Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Intent to Deceive

There is a lot of concern today over the accuracy of information found on the internet. That concern is absolutely justified; anyone can get on the web, start a website or blog, and say anything they want. Dress it up nice, write intelligently, provide lots of references, and you gain instant credibility for your position (with at least some of the world).

With so much disinformation out there, we have to be careful to take what we read (and see) on the internet with a grain of salt. We are encouraged – and rightfully so – to get our information from trusted sources rather than from extremists in any direction.

But what constitutes a trusted source these days? Take me for instance. Surely my blog carries far less weight than a more “respectable”, well known institution, does it not? After all, who am I anyway? What makes me an authority? Why should I be trusted?

Good questions, and I don’t have answers for them, other than to say, “no one”, “nothing”, and “no reason”, respectively. If that’s okay with you, it’s okay with me.

Where we all run into a problem is when sources that should be reliable & credible prove that they aren’t.

For example, I ran across an article from the Anti-Defamation League this morning entitled
Rage Grows in America: Anti‑Government Conspiracies

I would consider the ADL to be a legitimate organization, more so than “some guy” blogging from a little town in Kentucky, anyway. But right off the bat they lose all credibility. The article starts with this:

“Since the election of Barack Obama as president, a current of anti-government hostility has swept across the United States, creating a climate of fervor and activism with manifestations ranging from incivility in public forums to acts of intimidation and violence.”

Wrong. Completely wrong. Yes, there is most definitely a “current of anti-government hostility”, but it has nothing to do with Barack Obama. Anti-government sentiment has been building steadily – and, in fact, began to skyrocket – throughout the Bush era. I know that, because I’ve been keeping my eye on it for years. It is merely continuing to grow under Obama, namely because nothing has changed.

By trying to twist “anti-government” to mean “anti-Obama”, the ADL is purposely misinforming its readers.

Later in the article it makes the following statements regarding a group that refers to themselves as “Oath Keepers”:

“One manifestation of the ideology of resistance was the creation in March 2009 of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group that tries to recruit police and military personnel and veterans. Members refuse to obey hypothetical “orders” from the government, “orders” that speak more to their own paranoid and conspiratorial beliefs than to any realistic government action.”

Again, this is a complete misrepresentation of what the Oath Keepers are about. Oath Keepers make one assertion and one assertion only: that they will not enforce un-Constitutional orders. That’s it. Period.

Is that anti-government? Does that speak to paranoid and conspiratorial beliefs? Why would a group that has vowed to uphold the Constitution of the United States be considered a “manifestation of the ideology of resistance”?

Do you want to know why there is a growing frustration and anti-government current sweeping the country? Because people feel that they cannot trust the government, and they feel that the government is overstepping its constitutional bounds.

Is that unreasonable? I don’t think so. It’s not like they don’t give us plenty of reason to feel that way. We are lied to all the time.

My definition of a lie, by the way, is “anything that is done with a purposeful intent to deceive”. This would, of course, include “bald-faced” lies, but it also includes those other things we call “half-truths” and even complete silence, if it is done with the intent to deceive.

And, unlike the below*, that’s no lie. “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”

Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” “Yes, yes I am.”

*Excerpt from a conversation (or lack thereof) that occurred on Oct 22nd between a reporter and Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi never did answer the question; her spokesman later made the statement that she didn’t answer it because it was not a “serious question”.


a Cupcake near you! said...

It would seem that the more information in the world, the less we know. Primary sources remain the best way to assure accuracy but even then so much is filtered through a partisan agenda, misinterpreted or not accurately presented in the first place.

Especially in TV media sources. Sadly, too many of the masses out there believe everything they hear on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. I believe cable is killing our culture/politics as we know it.

Catherine Pond

Tony said...

Not to disagree with your point, but just to perhaps stretch it a bit, is there any such things as completely unbiased reporting of an event? Is it possible to not hear things from our own perspective?

Blaine Staat said...

Probably not, but would it really be that hard? Just lay out the facts as they are with no spin attached?

I don't have a problem with news that's presented as opinion, but I do have a problem with opinion that's presented as "news".

We're told to seek out "trusted sources", but where are they?

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting.