So today many of us in South Africa protested unsuccessfully against a proposed bill on the "protection of information" which many fear will become a tool for the government to silence media reports they dislike. The government swears they would never use it to censor the media though. Somehow I'm less than convinced. Lately it has become very clear to me that politicians as a species very much dislike the truth.
Now I'm sure you just had a very sarcastic thought after reading that last sentence of mine. I know how naive it must sound, expecting honesty from politicians! A politician telling lies is hardly breaking news after all, it's business as usual. In fact it is probably the earliest entry in the big book of lame cliches and I get that. I promise you I'm not as naive as I sound, I understand that politicians have never actually been honest. It's just that they seem to be getting worse lately. Much worse.
First there was Senator Jon Kyle who told a whopping lie about Planned Parenthood - nothing odd about that. The really crazy part came a few hours later when he was confronted with the truth and his office responded that his words were "not intended to be a factual statement". I'm pretty sure I'm not just looking at the past with rose coloured glasses here, this isn't par for the course! Pretty sure that traditionally when caught telling a big fat lie politicians at least bothered to come up with some lame excuse for it or at least doubled down and tried to defend their statement. To basically tell everyone else that they are actually the dumbasses for expecting a politician to tell the truth in the first place seems like a brand new twist on dishonesty! It's not just me right? Pretty sure this was the first time that a politician blamed the public for stupidly expecting his facts to be factual! Sadly, that was not the last time...
Just the other day I watched presidential hopeful Herman Cain start a discussion on the Occupy Wall Street movement by saying "I don't have facts to back this up". Since when is that a way to start a discussion? Am I the crazy one for thinking that is how you end discussion of a topic? "I don't have any facts to back this up" should be how you excuse yourself from discussing something you don't know anything about. It should not be offered as a license to share any crazy idea you just pulled out of your ass! Maybe I'm wrong but my parents raised me differently.
Speaking of parents, Michelle Bachmann is a proud parent. I've often heard her bring up the fact that she is a mother of 5 and foster mother of 23 to illustrate her conservative, pro-family credentials. Yet, lately she has started doing something I'd bet she never let her children do. First she went on national television to tell the world that the HPV vaccine causes girls to become mentally retarded. Now this claim is utter bullshit as any doctor would be able to tell you but Mrs Bachmann had a great source - some woman she doesn't know told her that. Now I'm not sure what kind of a parent Mrs Bachmann is but I know what my parents would have told me if I came to them with a wild story I heard from a complete stranger; They would have told me to stop passing on unfounded rumours and to check my facts before I start spreading lies that could potentially hurt people. I may be out of line but I'm reasonably sure that Mrs Bachmann would have told her children the same thing. So why is it OK for her to spread false rumours? It's not like it was a one time thing either, she recently told how "Obamacare" prevents doctors from helping the sick because they have to check with the IRS before they can treat someone. It's not true at all but she shared it anyway because an anonymous 7 foot tall doctor told her that story. Surely she knows better? She must know she's spreading rumours and telling lies, right? She can't not know, people keep telling her these aren't true and she keeps doing it anyway!
What's going on? Is this normal now? I didn't even have to go looking for these stories, these are just the ones that made the headlines so who knows what else is out there! Like I said, I'm not really this naive, I know politicians are dishonest but this goes way beyond simply telling lies. This is a new level of brazenly disregarding the truth. It's like they don't even have the decency to act honest anymore! They're not even pretending to tell the truth anymore, they are just openly lying and getting upset at people for not being OK with that. It's gotten so bad that I can't even enjoy the irony of seeing the same people who rail against the dangers of moral relativism be openly dishonest when it suits their campaigns.
Am I the crazy one? Am I wrong? Surely it wasn't always like this? When did politicians openly declare war on the truth?