"Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave…

…when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

Once I read something that Neil posted on his blog and was flabbergasted…then realized he writes the best fiction I’ve ever found on the Internet. Bless him, he’s good!

Not long ago I was floored again – this time by the horribly immature response of Alice Hoffman to a mixed review of her novel. Not a bad review, just a mixed review. She proceeded to attack the reviewer via Twitter: she posted the reviewer’s e-mail and telephone number and she told “her fans” to contact the reviewer directly. This was a published author behaving quite badly, demonstrating for all how a lack of personal restraint can lead to public embarrassment and subsequent apologies. We’ve seen this sort of behavior from Hollywood denizens for years. Although Alice may wish to be remembered for her noble statements or her novels, she left a legacy with her hasty remarks. In the backlash of public reaction she deleted her Twitter account, but the Internet has memory and Google cache retained the information for some time.

Today I’ve been taken aback again by the drama played out between Nic and the TSA. Although Nic has “darkened” her blog (Update: her blog is up and she’s posted an apology of sorts), her post is still out there. After I watched the TSA video I did a quick Google search and found her post among the many related hits.

I’d love to believe Nic’s story because she tells it with passion and it’s compelling – but the same can be said for Neil’s work of fiction. One big difference – Neil didn’t attack a public entity. Neil didn’t create a campaign. Nic not only posted her rant, but she also posted this item on the “People’s Blog” which includes a link to her post. I found several others who had taken up her cause. Only some had updated with the TSA’s counterclaim. Google is an awesome and scary tool when it comes to research. Nic should know that her full name, home address and phone number turned up in my simple search for her story.

Today Maggie wrote a post expressing her dismay over the situation and some aspects of human behavior. Maggie’s far more eloquent than I – I encourage you to read her thoughts for yourself. If you read this you know I’m way ahead of her, worried on her behalf about the responsibility she’s shouldered in passing on information that may be difficult to verify.
In August, Nic told a story on Violence Unsilenced. Was her story there true? Perhaps Nic struggles with reality, or maybe she’s writing fiction and wants to know that her stories are believable or maybe she just has a flair for the dramatic. Today’s drama casts doubt on her tale, like the boy who cried wolf. Even when liars tell the truth, they are never believed. The liar will lie once, twice, and then perish when he tells the truth.”
I’m a regular reader of the Violence Unsilenced posts. Because I want my comments on the VU site to be prayerful and meaningful, I take the time to visit (whenever they’re available) the blogs of the victims. I want to understand them better, to appreciate their circumstances. That’s how I found myself torn by Kelly’s recent post on the VU site. Her blog took me to her husband’s blog and between the two of them I pieced together a story of two people who are in a bad place, both culpable. It’s hard for me to identify one person as abuser and one as victim – they seem to share these roles. After spending half their lives together they know where each other’s buttons are and they push them. I am still praying for them – their story has touched my heart.
But Kelly posted her accusations on a well-regarded blog and thereby afforded credibility to her side of the story. But just as we see with Nic and TSA, there are two sides to every story. It’s damaging to yourself and to others if you build up your self-righteous attitude based on the misguided indignation you’ve inspired with your half-truths.
And then there’s the mixed blessing of social media. Another TSA vs. passenger drama happened in June 2007 and was also “outed” with video footage. In that video the TSA comes off less wholesome, yet the TSA still disclosed the full video. 2+ years ago Twitter wasn’t as widely adopted (and blogs weren’t as broadly embraced) and available for the viral spreading of the woman’s claims.
In the end, each of us must decide whether we’re going to walk around (or browse the Internet) believing everything we’re told and taking up the sword for others with moral outrage based purely on their moral outrage …. or believing nothing because the world is filled with liars …. or having to apply ourselves to the arduous task of discerning the truth and deciding what we’re willing to believe based on what we know.
The world is filled with people who tell lies. That is the truth. Nic may have believed what she posted was true but her memories might have been distorted by the anxiety and frustration experienced during her delay. Or maybe she has “issues.” I don’t know Nic, but she created a cloud of doubt and uncertainty that is probably warranted.
“Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!(Proverbs 14:15)
Update: the TSA has now posted additional video footage from multiple angles.
Meanwhile, the blogging firestorm continues.
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The conversation went something like this….

We’ve been giving Daughter #2 rides to/from church Wednesdays and Sundays so that she can babysit (paid position). This generally requires us to take 2 vehicles (the SUV and the “little car” – not my mustang because no way is the car-seat working in the back seat).

Today on the way from church to her home, Precious G-son dropped his juice bottle. It landed on the floor (backseat) amidst the empty and half-empty water bottles.

D#2: “You and dad have are bad about collecting half-empty water bottles.”

Me: “Why do you say that?”

D#2: “Because the truck and car always have a bunch of half-empty water bottles.”

Me: “So why are you assuming I’m a contributor? Have you checked the mustang for half-empty water bottles?”

D#2: “Well, I notice there are always half-empty water bottles around the house, too.”

{Side note – last week she asked me about my relaxation practices because she claimed I never relax. She cited my doing e-mail while watching TV as an example. The computer and TV are in different rooms. I mention this because, while we DO have a lot of empty and half-empty water bottles in the car, we do NOT have “a bunch of half-empty bottles” around the house.}

Me: “So why are you assuming I’m a contributor? Your logic is flawed. I’m not saying whether or not I *am* a contributor, just that you’re leaping from an observation to a conclusion.”

D#2: “Oh, I see. I guess it would be like my accusing my husband of leaving his dirty dishes laying around, even though some of the dirty dishes are mine.”

Me: “Actually, it would be more like my coming over to your apartment and saying ‘You have a bad habit of leaving your dirty dishes laying around’ even though there are 3 of you living there. My comment might be based on the observation that you’re the only person I ever see there and therefore I’d incorrectly assume that you’re the person leaving the dirty dishes laying around. You are a very logical person so I’m trying to help you see the fallacy in your conclusion.”

D#2: “Oh, I see. Well, it was just an observation.”

Me: “Well, your observation sounded a lot like a criticism.”

D#2: “Are you okay?”

Me: “Yes, I’m just wondering if you realize how you come across sometimes.”

I’m not sure if I’m okay or not. I’m not sure if my feedback was loving or harsh. Maybe I was just being defensive. Personally, I don’t think the collection of 6-7 bottles in the back of the car is any of D#2’s business, especially since we’re going out of our way to ferry her to and from church twice a week.