How To Shift The Goalposts With Dean Obeidallah

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If you ever need a guide stick by which to measure the integrity of someone’s arguments, you could do a lot worse than familiarise yourself with the most common logical fallacies. These enable you to separate the hack from the journalist and the scholar from the apologist.

Dean Obeidallah and Sam Harris have clashed before, and it’s clear that Dean is committed to the idea that Harris is motivated solely by bigotry. Unfortunately for Dean however, he’s having a terrible time trying to demonstrate as much. Finally, in what must have seemed like the dream ‘gotcha’ moment, Dean took to the internet to accuse Harris of ‘teaming up’ with an ‘anti-Muslim hate group’ in a series of Tweets. The excitement here is palpable:

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I’ve no idea what The Clarion Project is, so I cannot speak for their level of hate or lack thereof. A viewing of the short ‘documentary’ in question however, confirms that Sam Harris does indeed appear in it.

It’s just that he appears by way of footage sourced from pre-existing and entirely unrelated TV appearances, namely The Bill Maher show. It’s common practice for documentaries to use archive footage in their films of course. I would imagine permission must be sought from the copyright holder rather than the individuals featured, but what do I know about the media? About as much as Dean I imagine.

Harris was quick to clear up the issue of this ‘team up’:

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This would have been the perfect opportunity for an honest person to say “My mistake, sorry about that”.

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So, now it’s no longer that Sam Harris is a bigot for ‘teaming-up’ with an anti-Muslim hate group, he’s a bigot for not having total ownership, control and copyright of all his TV appearances. I’d very much like to hear Dean explain how he managed to obtain such unique distribution and ownership rights of every single one of his media appearances. And how he also managed to circumnavigate the issue of ‘fair use’ too. Perhaps he can get back to me when he’s settled on a spot for those goalposts.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

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