of course, then there’s the problem of the perpetrator and victim of the crime being the same person —

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  26. Duncan20903 says:

    Here’s my submission as the most tortured of tortured analogies that I’ve heard since going OCD on the subject about two years ago.

    Duncan20903 wrote:
    They just keep finding more and more and more and more….
    When will the day come that people realize the war on (some) drugs is over, and that drugs won?

    Are there people that actually think that any users noticed this bust? If so you’re silly, silly, silly people.
    How many major drug production factories did Red Bluff have in, oh say 1970? 1970 because that’s when the DEA opened it’s doors. Aren’t these laws supposed to be reducing supply? Is there anyone that can explain why people can’t recognize that this demonstrable, epic failure of public policy that we like to call the war on (some) drugs is an act of mass insanity?

    The drug dealers and drug investigators both send their regards. Thanks to you, they’re working.

    Red Foreman
    West Tehama County, CA
    Nov 17, 2010 said:

    So you are saying that if say 25% of the population, example only, were to start molesting kids then we should roll over because it is so popular even though the law says you will be arrested. Go ahead and do you illegal dope, maybe you will be the one in the paper next week.

    I’m sure that Red’s mother went out of her way to tell Red that he’s “special” each and every day.

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