A Word About Reality

February 19th, 2015

Ignorance is not stupidity, but choosing to remain ignorant is. And reporting ignorance as fact promotes a lie.

We should demand better of ourselves and our sources.

As published in The Daily News, February 20, 2015, and in The Memphis News, February 21-28, 2015



I stood in the bathroom in boxer shorts and shaving cream and cheered words coming from my radio – words good enough to overcome that image I just put in your head – words like these:

“For crying out loud, there is no controversy. There is no debate. Cynical politicians like Rand Paul and Chris Christie may pander all they want to frightened moms and the tinfoil-hat crowd--just as 49 US Senators can deny man’s role in climate change. But there is no rational basis for their beliefs. They are simply wrong – and when the media frame such idiocy as one side of a debate, they are not only legitimizing ignorance and demagoguery, they are threatening the lives of children.”

These were not only words about measles – something else from the 50’s we seem to want to get back – not only words about how the media and the monstrous appetite of the 24/7 news cycle will not only feed off of but actually create controversy – these were words from the media on a program called On The Media from the host, Bob Garfield, about the media’s culpability in giving credence where there is none.

“Here’s the thing about reality: it doesn’t care what your opinion is. It doesn’t care what your ideology is. It doesn’t care what you believe in your heart. It doesn’t care what a website says. And it doesn’t even care what a majority of Americans think is true. Reality just is. It can’t be ‘balanced’ by lies, superstition, or even true conviction. And any attempt to do so courts catastrophe by aiding and abetting very dangerous fools.”

Thanks, Bob.

Since that came from NPR, a source the right considers left of Karl Marx, let’s consider these words from a staunch and respected Republican:

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

Those are the words of Abraham Lincoln and they’re right in front of me, attached to the base of my computer.

When fact and fantasy are served side-by-side, you get to decide which you’d like to swallow. Whether it’s Fox News in their no-go neighborhoods in England or Brian Williams in his helicopter in Iraq, or what’s being slung from the left by Rachel or from the right by Rush, since we no longer know what to believe, we believe what we like.

The sad truth is that our national crisis is our departure from reality, and the weak, watered-down beer we’re being served as honest brew by the media.

To quote Ronald Reagan, another beloved Republican, “Trust, but verify.” But wait. That wasn’t a Reagan quote, that was a quote from a Russian proverb, “doveryai, no proveryai,” translated into English and borrowed by Reagan.

If you don’t trust me on that, it’s easy to verify.

I’m a Memphian, and I’d like some reality right about now. And a beer.


If you'd like to hear all of Bob Garfield’s On The Media piece, “On The Anti-Vax Non-Troversy,” from February 6, 2015, click here: www.onthemedia.org/story/anti-vax-non-troversy


I'm a Memphian by Dan Conaway

If you don’t read it, I’ll read it to you.

The book is available in print online and all over town and now in audio online at Amazon, Audible and iTunes, read by the author – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look or a listen.




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