Can we just go ahead and make a resolution in 2014 to stop saying that we want folks to “keep it real,” “speak truth to power,” to speak “with no filter” and give us the “no-holds barred, unvarnished truth”?
All of this is a damn lie. You know it. I know it.
Ask moviegoers their favorite movie line, odds are they might say it is Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessep in “A Few Good Men” when he shouts to Kaffee (Tom Cruise): “You can’t handle the truth!”
Think about it for a second. When is the last time someone told you, “Please, be honest with me.” And then when you go there, you are cussed out, called arrogant, mean-spirited, and nasty. Hey, I thought I was supposed to be truthful?
What is every soon-to-be-husband told? If your wife asks you, “How do I look?” just lie so she doesn’t get upset. From the get-go, we’ve accepted the bullshit code that says, “Don’t be honest with your wife.”
On the flip side, the other night my wife Jacquie and I were watching the documentary Unhung Hero starring Patrick Moote, the guy who had his marriage proposal rejected by his girlfriend during a televised UCLA basketball game. The humiliating move has been seen millions of times on YouTube. Why did she say no? His penis size was too small. She was ripped to shreds. Well, hell, she was honest! Why lie about it? She did him a favor.
Seriously, I don’t get it. I prefer you be straight honest with me and not play any games.
When I was a student at Texas A&M University and working at the local newspaper, the Bryan-College Station Eagle, then-city editor Brad Owens called me into the conference room for a chat. Brad begins to beat around the bush, choosing his words carefully, clearly struggling to talk.
“Man, look, can you just say what you have to say?” I said. “I’m not a child. I’m not fragile. I’m a grown man. My job is to get better and be the best journalist I can be. If you walk on eggshells, I can’t do that. So spit it out.”
His look of relief still cracks me up today. See, Brad was nervous about telling me what I needed to work on. Frankly, it’s something that a lot of white folks do with talented minorities. They think they will irreparably damage them, so instead of raising expectations, they coddle them. Sorry, I want to know what I’m doing that’s good and bad. This is about making me better.
The same nonsense happens in politics. We say we want politicians who will shoot straight, tell us what we need to know instead of what they think we want to know.
Well, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says what he thinks and is forceful, in-your-face, and up front with folks. What is he called? An arrogant, out-of-control bully. Can he be that too? Sure, but I don’t mind someone shooting straight.
How many times will journalists say it’s time to muzzle Vice President Joe Biden. Why? Because he’s too honest and you don’t know what he’s going to say.
Well, thank God! Forgive me if I see Biden as manna from heaven. It allows me to stomach the pathetic shenanigans of the cesspool of Washington, D.C.
The debt is too high, and we want our politician to say, “Well, if we trim a little here and there, we’ll be fine.” No, America! We can’t afford to spend and spend and spend with reckless abandon. So what you’re going to have to do is make a damn decision: do you want to raise taxes to pay for all of this crap or make the necessary cuts to get our financial house in order? Make a decision.
Over the past 20 years I’ve been asked about running for office. My response is the same: “A guy like me would never get elected because I tell the truth and voters actually hate that kind of stuff.”
There are a lot of things we get wrong with our public policy because politicians don’t want to tell voters what is really wrong, for fear they will get bounced from office.
The truth suffers at the altar of job protection.
I’ve worked on jobs when I challenged my bosses on issues of diversity, then I’m considered the bad guy. Really? So pointing out that nearly all white males are deciding the news every day makes me wrong, but if I blast the GOP on TV and radio for their lack of engagement with Blacks and Hispanics, I get a pat on the back? Gotcha.
If there is anything that we desperately need today, it is a hefty dose of truth. We need it when discussing our legal system, media, racism, sexism, politics, business, our families, sports, education—you name it.
If we stop encouraging the lying and shilling, we’ll be a better-off country for it.
Now that’s how you become a more perfect union!