Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

The choice to fact-check vigorously, even when a story is reported by well-funded news outlets, seems only to happen when the writers in question disagree with the story, while the decision to accept the fact-checking of any traditional media outlet, in order to be able to fast-forward to the aforementioned high dudgeon, seems to come when the weblogger likes repeating or even amplifying the claims made further upstream.
Clay Shirky

All too often the truth is often secondary to what people want to hear and what they want to enjoy getting worked up about, whether it's in a sexual or righteous way. Information finds its level and its target.
Yoz Grahame
"Banning blogging, 'Toothing, and Yoz" Many2Many, 5 April 2005
As you might suspect, when I heard about conservative politicians and media outlets uncritically repeating that the Obama administration was spending more per diem on the President's trip to India than it costs to prosecute the war in Afghanistan, and were renting out more rooms in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel than are actually in the building, this was the first thing that came to my mind.

This idea, that there is nothing too outrageous to believe and/or repeat about people you don't like, is dangerous. (On the other hand, the Obama administration isn't doing themselves any favors in treating the overall cost of the trip as a state secret.) As we become more and more caught up in the idea that politics and morality are related, we inch ever closer to the idea (although I suspect that we're already there to a degree) that there is an objectively "correct" political position to be taken on any given subject. And what follows from that is the idea that dissent from that position is an act of intentional wrongdoing. "Evil," to be blunt about it.

And fights against Evil always end in bloodshed.

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