Undefeated, a lesson in verbiage.

Lying by telling the truth is an art that seems to be experiencing a renaissance in modern American politics. I could truthfully say that I am undefeated in MMA fighting. What that sentence would leave out is that I fought only amateur fights on private residences against either smaller or out of shape opponents. The one fight I had against someone more athletic and larger than I, I won by submission but at the cost of a broken toe.

The best, most recent example of political use of this strategy is the exchange over the Benghazi attacks between Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney during their debate. President Obama argued that he had called the Benghazi attacks an act of terror saying, “I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.” When reviewing his quote from the Rose Garden it even sounds accurate, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” However when reviewing the context of this one sentence it becomes more clear that President Obama is referencing general terror and the 9/11 attacks. (Full Text)

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

So while many people still tout that as a gotcha example of Romney getting his facts mixed up, both sides can easily argue convincingly their point of view. The President’s point of view is easily argued with narrow quotes of his speech and Romney’s can be argued with the context of this quote. These sort of political tactics are akin to arguments I have with my son which go like this.

Me:  What are you doing playing video games, I grounded you.

Son:  You grounded me from T.V. not video games.

Me:  You’re still using the T.V. to play your games.

Son:  But I’m not watching T.V.

My son is evidently a future contract lawyer which I am sure is a tough and rewarding profession. Our leaders on the other hand should not be speaking to the American public as if they are contract lawyer or petulant 8 year old. This is why when reading any source of media including sources I personally trust I always fact check entire answers, quotes, or speeches. I am not saying that media sources are all unreliable, reporters should build their articles on good research, however ultimately your learning is your own duty.

Here is an example of twisting words to frame an argument from a recent blog post at geek/law blog popehat. Ken writes innocuously,  “sometimes, in court as in life, the bad guys win.” Which I can distort and argue as this:

In a rare moment of defeatism, Ken argues that the bad guys win sometimes. Under this logic Ken is giving all criminals, evil doers, and pedophiles the green light to commit their crimes because as he says “sometimes, in court as in life, the bad guys win.”

In conclusion, check your sources. Also, I invite you to turn Ken’s quote into something more sinister in my comment section.

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