All ideas are not equal. There are good ideas (chocolate and peanut butter, computers, airplanes) and bad ideas (chocolate and sardines, giving computers enough intelligence to take over the universe, flying airships filled with hydrogen). They don’t deserve the same consideration or weight.
Somehow treating every opinion and statement of fact or nonfact as valid has been confused with polite discourse. It is not impolite to disagree with someone, or to point that person toward correct information. Erroneous statements do not have to receive the weight of truth; rather they should be treated as erroneous statements.
And yet we have a culture in which insanely ridiculous and impossible things are said and left unchallenged constantly. For two years, despite ample evidence of President Obama’s birth in the United States, people have been “demanding proof” that he is a natural-born citizen (which he would have been regardless of where he was born in the world, as his mother was an American citizen. Read the Constitution). Well, now they have it, the long-form birth certificate. But for them, it is not enough, because we all know that this exercise has little to do with citizenship and much to do with their inferior ability to produce melanin.
There will always be people like those people, but what has changed is the media response to them. Instead of treating that “movement,” if such a progressive term can be applied to such a regressive group, the way it should be–ignored–they have welcomed it into the warm arms of the 24-hour news cycle, bleating and re-bleating their rhetoric.
Rhetoric which was disproven more than two years ago.
There was a time when news reporters did not give their opinions, let alone whack you over the eardrums with them. Watch someone like Barbara Walters talking about opinion-based news and see how uncomfortable it makes her, no matter how polite she’s trying to be. There was a time when they had fact-checkers (check out the Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy-brought-to-you-by-IBM-classic Desk Set for a Hollywood example and a great movie) and if it wasn’t true, they didn’t run it. If it went out and was later disproven, there was a retraction.
The scariest aspect of this phenomenon is the way it illustrates how people have lost the ability to think critically. If they were exercising that skill, there would be no benefit to news outlets continuing to push these ideas, because people would change the channel or click elsewhere. Which, come to think of it, is a good idea (I mean click away from them. I’m a great idea. Really).