Darn, I guess I’m not entitled to object.

Minnesota Public Radio’s question-of-the-day today is: “Is copper nickel sulfide mining worth the risk?”  As discussed on this blog from time to time, my position continues to be: By foreign-owned corporate profit seekers? Absolutely not.

One commenter’s response to MPR’s question was as follows: “If you typed your response to this question on a computer … And said No … You are a hypocrite.” I hear this one quite a bit — it’s probably in a full-color brochure somewhere — so perhaps it’s worthy of our brief attention. For a moment, the comment sounds reasonable. Yeah, I use a Mac computer. I wear t-shirts. I guess that’s that, eh?

But logically, here is what the commenter is proposing:

  • If you use a certain resource, i.e., by typing on your computer, it’s hypocritical to be against any approach for getting, owning, and distributing that resource.

Or, by extension,

  • By virtue of living in a society you are disqualified from critiquing that society.

This line of argument is almost always a red herring. (In fact I’d go further and call it anti-democratic, nihilistic, lazy, and dangerous.) Because you use a stove, you are not disqualified from taking issue with fracking. Because you take a bath, it is not illogical to oppose draining all of Lake Michigan and selling it to Nestle.

Comments like the above lack important context, and are rarely helpful. Next time you hear one, you might just say so.