Tuesday, June 11, 2019

LOGIC (Moot Infinity Stone #2)

Legend has it that anyone who captures all six Moot Infinity Stones on their fingertips will reign supreme across the Moot Court Universe (MCU). Last week, we covered the first fabled stone - LAW. Five more weeks, five more stones to go...

You're feeling good. You've rehearsed 3000x times. You've got this!

You shoot out the landmark case - BOOM!

The judges look unfazed. One's still adjusting the height of his chair. The presiding judge stifles a yawn.

You apply the case to the facts at hand - BOOM!

More blank stares. Someone sips a Starbucks. The president flips through what you desperately hope is your written submission.

Your voice falters uncertainly: "Um... And that concludes my first ground. Is there any questions at this point, um, Your Lordships... um, and, Your Ladyship"

A shake of a head. A shrug. The president's staring intently at whatever she's reading - oh no, it's the opponent's submission - totally ignoring you.

Your punchy arguments not hitting? Well, that's why you need to draw power from the second Moot Infinity Stone... LOGIC

If snap = people die, then re-snap = people live! #logic 

* * *

The argument that shines brightest and cuts sharpest is one forged out of ironclad LOGIC.

Sensible. Reasonable. Res ipsa loquitor - the thing speaks for itself even without any supporting authority or evidence.

You can recite as many authorities as you can, you can pick out as many facts from the record as you will. But your argument will still be invalid unless you can weave them together into a strong, unbreakable chain of logic.

So here's the deal: Your client has been rather 'naughty' on social media. Spewing provocative and vulgar memes to mock certain high-ranking governmental officials for corruption. Kicks a public shitstorm that gets him banned and detained by the authorities.

Yet another epic MCU drama! So, where to start?

* * *

Rule #1: Logic is supreme

Yes, you read that right. Logic, not law, is supreme.

"The Constitution is the supreme law of the land... We need to take a purposive and prismatic approach in interpreting the fundamental freedoms... Freedom of speech is the cornerstone..."

You spend a good 3-5 minutes waxing lyrical on a speech that would shed a tear in the eyes of your Constitutional lecturer.

But then the judge just waves a hand dismissively and interjects: "Yes yes, that's all good, but aren't there limitations to the right to free speech? What about proportionality?"

Rambling on general platitudes isn't going to win the hearts and minds of judges. Essentially, every moot is a problem, every problem needs a solution, and there's no better solution than LOGIC.

You need to dive straight into the heart of the issue, and your logical but impassioned pitch - in 1 minute.

"Today, our case is not about a man shouting 'Fire' in a cinema out of mischief. Instead, it's about a man brave enough to voice out the unspoken sentiments of a society disillusioned with a governmental corruption. And even if he has crossed the line, to detain him for weeks without trial on spurious charges of sedition is excessive and disproportionate."

BOOM! The judges will be calling the bailiff to get some popcorn at this rate...

If 6 Stones = Thanos Win, then 6 Stones - 1 Mind Stone = Avengers Win! #logic

* * *

Rule #2: Logic is subjective

How can submissions be logical? If something is logical, shouldn't it be absolutely true and unrebuttable?

See, that's a common misunderstanding. 'LOGIC' is not about truth or rightness, but a solid formula of argumentation. How you connect the dots. How to add up the equation. Which variables to use.

Here's a simple formula: x + y = violation of free speech

What represents 'x' and 'y'? Well, that's for you to figure out. There's no magic number. You can fit in any variable as you wish, so long as they combine well.

'Fair Comment + Public Interest = Violation of free speech' - CHECK!

'Satire + Proportionality = Violation of free speech'- NICE ONE!

'Supremacy of Constitution + Prismatic Construction = Violation of free speech' - Um, keep going... oh, that's all? Um, okay...

The first formula focuses on the content of the speech, whilst the second on the severity of the punishment. Which line of argument is better? Tough call. But surely, we can all agree that the third formula is rather disconnected and doesn't really add up to a concrete answer to the issue at hand i.e. free speech v public order.

And speaking about public order, that's what the opponent will likely be pitching. They'll have their own equations - national security, ministerial discretion, and so on...

That's why LOGIC is subjective. LOGIC is neutral. Both sides are trying to convince the judges that their logic is more compelling than the other side.

But if your argument is so lacking of LOGIC from start to finish, you've likely lost the battle even without your opponent opening their mouths (in legal jargon - you fail to establish a prima facie case)...

* * *

Rule #3: Logic is simple

Yes, it really is. A logical argument is something that anyone without legal background - even your engineering roommate or Mom - can follow, and ideally, believe.

Why do we struggle so hard coming up with arguments then?

It's because we are too inundated with the law, and also the facts. We are torn between two equally strong arguments, and you feel that it's a waste if we don't use them both. So we try to force them through.

'Satire + Public Interest'

So the memes were purely for fun? But hold on - isn't public interest based on fair comment, which requires some degree of due diligence and fact-checking...

Those two aren't exactly contradictory ideas. Still, it's tricky to argue that the memes were made in jest on one hand, but also that they can trigger some serious public debate, whistle-blowing by insiders, and investigation into the corruption allegations by the good cops on the other hand. Both ideas draw upon two different factual narratives that don't mix well together.

Keep it simple. Stick with one story, and run with it. Don't try to cover too much ground and pull off too many fancy moves - you'll only end up tripping over your own feet. Cut out needless complexities and empty soundbites (e.g. prismatic).

More often than not, it's the simplest of words which make the biggest of impact.

Oh snap, Thanos has the Time Stone... #logicfail

* * *

Hopefully, that wasn't too heavy. LOGIC is not exactly the sexiest of topics to talk about. But believe me, LOGIC is what makes the judges sit up and listen to you.

So here's a quick recap:

LOGIC is supreme, not the law.

LOGIC is subjective, not absolute.

LOGIC is simple, not complicated.

Two Moot Infinity Stones out of the bag, four more to be revealed...

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