The last week or so, I keep thinking of the line in the Declaration of Independence, “let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
When I first really focused closely on the Declaration, the word “candid” jumped out at me. Because I’d only really ever heard the word in the context of “Candid Camera,” it was a little jarring. I hadn’t connected the word to “candor.” I looked the word up somewhere and, in addition to the meanings I was familiar with, there were things like unbiased and “free from malice.”
So, that’s in the back of my mind when I read disingenuous and specious commentary on social media. I realize I’m throwing out a lot of twenty-five cent words here. Ever since I got picked on in junior high for using big words, I try not to do it gratuitously. (Ha!) But, George Orwell pointed out that in order to fight against disagreeable things, it’s helpful to have the proper vocabulary. “Disingenuous” means “not candid or sincere, usually by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.” “Specious” means “superficially plausible, but actually wrong.”
The flood of overly simplistic memes, deliberate misconstructions of candidate and policymaker statements, and outright false information, make one wonder whether there is a candid world out there to consider facts and arguments; that the deliberate and sometimes malicious misconstructions seen online are perhaps representative of the world at large. Ultimately, if that’s true, I guess we’re already screwed. At that point, communication becomes noise and force is the only means available to resolve differences. So, probably the best course is to assume that your fellow citizens and other people in the world are possessed of some degree of candor; and also to be candid in your own statements, arguments, posts, and tweets. To do otherwise is to contribute to a degradation of communication that will ultimately have harmful consequences in the real world.