Mrs May has succeeded in bringing crime down to the lowest levels since surveys began 30 years ago, on a budget which keeps shrinking. Her admirers say she is set to become the greatest Tory home secretary in modern times — but only if she sets about repealing, rather than augmenting, Labour’s laws abridging freedom of speech. We do live in dangerous times, but the job of the home secretary is to reject as false the choice between our liberty and our security. This, after all, is the Conservative way. (Source)

Are there problems here? If so, what are they specifically? 'The choice...' can be rejected, but how can 'the choice ...' be rejected as false? I tried to Google for help, but this thread is inconclusive.

Footnight: For example, http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1247577&p=6386723#post6386723 explains a meaning, but http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1247577&p=6386784#post6386784 doubts the correctness.

1 Answer 1


The idea here is: Some people say that we must make a CHOICE between liberty and security. But this is not so. We can have both liberty and security. Thus, we reject as FALSE the idea that we must make a CHOICE.

It is common in philosophy to talk about the logical fallacy of the "false dichotomy" or "false choice". That is, people trying to push some idea may say, "You must choose either A or B. A is obviously bad, therefore the only realistic choice is B." Sometimes a valid response to such an argument is, "Wait a minute, why do we have to choose either A or B? Why can't we have both A and B", if they are both good, or "Why can't we have neither A nor B", if they are both bad, or "Why can't we have something totally difference, like C".

To take a non-political example, if someone said, "You're going to have to make a choice between being fat or giving up chocolate", that wouldn't necessarily be the only choices. You might be able to give up other fattening foods, or exercise more.

In this case the writer is saying that liberty versus security is such a false choice, that we can have both. Whether this is true is, of course, a subject that people could debate endlessly.

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