The loudest voice in an argument isn’t the most correct voice.
Unfortunately for many governments — both nationally and internationally — volume of an argument and credibility of an argument have been conflated to a level that at best disrupts policy making and at worst, silences the voices of those who express their arguments in ways other than speaking over people.
This is a non-partisan issue and as many women and non-binary individuals in our society know — volume and interruption are core definitions of mansplaining.
A recent example became apparent in the Congressional testimony of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and “Fixer” Michael Cohen. This column is not intended to go into the credibility issues of that hearing, because there are many both with Cohen and his former client. It is intended to point out how Republican legislators routinely used the oral tool of yelling and interrupting to make their points heard.
Republicans were — rightly so — putting into question Cohen’s legitimacy due to a history of telling falsehoods including previously lying to Congress, part of the reason he will soon be serving years of jail time at a U.S. federal penitentiary.
What Republicans were wrongly doing is yelling over, and interrupting Cohen’s testimony. It could be assumed that pressure applied through intimidation — which raising your voice most certainly is — is a tool to make Cohen trip up in his testimony in order to discredit him.
The intention to point out conflicting narratives is obviously important, but how can we expect any true testimony out of fear?
Cohen has a sordid past, he is going to prison for it, but it is a concern that politicians in a democracy governed by law — and not anger — are unable to remain calm and collected in a congressional hearing that could affect the future of Trump’s presidency.
In this case, but granted not in every case, Democrats asked questions pertaining to Cohen’s testimony in a measured, calm way that was respectful of the institution they represent.
This is the nut of this issue. Western democracies are governed by laws — not by emotion. Our judicial and legislative institutions assume innocence to everyone, regardless of alleged crimes committed.
By assigning anger first, rather than calculated and direct questioning — we undermine the very institutions that protect us all.
Cohen, it appears, has credibility issues: But the majority of people in the United States do not have credibility issues and we must assume everyone’s integrity in order to ensure fairness for all.
Before getting angry and raising your voice, remember that anyone in a society governed by laws could one day be under the microscope and if that someone happens to be innocent, then we simply cannot assign anger and blame in the judicial and legislative process until it is merited.
At that point, laws will dictate necessary punishments for wrongdoing — not mob mentality.