Attempting to quote John Adams, Ronald Reagan once asserted that, "Facts are stupid things." What John Adams actually said was, "Facts are stubborn things." Stupid or stubborn, facts remain just that: facts. Interesting that both men were expressing their opinions about facts, but such is the slippery nature of public speaking. Such is the nature of semantics. What do the facts mean? Who decides?
We have all sat and watched science be debated as it pertains to global warming. Scientific fact, in this world we live in, is open for discussion. How many parts per million are healthy for humans and other living things to breathe? We don't all agree, but isn't that what facts are all about? Should we argue about details, or should we use those facts as a basis to form agreements?
Argue, of course.
There is such a fine line between right and wrong, after all. I spend a lot of time on the playground at school telling kids that hitting other people is bad. On a great many occasions, I have been told by five to eleven year olds that their parents have told them that if someone hits them, they should hit back, so hitting people turns out to be okay, with an asterisk. That isn't the reason Ray Rice gave. He said that hitting people is wrong, but since the NFL couldn't decide on how they wanted to handle the fact that hitting people is wrong, it turns out that maybe hitting people isn't so bad after all. Unless you happen to be Adrian Peterson, in which case it's still a bad thing, bad enough that you can't play football and hit people if you hit people. It's kind of a situational thing.
What is not as situational anymore is the use of bullhooks on elephants in Oakland. Starting in 2017. Okay. It's a little situational, but the fact remains that the Oakland City Council passed this ban by a vote of five to two, with one abstaining. Cruelty to animals is something that most people will agree is wrong, but using a standard of "would you use a bullhook on your own child" may not be a fact-enhanced discussion. I expect that the use of bullhooks on protesters in the streets of Oakland would also be banned. The use of rubber bullets, however, remains on the table. The result of the bullhook ban has been felt immediately, as the circus will no longer be coming to our town.
Meanwhile, Dick "Dick" Cheney continues to assert his vision of the facts surrounding torture: “We were very careful to stop short of torture. The Senate has seen fit to label their report torture. But we worked hard to stay short of that definition." And that's a fact. A big, stupid, fact.