Guilt by Association
logical fallacy


Guilt by Association is a class of fallacies in which a proposition is considered invalid because of a circumstantial association with a disliked person, group, other entitity, or concept. Alternatively, a proposition considered to be negative is affirmed by such an association.

Form 1, invalidation of a proposition:

Predicate 1:
Proposition A is associated with undesirable entity B
Therefore
Proposition A (or an inference on A) is invalid

Form 2, validation of a subjectively negative proposition:

Predicate 1:
Proposition A, such that A is subjectively negative, is associated with undesirable entity B
Therefore
Proposition A (or an inference on A) is valid.


Example:

On February 11, 2003 Colin Powell testified to a Congressional hearing as a spokesman for the Bush administration. He indicated that radio station al-Jazeera would soon air an audio tape of Osama bin Laden siding with Iraq and against the U.S. in the expected upcoming war. He stated that the tape connected bin Laden with Iraq, implying that this is evidence of Iraqi support for bin Laden. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said later "What the secretary has alluded to this morning gives further proof of the concerns that we have about Iraq and al-Qaida linking up." Another senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that statements on the tape prove existence of  a "burgeoning alliance of terror" between Saddam and bin Laden.

Examination of the translated text of the tape shows only that bin Laden supports Iraq in resistance to the U.S. Bin Laden even classifies Iraq as a pagan regime; as middle east experts have long noted, this stands in opposition to bin Laden's religious zeal.

The Bush administration position is essentially this:
Predicate:     Bin Laden supports Iraq in opposition to the U.S.
Therefore:     There is an "alliance of terror" between bin Laden and Iraq,
                      and this is a reason to make war on Iraq
Consider this direct analogy:
I am a fan of the Sacramento Kings basketball team.
Therefore there is an alliance between me and the Sacramento Kings,
and the Kings should be held responsible for my actions.

For example, if I get a speeding ticket while driving across Kansas
the Kings are responsible and should be penalized for my speeding.