Friday, May 28, 2010

The Truth Doesn't Have to be True...

As the number of media outlets in the world has grown, so has the number of people who tout themselves as experts. And with the ever-expanding number of media outlets comes the pressure to attract new listeners, viewers or readers.

What to do? The favorite strategy of commentators, politicians and nonprofit "advocates" is to create their own special, sensational brand of truth. This isn't truth that actually contains any facts, but rather truth designed to provoke passionate reaction, particularly anger and/or outrage. From Rudy Giuliani's assertion that no terrorist attack occurred on US soil during George W. Bush's presidency (guess he forgot about 9/11) to Sarah Palin's recent accusation that President Obama won't discipline BP for their negligence in the recent oil spill because big oil was a powerful donor to his presidential campaign (Palin has actually received triple the money from big oil than Obama and the Democratic Party), these "truths" come fast and furious, and are rarely checked or challenged by the mainstream media. And this is why people still want to see President Obama's birth certificate...

But I digress. Earlier this week, Bryan Fischer of the right-wing American Family Association truly crossed the truth equator with assessments he made on his radio show:

"So Hitler himself was an active homosexual. And some people wonder, didn't the Germans, didn't the Nazis, persecute homosexuals? And it is true they did; they persecuted effeminate homosexuals. But Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his Stormtroopers, they were his enforcers, they were his thugs. And Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual solders basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, were male homosexuals."

I am beyond the capacity to understand what people like Fischer have to gain with accusations like these, except to incite hate, prejudice and violence against gay people. And isn't one conservative argument against letting openly gay people serve in the military that they won't be effective soldiers? But Fischer clearly thinks that only gay people can be cutthroat, so which is it? Is the new brand of gay soldier 100 percent weaker than their historical predecessors?

Doesn't the media have any responsibility to challenge these so-called truths? Who can police the "experts"? If this is what passes for news and information these days, will out-and-out false accusations not be too far behind? It's scary to think that the further we move away from the days of McCarthyism, where a simple rumor could ruin a person's life, we never stray too far from obfuscation of the truth.

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