Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lies and cultural memes, exposed


Back in December last year I wrote an article titled 'When lies become cultural memes'.  I addressed the chants of "Hands up! Don't shoot!" and "I can't breathe!" being employed by demonstrators, and pointed out that they were manifestly, undoubtedly false.  They were lies.  I asked:

Am I wrong to insist that the truth is important?  Am I so far out of touch with modern society that I find it morally wrong to demonstrate over something I know to be an untruth?  I have no problem with drawing attention to the very real racial tensions in our society.  They're undeniable.  However, to do so while parroting lies seems to me to taint one's cause with dishonesty.  Can't the demonstrators see this?  Or is it that they no longer care about what's factually true or false, but only about their feelings on the subject?

There's more at the link.

Now the Washington Post, to my surprise, has come down firmly on my side of the argument - even though the newspaper has probably never heard of me or my earlier article.

Catchy phrases like “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “Black lives matter,” “an unarmed black person is killed every 28 hours” (which we have fact checked) have resulted from protests over the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner. They are emotional messages spread easily, like the “We are 99 percent” mantra of Occupy Wall Street.

We care about facts, how they’re used and the context in which the facts are portrayed.

. . .

Investigators have overwhelmingly rejected witness accounts that Brown had his hands up in a surrender before being shot execution-style. The DOJ has concluded Wilson did not know whether Brown was armed, acted out of self-defense and was justified in killing Brown. The majority of witnesses told federal investigators that the initial claims that Brown’s hands were up were not accurate. “Hands up, don’t shoot” did not happen in Brown’s killing, and it is a characterization that deserves Four Pinocchios. Politicians should step carefully if they try to highlight this expression in the future.

Again, more at the link.

Well, at least one mainstream news outlet has chosen to come down on the side of fact.  Now, what about the others?  I somehow don't think it would be wise to hold my breath in anticipation . . .

Peter

1 comment:

Rusty Gunner said...

"I somehow don't think it would be wise to hold my breath in anticipation . . ."

Would you be justified in saying, "I can't breathe" then?

Sorry, couldn't resist.