Thursday, 16 September 2004

Plausible Deniability

The political arena appears to be filling with multiple cases of plausible deniability. Having never heard this term until this pre-election year, I have noticed its use again and again. For example, when Trump stated that McCain was not a war hero, he utilized plausible deniability. Because McCain was captured, because he survived, because he returned to the United States to live a good life, Trump is free to deny him his hero status with the plausible reasoning stated that he was captured, survived, and returned alive. I suppose in Trump's mind, had McCain escaped or had he come back mentally and physically destroyed or had he died, then he could have been recognized as a champion and an idol.

Another example of plausible deniability is the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. This right can be denied by those who find it unacceptable for multiple reasons such as poor court judges, the bible says it is wrong, and homosexuality is moral corruption. To some these are completely plausible reasons. For others, those who find the decision plausible and the deniability implausible, the court stayed true to its responsibilities in that the judges studied and discussed to make a wise decision, that the bible is a book among many and that there is a separation of church and state in this country, and that the court is not in charge of morality but rather dedicated to reading and translating the Constitution into modern situations while allowing for freedom of choice.

You can name just about any hot topic and one side or the other will come up with plausible deniability. While it is good to apply reasoning to support an opinion, there is also the breakpoint when it is time to move forward. Issues like abortion, Benghazi, and misuse of email cannot be resolved if a compromise agreement cannot be obtained. Instead fighting to fight takes precedence over intellectual rationality. Because of this repetitive cycle of accusations using the "old" facts to try to generate a new decision, a quagmire of contempt arises. Nothing can be solved or resolved.

Children love to use plausible deniability as an escape from punishment. Even though Sweetie has been told numerous times to not leave her cup on the edge of the table or it will spill, she continues her pattern. When it does come crashing to the floor shattering glass and shooting juice, she can rely on the safety of plausible deniability including reasons for the disaster such as "Brother wiggled the table" or "I forgot" or feigned tears of repentance and sorrow to shift the blame from her and the mess to outside forces.

Adolescents wallow in plausible deniability when a school report arrives at home decorated with failing grades. "The teacher never explains"; "Mrs. Smith lost my papers"; "Mr. Jones doesn't like me" and so on and so forth are handy justifications and explanations. Many parents fall into this trap making excuses for the child and laying culpability upon another. Sometimes this system works well, frustrating the education efforts of the teacher as he is forced to lower standards and accept administrative decrees to raise a grade. Baby is happy, the grade becomes acceptable, and the child recognizes the value and significance of his wailing trump. When you question school organization and the academic delivery it provides, stop to think about the plausible deniability instituted by some parents and students and you may have a different view of the problem. No, teachers are not faultless as many utilize their own plausible deniability too, "I taught it but students did not learn" being a prime example, but most teachers want their students to learn and succeed.

Plausible deniability is a sort of no-fault, fail-safe situation. When it is acknowledged as the best route, the safest choice, the wisest decision, intellectual reflection, analysis, and thinking are tossed right out of the door. This unending rational of innocence or undeserved attack demoralizes our morality as it obliterates our ability to seek the truth and live with compromise and decisions made for the greater good.