Previously I wrote about the “Begging the Question” fallacy (and another example here).
Immediately after an event, say a mass shooting, a city Mayor says “this is not who we are” – we live in a safe community. But empirically, based on what just happened, they are not a safe community.
These scenarios play out frequently – and the response “this is not who we are” is a staple of public relations staff, even though reality demonstrated that this is who they are. See the links, above, for many examples of how this technique is commonly applied.
Today, a Fresno State University professor made rude, mean spirited, and vile comments on her Twitter account.
Not surprisingly, the University President issued, via Twitter, a statement saying in so many words, “This is not who we are”, even though empirically, they just demonstrated that this is who they are (in fact, this is the 3rd Fresno State professor in 12 months to engage in hurtful or illegal speech – see below).
Note the President’s attempt to distance FSU from the Professor and her comments (they were “made as a private citizen” even though her platform clearly identified herself as a professor at FSU and furthermore said that people listen to her because of that). The President then refers to her as “Professor”, using her university title, apparently wanting her to be a citizen when she casts a negative light on the University but a professor otherwise.
In so many words, he is saying “this is not who we are” even though a member of his faculty just demonstrated the behavior being denied (with evidence this is not the first time this has occurred).
Empirically this is precisely who they are.
Fresno State is going the way of the University of Missouri and Evergreen State College in Washington. The President’s words saying this is not who they are are bogus.
See: News conference: Fresno State professor calls Barbara Bush “racist” | The Fresno Bee