But Is It True?

What role does the truth play when speech offends?

Rep. Steve King
Rep. Steve King
Rep Peter King is in hot water with his recent comment that the number of illegal immigrant "dreamers" that are valedictorians is far less than the number that are "mules", smuggling drugs across the border.  He points out that the proposed immigration law changes would legalize both, and we are using the valedictorians to justify the legislation, while ignoring the large number of "mules" that would also be legalized by the proposal. (see here)

His critics have been harsh, complaining that his comments are racist, "toxic", bigoted, "hateful", and offensive.  Even his allies have felt the need to distance themselves from his comments.

I have a question - is what he said true?  Isn't the truth higher priority than offense?  Do we disallow true, relevant speech on public policy when it offends?

This is a common thread in political debates today.  When you want to suppress a fact, an idea or a speaker, label the speech with some hateful label, and shout the speaker off the stage.  Paint his supporters with the same brush and sneer at them as though they are unfit for polite society.  Don't debate.  Shout.  Don't offer facts.  Call it "toxic", "hateful", "harmful".  Discredit and demoralize your opponent, and suppress those ideas you don't want discussed.

Rep King's assertion may be true.  No one seems interested in checking.  There is only one valedictorian per high school, and only a fraction of them are illegals.  Smugglers are caught crossing the border every day.  The "reform" being proposed appears to legalize both.  Common sense suggests that what Rep King has said may well be true, and is relevant to the legislation.

The question must be asked - given the facts, is the legislation wise?  Facts that are relevant and true must be part of discussions of public policy.  Cowing speakers into silence is thuggery.  Being cowed is cowardice.

It takes courage to speak out on topics that are important, knowing that people will hate what you say.  We, the voters should not allow the shrill and the offended to drive the truth from political debate.

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Liberaltarian August 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM
The more honest solution economically would be to put a tariff on imported energy and then let the free market determine whether ethanol, wind, coal, domestic oil, etc. is the best alternative for domestically produced energy. That way the gov't would be collecting taxes from the importers rather than subsidizing the domestic producers. Theoretically, energy prices would go up some, but taxes could fall by an equal amount.
Joyce August 26, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Liberaltarian wrote: 'I support building the Keystone XL pipeline.' _______ What is the basis for your support? Aside from endangering the Oglala aquifer and other environmental concerns, the oil will most likely be exported, and will not lower fuel prices in the United States: __________ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324392804578358791884145514.html
Donald Lee August 26, 2013 at 01:05 PM
I agree with LT. Stop trying to micromanage energy production. Markets work. Coal, oil, Nat Gas, nuclear, hydropower.... all are viable. All have downsides, as do biomass, wind, solar, etc. Markets to a good job of reflecting those costs. Let them work. (BTW - the delays in Yucca mountain are foolish. We are begging for serious trouble by not finding a place for all our nuclear waste.)
Liberaltarian August 26, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Since the pipeline is privately funded economic development, it's none of my concern where the oil comes from or where it goes provided the owners pay their taxes and don't cause harm to someone else. The only concern I have is with the environmental risk to the Ogallala aquifer and I'm no expert on that. However, it seems like the risk of anything other than some very localized contamination is extremely remote. Assuming that's true, I see no reason to hold up the project.
Donald Lee August 26, 2013 at 02:27 PM
To add.... The pipeline is a lot safer, cheaper than its alternative, already in use - mile long trains of tank cars. (that sometimes derail)


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