Thursday, March 21, 2013

Burn All the Chairs!

There is one thing that a kid throwing tantrums will not receive and that is praise. He may get the toys that he demands but he will not be praised by his parents. He may even receive a spanking for his misbehavior.

Apparently, some adults didn't outgrew their habit  of throwing tantrums. Some of them even mixed it with popular ideologies to make it appealing and, in the process, acceptable. I'm referring to the leftist activists who have the habit of throwing tantrums just to send their points across.

Burn all the chairs meme

I was attacked on Facebook this week because I criticized the “burning of the chairs” done by student activists of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). The activists burned the chairs to protest the alleged “2,000% tuition fee hike”.

The person who attacked me argued that the burning of the chairs is justifiable because they are fighting for a lofty reason, and that is to keep PUP education accessible to the poor. In short, she argued that the “end justifies the means”. 

Student activists burning chairs
(Source: Library of Most Controversial File FB page)

My opponent also argued that they (the student activists) have the right to burn the chairs because “they are taxpayers too”.

Argument of the pro-chair burning in PUP

My reply to her two arguments is “wrong and wrong”.

Burning chairs and destroying public property is wrong because they're owned by the Filipino people as a whole. Each Filipino, including the student activists, has a right for that chair because he paid for it by his taxes. The claim that the activists have the right to burn the chairs because they are taxpayers too is foolish because they trampled upon the right of other taxpayers who don't want the chairs to be destroyed. They unjustly gave themselves sole authority to decide on the fate of those chairs.

The student activists argued that the chairs were already dilapidated and unusable thus suitable for burning. This argument is still baloney. Ownership is not determined by the condition of the property. My shirt is still my shirt even if it is already faded and full of holes. Those chairs that were fed to the fire is still owned by the public even if they are rickety or missing a leg.

Fighting for an ideal doesn't give idealists the license to do everything they want. Our actions are limited by the boundaries set by rights of other people. In the case of public property, my right to use it is limited by the right of other people to use it. I can say that I own the chair (I'm a taxpayer too) but I'm not allowed to carry it home. In the similar sense, I can say that I own the chair but I'm not allowed to burn it. My right to the publicly-owned chair is limited because my actions (carrying it home and burning it) prevented other people to exercise their right to use that publicly-owned chair!

Claiming that the “burning of the chairs” benefited PUP students because it stopped the tuition hike is worrisome not because their claim is questionable (PUP president said that the activists were misinformed because there's no tuition increase for undergraduate courses) but because their act is like that of a kid throwing tantrums. Their “victory” will surely embolden them to use the similar act whenever they demand something. And just like a kid throwing tantrum, their  acts will go wilder and wilder if their elders don't give in to their demands. Perhaps they'll burn a building of PUP when the university admin stopped being threatened by the “burning of the chairs”.


  1. This is sad. Certainly such drastic acts won't help their cause. One wonders who give advise to these activists. My wife is from PUP and, while she sympathizes with the plight of those affected by tuition fee increases, finds the burning of chairs too much to handle.

    1. I don't know who are the advisers of these students. One thing that we can be sure of that their belief system is not contradicted by this act. Socialist teachings usually leads to vandalism and destruction of property (and even killing of other people) just for the sake of the revolution. The experience of Russians under the socialist tyranny is a good example.


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