An Inquiry Into Values
Despite numerous scandals our Fearless Leader (fearless of God, anyway,) the Arroyo administration (and sundry family members, which is sort of the same thing) has survived scandal after scandal.
The recent impeachment complaint was not the first time that charges of corruption and general assholery have been thrown at the president, and she has survived each one virtually unscathed because she has mastered the tactics of rhetoric and reprisal. (Also, possibly, a Mephistophelian deal of some sort.)
Here are some defenses that she and her lackeys have used so the next time that the government basically tells us to go fuck ourselves, we’ll at least be aware of it. Remember, knowing is half the battle. The other half mostly involves violence and pointy objects.
Argumentum Ad Hominem
When Mike Arroyo reacted to Joe de Venecia implicating him and the president in the overpriced ZTE-NBN deal by calling De Venecia a liar, he was not only exhibiting the debating skills of a five-year-old, he was also commiting an Ad Hominem argument.
The Arroyo administration loves to use this tactic in the hopes that discrediting the source of the criticism will somehow make their allegations untrue.
When former president Corazon Aquino slammed corruption in our government, Justice Secretary (and walking fallacy) Raul Gonzalez told her to first make sure that her daughter, Kris, behaved herself by not shacking up with married actor/mayors before saying stuff about his boss. While Kris Aquino is not the most virtuous of women, Gonzalez did not quite show that the government is not corrupt. It’s sort of like what Jesus said about casting the first stone, I guess, only used for evil.
Why it works:
We Filipinos are a cynical lot, and are very easiily swayed into believing that the other guy is just as bad as the next one. And when the mud being slung has an element of truth in it, the metaphor fails. But more importantly, it does cast doubt on the truth of the statement. Case in point: De Venecia, who is no John the Baptist himself, may really be implicating the Arroyos in the ZTE deal because he’s sore that his son didn’t get the contract for the project.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the government-to-government deal was not overpriced versus the proposed build-operate-transfer scheme that would have cost the government a total of P0.00.
While a lot of things that government does seems random and absurd, non sequiturs are a special kind of absurd because it’s the educated kind.
It stands,as if you didn’t already know, for “it does not follow,” and is a recurring theme in the president’s State of the Nation Addresses and other pronouncements of good fortune. While not outright lies, these can still elicit feelings of “what the fuck?”
For example, when she announced reduced text messaging rates as a result of interceding with the telecom companies, that was a non sequitur (while also a bald-faced lie.) It was later revealed, to the mutual embarrassment of all, that the P0.50 text rate was an existing promo.
Or taking the 0% crime rate during the Dream Match between Manny Pacquiao and some guy to mean a breakthrough in peace and order.
Why it Works:
As you may have noticed from such social phenomenon as Vilmania, the Banahaw Rizalista sects and our elections, Filipinos are not the most logical of people. To illustrate further, our revolutionary soldiers removed the front sights from their rifles because it was hard to see through them.
That and a desperate need to have something to clap about means that even the slightest good news will make our day. Our ability to applaud a P0.50 decrease in fuel prices makes the whole bread and circuses approach all that much easier.
Denying the Antecedent
If you watched Rep. Matias Defensor of the House Justice Committee laughing off reports of pay-offs in exchange for killing the recent impeachment complaint, then your dreams are probably haunted by the memories. More importantly, you saw an example of denying the antecedent.
To wit, Defensor’s denial went like this:
“There were no pay-offs. If there had been pay-offs, then I would have been among those paid off. [sinister laugh, shark-like teeth]”
Alright, so Defensor didn’t quite deny being paid off, but if he had, then it would have been denying the antecedent. In effect, the conclusion that no pay-offs were given to congressmen is based on Defensor’s claim that he’d have been paid off.
On the other hand, would you really believe he didn’t get anything? I mean, come on. Look at the guy.
Why it works:
It doesn’t, actually. All of us who saw the denial saw through it, not so much because we know for a fact that Defensor was lying, but because we’ve learned not to trust anyone in politics. This is a fallacy in itself, of course, but is not too hasty a generalization when you consider how lousy that denial was. I mean, he didn’t even try that hard.
Argumentum Ad Baculum
Also called an argument of the cudgel, it basically means the president is right because thepresident said so. This is not the petulence of a five-year-old child, however. Her height aside, the president is backed up by the entire strength of our Philippine National Police and Armed Force of the Philippines.
When a handful of bishops called for a change in government citing rampant corruption, Justice Secretary Gonzalez retaliated with the subtle and classy argument of: shut up, or go to jail.
Sadly, the priests got off easy, with no actual charges filed against them. Some people, reporters, say, do not have it as good. Whether with a libel suit or a bullet to the head, the government has shown a deft mastery of the art of STFU.
French cannons in the time of Louis XIV (not in the exam,) were inscribed ultima ratio regum, the last argument of kings. In out third world democracy, though, the policy has been increasingly to shoot first.
Why it works:
Two words– Monopoly of violence