I don't want to beat
a dead horse on the Sandmann issue, but there is one additional thing to say,
which played itself out over the last two days on my social media feed.
Once it became clear
that the initial narrative of the event did not reflect true events, I expected
the issue to more or less die quietly. At best, I thought perhaps conservatives
would start referring to the matter as evidence in favor of "fake news,"
or media bias, or other such things. That's not what happened, however.
Instead, many of the
people who were quick to condemn the MAGA boys tried to dig up additional dirt
on them. Some posted photos of other students
from the same high school, who had painted their bodies black at a
sporting event. The idea was that the students were donning
"blackface." The reality was that black is one of their school
colors, and people paint their bodies at sporting events all the time. Someone else
posted a seconds-long video clip of a group of boys alleged to be the same as Sandmann's group, shouting something
unintelligible at a scowling girl, who claimed they "harassed" her. A
few additional commentators pointed to problems with Sandmann's school,
attempting to damn Sandmann by association.
In short, few of the
people who were initially wrong about the Sandmann story ended up changing
their minds, even despite conclusive evidence
that they were wrong.
Now, I don't expect
anyone to write an enormous mea culpa
about the matter, although in truth a few commentators did just that. They
should be lauded for doing so. But I don't expect that average person on
Facebook to should from the pulpit that they got one wrong. That would be an
unrealistic expectation; nobody does that.
What I never guessed
was that people would cling to empirically falsified claims once those claims
had been unambiguously falsified.
Upon observing this,
I have to admit that it has taken the wind out of my sails in terms of
political discussion. I've
already written that people in animated debates might not even be talking
about the same stuff. Now it's clear that many recent debates are fact-stasis
disputes. Even with incontrovertible video evidence, two people can argue about
what is really happening, even while it happens right in front of their eyes.
Given that, what is
the use of debating anything at all?
Nothing I might want to say will matter to anyone, and not merely because I
have different values than another person, nor even because they interpret the
words I use differently than I do, but rather because we can't even agree on A