The appeal to authority is perhaps the most blatant form of argumentative fallacy. “This is true because so-and-so said it’s true” is not even convincing among primary school children, yet for many of our public figures it is the only means they can find to justify their positions. Earlier this week, DA parliamentarian Ghaleb Cachalia leapt to his own defence after radio host and writer Eusebius McKaiser condemned him for a snide, homophobic tweet. Suggesting that McKaiser would have liked to be a DA MP, and that his critical comments about party leaders such as policy head Gwen Ngwenya were an instance of sour grapes, Cachalia quipped: “Nothing quite like a woman scorned.” In a considered response published by Africa is a Country, McKaiser pointed out that this cannot be condoned as an innocuous, off-hand remark: “Cachalia is instinctively drawing from the old well of insults that aim to mock gay men by feminising them,” thus casually reinscribing the discourse of homophobia. It w...

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