Name of this rhetorical device

if someone posts a meme like “If Big Tech can censor the President of the United States, it can silence us all.” and introduces it by stating: “Regardless of your political persuasions! This is totalitarianism!”, what do you call this presupposition that if I were unbiased, I would agree with the poster?

Also, is there a name for creating your own definition about something (e.g. totalitarianism=corporate overreach) ?


Appeal to consequences?

Closest would probably be Slippery Slope. Although even that is dicey. If it argued, “banning Trump WILL mean banning us all,” that could be Slippery Slope, but saying that “they CAN” ban us all may not necessarily qualify.

It’s sort of a variation on “poisoning the well”. There’s an underlying assumption that anyone who would potentially disagree is doing so for nefarious reasons.

I don’t know what it’s called, but it pisses me off. I had a new Facebook friend for a minute yesterday and one of the first things I saw was a long screed that said, "Whether you’re left or right, I’m sure we can all agree on laundry list of right-wing talking points that grossly miscarachterize liberal arguments. "


I don’t know, but my response is “Dont tell me what I believe.” So perhaps it’s Putting Words in Someone’s Mouth.

I think it precisely fits the definition of Slippery Slope fallacy.

Banning Trump for this [good] reason means that they can ban anyone for any reason, it’s dangerous to set the precedent of banning!

The syllogism is exactly parallel to this, which is more transparently stupid:

Putting Charles Manson in prison for murder means that they could put anyone in prison for anything, we should oppose putting people in prison!

Thank you! I think this is what fits best.

I realise that the main argument is a slippery slope fallacy, I was looking for the bit about the “Regardless of your political persuasion” presupposition.

And, is there a term for creating your own definitions? This guy defined totalitarianism as corporate overreach. Is this just lying or is there a better name for it?

Why does it need a name beyond “really stupid argument.” Of course Facebook and Twitter can ban you. They’ve been able to ban you since they started. Trump being banned hasn’t changed a thing.

If President Biden shows up at my bar drunk and belligerent I won’t serve him. I can refuse service to you too, but if you’re being reasonable I won’t. Why would I?

Yeah, these guys, hyper free-market capitalists that they are, don’t seem to understand that the answer to “What if they just started banning everyone?” is, “Well, then they’d be out of business, and someone else would start a new company to capture that marketshare.” It’s like they think capitalism doesn’t actually work or something.

Of course, their attempt to do that with Parler just blew up in their faces due to their own incompetence and evil, but you know, someone with brains could do this.

I don’t think there’s a specific term for this. I actually deal with this in my real-life job. In my work, an applicant is permitted to define what they mean by a given term, if there’s some ambiguity as to how it can be used*, but they’re not allowed to just write whole new definitions for commonly used words. But when making an objection, I pretty much have to spell it all out like that, because I don’t have a word for it.

*Like if they said “In this application, “computer” is meant to be an IBM-PC type computer”, which then excludes anything like an Apple computer. They can narrow the definition, but not just say, “By “computer”, I mean a potato with a wire stuck in it.”

I keep thinking of the expression “Cutting off your nose to spite your face,” and unfortunately, it’s forefront in my brain now, and preventing me from thinking about anything else. It’s not totally irrelevant, though, because what your ersatz debate partner is suggesting with this “If they can ban Trump, they can ban anyone!” is that they (whoever they are in whatever scenario) would be foolish enough to “cut off their noses, etc.” That strikes me as a form of “reductio ad absurdum.”

“Redefinition” is actually a class of fallacy. There are “high” and “low” redefinitions, “high” meaning “more restrictive,” and “low” meaning “broader.” There’s also something in the back of my head I read about once that was called something like “mixed domain,” which means that you are using the definition of one context in another. This is like when Creationists use the word “theory” not the way a scientist would, but rather the way a lawyer would.

Another subset of Redefinition is the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

I think what you are describing is a type of Redefinition, but I’m not sure what exactly to call it.

That’s pretty standard equivocation.

A feather is light [not heavy].
What is light [bright] cannot be dark.
Therefore, a feather cannot be dark.

In the above example, distinct meanings of the word “light” are implied in contexts of the first and second statements.

That’s different from “mixed domain.” That’s swapping one synonym for another.

I was talking about something that Creationists do (and not only them, but it’s the first example that comes to mind), when they take the phrase “Theory of Evolution,” and then, instead of using the word the way a scientist would, they use it the way a lawyer would in the phrase “Theory of the crime,” in which an alternate theory, even an implausible one, casts doubt on the one proffered by one’s opponent.

But in science there aren’t concepts like “reasonable doubt,” and observations have been gathered using scientific method, not using forensics.


While I realize that the OP intended this to be about a generic category of rhetoric, which could be used in any form of debate, I think that at the present moment, it’s impossible to avoid this discussion being politicized. Therefore, I’m moving this to GD.