Please see the disclaimer.

This post talks about Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). Reader discretion is advised.

Welcome, Hacker News.

If you haven’t heard, Apple now scans for CSAM on users’ phones.

This is a bad idea (see here, here, and here), and breaks all trust anyone ever put in them.

If you don’t understand how, watch this video.

I am all for trying to eliminate CSAM, but I do not like how it’s being used as an excuse for government overreach. In fact, I think it’s a bad thing, even for children!

Why?

  • It cheapens the horrors of CSAM for it to be used as political leverage against your political opponents, like fake allegations of sexual abuse cheapens the horrors of sexual abuse.
  • It’s not effective. (CSAM creators, distributors, and consumers will merely use other communication tools.)
  • Loss of privacy is permanent. (Did the government ever repeal the Patriot Act?)
  • Loss of privacy affects children too. (Poor decisions made while young could affect the child later.)

But I think Mr. Rossman is correct on another point: we can’t allow ourselves to be silenced by people who claim that we are for CSAM, or killing grandmas, or hijacking planes.

Either those people are ignorant of the long-term consequences, and they need to be taught, or they are malicious and should be called out.

Doing the first is tough and delicate, but necessary.

However, to do the second, all we need is a meme, a nice word to use for people who attack opponents like that.

Here’s one: presumer.

It is slightly intentional that presumer rhymes with “Boomer.” Also, if we start calling Gen Z-ers “Zoomers,” it would work for them too!

What do we call Millennials? “Doomers”? Heh. No idea.

presumer

One who presumes to know your position on a related topic to the debate topic and uses the position they assume to attack you.

The reality is that those people are committing two fallacies: the ad hominem fallacy, and the straw man fallacy. However, I think it is used so much it deserves its own name: the presumption fallacy.

presumption fallacy

The fallacy where one assumes (or presumes) that they know their debate opponent’s position on a topic related to the debate topic and attacks their opponent based on that assumption. One who commits such a fallacy is a presumer.

This happens all the time. Here are some on top of the examples Mr. Rossman gave.

You’re against mask mandates?! Do you not believe in the existence of COVID?! Science denier!

No, I simply think that people should be able to make the choice for themselves, especially people with trouble breathing who would have a harder time with masks or sexual abuse survivors that have flashbacks when anything covers their face because that’s what their abuser(s) would do. (That is not hypothetical, by the way.)

You’re against mandatory vaccinations?! Do you want people to die?! Do you not believe in vaccines?! You anti-vaxxer!

No, I just happen to know enough history that the path to mandatory vaccinations does not stop there and keeps going to truly awful tyranny. Also, there is an exception to every rule, or should be, and mandating vaccines gives no such flexibility.

You’re against mandating drunk driver detectors in cars?! Are you for drunk driving?! You must be a drunk!”

No, I just don’t want the government to have that much control over the freedom of movement.

You’re against the eviction moratorium?! Do you want millions of people to be homeless?! You heartless jerk!”

No, I just believe that people should pay for services they get, especially when they are getting government money. Landlords are suffering, and the long-term consequences are just as bad for renters.

But there is one more argument that those who are for this government overreach will use:

You’re committing the slippery slope fallacy!

This one needs to die.

We have enough examples of the slippery slope that we can assume that it exists:

  • Patriot Act to Snowden’s revelations.
  • Deplatforming Alex Jones to deplatforming the sitting president of the United States and an entire social network competing against the giants.
  • “15 days to slow the spread” to vaccine passports.
  • “15 days to slow the spread” to an 1.5 year eviction moratorium extended after it was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court.

And there are plenty more.

And if slippery slopes exist, the slippery slope fallacy is…a fallacy! The slippery slope fallacy fallacy!

So next time you take a stand because you see the horrifying long-term consequences of a change that, on its face, looks good, make sure to use these tools:

  • Educating people on the long-term consequences.
  • Calling people out for using the presumption fallacy. Maybe link to this blog post!
  • Calling people out for using the slippery slope fallacy fallacy.

I hope this helps.