Vote for a candidate, not for NOTA


We need to vote, not for NOTA, but for a political candidate who may not be the best but at least be someone we think is better than the rest, because vote is the only alternative to violence and hate. In this context, I would like to recall a memorable scene in a Laurel and Hardy comedy movie.

A fire broke out in a house. But Hardy did not try to douse it. Rather, he kept on watching it, sitting on a chair outside the house, whereas Laurel was very active. He went to a hand pump, pumped water in a bucket and threw the water into the fire. The delay helped the fire to spread. Laurel understood that he must act quickly. But what could he do when he did not find sufficient water nearby? Since Laurel saw a tin full of petrol, he promptly poured it into the fire!

Unfortunately, when democracy fails to deliver, some people boycott votes, just like Hardy, who kept on seeing the fire in a house, sitting in front of it. Like Hardy who seems to have a grudge against that house, those people question the utility of a democracy and say that it is better to live under a dictatorship or a military regime. They, however, fail to show a single country under a dictator that has a good track record of honouring human rights and doing welfare for the people.

But some people do more damage to the edifice of democracy by taking recourse to hate and violence in their conversations and actions, the way Laurel fought against the fire by pouring petrol into it.

The storyline of many action movies revolves around finding a scapegoat in a villain. They highlight violence as a panacea for getting justice and target a villain instead of targeting the system. Those movies actually play a game that audiences in their childhood used to play.

A child has been taught from its childhood a game of finding and punishing a scapegoat. The child accepts it as justice. When it hits a wall and starts crying, its parents give a tight slap to the wall. The crying child then starts laughing. A childish mindset makes action movies popular and polarisation a successful diversionary tactic.

Unfortunately, some people believe that all they need is a dictator who will punish the scapegoat and make them happy. A voter needs to attain not only 18 years but also a mature mind.

Democracy is an institution where the people must express their dissent without resorting to violence or verbal abuse. But now, I notice that many people resort to verbal violence in a debate whether they are in a TV show or in a casual conversation by using words about the views of their opponents like “their vicious mindsets”, “their agenda,” etc.

Hate is bound to damage democratic culture and pollute social harmony. Hate spreads like the flu virus, infecting even our daily dialogue. Without dialogue, discussion, debate and dissent, a democracy cannot survive. Also, without logical argument, we cannot progress and come closer to the truth. However, we need to be cautious about falling into the traps of logical fallacies. Ad hominem fallacy is one of the nasty traps.

This fallacy occurs when, instead of addressing someone’s argument or position, a person irrelevantly attacks the person or some aspect of the person who is making the argument. Here, insulting comments are used as an argument to counter the logic. This is not only a trap of logical fallacy but also a trap of undemocratic violent behaviour which must be avoided.

Sujit De,