Archive for July 14th, 2011
It seems to me that Detroit’s use of the word “suitable” is void for vagueness. Nonetheless, a Detroit woman is facing jail time for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard.
Here is perhaps the biggest challenge facing democracy today: Telling lies is often much easier than establishing the truth. This parallels physical construction, where destroying a building is much easier than building it.
I’m going to pick on conservatives here, because this is where the problem most often and most saliently occurs these days (consider the track records of FOX News, for instance, or Michelle Bachmann). When conservatives lie (or palter or recklessly repeat falsehoods), it takes substantial time and effort to set the record straight. That work of setting things straight often involves tracking down primary sources, and it often requires rehabilitating the credibility of the smeared parties. When this repair work is done well in writing, it involves lots of research, ample linking and especially clear writing. The work required to damage truth is so much less than maintaining truth that I would propose that the smear campaigns run by 5% of the population are usually capable of incapacitating the other 95%.
I’d like to point to a recent example from Missouri, where Dana Loesch, an entirely unself-critical conservative radio host affiliated with the Tea Party, in concert with other conservatives, spewed lies that almost cost two university professors their jobs. Both the lies and the truth have been well-documented by Adam Shriver of St. Louis Activist Hub. Shriver goes well beyond getting the facts straight in other articles he has written–he has given important context to the facts–something that a major St. Louis newspaper failed to do. Setting the record straight also required excellent work by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.
So the battle goes on, and the forces of truth will be fighting at a major disadvantage because they carry the burden of establishing the truth. They will be working longer and harder to keep things accurate, and even when they successfully document and refute the lies of conservatives (as they did here), there will be no time to celebrate, because those who intentionally lie, or who are reckless with the truth, will have moved on to promulgate new falsehoods.