Logic dodgy; debate right

Logic dodgy; debate right

Does the attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to have anything to do with press freedom?

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. That is a Latin phrase for a logical fallacy I learned in my advanced subsidiary critical thinking class back in secondary school. It translates into: "Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X."

Looking at last week's brutal attack on the former chief editor of Ming Pao, it is easy to apply the same logic.

While Lau was still chief editor, the newspaper made a determined effort to reveal the vast sums of money owned by senior mainland officials and their relatives. One may be led to believe that the brutal knife attack against Lau is the result of disobedience towards the greater authority in Beijing. And if you can establish this "logical" link, one might see how the attack can come to symbolise a threat to Hong Kong's press freedom.

But the conclusion is ridiculous, as there is no evidence to support this hugely popular conspiracy theory.

True, the attack occurred at a time when we were starting to become cynical about the level of press freedom in our city. When Li Wei-ling, a highly critical talk-show host, was sacked by Commercial Radio last month, alarm bells rang.

It is no surprise that people saw the sacking as an attempt by Leung Chun-ying's administration to tighten its grip on media censorship.

There are other examples that may suggest a change in our media landscape. Yet one cannot be certain that the attack on Lau was directly related to what journalists usually do: holding politicians to account, even if it means exposing their deepest, darkest secrets.

One thing for sure is that the six blows Lau received across his body sparked a sense of terror across the city. But whether the attack really involved gangs, the Hong Kong government or Beijing, I think, is beside the point.

Violence, no matter the target or motive, should always be condemned. The fact that the victim is a giant within the Hong Kong press circle might raise the issue of press freedom.

To put it plainly, this latest act of violence prompted people to question Hong Kong's core values more than ever before. But let's not confuse that issue with the argument that Lau's actions as chief editor led to the attack.

Press freedom has long been a subject of concern. We must fight for a media that is independent of political influences.

We don't know if the attack was an act of revenge for Lau's "misconduct" at Ming Pao, but we have to thank him for igniting the debate.

The true battle for press freedom has begun.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Logic dodgy; debate right


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