I have been a firm believer of the “there is no right answer” philosophy. Indeed, for most of my life, I have witnessed many events, whether significant on a personal or larger level, where one can draw completely contradictory conclusions just by shifting his or her perspective slightly. Over the years, the idea that truth always exists only as “truth” (with the small “T”), and never with capital letters became further reinforced as I leafed through works of famous academics and thinkers, particularly Nietzsche. And while it sounds ironically absolutist, I have never quite imagined myself taking up any other stances except this relativist one.
Yet, I realised that there are times when such relativism is dangerous. When one is too accommodating in his treatment of logic, it can inadvertently transform flawed reasoning into persuasive arguments. And mind you, this is a serious problem; if everything can be taken to be right in some sense, does that then imply that anything we do can be justified to be correct at a certain level?
At some point in our career of writing argumentative essays in high school, I believe most of us were told our compositions did not convince because they did not offer “a balanced viewpoint”. The importance of adding balance to any argument has been elevated in today’s world, and perhaps rightly so. After all, one of the primary objectives of education is to endow humans with the ability to understand ourselves and our surroundings on a profound, multifaceted level.
But I wish to say that some things aren’t debatable. Some things just aren’t debatable. There are many other examples, but I will use the debate on rape (whether that is the result of human intention or flimsy clothes) to illustrate my point, as it was the issue that first prompted me to rethink my ideas. This article that I was reading a while ago flared me up, because I think there wasn’t a need for it. Why should we utilise comparative studies to prove that rape takes place because humans want it to? Why do we need to use scientific methods to make our arguments more logical? For me, to even give credit to arguments from the “Clothes” camp is perilous, as it essentially is a validation that criminals who sexually assault women (or men) might not have wanted this to happen. It grants them the opportunity to externalise their wrongdoings and absolve themselves from blame. Isn’t that then an utterly shameful usage of our critical facilities?
The same applies to a lot that is happening in the United States right now. For much of the election campaign, many media outlets in America decided that they wanted to stay “objective” in their coverage of major political candidates, which translated into many reporters not questioning openly complete lies or untruths that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton says on mainstream television. People also have such contrasting opinions of the same political candidate, and I find that incredibly difficult to conceive when thinking about Trump.
But the time has come for us to be clear. The time has come for us to bravely exclaim, “No, this is just undebatable”. We may listen to your arguments, but it is undebatable that Trump is unqualified to be president of the United States (without even comparing him to Clinton), considering his very loose relationship with facts, his refusal to release his tax returns, the shenanigans with Trump University, and his alleged involvement in a few sexual assault cases, amongst many other reasons. It is undebatable that President Obama should have nominated a new supreme court justice, but putting that aside, it is undebatable that the new president, whether his or her allegiance lies with the Republicans or the Democrats, gets to nominate the next supreme court justice. It is undebatable that the election results are final and unchangeable, regardless of what Donald Trump thinks. All of these are undebatable, at least if you take human decency and the basic principles our societies have been built upon so far seriously.
Nietzsche famously argues that morality is ever-changing, and that our moral code today is but a temporary invention. Even if we accept his argument that there is indeed a genealogy of our value systems, I am not sure how many of us would prefer having a world where crimes are not appropriately addressed, where we allow people whom we would consider unvirtuous in the current environment to take up important leadership positions, where excuses can be easily packaged as “logic”. What I can say with conviction, though, is that, for the sake of our kind, some ideas have to be undebatable.