Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lies and Misinformation...

I'm sure most of you are familiar with Senator John Kyl's recent gaff about Planned Parenthood spending over 90% of its time and effort performing abortions (video here: ). I am also sure that most of you are aware that his statement is blatantly untrue. His statement, no matter how absurd and false, is indicative of the nature of the attacks on Planned Parenthood; they are mostly made up and would be unworthy of attention if they were coming from some random abortion protester outside a Planned Parenthood facility. However, those who hold those views have an extremely powerful voice provided to them in the form of conservative politicians and pundits. Since his blatant lie began to circulate and garner media attention, his office issued a statement claiming that his comment was not intended to be factual in nature and that he was trying to illustrate a point. Interesting...

Thankfully, we live in an era where information is available immediately to anyone who has cable television or a cell phone. Both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report had a hay-day with Sen. Kyl's statement and rightfully so. I don't think I can summarize Colbert's take on it effectively, so if you have not seen the video, here it is:

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Pap Smears at Walgreens
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Despite Colbert and Stewart's large following, there are many Americans, both voters and politicians, who still believe that Planned Parenthood is an evil organization that focuses almost entirely on aborting pregnancies. It is easy to understand how this type of misinformation exists when the most watched news network in the country is Fox News. After all, they are the ones in the video posted above claiming that you can get the same services Planned Parenthood provides at Walgreens! Now, I'm sure they didn't honestly mean that you could get a breast exam at Walgreens, but that isn't the point. The point is that, as a news organization, Fox News should providing accurate information for their viewers instead of spreading misinformation and outright lies. To be fair, MSNBC also has spends much of its time lambasting conservatives and propping up liberal politicians while supposedly providing unbiased news reporting. I suppose the difference is that Fox News is the most viewed news organization in the country, by far.

I know this topic is not directly related to the constitution, but it is issues like these that make it easier to understand how politicians and pundits can spread misinformation and dismiss ideas like the separation of church and state. Statements like the one Senator Kyl made are probably believed by millions of Americans simply because they were told so by an authority figure in their life. Whether that be a politician, a church leader, a radio commentator or just someone they respect, it does not matter. The problem is that we live in a culture where people just accept information and don't do their own research to determine its truth. The information is out there for all of us to find, and it keeps getting easier and easier to access as technology advances. Unfortunately, there are opportunistic people out there banking on the idea that citizens will just eat up whatever nonsense they are told because it fits so nicely with what they already believe about the world. Of course, we are all shaped by our own experiences and we all have our own preconceptions. The difference, I suppose, is that some people are open to the possibility of changing their opinions based on new information and this should be considered a good thing. Our opinions and ideas should be based on well-documented evidence, not rumors and hearsay.

Let me know what you all think...


  1. Just found your blog through facebook. Will follow it and I look forward to seeing more of your writings. As an atheist, I spent most of my adult life defending the Constitution, and it sickens me to see what is happening as far as the theocratic rhetoric from the GOP.

  2. Thank you, Larian. I also spent five years of my life defending the constitution. It is good to hear from a fellow "foxhole atheist." I'll be posting some more entries soon!