On Monday of this past week I wrote a piece about the anti-mask protest last weekend at the State Capitol. Since I wasn’t a firsthand witness, I used newspaper and TV news reports as my sources. My point was supposed to be that people in prestigious positions have a responsibility to be honest and truthful—that the failure to do so can endanger others’ lives.
Except I never said that. I may have hinted at it, but writing is not hinting—writing is saying what you want to say in the best words possible.
Instead I drifted somewhere else: my singling out a chiropractor probably impugned all the responsible and capable people in the same field. And the “Rev.” in front of Ernestine Holloway’s name probably called into question a lot of dedicated religious leaders. I have always had sloppy penmanship, but that does not excuse sloppy writing, and for that I apologize.
When I was a classroom teacher, I used to shudder every time another teacher was arrested for some moral lapse or criminal indiscretion. It happened more frequently than I care to remember, and there were always critics lying in wait. Often they carried grudges against teachers, or doctors, or lawyers, or police—every professional has his or her detractors. But nobody should supply them with ammunition, intentionally or not.
My original opinion remains—people in authority must use that authority for the greater good, especially when conflicting opinions, lies, and fantasies vie for people’s attention. In the grand scheme of things, of course, my opinion counts for little: Trump has millions of followers and he told them that kids are practically immune from Covid-19. He wants to be re-elected, and if it costs a few lives, well, as he has stated, it is what it is.
World leaders must be better than that. Serious writers have to be better than that also. More accurate. More precise.
Trump’s idiocy need not extend to the rest of us.
Or to me.