‘Why Bother?’

To the editor:

People say to me, “Why do you bother wasting hours doing background research about every political situation? You’ll never change the minds of Rep. Elise Stefanik and Donald Trump supporters by writing letters to clarify thinking with factual information.”

It’s true that I can’t change minds spoon-fed by hand-picked details guaranteed to result in reactive outbursts. Trump and Stefanik supporters are very passionate about “their” facts and the accusations and innuendos that get their blood boiling about those Democrats.

That was certainly true of the Jan. 20 letter to the editor that was ranting against “everything Democrat.” Such letters make it obvious that opinions aren’t being informed by reading hundreds of pages of legalese, lengthy unbiased statistical analysis or unredacted primary sources (nor listening to any of the Trump appointees testifying under oath about Jan. 6). Such writers echo the persistant stream of outrage generated by Fox, Trump and various websites.

And why? Well, people like to be told that they’re justified in feeling dissatisfaction and suspicion. They get to choose the information that best suits an emotional state they probably already possess. How quickly political distortion and unscrupulous politicians like Stefanik and Trump can rile them up, knowing full well which trigger points to use.

So people ask, “why bother sharing facts?” Well, a math teacher corrects you if you argue that 2 + 2 = 5. A science teacher corrects you if you argue that the Earth is flat. And an English teacher, like me, corrects you when word-trickery is used to create an alternate reality or to direct unjust harm toward others.

Language is our most important means of communication. Better that words of logic-based research be shared to educate and lift us into the light of knowledge, than that spiteful, conspiratorial words be used to hurt, exaggerate and cast us into darkness.

Martha Hodges



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