Thu, Mar 24, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Can't find 319 truth? Make up your own

By Mac William Bishop 楊謙信

The Greek historian Herodotus, in The Histories, wrote of a curious Scythian custom. Whenever a Scythian king fell ill, he would send for three soothsayers, who would use their powers to name an individual as the cause of the illness. The belief was that the king could only become ill if someone had sworn an oath in the king's name, and then broken it.

Thus named, the guilty party was then arrested and brought before the king, whereupon he could choose to admit or deny the crime. If he denied it, the king would send for six more soothsayers, and if they declared that the man was innocent, the king would send for six more soothsayers -- and so on, until finally six soothsayers could be found who agreed with the original three. The "oath-breaker" was then beheaded summarily.

While such a method of establishing guilt seems quaint by modern standards, the pan-blue camp has decided that it is a perfectly reasonable means of legal inquiry, and have employed a similar method to uncover the "truth" behind the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on March 19 last year. How else can one explain the ongoing farce that comprises the pan-blues' effort to undermine the legitimacy of last year's presidential election?

The pan-blues watched sullenly as both of their lawsuits challenging the election results were tossed out by the courts. They stood by, unfazed, as the independent investigator they had invited, forensic scientist Henry Lee (李昌鈺), declared that the wound Chen suffered was consistent with a gunshot.

They rammed a 319 shooting statute through the legislature -- which they controlled -- that established an extra-legal partisan task force, giving it the grandiose title "March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee."

Next, they ignored the Council of Grand Justices' ruling that parts of the special 319 committee statute were unconstitutional. Then they watched as this same "non-partisan" committee -- composed of pan-blue officials -- issued a report uncovering the "truth" of the shooting: It was staged. Well, of course it was. That's what Taipei taxi drivers have been saying all along.

In its defense, one must point out that the committee, although it ignored the normal channels of investigation and spurned the sparse evidence it had access to, did collect a vast body of data to prove its surprising theory.

The facts the committee was able to muster amounted to this: The shooting was, well, mysterious. Therefore, it must be part of a vast conspiracy stretching to the highest levels of government.

Meanwhile, an actual suspect has been identified by police after a lengthy, meticulous and unglamorous investigation (CSI: Tainan isn't in the offing just yet). And he has turned out to be an "unhinged fruitcake" trying to "make an amateurish attempt to kill a prominent and controversial political figure," as some genius predicted in April of last year.

So what has been the pan-blue response? To try to establish another "319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee."

Find six new soothsayers. They'll get it right eventually.

It is a wonderful world that the pan-blues live in. It is the world of P.T. Barnum, Joseph Goebbels and every spin doctor that has ever held a government post. It is not, however, the real world.

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