9/19/2008
Character assassination

"It's another case of character assassination," politicians would usually say, and then you'd wonder whether they're actually saying the right thing. One can say that the insinuations are just utter lies, lovingly crafted and sequenced to put the person in a bad light. One can also say that the same insinuations are actually true. Well-hidden, sure, but still lovingly crafted and sequenced to put the person in a bad light.

It depends, perhaps, on proximity. If one starts talking trash about somebody obviously bigger - and no, not that kind of big - then there's a possibility that it's just an insinuation based on appearances. What with the ubiquity of the written word? One can say "I don't trust her because she's capable of killing everybody" and make sure the whole world reads it. That just worsens the situation, but the affected subjects can simply go, "that's sheer character assassination."

But such statements get drowned out when the person attacking, for lack of a better term, can prove the insinuations, or at least prove the possibility of the statements being valid. Recent American politics, for one, has seen so many books released, attacking the current administration; the more scathing the remarks are - depending, at least, on how the publishers and the media spin it - the more cries of below-the-belt attacks are heard. If it's explosive, and if it seems valid, someone's going to cry wolf - and many won't believe.

Then again, it also depends on the audience. One will undeniably be struck down when the rest think he's lying, despite the fact that he is, say, the known ex-boyfriend of this certain person. "Naghahanap lang yan ng pera." "Gusto lang niyang sumikat." "Exploitation! Exploitation!" You get the drift. If things go worse, you would be the victims of what you'd describe as sheer character assassination.

Or, if you have a very sympathetic audience, you'd probably be rich and slowly rise to prominence. Simply said, you'll be able to turn the world's back against the (supposedly) unlucky subject. You could be factual and point at experiences that the subject also feels; you could be lucky and just do something unknowingly. Plus, you'll reach the top of the bestsellers list.

Of course, those extremes are unlikely, although theoretically possible. What you'll get is a mix of everything - pacifists that want both parties to stop fighting, skeptics that believe it's all a PR act, in-betweens that just watch the bickering, apathetics that cover their ears (but still watch the bickering), ass-kissers who will defend one or the other, throw whatever you want in. And since everybody suddenly deserves to have a say, in a world where words like this are ubiquitous, you have nothing but chaos. Someone may scream "that's not right!" but it won't be heard anymore. It all descends into terribly public chaos, and in the mix of I-know-rights, I-know-betters and I-don't-knows, we fail to see what really happened.

Whichever side you're in, I'll just have to say that, like everybody else, I am guilty of character assassination. At least I'm not a hypocrite.

And your responses...

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