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Liar Liar Pants Afire

If that was true the Il Douchebag-elect would need to don a flame retardant suit after yesterday's victory lap tour speech.

Today on CBS Sunday Morning they discussed the issues surrounding fake news and the ways it is affecting daily living to our national elections.  Ted Koppel seemed to realize that there is little to be done and the role of conventional media has in fact failed to realize the long term repercussions that what was once the provenance of gossip rags is now legitimized as real. 

I am exhausted daily listening to lies.  I live in the "South" and it is a dish served with Sweet Tea on a daily basis.  I hear it mostly from Children but as I have come to know from years of experience working with children they are the reflections of the mirror that is the adults in their lives.

This week I heard more lies and had more bizarre confrontations than I have had in decades of Teaching and all while another Teacher/Adult was in the room.  Kids are usually careful to ensure that there are few to no witnesses when they decide to prey on an Adult but here in Nashville they are seek an audience in the same way the bar singers do in the bars that line Broadway.

I watched a movie in a class while a cluster of kids endlessly watched me, laughed at me, discussed me, broke down my appearance, my every move and finally came over to where I was sitting and surrounded me with fake greetings and staring at me in a way that transcended strangeness.  All while an Adult ASL interpreter and their full time Teacher were in the room.  I quietly picked up my bag and coat (as I was an hearing impaired sub for whatever reason unclear) which I was hauling from room to room (as again the full time Teacher was there but doing paperwork but does not tell me where I can secure my belongings so I hauled them with me, hat coat, gloves, bag as if I was a hobo) and moved to another seat.  The Teacher screams "back to your seats!"  I returned to my seat, then I realized I had no purpose being there, so I just got up and walked out while the kids screamed bye,  and I ignored them in the same manner the adults in the room ignored me.  I spent the rest of the day dreading each class that I had to go to and having to return to that room at the end of the day.  So when the time came I wandered in spoke to the interpreter about what I was to do, she was unclear as expected, so I  sat down in the back  again and within 10 minutes I quietly and discreetly walked out and out the school door.  It was 3 and the end of the day was in an hour and I thought they can dock my pay, that 11/hr, if that is that important I sit there.  The Teachers and Translators, with the exception of one, ignored me, did not introduce themselves or to me to the children and in turn I doubt they would go to the office to say, "hey that sub whatever her name was I think left but she didn't do bus duty and where is she whatever her name was? "  I think that is security and sanity to have a sub whom families, bus drivers and children neither know or are acquainted with loading buses home.  What if a child got on the wrong bus or in the wrong car.. blame the sub?  No thanks.

The one ASL interpreter who spoke to me was from Chicago and when I mentioned the overall idiocy that I am encountering her, she responded with the phrase, "It's the South."   I agreed and confirmed that here the concept of Southern Hospitality is an anathema and that when I agreed to the gig I was shocked as this woman the head of the hearing impaired department did not even know ASL and was like many of the morons I meet here - a moron.  I watched her through a translator try to connect to a kid, appalling, another kid took off to find his one on one who was late and the three other translators were oblivious and then went to look for him.  They were like watching a group of College kids confabbing while the kids in their care were ignored.  I got the kids anger and dismissal towards this woman. The only kids that seemed to have any connection to their interpreter were the ones under the woman from Chicago.  And she said to me in our brief encounter that I was the first person who spoke the truth and she was amazed as here in the South brushing facts and truths under the rug is an activity once done by slaves but now done by everyone regardless.

The next day I was at another grandly labeled school with its bullshit STEM prep and a student told me only 4 kids are in the programming classes and that the rest of the school is a dump. In this class kids were testing for end of semester. In this class they did anything but.  Two boys horsed around and one fell hitting his head, I called Security and they were shocked that I had done so and so discreetly and of course Security returned the boys with the caveat they were playing and then one of them did what is the common oddity done by black males here, placed his arm around me in a manner of a confidant or intimate that is not only outrageous it is bizarre.  And then I firmly loudly said, "Do not touch me, take your hands off me."  Then a young woman commented that I said it like he was trash.  Again, these children are so confused they have no idea what inappropriate behavior or comments do to people or how to behave like adults let alone to adults.  Then later while talking to a foreign student from Brazil this same boy walked by and said "you just swore at me and I am telling everyone you said fuck you nigger."  I said there is the phone feel free to call Administration and tell them what you claim I said and then I can leave."  When that got no traction he left the room and I did nothing. Why? He did me a favor.

The children lie here, they concoct stories in their heads about people then in turn tell them as if they are fact.  In this same class I was asked if I had a nose job.  When I responded "no" the young girl was shocked and said to her peers that she was sure I was going to say yes and now she did not know what to say.  Well how about nothing.  They have no idea how to establish boundaries nor behave and this girl was like the two girls who discussed me as an old white lady who must have cats and in turn asked me if I did. When I responded negatively they asked if I had a dog?  When that too was negative they were utterly perplexed and asked if I had any pets, another negative,  and then finally they shut up.  And to any and all questions by kids, they are rude, often personal and with a derogatory slant, so even if I had cats or a nose job the last thing I would do is admit this to a kid here.   This interrogation behavior is daily and this is all from black youth to a white woman.  So if you think the concepts of race are one sided I think you need to realize that it too is a negative.

What this does is fuel the stereotypes and beliefs about minorities but as I have a basis to compare coming from Seattle, I saw many black youth who were just like anyone, normal, polite, distant, in your face, smart, dumb, interesting or not.  I have met few if any black youth here that are anything positive.  This is not a good thing for anyone.

So the idea of fake news and the alt right are just simple re-brandings of lies and white supremacy.  And I believe that this is what I am experiencing in ways that the rest of the country is in denial about.  

You can call it whatever you like but the reality is that we are fucked.

Don’t call it post-truth. There’s a simpler word: lies

Denying facts used to be for extremists only. Now from Aleppo to Trump, it’s becoming mainstream, destroying the ground we all stand on

UK Guardian
Jonathan Freedland
Friday 16 December 2016 14.49 EST

Sixteen years ago, I sat in court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice in London and felt the ground crumble beneath my feet. I was following the libel trial brought by David Irving, the Holocaust denier and “pro-Nazi polemicist” – to quote the judge’s eventual verdict – against Penguin Books, which had dared publish a text which told the truth about him.

I watched as Irving discarded the usual rules of evidence. The eyewitness testimony of survivors was dismissed as lies. Confessions by the guilty were waved away as fake. Inconvenient documents were written off as forgeries. All that was left was what he wanted to believe.

At the time, it struck me that Irving was threatening something greater even than the memory of the Holocaust: he was undermining the very idea of facts, history and truth. If every item of evidence could be rubbished as bogus, then how could anyone ever prove anything? How would we know that Henry VIII had six wives or that Napoleon fought at Waterloo?
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Hence the queasy sensation the ground was falling away. As I wrote at the time: “If we start to doubt corroborated facts, how can we prevent ourselves being swallowed up in doubt, unable to trust anything we see? It might all be a conspiracy, a legend, a hoax. This is the bizarre, never-never world inhabited by David Irving. Now the court has to decide: is this our world too?”

That feeling returned to me this week, brought back by a screening of the film Denial, released next month, which dramatises the Irving trial of 2000. But it was also prompted by the reaction to events in Aleppo and, more widely, by the way 2016 has punched truth in the face, leaving it bruised and bleeding.

As Aleppo endured its final agonies, the simple act of circulating any account – a video, a photograph, a news report – would trigger an unnerving response. Someone, somewhere would reply that the photograph was doctored, the source was a stooge, the rescued child was not really a child or not really rescued.

Of course, we’re used to people taking different sides on conflicts far away, arguing bitterly over who is to blame. At its most extreme, it results in a newspaper like the Morning Star sinking so low that it hails the human devastation of Aleppo – where every hospital was bombed and where the slaughter of civilians became routine – not as a crime, but as a “liberation”.

But this is about more than assigning blame for this death or that bombing. This is about refusing to accept that the death or bombing occurred at all. This is about defenders of Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian and Iranian enablers, coming on television to say that what is happening on the ground is not happening, that it is all an illusion. The late US senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” But that distinction seems to have broken down. Now people regard facts as very much like opinions: you can discard the ones you don’t like.

This problem is not confined to Syria. This week the CIA joined 17 other US intelligence agencies in concluding that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic emails, adding its conclusion that Moscow had done so in order to tilt the US election towards Donald Trump. “Ridiculous,” said Trump, who has not looked at the CIA’s evidence and has refused to receive the daily intelligence briefing provided for all incoming presidents on the grounds that he is “like, a smart person”.

After Iraq and the weapons of mass destruction that never were, plenty are understandably wary of accepting the word of the intelligence agencies. But Trump’s scepticism – cynicism is a better word – operates on a different level. “Nobody really knows,” he says about the hacking charges, the very words he uses about climate change, in the face of a vast body of evidence. Recall that he also says that he won the US popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”, a flagrantly false claim for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

We’ve been calling this “post-truth politics” but I now worry that the phrase is far too gentle, suggesting society has simply reached some new phase in its development. It lets off the guilty too lightly. What Trump is doing is not “engaging in post-truth politics”. He’s lying.

Worse still, Trump and those like him not only lie: they imply that the truth doesn’t matter, showing a blithe indifference to whether what they say is grounded in reality or evidence.

Back in 2000, such a posture left you isolated in that never-never world inhabited by Irving. Today you’ll have a US president, a British foreign secretary (never forget the £350m Brexit bus), as well as a ready army of fake news consumers to keep you company.

How has this happened so quickly? Technology has clearly played a part. Social media allows fact deniers to spread their anti-history fast and wide. Distrust in elites is also central. People are no longer prepared to take their leaders’ word on trust. Iraq poisoned that relationship, but its roots go deeper. In the US, Watergate broke public faith; some suspect the rot set in even earlier, with the Kennedy assassination.

But a crucial shift is surely the trend towards deeper and more bitter partisanship. Once people have aligned themselves with a tribe, studies show their first instinct will be to believe what favours their side and disbelieve what favours their opponent. One telling poll this week found Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have shot up among US Republicans. They once hated him, but now their guy Trump is Putin’s buddy, they’re ready to see the Russian autocrat in a favourable light – and to ignore all evidence to the contrary.

This is making our public sphere a dizzying place. Without a common, agreed set of facts, we can hardly have any kind of public conversation at all. Writer David Roberts, who has a good claim to have coined the phrase “post-truth”, says that these days: “There are no more referees. There are only players.”

We have no group of non-partisan arbiters, trusted to define at least the factual basis for our collective discussion. When actual judges enter the picture, as they have in the Brexit article 50 case, one side rushes to discredit them, branding them as biased, ideological partisans, no less tainted and untrustworthy than everyone else: enemies of the people.

What’s so odd about this is that we are happy to accept that there are facts, and judges of fact, in every other aspect of our lives. Philosopher Quassim Cassam notes if a car mechanic says your brakes have broken, you don’t denounce him as biased and drive on: you listen. If a doctor says you have a tumour, you don’t mock him as a member of the medical elite. We even accept expert judgment on reality TV: no one minds Mary Berry deciding who should win Bake Off.

Only in the political realm have we somehow drifted into a world in which no one can be trusted, not on questions of judgment, nor even on questions of fact. But we cannot live in such a world. Evidence, facts and reason are the building blocks of civilisation. Without them we plunge into darkness.

This post first appeared on Green Goddess VV, please read the originial post: here

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Liar Liar Pants Afire


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