Bronze-level articleChewbacca Defense

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Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.
—Johnnie Cochran being parodied on South Park

The Chewbacca Defense is any legal or propaganda strategy that seeks to overwhelm its audience with nonsensical arguments, as a way of confusing the audience and drowning out legitimate opposing arguments. It also has, intentionally or unintentionally, the effect of confusing the opponent so that they will stop arguing with you. If they are too chicken to continue the argument, the point they are trying to argue must be equally flimsy, right? Right?

In war, if the opposing side pulls back and raises the white flag, you've won. Some people like to think that this strategy also works in the art of debate. If you can get the opposing side to shut up, then you're right by default.

The sad part? It works. Not just in media, but in real life, too. In fact, most political systems are based on doing this.

Contents

[edit] Origins

The term comes from, surprise, a South Park episode aired in 1998. It is a parody of Jonnie Cochrane's famous closing argument in the OJ Simpson trial.[1]

Cochran 
...ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!
Gerald Broflovski 
Damn it!... He's using the Chewbacca defense!
Cochran 
Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberatin' and conjugatin' the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.[2]

[edit] Key characteristics of a Chewbacca Defense

  • Accusing one's opponent of something unrelated to the subject matter at hand.
  • Repeating a point over and over.
  • Shouting. The logic behind this is that if one's voice is louder, they will seem more powerful, and powerful people always win.
  • Not giving the opponent a chance to talk.
  • Filibustering: that is, interrupting one's opponent and/or talking about nonsense purely to delay and lengthen the debate.
  • Repeatedly bringing up semantics or nitpicking the opposition. This has the effect of either tiring out and distracting the opponent, or simply wasting time.
  • Hitting one's opponent rapid-fire with so many bogus arguments that they cannot keep up unless they write them all down and painstakingly address them one at a time. This lets the debater claim that their opponent's failure to answer a few points as proof that they couldn't answer.

[edit] Common (and sad) examples

The common Chewbacca Defense is based on the following misconceptions and/or fallacies:

Unfortunately, the mere existence of the Chewbacca Defense leads to an unfortunate problem in debate called Chewbacca's Dilemma: No matter what you say in an argument, no matter how intelligently and clearly you word your rebuttals and assertions, your opponent will always perceive whatever you say to be a Chewbacca Defense. In fact, a common political maneuver is to use a Chewbacca Defense in order to accuse the opponent of using a Chewbacca Defense.

Confusing, isn't it?

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. YouTube - Johnny Cochran closing arguments
  2. Americans can watch the scene here. The rest of the world have to make do with this
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