The Fallacy of relative privation (sometimes known as “appeal to worse problems”) is the tact of dismissing an argument or position by declaring there are graver or more important problems elsewhere. This statement is made regardless of whether those problems bear relevance to the actual argument or position first made.
People who knock down the Pro-Life movement continuously make use of this ridiculous fallacy: why focus on saving the unborn when there are poor starving children out there who need help more?
Same thing was said for Notre Dame. Even while the monetary pledges were coming in to restore the burnt structure, social media bores came out in full force trying to guilt people as to why such money is being spent on an inanimate object when there are poor starving children out there?
Basically, it’s all about poor starving children.
But the argument is a strawman: that trying to solve one problem does not mean uncaring for other problems. It also wrongfully asserts that no problem is worth solving unless it’s the worst possible problem ever.
Factually, social media also misled.
Initial memes asked why money is being spent on Notre Dame when Yemen and — again — starving children need it more.
But Yemen already had $3 billion in donations for 2018, that’s $250 million a month, at $8 million a day. In 2017 it was $1.1 billion; for 2019, it will be $4 billion. Yet politics, corruption, and local warlords ensure that the Yemenis starve.
Then the memes shifted to Puerto Rico, with secularists hoping to capitalize on the relative underfunding its calamity victims received. But the underfunding was due to “donor fatigue,” amongst other many reasons, for which this column will not dwell on.
And yet, even then, Puerto Rico got $16 billion in Federal aid for Hurricane Maria, on top of $21 billion in Federal aid for welfare. This does not include private donations.
However, as with Yemen, aid has been hampered by corruption or incompetence from within Puerto Rico itself.
In any event, back to Notre Dame: it’s someone else’s private money. It’s not tax funds where you can demand, through an established political constitutional system, how the money is to be spent. For the private wealth of others, it’s abhorrent for one to presume to dictate how that money is spent.
Also, that money is not being dumped into a hole from which a new cathedral will magically grow. The so far pledged US$1 billion will go to builders, contractors, and workers (and their families) as compensation for their labor and talent.
Frankly, this penchant for knocking down or insulting what everyone else is into is tiresome. Be it Game of Thrones, Notre Dame, and even the Holy Week. Give it a rest, lame-o’s.
There’s a time and place for everything. Let people have their fun or faith. In this world of relative truths and varying narratives, commonness is a good thing.
That’s why coming off the Holy Week, all Filipinos of good faith should deeply consider that to:
Stand up for Church teaching on homosexuality does not make you homophobic;
Defend marriage and the traditional family does not make you unsophisticated or naive;
Stand for your religious beliefs does not make you ignorant or medieval;
Declare that science has admitted limits and is incapable of completely expressing or explaining reality does not make you uneducated;
Stand with our military and police and the rule of law against communist or leftist agitators, secessionists, and criminals does not make you a fascist;
Believe that universities are a place where faculty and students and anyone of diverse and opposing views and beliefs can interact peacefully, with openness and tolerance, does not make you apathetic;
Stand for sovereignty and rule of law regarding our territory and the rights of our fellow Filipinos does not make you xenophobic;
Advocate for individual self-responsibility, accountability, and independence does not make you uncaring;
Demand justice and that laws be fulfilled does not make you unforgiving; and
Stand for capitalism and the free market does not make you greedy.
If someone says or implies any of that, don’t be cowered into silence. Counter their insults and ad hominem with even more truths. Be relentless with the truth. Put down their feelings and emotion with facts and reason. And — equally important — have fun doing so!
Take that as your right and duty.
People should say to liberal progressives: enough of your grim and ugly view of the world.
And tell them what Raylan Givens once said: “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.