The Sad Cost of Crying Wolf

It was a scary story fulfilling the darkest fears of every one of us concerned with the far reaching spying of our government upon us. For a report, a student at the University of Massachusetts was instructed to check out the original Peking version of “The Little Red Book” by Mao Zedong. The student did as directed and was visited some time after by two agents from Homeland Security. The agents informed the student that the book was on a ‘watch list’ and that, coupled with the fact that he had spent time abroad, triggered an investigation. This information was then given to the professor at the university and he decided to make it public. The unfortunate reality? The student later broke down in tears as he admitted that the entire story was made up.

The South Coast Today details how the story began to unravel as the student started adding more and more information to the details that didn’t check out or couldn’t be proved. The story caught the attention of the International Media just as the New York Times exposed possible spying of the President of the United States on US Citizens and helped give it credence. The good news is, as Dr. Williams stated, “I’m happy to report its safe to borrow books.”

Many of us are concerned with the government becoming tyrannical. As a Libertarian you might surmise that I already feel that it has. But in order to draw attention to the many things that are examples of over-reaching of the federal government we have to avoid jumping on the bandwagon of unproven accusations or stories made up to scare those that do not agree that this type of behavior is occurring or could be a concern if it is.

And worse, it starts to make me pause and wonder if any of the other stories that may or may not have been substantiated were made up as well. I usually do a fair amount of research before believing some story about the government, even though I personal feel that it might be likely such as this one, before accepting as truth. It was during the investigation of this charge that I came across the very unreported detail that the charge was false. But how many people simply latch upon any potential injustice and use it as a underpinning of their already rabid hatred of government, whether it is due to a knowledge of the real power of government or because of an adversarial hatred due to partisan politics? How many hoaxes and incorrect assertions have been made in the name of ‘fighting the good fight’?

We, as civilized thinking animals MUST strive to ensure that we do not fall into the trap that I see many people getting caught up in. We have to put aside our emotions and examine accusations on the merits of the specific accusations and not use them to bolster are already made up minds. I’ve seen too many people say “I don’t know if this story is true or not but it fits with what I know about ….” NO, run from this trap if you see yourself starting to say those very words in your head. Take the extra effort to make sure that you are truly adding a factual injustice to your arsenal of tyrannical examples before making a fool of not only yourself but the very cause you are working so hard to represent, not only in this subject but any other you might find yourself involved in.

Don’t give the people who are willing to allow tyranny to grab hold of us an excuse to dismiss our concerns and embrace the path of giving up their freedoms for perceived security. It will only get us less free, less secure and more oppressed. And I think we can all agree that is not what we want to have happen.

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