The next few editions will be about issues that may seem less mundane than the hyperbolic nature of what’s going on on the national stage right now. There’s enough of that for you to find where this column is published. This will be more about common disagreements the left and the right have where they may actually be able to come to a mutual conclusions. Will that happen? Maybe not, but it’s worth the try.
Yes, “to post, or not to post,” that is not the question. The question is how to post.
I have many Facebook friends on both sides of the aisle. Well, rephrase, what too many of us think are only 2 sides to the political aisle. There is no “aisle,” and there are so many “sides” it goes beyond 3 dimensions. I started to type an explanation and then back spaced. That concept deserves a edition all its own. Maybe I’ll write it someday.
One of my many Facebook friends, I think more on the left side of this vastly over simplified equation, posted a meme that claimed Donald Trump had tweeted that minorities and the disabled caused too many problems in schools. The statement was more stark and judgmental than that.
I did do a quick Snopes first, though I’m guessing I may not have typed the right words into their search feature. I usually do “quick” because searching Snopes irritates me. Search by a well know person’s name sometimes results dive way too deep in a bottomless septic tank’s worth of urban myths. It’s like trying to find a tiny patch of “the green, green, grass of home” mixed with among poison ivy and oak. Specific words may come up nada. So I paraphrase the claim and, if I’m lucky, the leprechaun’s rhetorical pot of gold, or pot of “whatever,” appears . Maybe, in this case I made the wrong choice? I don’t remember what I did, exactly.
Anywhosie, apparently he didn’t say it, as I increasingly began to believe when I commented, “doesn’t smell right.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself: literally and figuratively.
I have spent a lot of time on FB and elsewhere doing the debunk the gunk jig… or should we call it, “The jig is up?” I often use Snopes. I find it, generally, reliable despite some folk’s dismissing it; usually from the right… ironic in this case, I suppose. Partisans have their own favorite debunking sites; a sign of the times. Few people trust anyone anymore, and paranoia runs deep: “everyone has an agenda” is a popular belief. I would respond everyone has their skew, but not all of us refuse to are unable to see through urban myths and outright lies even when they’re oh, so, convenient. This separates the sheeple and the partisan hacks from those of us who prefer to think. We may come to the right conclusion tad slow sometimes, but that’s preferable to acting out the lemming myth.
If someone simply posts something like this as fact with no caveats, well, that certainly can be offensive. I do understand: pretty much everyone gets fooled from time to time. So I may give them a little leeway until, when challenged, they make it far worse by getting all righteous. It’s especially annoying when someone tries to divert my attention by making me do their dirty work. They tell me to go Google it.
You make the claim, you back it up or talk it out with me, otherwise you’re a dishonest broker and large part of the problem.
On the bright side, like when I posted, I’ve seen a lot of folks debunking and/or questioning such things, even if it’s convenient to basic beliefs I know they have. That’s a good thing, in my opinion; those are some of the conversations we should be having: together. It’s healthy. It’s so much better than the left bashing what the right is posting, or the right bashing leftward posts, or phrasing every response as an insult. Certainly better than the uppity, “Everyone knows that,” followed by refusing to back up that vast claim.
Again: all part of the problem and what has become a tiresome, “hue-geh!,” “YAWN.”
There are so many of these urban legends and political non-gotchas that keep going round and round, they can be like a virus. Sometimes we approach epidemic levels.
What is the best approach when it comes to such things?
Maybe using our natural reasoning abilities, together?
I know there are those who claim you should never post something unless you completely check it out. “Complete” is tough in a day when people just auto call things they don’t agree with “fake news,” get ticked off when you challenge them to “prove it,” and when sites like Snopes get automatically dismissed.
You see something like this and want to post? My answer to all this is go ahead if you wish, but understand what you post may not be true. Provide a caveat like I did with this one. When someone expresses skepticism say you wonder too, like I did, or ask them, politely, why they’re so skeptical. In consecutive posts I repeated my skepticism and mentioned it was interesting when someone claimed there was an indication it wasn’t legit.
Finally a hero found the Snopes entry.
This is what we should be doing: figuring it out together. We had people from the left and the right trying to ascertain what the truth was here. That’s a good thing.
In a day when we question E-mails, the security of a server, shouldn’t we also question just how secure we are now? How secure is tweeting? Someone posing as a man who became president and posting this, isn’t that a concern? High profile public figures using readily available social media to debate and post positions, argue issues, may not be such a great idea. Obviously there are hackers out there willing to post and pose as them. Some stink at it, some scarily good.
But, on the other hand, we’re never going to get everyone to stop posting fake quotes or claims. We may be able to humiliate certain segments of society into hesitating so much only one side gets to “propel the propaganda.” That’s a very dangerous situation for any truly representative society, or one who claims to be “free.” And I’m more than a tad dubious of crackdowns on such, especially in a hyper-partisan time: one side gets prosecuted, even if the error is slight but the claim mostly true, and the other side gets a free pass to do whatever they want, spread any lie.
Anyone hankering for a plate of Stalin, mixed with 50s KGB with a mega side of “Sieg HEIL?”
We have every reason not to like many of the wild claims out there, however people have a right to make them, to believe, even they’re quite wrong. What people hear, or think they’ve heard v. slander can be a thin line and crackdowns could far too easily lead us into living under some of the worst, most oppressive, regimes humanity has had the unfortunate opportunity to be forced to live under.
Frankly that scares me far more than there being some people still believing such things despite them eventually being debunked. Sheep will do what they do, believe what they believe, no matter who posts what. It’s always so Pavlov-ian, and all too common these days.
But people of different philosophical leanings working together towards some final common conclusion, assessing what’s real, what’s not, uncovering the fraudulent, the lies? This path leads to a far better society, and less nastiness in the great partisan divide.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved