Gun control putdown
This urban legend has been doing the rounds for some time now. It tries to vocalize the anti gun-control position of "guns don't kill people, people do." It concerns an alleged "interview" with Major General Peter Cosgrove about how he would teach fairly young kids to shoot guns.
It's an invention from start to finish.
 The legend
For those that don't know him, Major General Peter Cosgrove is an 'Australian treasure!'
General Cosgrove was interviewed on the radio recently.
You'll love his reply to the lady who interviewed him concerning guns and children. Regardless of how you feel about gun laws you gotta love this! This is one of the best comeback lines of all time. It is a portion of an ABC interview between a female broadcaster and General Cosgrove who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military headquarters.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So, General Cosgrove, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?
GENERAL COSGROVE: We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery and shooting.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?
GENERAL COSGROVE: I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?
GENERAL COSGROVE: I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: But you're equipping them to become violent killers.
GENERAL COSGROVE: Well, Ma'am, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?
The radio went silent and the interview ended.
Even though the anecdote has no basis in fact, it's still interesting to look at the motives behind its use. Like most urban legends this has amazing popular appeal to those who think argument by analogy is meaningful. The notion that a woman is equipped to be a prostitute, even though she isn't one, is supposed to reinforce the difference between owning a gun and using it to kill. However, it does fail at the point that a gun is designed and intended to kill, and that this isn't just an unwanted side-effect of the device - gun ownership is a choice, and it is a choice that implies you would pull the fucking trigger. The analogy fails here and there is a massive difference between owning a gun and having a vagina because of the choice of ownership and the intention behind its use.
The fact that the later versions of the legend come from an army general (even though such an offensive remark would have him disciplined for actions unbecoming of an officer) rather than a scout master, or adventure holiday leader add extra weight to the story - changing it from a misogynistic comment into some profound statement in the eyes of people who accept the legend as true and the argument as valid. Just like Einstein humiliating his professor, the right-wing do love a good story about an authority figure flaying a bleeding heart liberal, atheist or feminist. So, this story is very unlikely to die.
 One-to-one correspondence
The trouble with an argument from analogy is that often enough the concluding remarks of the analogy don't match up with the concluding remarks of the reality - even if the premises do match up. This case leads to a nice illustration of this if we look break up this mythical put-down into the comparisons it draws:
|Premise 1||Has vagina||Has gun|
|Premise 2||Vagina may have sex||Gun may be fired|
|Conclusion||Sex can be sold||Firing can murder|
In this case, drawing comparison between the use of something, and the use of something for nefarious or illegal purposes. Sex is legal (at least until the Republicans rule America) but prostitution is not, discharging a firearm legal, murder is not. But the difference in magnitude, and scope, of the illegal and legal acts involved differs on both sides of the equation. A more realistic comparison is as follows:
|Premise 1||Has vagina||Has gun|
|Premise 2||Vagina may have sex||Firing can murder|
|Conclusion||Sex can be sold||Hit-men|
Obviously, sex and murder have considerably different legal statuses. So the argument from analogy fails when framed in a more realistic way.
A more serious analysis of this argument would look like this:
|Premise 1||Peter Cosgrove is an Australian treasure|
|Premise 2||Women have vaginas|
|Conclusion||Let's arm our children with guns|