Guest Column: Truth or Consequences

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Burt Ross

“Truth or Consequences” was such a popular radio and then television game show that a town in New Mexico actually renamed itself after the show in 1950. The premise of the show was quite simple: a contestant would be asked an extremely difficult question, and when he failed to answer truthfully, he would then be forced to endure an embarrassing stunt.

Ever since word was put to paper, and even before then, we have been taught that if you do not tell the truth, there will be negative consequences. This lesson is taught repeatedly at home, in schools and in our houses of worship. But that was then and this is now.

Now, publicly elected officials lie on a regular basis, and because many of them represent safe districts that have been gerrymandered on a partisan basis, they feel they can get away with lying with complete impunity.

United States Representative for the State of Georgia Andrew Clyde said the people who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were as docile as tourists and no insurrection occurred that day. “There was no insurrection,” he said. “And to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bold-faced lie.” [He meant “bald-faced lie.”] 

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures,” Clyde continued. “You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January 6, you’d actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

Several people died, more than 100 police officers were injured, gallows were constructed while rioters shouted, “Hang Mike Pence!” but Clyde prefers to paint a picture of tourists taking in the sights. 

Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana was recently on the Fox morning show hosted by Chris Wallace when he stated that President Joe Biden had caused our economy to go into a downward spiral. The record-breaking stock market, the steep plunge in the unemployment rate, corporate earnings exceeding expectations and our gross domestic product booming refute Banks, but when you represent a safe district, you can apparently say anything no matter how removed it is from reality.

It is bad enough that public officials can lie without suffering any consequences, but it is the people who speak the truth who now pay the price. U.S. Representative Liz Cheney was removed from her leadership position simply because she spoke truth to power by saying that the election was not stolen from Trump. She paid dearly for telling the truth.

Politicians have always stretched the truth, told fibs, exaggerated and lied around the edges, but what we are experiencing today is different. Truth is under attack and losing to fiction, conspiracy theories and outright lies.

Regardless of our political affiliation, this battle for truth should concern us all. It involves the soul of our country. If lies continue to dominate and people can spread falsehoods without any repercussions, our almost 250-year experiment with democracy is destined to fail.

The new game show might well be called “Lies and No Consequences,” and if we do not stop this from happening, we will all be the losers.