False Balance and Puerto Rico

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.

Beer & Barbecue Option

 

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.

One Comment

AA AA

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”
Stephen Hawking

Thank you for the courage to write this article. Just a few more concepts to consider:

“Normalcy bias, or normality bias”:

Is a cognitive bias which leads people to disbelieve or minimize threat warnings. Consequently, individuals underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, when it might affect them, and its potential adverse effects. .. Some Puerto Rico’s voters are under the illusion that since nothing has happened with PR Status in 122+ years, nothing will happen in the future and PR will stay as is ….. permanently.
Nothing could be farther from the truth …. PR and the USA congress are at their final crossroads, something will happen, and the outcome may be detrimental for Puerto Rico, if democracy is shut down by powerful anti-statehood supporters with back room deals.

“The politics of Blame Avoidance / Avoidance itself”:

Politicians are motivated by power, desire, contributions, access to privilege information and personal recognition. In fairness, this is true for most, but not all. The USA congress cannot continue to dodge the PR Status issue by hiding under the umbrella of “Let PR voters decide”. PR voters already decided on Statehood, multiple times. The 2020 November plebiscite results were and are a magnificent display of Statehood support. Not only did the voters repudiated past failed legislative and executive administrations, but, were smart enough to recognize PR future path is Statehood and nothing else.
It is incomprehensible that the USA congress has failed to honor the PR Statehood request. Congress must mark up HR1522 and S780. How many congress members have been elected by less than the 54% PR Statehood obtained? There is no need for further meetings to discuss status. There is an urgent need to mark up and take action on HR1522 and S780.

“Status Quo Bias”:

Is an “emotional bias”, a preference for current affairs and psychological inertia.
This particular bias continues to be exploited in PR by ELA supporters and their alternative reality. Sadly, this attitude threatens our democratic values, our democratic process and harms the very citizens that need actions and solutions.
The PR ELA/ Commonwealth colonial territorial status has resulted in a plutocratic local government were public and private sectors merge only to benefit their own groups. It has not resulted in a better quality of life for its residents, and has failed to secure a good future for the younger generations. Everything has been impacted negatively… infrastructure, education, social services and most of all, basic civility.

What next?
1- Stop nonsensical status discussions, meetings, assemblies and requests.
2- The USA Congress has the responsibility to be truthful and straight forward with Puerto Rico. The only non colonial constitutional options are:
Statehood and Independence.
Anything else will failed to secure PR’s future and buried it permanently in a political, economic and social powerless limbo.
3- PR Statehood is in our Nation’s National Security interests and should not incur further delays.

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