Post 2.2 - Factual Statements

While it was all over the news last week, some of you may have still missed this. If you did, here it is.

The junior Senator from my adopted state of Arizona, Jon Kyl (R), was speaking on the floor of the Senate, trying to convince the other Senators and the American public that Planned Parenthood was a big, scary abortion machine:
"If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does."
- Senator Jon Kyl, Minority Whip, R-Arizona, 8 Apr 2011
Except, it's only 3%. Clearly he made some sort of rounding error.

When Kyl's office was contacted regarding his gross exaggeration, they responded thusly:
"[His] remark was not intended to be a factual statement." 
A number of television comedians picked up on this, most notably, Stephen Colbert, who spent the next 24 hours tweeting statements about Kyl with the tag, #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement. Things like, "Jon Kyl throws babies at the elderly." Because, Colbert observed, you can say anything you want, as long as you follow it with, "not intended to be a factual statement."

But I think we have a right to expect more from our elected officials. It is one thing to have a different opinion on an issue, or even a different interpretation of a situation and a path to solution. But an outright, intentional lie? Didn't we impeach former President Clinton for something like that?

Ah, but Kyl wasn't under oath or testifying or anything - he was just lying as a private citizen who happens to be an elected official and who happened to be standing in one of the halls of government, addressing the Senate and the American people. Guess it was just bad timing.

I certainly understand when our Congressmen and Senators give impassioned speeches regarding an issue before them. Some, if not most, believe what they are saying, and are trying to convert the listeners to their point of view. It's called sophistry, and I get it - lawyers use it all the time. But there has to be a line where the facts are given correctly, and it has gotten so that there is so much double talk and misinformation in the media, it becomes difficult to unring certain bells. There is someone out there right now who actually believes the lie because a Senator said it, and they don't hear or read the correction that comes, if one comes at all.

And I'd be remiss without mentioning Fox News, whose Fox and Friends panel went on to say that non-abortion services available provided by Planned Parenthood could be obtained at Walgreen's - including pap smears. I really can't wait for some Fox News viewer to show up at Walgreen's looking for a pap smear - because you know someone will. After all, it was on the news.

We often see, hear, and read complaints about the largely uninformed electorate, but what integrity is anyone showing in doing anything about it?

At least Kyl won't be running for re-election.

UPDATE: Speaking of misinformers, the Huffington Post reports that Glenn Beck, formerly of Fox News, is selling his house and leaving the New York area. Wonder if he'll end up in a Red state?

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