On April 27, 2011, a small, dedicated group of idiots won a major victory over the forces of truth and reason. They made the President of the United States capitulate to their demands for absolutely no good reason.
Why is it that good people suffer while idiots stand triumphant?
I ask this because on April 27, 2011, a small, dedicated group of idiots won a major victory over the forces of truth and reason. They made the President of the United States capitulate to their demands for absolutely no good reason.
They made President Obama release his long-form birth certificate.
For years now, these idiots have hounded Obama about not being born in this country. Forget the fact that he's produced a legal document certifying his birth in Hawaii, a document that is accepted in courts across the country. Forget the fact that his birth was documented in the Honolulu newspaper, or that people remember him coming home from the hospital, or that, by all accounts it would have been impossible for him to be born in Kenya.
Nope, they didn't believe any of it.
So, what makes anyone believe for a moment this "victory" on their part will shut them up? It won't. Why should it?
Carl Sagan (a personal hero of mine) had a great example of how these idiots think in his book, "The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark"
Sagan asserts he has a dragon living in his garage. You, surprised, run over to see it - only there's no dragon. Sagan explains the dragon is invisible. You suggest spreading something on the floor to see its tracks. Sagan says the dragon floats. You propose getting an infrared sensor to see the invisible fire. Sagan counters, saying the invisible fire from the invisible, floating dragon is also heatless. Finally, you suggest spray painting the dragon to make it visible. Nope, says Sagan, because the dragon is incorporeal. The paint won't stick.
"I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work," wrote Sagan. "Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?"
That's the way logical, reasonable minds work. But, the mind of the birther is anything but logical and reasoned. Just you wait. Someone will comment on how the font on the certificate is wrong, or that the signatures look weird. Maybe it was photoshopped? We can't hold it in our hands, so it can't be real. For every fact, people like that have a fantasy.
Since truth is such a valued commodity among these idiots, let's go ahead and express a very uncomfortable one. The only reason Obama is subject to this idiotic birthplace scrutiny is because 1) he's black and 2) he's got a funny name. If he was a white guy from the northeast with a British father, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
But his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and he doesn't look like previous presidents. He's got a scary sounding middle name. He simply can't be a real American, or even a Christian (as if that last condition actually matters).
If anything, I'm disappointed in Obama for capitulating to these idiots. I'm very disappointed in my media colleagues for reporting on it for so long, too. When you acknowledge something, you also validate it. You recognize its legitimacy to participate in debate. When you deem it news, you are, in effect, saying to the public, "This is worth your time and you should pay attention. It's important."
We, in the media, seem to be laboring under a false belief that, in order to be fair and achieve balance, everyone gets to have their say. Not true! Not every crackpot deserves or is entitled to free public distribution, and we have failed the public in our role as gatekeepers. We encouraged this level of craziness by remaining focused on it. It wasn't enough to fact-check. It should have been shut out from the cycle completely.
Here's what we in the media should have offered the birther movement from the start - contemptuous dismissal. They simply didn't deserve coverage and attention. In the words of Christopher Hitchens (another personal hero), "That which can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."
If they really want their views heard from now on, they can buy an ad. Money from crazy idiots is just as good as money from sane, reasonable people.
But, it's all hindsight now, because they won their big battle. They succeeded, with the help of a reality TV "star" with a bad haircut, in making our president respond to them. How much more time will we have to waste, both in government and news, on the political equivalent of a whining, crying child in the future?
Just because you have an idea does not mean it deserves to be heard. Just because you have a belief does not mean I have to honor or treat it with respect. Just because you have a loud and annoying voice does not mean you have something worth hearing. Let's all remember this and exercise better judgement in the future, lest the idiots win again.