Do you consider yourself a fact-checker and a lover of the truth?
That’s admirable but I learned recently how easy it is to think that once we have checked the facts, we’re ready to speak.
The occasion was listending to the Catholic commentator, Teresa Tomeo, claim that Twitter had been discriminating against conservatives. What’s more, she had checked her facts! She made a big point of this in the introduction to her show of May 29:
It’s getting increasingly difficult, when I’m putting my show together, not to spend the whole morning rewriting, fact-checking, making sure that we’re presenting a balanced portrayal of what’s actually happening out there.
…it was so bad this morning, I’m already exhausted before we go on the air.
I believe her. I’m sure she does spend a lot of time every day checking facts.
So what we are about to hear that she has fact-checked to the point of exhaustion?
There’s so much talk this morning regarding the President’s executive order and Twitter, and the Left is going absolutely crazy. …The bottom line here is that [Trump’s] point about the extreme bias and the censorship that goes on–there have been numerous conservative commentators, most recently, earlier this month, Candace Owens, who’s a dynamic, African-American, conservative speaker and writer–she’s phenomenal–she was censored. She was banned on Twitter–suspended–because she raised concerns about Governor Whitmer and her draconian rules here in the state of Michigan.
So Twitter suspended Candace Owens because she merely “raised concerns” about the governor and her draconian rules.
That sounds bad, right? We should be able to raise concerns, shouldn’t we? Sounds like Twitter is biased against conservatives, doesn’t it?
I decided to look up Candace Owens’ offending tweet for myself. Although it has been deleted, it’s easy enough to find a captured image.
The tweet was in response to the governor’s stay-at-home order in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. (For the one or two people who may read this post in the distant future: There was much controversy over whether people should be forced to stay home, thereby damaging the economy, or allowed to conduct business more or less as usual, thereby risking an even more widespread pandemic. Ironically, liberals took a pro-life stance and conservatives thought each person should be allowed to make their own choices.)
Owens urged literally every citizen of Michigan to violate the law. Hmmm… That would be several steps beyond “raising concerns”.
It also violates Twitter’s rules, which state, “You may not use our service for any unlawful purpose or in furtherance of illegal activities.”
Right-leaning website The Hill reported that the suspension was because Owens violated Twitter’s policy that prohibits “Denial of global or local health authority recommendations to decrease someone’s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 with the intent to influence people into acting against recommended guidance, such as: ‘social distancing is not effective’, or actively encouraging people to not socially distance themselves in areas known to be impacted by COVID-19 where such measures have been recommended by the relevant authorities.”
Returning to Teresa Tomeo, she considers herself a fact-checker extraordinaire, but she really blew it in this case. I’m sure she checked her facts (yes, Twitter had suspended Candace Owens’ account, and I do not doubt that Tomeo took the time to find and read Owens’ tweet), but then she relaxed her guard when it came time to draw conclusions and speak on the basis of those facts (saying that the suspension was because Owens had “raised concerns” when in fact it was because Owens had fomented lawlessness and behavior that would endanger the public).
I will not say that Teresa Tomeo does not love the truth. However, this episode tells us that if we have partisan leanings about an issue (and we all do, on many issues) but we love the truth more than our point of view, we must be extra-careful about what we say. Fact-checking is not the end of the truth-loving process, but only Step 1.
You may enjoy the other posts in this series on truth-loving tests:
- Nietzsche’s Truth-Loving Test
- Plato’s Truth-Loving Test
- C.S. Lewis’s Truth-Loving Test
- Voltaire’s Truth-Loving Test
- A Chess Player’s Truth-Loving Test
- A UFO Nut’s Truth-Loving Tests
- A Truth-Loving Test for Amateur Psychologists
- A Truth-Loving Test for Amateur Scientsts
- The Fearless Person’s Truth-Loving Test