Do Black Lives Matter, or Do All Lives Matter?
A white guy explains it all
Posted Oct 18, 2015
I have been waiting for someone to state the obvious, but to my knowledge no one has. Therefore, it is once again up to me to cast the bread of my wisdom upon the digital waters. (I call it wisdom, but you may have another name for it.)
Advisory: Don’t assume that you know what I’m going to say until you reach the end. Or as my old Daddy from Georgia (rest his soul) would say, “Don’t roll up your britches ‘til you get to the creek.”
Do black lives matter or do all lives matter? Presidential candidates are being baited with this question, and I keep waiting for one of them to spike the ball. It’s not like they can’t see it coming a mile away.
Paging Mr. Hobson: The question itself is a trap, and to attempt an answer is a logical fallacy. On one hand, the question is posed as a “Hobson’s choice.” That is, you must choose sides, black lives or all lives, and be judged based on the answer you give. (And by the way, have you stopped beating your wife?) On the other hand, what does matter mean? Does it mean “more important,” “more deserving of life,” “better all around”? Unless you believe that the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to out-klan the KKK, most likely matter is intended to mean, “in dire need of protection from questionable use of force.”
Anyone attempting to respond in a rational and ethically defensible manner should begin by rejecting the form of the question and by briefly restating the proposition. I would answer as follows:
What do you mean by “matter”? If you mean that any group is more deserving of life than any other, I would reject that idea and refuse to choose sides. But if “matter” means that a situation currently exists in which black lives are disproportionately at risk of death by questionable use of force, then I would say that those lives most at risk deserve our recognition of their plight and our best and most urgent efforts to reverse and prevent this trend.
In Sunday school, I learned of a parable in which the shepherd left the many in his flock to rescue the one most at risk. Or was that Star Trek: The Search for Spock? Assuming your life matters, live long and prosper.