Friday, 6 June 2014

Susie Boniface: A Cancerous Non-Sequitur

Two weeks ago, Sean Gabb (the director of the LA in London), was in one of those very brief televised debates - this time on Sky News with reporter Susie Boniface. The debate was over whether or not compulsory voting should be introduced in the UK following the low voter turnout in the recent elections for the European Parliament. Naturally, Sean opposed the proposition whereas Ms Boniface favoured it. Yet the way she was permitted to argue her case was noteworthy - not only for her uncensured use of one penny insults - but for her reliance on non-sequiturs. At about the 2 minute mark she curls out this ugly little pearl:
"The fact that no-one is going out to vote is a huge issue and if we don't do something to address it, we cannot go and criticize other countries like China for having a one party system, like Saudi Arabia... for not having enough female voters, and countries like Zimbabwe for rigging their elections..."
Sean did not pick up on this when it came his turn to speak, but as soon as she said it, my immediate recognition was: non-sequitur. To take that "we" as meaning individuals capable of forming our own judgements, and having the social sanction to do exactly that, then both my standing and your standing to criticize governments in China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and elsewhere is entirely independent of government legitimacy in our home nations.

Susie Boniface's comment elides her underlying premise, and that of the other unconscious Statists like her: that we do not have the social sanction to think and speak for ourselves. That is what is important and noteworthy about her comment. Her insistence that individual people may not think and act as individuals, once made explicit, is a statement of collectivist ethics that has its' natural political corollary in the silencing of dissent.

Here in Taiwan, I often come across the same implicit premise when commenting on this or that feature of Taiwanese political culture. For instance, when pointing out that the current practice of having high school and university students clean classrooms, stairwells and toilets at break time is in fact forced child labour and therefore immoral on precisely the same grounds as slavery is immoral, a typical response by the Taiwanese is that this practice also occurs in U.S. schools. The unstated implication of that response is that, as a Westerner, I have no standing to make that comment.

This ought to be called out and clearly identified whenever possible as the cancerous non-sequitur that it is.

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