Note to readers: I’m a little under the weather at the moment, so instead of my previously planned column, I offer instead a version of a piece that first appeared on my blog, Serenity is a Fuzzy Belly, on May 9, 2013. I should be back to my usual hijinks next week.
I’ve said many times that I don’t like to talk about politics because I don’t like myself very much when I do. I don’t quite get to the foaming-at-the-mouth stage, but one thing in particular always takes me to the edge very quickly.
That would be the rewriting of history, which, oddly, often includes things that happened in the past week. I’m not talking about spin. It’s wholesale manufacture of an entirely new storyline.
Truth has become a four-letter word, and fact is the other f-word, and just as obscene. Jack Webb’s “Just the facts, ma’am” would probably have to be censored for these people.
Partisans can look at the same piece of raw, unedited video and translate it in diametrically opposed ways. This is nothing new … political scientists have often noted that interpretation of facts by partisans tends to match their worldview. However, in recent decades, it seems that not only can partisans not agree on how to interpret facts, they can’t agree on what the facts actually are.
Some people will never believe that Barack Obama is not a Kenyan Muslim jihadist fascist/communist/Marxist who wears a pink tutu and eats babies, or that Bill and Hillary Clinton are not at the center of a huge drug/murder conspiracy or that there is no conspiracy for them to rule the world by joining forces with aliens from Alpha Centauri.
Others will never believe that Ronald Reagan wasn’t the Anti-Christ, or that the George W. Bush presidency was not bought and paid for by his family and protected by al-Qaida and several secret societies.
Media isn’t innocent in this regard, but most of the mainstream media has been unfairly demonized, in my opinion. Our job is to ferret out truth, and truth doesn’t have a political leaning. Facts are facts, immutable, unchanging, eternal. Other facts may change the context in which they’re viewed, but reality is what it is.
And no, reporters simply asking questions of political candidates and covering their campaigns is not harassment, no matter how much a certain person whines.
Facts are not carefully edited soundbites that ignore context all so it can be made to appear that Obama doesn’t understand the concepts of work and capitalism (which, by the way is an economic theory, not a political one). They’re not video loops or screen grabs of Shrub having trouble figuring out how to open a door in Asia (but they are funny!).
A lot of the time, as I’ve noted before, people manufacture quotes to serve their interests; for them, the lie is an acceptable means to an end. As Thomas Jefferson didn’t say: “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”
However, for people who trust and DON’T verify, it’s almost impossible to sway them from the misinformation they’ve been sold. It matters not how many times they’ve been given the actual truth, they won’t believe it if it doesn’t jibe with their worldview, and stubbornly stick to their guns (sometimes literally), remaining ignorant of the truth.
C’mon, just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it true; if it did, I’d be a gorgeous 25-year-old living in a mansion with my beautiful family and living off the proceeds of my award-winning writing, singing, acting, etc., etc., and so on. But I’m not (in my head, though …).
Perhaps if we all could turn off the part of the brain that governs opinion, we’d have a chance at reasonable debate, and things would get done because logic would rule and compromise would be made possible … at least until all the chocolate and vanilla ice cream in the Neapolitan carton is gone and all that’s left is the strange-tasting strawberry.
I can’t stand the strawberry. You can have mine. I much prefer Yarnell’s Homemade Chocolate anyway.
Now I’ll get back to my four-letter truth. At least he’s cute and has a fuzzy belly.
Even if he won’t let me touch it.
Just a few reminders for letter- writers: There are some things we just can’t print, so please avoid poetry and/or copyrighted material, form letters, complaints about businesses, personal attacks, debunked tales, laundry lists of Bible verses and the like. We can’t print everything we get, and bullying won’t work with us.
We do fact-check, which unfortunately can slow up matters considerably but is preferable to printing rumors consistently proved false by reputable nonpartisan fact-checkers who provide their sources.
I know, strange concept, the idea of allowing people to see the original material so they can judge the veracity for themselves. It’s almost like I don’t believe in the idea of “So-and-so said it, so it’s true.”
That’s just crazy talk!