Led by the lies or forged of the truth?

August 27, 2014

We know Mark Twain’s “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes” and we’ve heard Winston Churchill’s “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Yet as Fred Shapiro notes in his “The Yale Book of Quotations” the concept of a lie outpacing the truth was around long before Churchill and Twain. The first known quote coming from author/satirist Jonathan Swift when in the November 9, 1710 edition of The Examiner he observed: “Falsehood flies and the truth comes limping after it”.

But, because Churchill and Twain had an audience, many of us commoners spend our entire lives never questioning.

Such is the state of truth in Ferguson, Missouri today.

Dorian Johnson, the man walking in the middle of the street with Michael Brown that morning of August 9th, told the story that Office Darren Wilson, with one hand, took 6’4” Brown by the neck and pulled him through the police cruiser window, that officer Wilson shot Brown in the back and that he (Brown) had stopped in the street, put hands up and shouted “don’t shoot”.

And with the flip of a television camera “on” switch, Johnson’s lie was sent on its way.

The truth never had a chance.

By Sunday night, barely 24 hours after the shooting, the anger fueled by Johnson’s lie turned into a mob that left a local Quik Trip looted and burned and set in motion a turn of events unrecognizable to the one that started it all.

The meme that came out of Johnson’s lie, “Hands Up – Don’t Shoot” has become the phrase du jour of anyone and everyone with a grievance.  Whether the grievance is based in fact is no longer relevant, only that one “feels” aggrieved is the new standard.

So secure is Johnson’s lie in the minds of some that justice is now nothing short of a public lynching of Officer Wilson.

Yet it’s not just the aggrieved or the easily manipulated that are susceptible to the power of a lie.

How many well educated, conscientious citizens just accept the meme that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is primarily man made and requires immediate attention?  How do so many not have a clue that the 97 percent claim is cobbled together from previous unscientific “surveys” of abstracts and writings?  Or that the most recent 2013 claim is from an Australian blogger and like-minded zealots and has been thoroughly debunked by, among others, the likes of Professor David R. Legates, former director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware.

How many know of the recent Quinnipiac University study showing that those oh so emotional assault weapons bans have basically no effect on a state’s murder rate or that the more restrictive the concealed carry regulations the higher that state’s gun related murder rate?

How many just accept that the Affordable Care Act is a great thing without even bothering to calculate the cost of the loss of personal and religious liberties stolen in its name?

How many of us acquiesce every day to that we know not to be true because it’s just more comfortable to accept rather than confront?

But in the end, it is neither the lies nor the speed of their travel that is the problem. It’s not even that we so easily get caught up in them.

The real problem is that when the truth finally does arrive, rather than inviting it in, we slam the door in its face.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the August 27, 2014 print edition of The Joplin Globe.

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One Response to Led by the lies or forged of the truth?

  1. […] Looks like some truth has finally caught up the lie. […]


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