Category Archives: Rumors

It’s all in context

Sometimes I wonder why politicians ever open their month. The last couple of weeks have been crazy.

First, you have Congressman Todd Akin choking on his own foot over the issue of rape and pregnancy. Now the guy actually thinks he still has a chance to win. That alone shows a degree of political dementia that should disqualify him from the race. And the sad thing, or good thing — depending on your political orientation, is the idiot may cost his own party the White House and control of the Senate.

If you don’t say something stupid yourself, there are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to tell the world that you did. The latest involves Paul Ryan, who, a slew of liberal political bloggers would tell you, described rape as “just another method of conception.”

Shock! Horror! Won’t these Republicans ever learn?

However, when you look at the context of his entire sentence and his entire answer, you can see that his statement was not shocking, and actually wasn’t addressing rape anyway. His statement addressed the question of the “life-status” of an embryo.

 “I’m very proud of my pro-life record. I’ve always adopted the idea that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life…”

He could have just as easily have said something like “…regardless of how the insemination occurred…”

If you are “pro-choice”, there is plenty in that statement for you to contest. You may disagree with his view on the start of human life, but, in context, it’s difficult to classify that as an unbelievably offensive statement.

Being an equal opportunity critic, let me jump in on the President’s side. He has been famously taken to task for saying that “…if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”

How many people who have expressed shock and dismay have actually read the entire statement and understood what he was trying to say? In context, he was saying that no one works in a vacuum, and that we need to work together to accomplish great things. Not very controversial, is it?

I don’t want to take anything away from someone who has built a successful business. They deserve acclaim. But the President has a point. How many of them benefited from the support offered by society, in general terms like infrastructure and education, but also in specific terms, like tax-breaks, low interest loans, employment services, even the generous commercial lending climate encouraged by the Federal Reserve in the pre-2007 years, and so on.

You can agree or disagree with the President, but again, in context, that is not really a totally outrageous statement.

And we still have two and a half months until the November election. Oh my!

A truly uncomfortable experience

My blog friend, Terri, posted a story today describing an awkward conversation with her 18-year old son about his new girlfriend. This reminded me of an incident when I was about his age that was a seriously painful experience.

The summer after my junior year in college in Florida, I returned home to Pittsburgh for my last summer at home. My only serious girlfriend in several years, “Melanie,” was left behind in Gainesville where she was taking summer classes.

About a week after getting home, I walked in the house after work. My parents were sitting in the kitchen and greeted me with:

“We’re glad you’re home. Sit down. We have something we need to discuss.”

Conversations that start that way go only downhill, and this was no exception.

“Karen, your friend from Florida, called a little while ago looking for you. She said that your girlfriend, Melanie, has a COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, and she thinks you ought to get a blood test.”

My mind wasn’t running in the gutter, so I was thinking of diseases like small pox, diphtheria, or some weird tropical thing that no one has ever heard of.

“Really? I wonder what that is all about?”

My mother had the answer. “Obviously she has the CLAP! Have you been SLEEPING with that girl?”

A brilliant 20-year old and a master of snappy comebacks, I responded:

Ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…”

For the next several minutes, I made a concerted effort to assert my rights under the 5th amendment to avoid incriminating myself. I’m not sure I was entirely successful. I was 100% positive that whatever “communicable disease” had Melanie in its grips, it was not venereal in nature.  However, I had no objective evidence to put before my parents. (“I don’t know any Karen or Melanie, so they must have the wrong number.”) Finally, I said I needed to call someone in Florida and get to the bottom of the story.

This was at least 10 years before the first cell phones were developed and 25 years before they became as common as wristwatches. I left messages all over Gainesville, without being able to track down Karen, Melanie or anyone else who knew what was going on.

When I returned to my parents, my mother began to tell me how much she and my father had wished they had been able to sleep together before they were married. I think she wanted to put me at ease. It didn’t work. I tried prayer.

“Dear Lord, just take me now. Put an end to my misery.”

Apparently, God was taking the night off, because I remained fully alive and conscious throughout the conversation.

Eventually, with no additional information on my end and far too much information from my parents, the encounter ran out of steam.

It was several hours later when I finally received a return call from Karen.

“I’m so glad you called me back. You really need to checked out because  Melanie has….MONO!”

I was both relieved and so angry I wanted to reach through the phone and grab Karen by the throat a thousand miles away.

Melanie recovered from the mononucleosis just fine. We stayed in touch over the summer and resumed dating in the fall. We had a good laugh over it. We dated for another year and then split up. We both ended up marrying our next serious relationship and both marriages are intact today. If she reads this, I hope she gets a laugh.

I don’t know what ever happened to Karen. Let’s hope she didn’t go into the communications business.

Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good rumor

We should thank our lucky stars for emailed chain letters, otherwise we would never know about all the travesties that are being committed out there.

Having spent most of my adult life in journalism, I have developed a fondness for accuracy. I realize not everyone shares my values. I have several friends who simply cannot resist a good chain letter, especially if it has anything to do with religion, God, patriotism or the military.  I am a big supporter of all those institutions. I just don’t think they need fictional scare tactics to generate support.

My friends are especially fond of the chain letters that warn you that if you break the chain you will suffer some dire fate.

The latest campaign (actually not really the latest, since this has been going around for about five years) claims that the ACLU is trying to remove crosses from military cemeteries and prohibit military chaplains from mentioning Jesus in prayers.

IAMHONOR

As a young reporter, I learned that you get calls and reports all the time of nasty things going on. Usually the more outrageous or juicy the story, the less likely it is actually true (unless you happen to work in Miami.) The same should apply to email “rumors.”

Apparently the truth is — there is no truth here. I found some information on Annenberg Political FactCheck.  Here are some excerpts.

The ACLU has filed no such suit, and it hasn’t sued to “end prayer from the military” either.

The claim that the American Civil Liberties Union sued to have crosses removed from military cemeteries is a false one that first circulated six years ago……But the ACLU says it has never sued to remove religious symbols from headstones in military cemeteries and never would. It says that would be contrary to its support for the First Amendment’s guarantee of free religious expression.

…Also false is the e-mail’s claim that “[t]he Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus’ name in prayer thanks to the retched [sic] ACLU and our new administration.”

Maybe I should stop being such a spoil-sport. My friends will stop emailing me their stories. That might not be such a bad thing, except it’s so much fun to write about them.