The Fine Art of Fact Checking
You’ve maybe seen the story and the headlines floating around which declare that the NRA banned guns during the Vice President’s appearance at their convention. And many of us shared it right along to lay a zap on those bad NRA peoples… and even fewer thought to check it out. A few moments searching would reveal that those tantalizing headlines weren’t entirely accurate. And yes, I’m going to chide you for sharing them.
If you know me, then you know I’m no fan of the NRA’s leadership and agenda. I don’t believe they support the 2nd Amendment, but a dangerous and dishonest interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. I also find misinformation equally distasteful. In this day and age of so much information being shared, posted and promulgated, we must learn to fact check things and dig deeper! Or we look silly, dishonest and gullible. We like to make our opponents look bad, to score easy points, to zap’em and to “win.” Please. There’s more at stake than points in a political game of words and insults!
The truth of the story is that the NRA did not ban guns during Pence’s speech, but the Secret Service did. Why? To protect Pence, of course. The moral of the story is still the same… more guns in public do not make people safer, but in fact no guns make them safest. The government knows this. The Secret Service knows this… and safety is their job. But if we rush to make this a story about the NRA’s hypocrisy, then the really valuable and true lesson is lost, along with our credibility. We need a safer future, one with fewer guns in our public lives, one with sane and common sense gun legislation, and one with less misinformation banging around in our Facebook echo chambers.
Let’s do all we can to keep it real. Yes, those inaccurate headlines appealed to me, and yes they fit so nicely with my own worldview and assumptions. Too well, in fact, and that’s exactly why I didn’t share them. Instead, I checked the facts. Be blessed all, and be careful what you share!
October 13, 2012 Redux in 2016
Oct. 13 ~ Civility asks good questions. #civility
If we believe that civility is built on things like fairness and honesty then we will be asking good questions. No one likes leading questions or the good ole “gotcha” questions. Those kinds of tactics don’t advance conversations or ever convince anyone of anything.
Good questions seek to understand and to help the other person fully verbalize their thoughts. This kind of participatory listening and asking good questions can help everyone get a better grip on where a conversation has been, where it is, and where it can and needs to go!
Try it! Instead of “How stupid can you be?” ask the person “Who has influenced you most in your opinion on this topic?” Then listen! Instead of asking “How many more people must die at the hands of your ignorance?” ask them “So, what if we did things this way over here… what do you think would change?” And then listen!
Good questions lead to good conversations!
October 1, 2012 Redux in 2016!
Oct. 1 ~ Civility is marked by calmness, clarity, honesty & fairness. #civility
*Four years ago I blogged every day in October on civility, an exercise leading up to the Presidential election of 2012. We’re going to revisit those posts again this year. Join the conversation! Civility is as important a topic this year as four years ago, one we cannot simply ignore. Here’s the first of the posts…
Civil discourse is going to require us to not only “play well” with others, but also to “fight well.” Whether we are agreeing or disagreeing, shrill language, mob mentalities and dishonest misrepresentations of ourselves or others will not move the discourse forward.
Civil discourse will come from a place of calm honesty and thoughtful reflection. Strong reactions and first impressions need to be tempered with review, empathy and most of all, time.
Let’s be honest… it’s fun to be in a mob sometimes. It’s fun to “fly off the handle” and even self-validating when we leap into indignant attack or defense. Unfortunately, derailing civility derails the discourse. You need to “Enhance your calm, John Spartan.” (Demolition Man, 1993)