BY SHARON MARTIN
“It’s the electoral college that decides the presidential race,” I said.
“Yeah, I know.”
No, he doesn’t, so we will read an article about the Electoral College next week in class. Maybe we can clear up his misunderstanding. But what does one do when the misinformation is coming from the next table in a restaurant?
I overheard a group of women talking about Target.
“It’s a French company. That’s why we call it Tar-Jay,” one said, mimicking a French accent. She told her friends that Target wouldn’t support veterans’ groups so military wives decided to boycott the company.
When I got home I checked it out. Target’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, although they do have Canadian and Indian offices. I didn’t see a French address for this publicly-traded company [TGT on the New York Stock Exchange], but I did see the e-mail exchange, the result of a misunderstanding, that started the veteran’s support rumor.
Aw, Internet! You can find such wondrous stuff there, only some of it true.
Columnists, politicians, humans of all stripes will be glad to share what they know or think they know. Unscrupulous religious leaders will tell you what to think and how to vote. Some will tell you when to protest, no need to worry about the truth for oneself.
A foreign correspondent covering the protests in Libya had this startling announcement about the film, Innocence of Muslims, that is sparking such violence:
“None of the protesters I talked to had seen the video.”
No, they took someone’s word for it that it was an insult. It was all they needed. When there is all that pent-up anger, truth be damned.
We are guaranteed free speech in this country. Women at a restaurant can spread false rumors about an American corporation. A hate group can adopt a stretch of highway in Georgia, erecting a sign to advertise their civic mindedness. Free speech lets a Coptic Christian from Egypt post a lousy film on YouTube.
People have fought and died for this right. It is precious. So is truth.
Truth is our personal responsibility. We don’t need to curtail free speech. In the face of so much rumor, innuendo, and misinformation, we do need to think and check sources before we believe.
It is truth that makes us truly free.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer