Friday, October 16, 2015

Internet Wading: Truth and facts

There are millions of stories on the Internet, making a great big ocean of stuff that’s interesting, informative, or sometimes just weird. Here are a few things that caught my eye, but didn’t make it into blog posts of their own.

I write a lot about politics, of course, but I haven’t written about the silly rightwing propaganda about Planned Parenthood. Others have debunked all that nonsense far better than I could, but the Genetic Literacy Project has gone back to basics and helped us all with “Understanding how fetal tissue is medically used”. Spoiler alert: It’s not at all what the Republicans have been saying. Surprise!

History is another thing often hidden away or deliberately altered for some end or the other. Recently, we learned how textbooks politically edited created for Texas described slaves brought from Africa as “workers” and “immigrants”. Apparently, even the stupid is bigger in Texas.

But other history is merely hidden, like “The white man in that photo”, the story of Australian athlete Peter Norman, the white man in the famous photo of American runners John Carlos and Tommie Smith and their “Black Power salute” after they received their medals for the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. I always wondered what the white guy was thinking, partly, to be sure, because I grew up amid white, suburban Republicans in what was a very tumultuous year (I was nine at the time). Even if some folks quibble with the specifics of Norman’s story, it’s nevertheless fascinating, and he turns out to have been quite courageous in his own right.

A major problem we face in following news stories is cutting through the spin, and avoiding ideological leaning. That’s particularly true when trying to decipher conflicts over the US Constitution, such as those we’ve seen recently as numerous public officials and even some judges have openly defied the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell that established 50-state marriage equality in the USA. So, “May lawyers lead a campaign to defy the Supreme Court?” Fortunately for us, one of the best sources I know for understanding complex issues about the US Constitution, and court rulings related to it, has just looked at that question, and the answer’s mixed.

The blog of the National Constitution Center dissects issue and questions arising from the Constitution, preceding their look with “we checked the Constitution, and…” These posts have always been analytical, dispassionate, and absolutely non-partisan AND non-ideological. More than once I’ve read a post and, though I didn’t like to admit it, I had to acknowledge they were right. It’s an excellent source for understanding the issues behind fights over the Constitution and court rulings, and it’s also a good source for information about Constitutional history.

Black lives matter? Of course they do. But, do black deaths matter?

And to end this particular Internet Wading where it began—faking stuff for the news or to score political points—here’s “9 Viral Images That Are Totally Fake” from Gizmodo.

And that’s it for this instalment of Internet Wading. Truth and facts always matter. Always.


Roger Owen Green said...

I linked to this post on Halloween 2015. I didn't mention that at the time.

Arthur Schenck said...

You will know, I’m sure, that I had to go check that out…