The truth is supposed to matter. We've all had that drilled into us since we were tykes, it's what we tell our own children and grandchildren.
But in 2014 America the truth is getting pummeled on a daily basis. We just endured an ugly episode that severely damaged race relations and still has America on edge. It was largely based on a lie told by a serial liar.
Dorian Johnson was hanging with Michael Brown that day in Ferguson when the duo robbed a convenience store and got into the confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson. It was Johnson, who had previously been convicted for lying to the police, who claimed Brown had his hands in the air. Thus began the 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot" mantra.
That lie is still being promulgated by National Football League players and, far more shamefully, by members of Congress. This week at least four U.S. representatives took to the House floor and made the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture, even though they have to know it is almost certainly false. The lie has become a symbol, according to Texas Representative Al Green. But even symbolism should be based on fact, not on a fable.
There are a couple of other stories brewing right now that could use an injection of truth serum. In St. Louis, just a few miles from Ferguson, four black and Hispanic teens bludgeoned a white man to death with hammers last weekend. It was a ruthless, barbaric crime, but St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay immediately declared that it had nothing to do with Ferguson, and that race was definitely not a factor. Is that the truth, the whole truth? How does Mayor Slay know, and why the rush to judgment?
Imagine a pack of four white teens brutally killing a black man with hammers. Would the mayor be so quick to assure us that it was just a random act, and would you have heard about the murder in the mainstream media? In this case, there have been few mentions of the crime in the national press. By choosing which stories are inconvenient and must be ignored, the mainstream media lie to us every day.
Then there is the gruesome story out of the University of Virginia. Sabrina Rubin Erdely, writing in Rolling Stone, chronicles an awful gang rape allegedly perpetrated by seven young men who were pledging a fraternity. The story relies heavily on a single source, the alleged victim, identified only as Jackie. If this went all went down the way it is alleged, Jackie was brutalized, raped, and tortured for hours by savages who should spend decades be behind bars.
The question is, does the Rolling Stone story hold up? It has come under fire in publications left and right, among them the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times. Sabrina Rubin Erdely may be a truth-teller who is paying a price for a long line of lying "journalists." Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Janet Cooke, and Rigoberta Menchu are just a few writers who put glory and potential Pulitzers ahead of the truth.
The stories those liars told, in addition to being false, shared another distinction. In nearly every case the fabrication verified some bias that would not be uncommon among secular progressives. Remember the Duke lacrosse hoax, and how eager the media and professors were to condemn the white frat boys who assaulted a poor black stripper? The young men were exonerated, the lying stripper is now in jail after being convicted of a subsequent murder.
The UVA story also reinforces the worst stereotypes about fraternities and college males in general. Again, if the story holds up the assailants should rot in jail. But if it is false, either Jackie or Ms. Erdely engaged in an appalling fraud, much like Dorian Johnson. Some ideologues insist that the article, even if not entirely true, is important because it shines a spotlight on campus rape. The feminist website Jezebel lauds the piece for opening a "much needed public conversation" and says skeptics "have no idea what they're talking about." And a New Republic writer worries that if Erdely's story falls apart, we "will all be allowed to happily forget" that there are real rapes on college campuses. The implication is that the message matters more than the truth.
But the truth is always paramount, whether a story involves Tawana Brawley, Jonathan Gruber, Michael Brown, or Jackie. The Bible is not popular reading material for many of our secular progressive elites. But they might consider a simple adage found in the New Testament: "The truth shall make you free." Whether or not you believe Jesus was the Son of God, those words of his should be taken as the truth. The gospel truth.