Monday, September 10, 2012

Moot? Interpretation?

Seemingly parallel and equally weighted to free speech, far too many of us nod like bobble-head dolls in approval of virtually everything being open to interpretation. Whether it's a shared experience or analysis of provable/disprovable facts, we like to extend the right to everyone to be bone-headed wrong.

There's some stereotypical fantasy that unless you cut people infinite slack for the wackiest ideas, you are far too rigid and you don't understand the human thought process. It is true enough that overly rigid literal thinking leads to orthodoxy and exclusion of differing ideals. But letting everyone advance wacky ideas to a group is cowardice.

Cut me a very thin slice of that baloney, Jack. Not all ideas or interpretations of facts are valid or equal. Some of us twist the facts and evidence for our nefarious purposes. Others are too lazy to analyze at all. Still others are not very bright.

Instead of bobbling when you hear, "It's just a matter of interpretation," consider it your moral and intellectual obligation to call foolishness. Ideally, you'll be well-bred enough to avoid doing it self-righteously. Yet, the main goal should be putting the brakes to the wagon-load of crap.

Out of our control are professional loonies and liars, like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. They are highly paid entertainers, masquerading as analysts and commentators. They have no incentive to be reasonable, realistic or honest.

Where you can have an effect though is in the likes of personal conversations and public meetings. Don't yield to those who say their crazy assertions are as valid as yours or anyone else's. Most times that simply isn't true. Say it, say it to them.

Of course, much of this is political and cultural. The most obvious current example may be the birther folk. They have available and most have beheld the POTUS' state-issued proof he was born in Hawaii, as well as seen the newspaper announcement and so forth. For them to hold that Barack Obama is not a native-born American is loony, stupid or both. Yet, some continue to insist this is a matter of interpretation.

Yes, reasonable people can disagree, but one reasonable one and one crazy one are on different planes, unequal ones.

I think of a relative who advances fantasies and lies constantly and has from when I first met her. To put it kindly, I can say she is perhaps the most skilled fabulist I've ever known. She constantly re-remembers, restructures, reinterprets, and retells her life. Although she was an adulteress, an inheritance thief and more, she speaks with great conviction of her blamelessness in all acts and in fact represents herself as heroic and virtuous. She reinvents herself as the lead in her own play.

She has lied to my face, slandered other relatives, and iterated those calumnies repeatedly at increasing volume. In the times that I called her on them and spoke of provable contradictions, she would simply drop the subject and address it no further.

Don't Accept It

There too are the behaviors of the worst of these sorts. In what used to be limited to U.S. prep school (UK public schools) and Ivy-League class colleges, the disingenuous learn to shout and badger. The atmosphere includes the elements that if you bellow someone down, you win. Of course, the truth is that if you cow someone by saying the same thing repeatedly at increasing volume, you aren't right. Instead you are loud, repetitive and, well, rude. Unfortunately, this attitude has percolated from the fancy schools into the populace.

Bill O'Reilly certainly fits in that group. Also, although I agree with most of his politics, Chris Matthews does as well. Neither listens to others and both bully their guests far too frequently. I have little doubt it has to do with their home lives and schooling.

So, the call here is plain. When the jive demons pretend, don't accept it. When you know better, tell 'em. Don't accept that everything is a matter of interpretation, that one set of assertions is automatically as valid as another.

Facts are stubborn things. When armed with knowledge, be as stubborn.

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