By Scott Tibbs, April 12, 2011
On her program last week, Rachel Maddow was talking about government safety regulations in the wake of a Southwest Airlines flight that lost part of the roof of the plane and was forced to make an emergency landing. Maddow claimed that conservatives reject the idea that government should play a role in regulating the industry to prevent these things from happening. "Government is the problem. No role for government. That is the conservative case and the conservative cause," Maddow said.
Interestingly enough, Maddow didn't bother citing a single credible conservative who is on record as saying government should have no role in regulating the airline industry, or any other industry for that matter. That's because she is making it up. In other words, she lied.
There is a difference between conservatism and anarchy. There is a difference between limited government and no government. Even libertarian conservatives do not argue for no government at all. If they did, they would be anarchists.
We can and should have a discussion about the role of government, and to what extent we should regulate industry to protect public safety. To what extent are government regulations necessary to protect the health and safety of the public? To what extent are government regulations an overreach that places an unnecessary burden on business and are therefore a drag on the economy?
If we're going to have this discussion, however, it is necessary to honestly examine the policy positions of both sides of the argument. Creating a caricature of the opposing argument and then refuting that "argument" is not only a straw man logical fallacy, it is a fundamentally dishonest and unethical trick that makes legitimate discussion impossible.
When Maddow is ready, she can join us at the adult table.