Sifuna's desperate adrenaline misses the point

ODM Secretary General Senator Edwin Sifuna. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

In basic logic, there is such a notion as verecundiam fallacy. This delusion resides in appeal to authority, or expertise, when putting across your point.  

Known in its Latin original as argumentum ad verecundiam, the speaker ignores the internal logic, or absence of logic, in what is being said. He instead states things like, “I am a doctor, I am a lawyer, I am an engineer.”

The message is that, simply because of that, he knows better. He is right, and everyone else is wrong. But logic does not work that way.

ODM Secretary General Senator Edwin Sifuna, should know this before telling a fellow MP on national TV to shut up, “because you are not a lawyer.” 

Apart from being rude, it does not make an illogical argument valid. Professionals participating in TV debates will do well to know that laymen will sometimes outwit them in reasoned discourse. Appealing to your qualifications does not save your limping proposition. 

Something else, you come across better on TV if you respect your host and other panellists.

I don’t have to be an authority in mass communications to know that you look terrible when you shout, scream and verbally batter others; ignoring intervention by the host, and listening only to your desperate adrenaline.

Next time you are privileged to be on TV, remember to respect the host, fellow panellists, the audience, and the media house.

Raise the level of your argument, not your voice. Respect, also, those you speak about, especially when they are absent. This is common sense.

Talking about the President, for example, requires some level of respect – if not for the person, then for the office. Don’t insult them. It is certainly important that the President and his government should be told what people think.

For, people in power need to be called to order, all the time. That is where people like Senator Sifuna come in. They must call President Ruto and Kenya Kwanza back to the rails, anytime they slip off. But it matters how they package this. 

Today, President Ruto needs to be reminded, for example, that he cannot be law unto himself. He is in office through legal mechanisms that were, in fact and practice, validated by the courts. He needs to be reminded to give the courts the respect they deserve. 

When he moves from pillar to post, and from stump to stump, vilifying the Judiciary, he puts in an embarrassing place the Judiciary’s validation of his own election as President. He must remember that he lives in a glass house. He must think carefully before throwing stones. 

But away from that, Senator Sifuna missed a good opportunity to tell the UDA-led Kenya Kwanza government that it is beginning to look, sound, taste, feel, and smell like the Kanu government that Kenyans disliked so much.

President Ruto’s heart may be in the right place. His five-point agenda of housing, healthcare, growing SMEs, agriculture and ICT is spot on. Yet, the vehicle is as important as the vision. The end does not justify the means. The means must be pre-existent with the end.

We can tell President Ruto this without belittling him with insolence. We can tell him that either he receives bad advice, or he does not listen to his advisors. The President can be guided that instead of public protests against the Judiciary, he should face the facts.

And what are the facts? He’s got off to a false legal start. His vehicle is faulty. He should fix it.

Sycophants who threaten to “cut down the Judiciary to size” will in the end only cut down the life of the Kenya Kwanza government, to five years. Don’t insult the President. Respectfully give him these cold facts.

-Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor