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A lack of reverence for truth
By Charles Bloomer
In some aspects of our lives, we have come to expect a certain amount of distortion of the truth. We expect, for example, that zealous advocates will tend to overplay those parts of their argument that support their position while ignoring evidence that plays against them. In addition, we are not surprised when politicians stretch the truth when trying to explain their actions. Most of us are willing and able to take these distortions with a grain of salt.
Our willingness to forgive the "spin" fed to us from certain quarters should not lead us to accepting outright lies. We should be appalled and outraged when someone, anyone, tries to impose falsehoods on us. We should reject outright any lies, falsehoods and deliberate deceptions. A couple of examples come to mind.
Michael Bellesiles, a professor at Emory University, has written a book titled "Arming America". Mr. Bellesiles' intent is to show that gun ownership was uncommon in early America and to demolish the "myth" behind the individual right to gun ownership. Mr. Bellesiles claims to have reviewed more than 10,000 probate records to show that gun ownership was rare until about mid-nineteenth century.
There is a major problem with Mr. Bellesiles' book - it's a fraud. Many of the records that Mr. Bellesiles claims to have reviewed do not exist. He claims to have reviewed probate records in San Francisco. The problem is that the records he claims to have reviewed were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. When pressed by critics for an explanation, he hedged, then claimed he was working from memory since his notes were destroyed when his office flooded (a not too clever variation of "my dog ate my homework"). He has yet to offer a legitimate explanation.
Mr. Bellesiles has an agenda and he is willing to lie, boldly, blatantly, to make his point. It was easier for him to manufacture evidence than to challenge himself intellectually and rethink his position on gun control.
In Washington state, 5 federal and 2 Washington state employees have been caught planting false evidence in an attempt to influence a study on the presence of the Canadian lynx in our national forests. The ramifications of this fraud are significant in that the study could have led to the implementation of strict land-use regulations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Again, we have a case of a perverted dedication to an agenda that leads its supporters to engage in lies, fraud and deception. Real evidence was not sufficient to support the desired outcome, so evidence was manufactured. The sad part about this incident is that all the employees have been "counseled" and returned to their jobs. The federal government and Washington state government evidently care little about honesty and the credibility of their studies and findings regarding endangered species.
Liberals are fond of telling us that truth is relative - a person's truth is what he wants it to be. But truth is not a feeling; it is not subjective. Truth is, in fact, objective and can be supported by facts. Mr. Bellesiles, ESA supporters and their ilk do not want us to know the truth because the truth shows the glaring weakness, even the utter futility of their positions. These liars want us to believe them because of what they feel, not because they can prove their arguments. They want us to believe them because they feel their agendas are morally superior.
These people lack the intellectual honesty, the reverence for truth required for us to take them seriously or to accept their word on any subject. We believe them at our peril.
Charles Bloomer is a Senior Writer for Enter Stage Right. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2002 Charles Bloomer
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