Fallacious Thinking - "If You've Done Nothing Wrong You Have Nothing to Fear"
10/2/2021 Note: This article is no longer considered up to standard, and is slated for a rewrite.
The type of thinking represented by the title phrase is farcical. If one follows this line of thinking to its logical conclusion then those slaughtered by tyrannical regimes had obviously done something wrong in order to bring about their deaths - unless of course you consider the possibility of yourself, your family, and your friends being murdered something not worthy of being feared.
Indeed, the abject absurdity of this phrase and others like it (if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide) cannot be overstated. The reasoning behind this phrase is so intellectually bankrupt that no real explanation of its absurdity should be necessary, but this is a world where critical thinking has been largely cast aside in favor of communicating through catchphrases, aphorisms, and popular slogans uttered by social influencers. As noted previously simply following the reasoning behind the phrase to its logical conclusion has the inevitable result of condemning the wrongly convicted, victims of genocide, and others who have done nothing “wrong” – at least as far as wrong would be defined in most modern cultures.
Surely those who face wrongful conviction have something to fear, and this possibility may prove a more tangible example for those whose lives have gone untouched by state sponsored violence. There are numerous documented cases of individuals serving out significant portions of their lives in prison or even facing execution for crimes they did not commit. In these instances those individuals had done nothing “wrong” yet faced deprivation of life and freedom. Such wrongful convictions have occurred and still occur even in states with systems of law widely seen as just, including the United States – the vaunted “land of the free”.
Additionally this problematic logic can be applied to civil lawsuits. Many individuals and businesses will use lawsuits to intimidate and silence opponents or critics, even when their target has done nothing illegal or indeed was attempting to perform a good deed. SLAPP suits (SLAPP being short for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) are often wholly frivolous lawsuits designed to deprive someone of their right to free speech and expression – the “public participation” portion of the acronym. Wikipedia has a sampling of some of the more well known SLAPP suits here for further reading on the subject.
Those who initiate such lawsuits often bank on controlling the narrative, making the defendant out to be a malicious spreader of lies and disinformation, when the exact opposite is true. However, attorneys are expensive and lawsuits are stressful, time consuming matters. The costs alone are often enough to force defendants to settle by issuing retractions and apologies extorted at the end of a lawyers pen, lest the defendant find themselves buried in judgment debt.
While this is a short deliberation on the matter, it should now be plain to any who are capable of thinking past simple sloganeering that “if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear” is little more than vapid tripe most often used in bad faith attempts to stifle any defense from accusations.