Is “Love Love”? Exposing the Ad Council’s fallacious argumentation in their new video

Sorry that I haven’t made a post in a while; between going to school to finish my degree, teaching two classes at my church, and issues in my family, I’ve just been too terribly busy to stop and write anything. I’ve had several ideas, from commenting on the theonomy debate that occurred the other week that I am reviewing, or any other number of subjects. But yesterday something jumped into my Twitter feed that just has to commented on as it goes into wider circulation: a video, put out by the Ad Council titled, “Love Has No Labels”, and address just a few of the logical fallacies promoted in the video that destroy the argument itself.

The video opens with a beautiful sunrise over what appears to be the pier on Venice Beach in California with a title card of “Valentines Day 2015”. It then centers on a crowd gathering around a large screen set up on the walk. Two x-ray images of people embracing and kissing appear, after a few moments they part and emerge on opposite ends of the screen as two lesbians. Behind them on the screen appears a sign that says, “Love knows no gender.” The images continue, along with appropriate tags, “Love knows no, race, disability, religion, etc.”, featuring a pair of siblings, one of which has Down’s syndrome, a couple where the woman happen to be black and a man who happens to be asian, an elderly married couple, a Jew and a Muslim, a Christian and a Hindu, even a gay couple with a child. Thoughtful people notice that these relationships are intrinsically different: siblings, friends, and romantic relationships. So what is the argument presented and what are the fallacies that undo it.
The very title of the video, “Love Has No Labels”, then the fact that they display different types of relationships, in which “love” is displayed differently, are directly contradictory. We naturally differentiate the “love” for family (i.e. siblings) from the love between friends and the love between romantic partners, or the love between a man and a woman who have been married for 40 years. The English word “love”, a word that has several enumerated meanings; and the fact that it has such variety in it meanings implies that the term can be abused by equivocation. The ancient Greeks had a wealth of words that reflected the depth and the different aspects of the concept of love, so that when one spoke of it, there would be no doubt of what they meant by the three word statement, “I love you.” There were four terms that the Greeks used: agápe, the highest order, brotherly affection, love for God; éros, sexual affection or desire; philia, the love between equals, as in friendship; and storgē, familial love, especially for children by parents.
No one will dispute that they love their friends differently than a sexual partner, or their children differently from their siblings; in doing so we automatically create distinctions, i.e. labels, for the type of “love” we will display, and we will argue that such differences are not only valid but necessary for human flourishing. Further, if we place the assertion, made by the song that plays in the background of the video (Macklemore’s “Same Love”) in a logical framework,
L = L
the fallacy of equivocation becomes even more apparent.
The video also commits the fallacy of appeal to emotion. By displaying acts of affection and attention (embracing, kissing, playing) without a context, the videos producers are grabbing the emotions of the crowd, touching places in the hearts of the observers, guaranteeing a foothold before they reveal who is displaying these acts.
Also, there is the fallacy of consensus or, by another name, popularity. The video producers cut back and forth to a crowd that appears to be accepting and approving (with one momentary exception where a man in the crowd appears shocked at the appearance of the lesbians) with applause and cheering. How does the reception of the crowd to the revealing of the people behind the screen relate to the moral rightness or wrongness of what is being revealed? The producers do not attempt to answer the question, but because they are involved in fallacious thinking, further the fallacy by committing another.
Finally, just to wrap up this review, there is the fallacy of appeal to fear. This is suggested toward the end of the video through the implication that if one does not agree with the producers that there is no difference between these relationships, even though there is but they aren’t going to discuss what the differences are (ambiguity fallacy?), that to disagree is to be “bigoted” and “hateful”, and out of fear of what those terms mean and that we will apply them to you.
My hope is that people will think, will be reflective and not fall into fallacious thinking. But more than likely, they will not because they have not been trained to think and consider propositions and how they logically play out in real life, and thus succumb to the pressure.
I’ve blogged on these issues here and here. There’s a further review and response here from James White, and a response on the blog Choosing Hats.
(image: Bing)


  1. Good blog post! I skipped over this video myself when I came across it on my feed, but it does seem to raise some good conversation points. And now, the fallacies in the argument.

    You threw out a lot of fallacies though, be wary of yourself committing a fallacy fallacy. 😉

    I don’t think the video was made to pose a logical argument, as you point out, it appeals to emotions. Which does not negate the statement, it simply appeals to the non-thinking part of the human and thus ignites logical discussion. Decisions shouldn’t be made by emotions, sure, but many are brought to light by them.

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