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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
October 17, 2019

10/1/2019 10:03:00 AM
Speculations irrelevant; what matters are facts
For the Daily News

Sorting facts from opinions is relatively easy if you have them presented in a way that is not intended to mislead you. The trouble is those presenting, on both sides, have an agenda. They believe something, or they work for someone, or they want you to think a certain way.

In a way we all work for the same big boss - America. This is our country and we are citizens, which requires certain things of us. One of those things is to not be fooled by someone trying to mislead us. That is not partisan, that is universal.

So here's a primer for those without much practice at this. We've all had plenty of practice at being lied to. From childhood, we've been told and believed myths and then felt let down later because those well-intended liars wanted us to appreciate their good intentions over and above their deceit. I always thought that a mistake. Children are not stupid; even if they don't think exactly as we do they do, they think, and they remember.

A bit of history is being made in public at the moment and much is being said about it. If I knew the facts, I'd tell you, but I don't. I do know what people have said under oath, and I have watched them say it, which is something I've had a good deal of practice at, so I'm forming an opinion, but it's an important question so I'll reserve judgment until I have all the facts.

If I tell you it's 85 degrees today (it is) that's a fact. You can check it with your phone or a thermometer. If I tell you it's too hot for the end of September and global warming is the cause and we have to stop burning coal and gasoline or we'll ruin the planet for our grandchildren, that's an opinion. Whether I think its hot or not, is personal, whether I think something is the cause of it being hot can be a fact, or an opinion, but I'd have to back it up with evidence to show you that and be right.

Evidence is something that tends to prove a fact. It is not necessarily conclusive, however, and facts can change over time as science improves. This is how previously convicted people in prison get exonerated. It was a fact they were found guilty, but that finding was an opinion based upon the available evidence at the time.

Newly discovered evidence and improved science can change the opinion and justice demands we change the verdict as a consequence.

None of this is personal. I do not like or dislike you because we hold different opinions about what we think the facts show. Opinions based on facts are still opinions. I have the same duty you do as a citizen to form and act on informed opinions about issues that affect our country.

Just now there is the question of impeachment being publicly tried, which is an interesting exercise for those not used to having to use the skill required to get the correct answer.

It helps when someone frames the issue for us, so I'll give a suggestion: Did what the President say in his phone conversation in July to the President of the Ukraine constitute an impeachable offense? That is the question of the moment.

To be a fact it must be verifiable and objective. Opinions, on the other hand, are based on feelings and personal judgments, so it is less important to me what others may think what something said or done means than it is to know what was said and done.

What was said, and what was done to cover it up and hide it later? Those facts are important. The speculations are irrelevant. What matters are the facts. I don't know them, not yet. I look forward to hearing them. So should you.

In the meantime I will withhold judgment about our president of the moment until the next issue comes up, which will be, "Whether the facts constitute an offense sufficient for the removal of the President of the United States from office?" We'll see.

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