It’s good to be fair. But there is a logical error known as “false balance” or “false equivalency.” This is what happens when we bend over backwards to be fair, treating two things as though they are equivalent when they really are not.
For example, we could report on the Puerto Rico’s successful efforts to get the Island vaccinated — 73% of Puerto Ricans are vaccinated. Then, to be fair and balanced, we could report that there are some people who believe that COVID-19 vaccines implant 5G microchips that let Bill Gates track all vaccinated people.
On the one hand, we have a fact: 73% of Puerto Ricans have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. On the other hand, we have one of the looniest conspiracy theories around, based on a physical impossibility.
If we report the two in an effort to present balanced news, we set up a false equivalency: we make it look as though the microchip idea is just another view of Puerto Rico’s high vaccination rate.
False balance of status
We favor statehood. This is the majority position in Puerto Rico, and voters have chosen this option three times: 2012, 2017, 2020.
There are people opposed to statehood. Every territory which became a state had an anti-statehood movement, and we don’t expect everyone to agree. That’s not how democracy works, as Governor Pierluisi has pointed out.
Some anti-statehood leaders are trying to set up a false equivalency between statehood, a viable status for Puerto Rico which the voters and the Island’s elected leaders have chosen, and “enhanced commonwealth.” Enhanced commonwealth, new commonwealth, autonomy — whatever you choose to call it, a non-territorial status apart from statehood or independence has been rejected by all three branches of the federal government as unconstitutional.
On the one hand, we have statehood, the normal status of former territories like Arizona and Kentucky.
On the other hand, we have an undefined status which has never existed and which the U.S. government says is impossible under the Constitution.
These two things are not the same. Insisting on including “commonwealth” in discussions of the future of Puerto Rico in order to be fair is setting up false balance.
The ploy is working
Unfortunately, the anti-statehood faction has succeeded in making Congress feel that they need to balance the real options for Puerto Rico’s status — being a state, an independent nation, or a territory — with the fantasy option of “enhanced commonwealth.”
Every time someone demands that this unviable choice is included out of “fairness,” they give the false impression that it is in some way the same as statehood or independence. This is not the case. There is no relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States…or between any other U.S. possession and the United States…that is anything like the fantasy island option described by “enhanced commonwealth.”
It is the equivalent of the 5G microchip injected with vaccinations.