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Logic and rhetoric
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Bad logic
If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster […] then certainly I am against it. But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes, […] then certainly I am for it.
—The speech that it was named for[1]

The if-by-whiskey or if-by-whiskey fallacy is a debating tactic often found in politics, and a subset of the relativist fallacy.[2] It is named after a famous speech by Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr., a Mississippi lawmaker, who was arguing both for and against the legalization of alcohol. It could be considered a form of the balance fallacy, or at least related, and often uses loaded language and doublespeak.


The if-by-whiskey is generally structured in a very verbose way, and basically acts like a fill-in-the-blank:

If by [noun], you mean [negative descriptors of noun], then of course [statement of lack of support/belief]. If, however, by [noun], you mean [positive descriptors of noun], then [statement of support/belief].

Despite the length, it very rarely contains any real content.[2]