The Problem with PYJ’s “Leave Ellen Alone Because She’s Old” Logic – Pt. I

In wake of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) lawmakers’ call for the impeachment of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, based on a startling, open confession she made in the United States – that during the 2005 elections, some of her female supporters stole their children’s voting cards because they (the female supporters) feared or realized that if they had not carried out that criminal act, the children from whom the voting cards were stolen would have voted for Mr. George Weah and he would have won, which they didn’t want to see happen – Senator Prince Johnson said that Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should be left alone because she is an old woman.

Let’s hear it from Senator Johnson’s own mouth: “If she won in 2005 by trick and artifice or by whatever means, which she is confessing, then it is an impeachable offense. But I would like to appeal to my colleagues in the legislature that our mother is old and has suffered. Let us continue giving her her flower to complete her six years, because it is like six months. She will soon go. That’s her last term… When a grandmother is asked to lead a group, that group should expect many things. Let us leave her alone.”

What I deduce from Senator Johnson’s statement is sarcasm. I strongly believe that he is being sarcastic toward Madam Sirleaf. I don’t see sympathy in it. I see a man equally disappointed by what happened and is finding ways to express it.

On the other hand, if I am wrong, then his statement is disappointing. In other words, if Senator Johnson really means what he has said – that Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf should be forgiven of anything wrong she does because she is an old grandmother – then I beg to differ because we are discussing serious political issues that have serious national implications and, as our people would say, “We will not allow sympathy to supersede our national interest.”

If Senator Johnson means what he has said – that we should not challenge President Sirleaf when she goes wrong because she is an old grandmother, that we should not apply the law to Madam Sirleaf when she breaks the law because she is an old grandmother, that we should not take the right measure against her when she does a wrong thing because she is an old woman, then we wish to indicate that his logic is flawed, inconsistent and problematic.

First of all, his argument should be rejected in that it is an example of a logical fallacy commonly referred to as ad misericordiam, a logical fallacy committed when arguers tries to convince their listeners by appealing to their emotions, instead of their intellect. In short, Senator Prince Johnson is appealing to our sympathy. He is asking us to feel sorry for Madam Sirleaf, to overlook her wrongs words and deeds because she is an old person. He wants us to sweep Madam Sirleaf’s wrong words and deeds under the carpet because, according to him, she is too old. This is not a logical way to argue.

The second reason why Senator Johnson’s argument or statement should be rejected is that it has the proclivity to open a Pandora’s Box that could certainly be detrimental to the existence of our nation and its people. If President Sirleaf glaringly practices nepotism, is Senator Johnson also going to tell us to do nothing about it all because, according to him, the President is too old?

If President Sirleaf fails to do anything substantive about reconciliation, is Senator Johnson going to say that we should say and do nothing about it because the President is too old? If President Sirleaf pays lip service to corruption, does the Senator want us to say nothing because, according to him, Madam Sirleaf is an old grandmother? If she openly promotes the culture of impunity, is Senator Johnson arguing that we should do nothing about it because, according to him, the President is too old?

If President Sirleaf increases the price of a bag of rice, a situation that will be unbearable for the Liberian people, is Senator Johnson saying that we should do nothing about it because, according to him, the President is too old? If President Sirleaf goes around closing down independent newspapers and radio and television stations, is Senator Prince Johnson arguing that we should do nothing about it because, according to him, the President is too old?

If President Sirleaf openly interferes with the functions of the Legislative Branch, does Senator Johnson expect us to say or do nothing about it because, according to him, the President is too old? If President Sirleaf goes on the air and insults the legislators and says that they are extremely corrupt, self-seeking and anti-people, is Senator Johnson still going to argue that we should do nothing about it all because, according to him, the President is too old? If President Sirleaf introduces and promulgates bad policies and laws and anti-people policies, is Senator Johnson saying that we should do nothing about it because, according to him, the President is too old? The Senator is opening a Pandora’s Box. Let him retreat his statement.

The third reason why Senator Johnson’s argument should not be heeded is that it presents an inconsistent position on his part. When the government of President Sirleaf announced plan about the eviction of the residents of Peace Island and the subsequent demolition of the new Defense Ministry, Senator Johnson did not encourage the Liberian people, including opinion leaders, to do nothing about it.  He wanted something to be done, stating that if the Sirleaf-led government went ahead with the plan to evict the Peace Island residents, he would join the residents to demonstrate against it.

He stated that if it required his joining the people to install road blocks or to lie down flat in the streets as an extension of the demonstration, he would do it. If Senator Johnson is ready to do this against an action by the Executive, why is he telling us to do nothing about the wrong words and deeds of the same President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf? Is this not a glaring inconsistency?

The fourth reason why Senator Johnson’s statement should be dismissed is that his statement goes against our laws. Under our legal system, and generally speaking, our leaders, whether elected or appointed, are to be held accountable for their words and deeds, irrespective of their ages. There is no set standard about how old presidents should be treated and another for how younger ones should be treated.

Senator Johnson’s argument presupposes that it is only young leaders whose words and deeds should be challenged. This is an unhealthy statement to make. In fact, if leaders are to be held accountable based on their ages, then it is the older ones who should be held more accountable because they are the more experienced ones. They should know what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They are more experienced.

To be continued…
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.

Top
We use cookies to improve our website. By continuing to use this website, you are giving consent to cookies being used. More details…