Some public figures and their media pals lately have been making claims so brazenly and repeatedly untrue that we have to conclude they’re deliberately lying.
This delusional dishonesty is taking root both nationally and locally, metastasizing our “normal” political discourse into an unrelenting battle between truth and lies.
A prime example of this cancerous struggle is the iniquitous Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who claims to have met privately with the pope, and that he endorses her anti-gay crusade.
The Vatican retorted that the pontiff not only hadn’t met with Davis directly – that she was merely one in a crowd – but he actually met privately with a gay couple (his personal friends) only moments before the group gathering.
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Yet Davis and her grifting promoters continue to peddle the lie that the pope supports her discriminating ways. Not even a papal rebuke stopped them.
Then there’s Jason Chaffetz, Republican congressman from Utah, chair of a committee “investigating” Planned Parenthood. At a hearing, he proffered a chart purporting to show PP performed more abortions in 2013 than “life-saving procedures.” He claimed to have gotten it from a PP annual report.
It was pointed out to his face that not only was the chart created by anti-abortion crusaders – not PP – but also that the numbers were fake. Regardless, Chaffetz continued to sell the lie for days during unchallenged Fox News interviews despite irrefutable proof that it was false.
Now come county supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton, who, at a recent board meeting of the Air Pollution Control District, connived to rewrite history. Hustling a provable falsehood, these partisans convinced a one-vote majority to amend minutes of the June 2015 meeting to say county Supervisor Adam Hill is rude.
In June, a state worker embarrassed his employer by preaching personal opinions to the APCD board, in conflict with his agency’s position on Nipomo Dunes dust. He was removed from the project by his boss for his breach of professional conduct.
Compton and Arnold claimed Hill interrupted the state worker, preventing him from stating his case. Video of the meeting disproves that claim.
Yet, in a naked display of pusillanimous pettiness, Arnold and Compton retroactively fabricated “facts” to embarrass Hill and bolster their continual rejection of air quality science.
Mendacity also lurks in the back alleys of local online media. One small example: As it’s wont to do, CalCoastNews recently ran a fact-free “story” disparaging this column by accusing me of conflicts of interest. I detailed its incontestable litany of lies in an online rebuttal.
Yet the CCN scribbler continued to insist online and on local conspiracy radio that his discredited deceitfulness was true.
Such perfidies add to an endless torrent of bickering that drives reasonable people to reject public involvement and pine for the return of sanity to the public square.
Meanwhile, nationally and locally, many folks mistakenly believe “both sides do it” with a dismissive “pox-on-both-your-houses” certainty.
What’s crystal clear is that “both sides” don’t do it. Both sides don’t embrace lying as a bedrock political principle. Only one side consistently does it. It has TV, radio and online networks dedicated to it and legions of activists engaged in it.
Conflict is inevitable between truth and lies. So they fight.
The struggle between them is asymmetric: liars have the advantage of not caring about proof and accountability, while truth tellers must produce fact- and evidence-based rebuttals, then stand and defend themselves for doing it.
Heaven vs. Hell. Good vs. Evil. Truth vs. Lies: Fox News and its flock want us to believe there’s an equally legitimate choice between these distinctly different concepts.
Inanities such as “We report, you decide” consent to the deceit — a rank abdication of the trust placed with those who profit from the public airwaves.
On the SLOSense Facebook page I manage, my good friend Jeff Buckingham bewails the growing local political dyspepsia.
“I have a dream,” Jeff wrote recently, “that we could all live together in this beautiful county, love and respect each other, and agree to disagree when necessary.”
Like the old days. But history shows that, unpleasant as it is, repudiating lies is prerequisite to peace.
Had no one challenged Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, our nation might be even more politically mean and evil than it is. Americans rejected McCarthyism then by demanding facts, accountability and fairness.
The lament “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” still resonates.
Not standing up to the lie is the same as accepting it as truth.
There is no middle ground.