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The Court of Public Opinion and Loaded Statements of Imran Khan

By Shazia Anwer Cheema

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In any democracy individuals who claim to be the people’s representatives in the Parliament need to propose their manifesto upon which they ask for the people’s vote. It is expected by the general public that their interaction with listeners will be within the norms and parameters of the clear terms of reference and frame of reference about whatever they talk about for the general public to decide in favor of them vs against others.

In real democracies, potential future policymakers present themselves by considering the public their judge and jury. Just as in the court of law, it is not allowed to use certain figures of speech and they are considered objectionable. Same as when politicians appear in front of the public, they must refrain from objectionable speech acts. People are given the important duty to choose their future representatives who can work in favor of them and their country.

The question is how many politicians consider their public speaking a responsibility and a sacred duty? What is the level of substance especially in the linguistic discourse they are producing? are they putting any effort to avoid a figure of speech that is objectionable and hence not admissible in the court of public opinion?

To my understanding, all public speeches must be evaluated by the public on the basis of actual legal discourse because as mentioned-above leaders are presenting themselves to the court of people.

Here are some common reasons for objecting to the act of speech on the basis of being irrelevant, Unfair/prejudicial, leading question, Compound question, Argumentative, Asked and answered, Vague, Foundation issues, Non-responsive, Speculation, Opinion, Hearsay.

The reason I am working on this subject matter is that I truly believe in the power of the public and I am concerned that the Pakistani public is being constantly fed with elusive rhetoric far away from reality. The public is not being provided the opportunity to hear facts, figures, and substantiative information by PTI’s politicians in general and Imran Khan in particular while instigating masses against state institutions.

In my opinion, Imran Khan is delivering a massive number of speeches containing objectionable discourse which in the actual legal system has no place but in the court of public opinion, he is not only rejecting all norms of authenticity and sincerity but also the repeating these figurative linguistics he is altering the mind of youth that the most vulnerable to unauthentic catchy phrases miles away from reasoning, and evaluation.

I will explain these objectionable figures of speech and provide evidence that Imran Khan’s public speeches in the court of public opinion are not admissible in the first place let alone being viral and becoming a source of tarnishing the public view by tainting them with rhetoric. Let us have a look at the type and forms of an objectionable and un-admissible figure of speech the first one is:

Relevance

You can object to the relevance of evidence if you think a piece of evidence or something a witness is saying has nothing to do with the case or it is not important in determining who should win the case.

Example: Imran Khan showed a piece of paper to the public with a claim that this is the evidence of a conspiracy against him. He later was unable to prove that it was evidence of conspiracy because he had never shown that paper to the public and the public cannot read, thus cannot determine the authenticity and admissibility of a piece of paper Imran Khan was showing off. The proof is something that must be available to all the parties, a copy of the evidence must be given to the judge, jury, accused, and plaintiff. In my idea of a court of public opinion, if we minus two parties in actual court, such as the accused and plaintiff even than the public remains in the position of judge and jury making them the party of the issue under discussion and in that case they must be provided with a copy of the claimed proof otherwise refrain from even mentioning it.

Unfair/prejudicial

You can object to evidence, even if it’s relevant if the evidence would unfairly turn the judge or jury against you. This is what is meant by saying the evidence is prejudicial.

Example: “Establishment is neutral and neutral is animal”. Imran Khan’s this speech act comes under the objection of being unfair and prejudicial that’s why the public must refuse to accept it. In his statement, it is not clear whether the establishment is an institution, individual, group of people, or an idea so tagging it with the uncertified statement being neutral and then soliciting it with animalistic behavior makes it inadmissible in the court of public opinion.

Leading question

If the other party poses a question on direct examination that leads the witness to a certain answer, then you can object to the question as leading.

Example: “a conspiracy was hatched against me in July”. This loaded premeditated statement leaves no room for a question of an existence of a conspiracy because this statement tactfully self-determined that there was a conspiracy leaving room for an irrelevant discussion about the time and date of the conspiracy. In my opinion, it is still to determine that there was a conspiracy until that, the statement of date and time of conspiracy is just a brain game, and playing mind games are not allowed in court similarly must not be allowed in the court of public opinion.

Compound question

A compound question is when two or more questions are combined as one question. Compound questions are not allowed because they can confuse the witness, the judge, and the jury. Also, it may not be clear from the court record which of the questions the witness is answering.

Example: “Do you stand for justice as a good Muslim and decide not to be neutral in this war of good vs evil?”. This statement is a compound with pre-established right and wrong answers leaving no space to answer in NO —because of the trickiness of the phrase construction. Am I a good Muslim? I think I am. Am I neutral? The word neutral needs to be defined. Which side I will choose in good vs evil? Of course, good. But who is good? needs to be established

Argumentative

When the statement leads to an argument or confrontation.

Example: those who deserted me will face the consequence, nobody will marry their children, how can we promote this lota culture, can we? Imran Khan is pushing the public into direct confrontation by providing them with an unauthentic argument. There is no clarification of the word Lota, and any logical connection between parent’s political affiliation and children’s marriage and the consequences Imran Khan is referring are un-dauntingly violent as evidence proved in the aftermath of this statement.

Asked and answered

Sometimes a question is phrased in a way that it also proposes the answer leaving no space for saying anything other than what is expected.

Example: “Do you know who threw me out from the power? They are ones, the imported thieves”.

“Do you know why I have been kicked out? I said absolutely not when asked to provide airbases to the USA.

There is no evidence that the US asked for a military airbase, there is no witness that Imran Khan said NO but one thing is true, that there was a constitutional vote of no confidence against him. He never discussed why he shattered the confidence of his allied parties and colleagues, or what does he mean by “imported”? Is he willing to take legal action against the USA for sending according to his claim an “imported” to throw him out of power? Imran Khan does not indulge in facts he just touches the event from the surface and creates unauthentic rhetoric and plays it in repetition mode.

Vague

A vague question is when it is difficult or impossible to tell what the statement is about.

Example: “Farah is innocent”. The statement is vague because there are no clear charges against the alleged woman, even the relationship between her and Imran Khan needs to be established and the connotation of her innocence is also subjective. The connotation of being innocent comes when someone is tagged guilty. There are no proceedings against Farah in any court and no evidence has yet to be presented. How can Imran say she is innocent before even hearing legal charges against her?

Foundation issues

A question or response can be objectionable if a person failed to explain the background circumstances of how she/he knows the information.

Example: “Maryam do not say my name with such an enthusiasm your husband may get offended”. Imran Khan cannot prove that Maryam Nawaz’s husband is a jealous husband, or he ever had shown his discontentment with his wife, even Maryam and Imran cannot be in any gender-based scandalous equation. The only visible relation between them is hatred and disgust but Imran Khan’s sexual tilt to an entirely unprovable situation is objectionable in more than one manner.

Non-responsive

When a witness starts responding to a question with information that is completely unrelated to the question, you can object to it as being “non-responsive.”

Example: Imran Khan’s entire political discourse is a textbook example of non-responsive statements. Whenever he is being asked a direct question he always responds with totally irrelevant information. For example, when he was asked why his followers were damaging the property in D Chowk, his answer was “they might get lost on their way”.

Speculation

The speculation statement is when in absence of hard fact, one idea is being presented as a fact.

Example: “We will flourish if we break the chains of slavery”. In this statement, Imran khan is touching on the idea of a nation’s prosperity from a surface level and connecting it with an ancient form of slavery. He is not providing any hard facts about being enslaved in the 21st century and the link between an unknown form of slavery with unexplained promise of prosperity or anyone important thing if he is not in the equation of suggestive prosperity that why prosperity it can not be achieved. H is also unable to establish with the facts why he is imperative for nation-building and development. He is merely speculating that his presence is a catalyst for prosperity.

Opinion

If a statement is technical in nature but not based on any facts, then you may be able to object it based on its being just an opinion.

Example: “He is a thief”. He is Begherat” They are lota”. He is Diesel”. He is a boot polisher. He is neutral. Neutral is an animal. I am more dangerous if not in power. I said no to superpower. I have an independent foreign policy. I don’t need anything. I had a successful life. I know the West the best. West accepted me as one of their own. I am a true devotee of Islam. I am making Madina State.

They are all opinionated statements, without providing any testimony, justification or logic.

Hearsay

A person can only testify as to what she/he knows to be true, not what she/he heard from someone else. If a witness tries to testify about what a non-party told him/her or tries to enter into evidence something in writing that a non-party wrote, then the testimony or written evidence is objectionable as hearsay.

Imran Khan always accuses people of hearsay like he calls a religious leader as Diesel because other people had been calling him with the same slur. Calling anybody chor (thief) without any case against him in theft because others are calling him/her chor is the best example of hearsay that Imran Khan uses.

The majority of Imran Khan’s statements are objectionable and questionable but his luck is above any question because even courts provide him relief whenever he approaches them.

The rhetoric having aesthetic value directly deals with human emotions, the language of theater could be the best example but a politician cannot arrange a theatrical display claiming prosperity and nation-building but playing human emotion in reality.

For me, Imran Khan’s public appearances are a case study of theatricality. His theatrical performances have all the sources of meaning-making, all forms of communication, communication with music, communication with exaggerated moments, communication with different intonations and stress patrons, and a narrative structure having empathy, misery, valor, grandeur, and mischief.

Even by providing an authentic theatrical experience with a full theatrical aesthetic, I have my reservations about it. Instead of a theatre hall, filled with an audience, it must be a courtroom having the public as judge and jury.

Note: Writer Shazia Anwer Cheema is a Prague-based author, columnist, and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She is a doctoral student and researcher in semiotics and philosophy of communication at Charles University in Prague. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh Email: shaziaanwer@yahoo.com

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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