Saturday, January 28, 2017

Telling the truth, objectively and subjectively

"The media no longer tells the truth!"
"The media is biased!"
"The media leans left/leans right/whatever!"

Like many, I've been very disturbed by the difficulty in finding objective reporting.  And in the last year or two, I've been especially disturbed by the rise in "fake news".  It's gotten so that, when I'm on Facebook and an article comes up, I immediately wonder if it's true or not.

We've gotten so that we can't tell facts from opinions, and too many of us are broadcasting opinion as fact.

Well, here are a few things I've decided:

  1. I will tell the truth.
  2. I will have my facts straight, to the best of my ability.
  3. If I write opinion, it will be labeled as opinion.
  4. I will not deliberately set out to personally attack or offend people.  While truth is offensive to some, there's a difference between telling the truth and having people be offended by it and deliberately setting out to attack or offend a person.  
  5. If I am wrong on a fact, I will correct it.
  6. If I have attacked someone unintentionally, I will apologize.  
  7. My blog, Allyn's Alley, will be a place where the writer can be trusted to tell it straight.
So, let's get started.  First, here are the definitions of "fact" and "opinion" that I will be using. Merriam-Webster online defines "fact" as "a thing done, the quality of being actual, something that has actual existence, an actual occurrence, a piece of information presented as having objective reality."

Facts, as I understand this definition, are objective.  Merriam-Webster defines "objective" as, among other things, "of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind . . . involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions or phenomena . . . expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations."

Merriam-Webster defines "opinion" as:  "a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter; belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge; a generally held view; a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert; the formal expression of the legal reasons and principles upon which a legal decision is based."

Opinion, as I understand it, is subjective.  Merriam-Webster defines "subjective" as, among other things, "characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind; relaiting to or being experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states; peculiar to a particular individual; modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background; arising from conditions within the brian or sense organs and not directly caused by external stimuli; arising out of or identified by means of one's perception of one's own states and processes; lacking in reality or substance."

Okay, now that all that hard work is over :-) let me give an example of fact and opinion.

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.  That is a piece of information that has objective reality.  Millions of people saw him be inaugurated.  (I was one of them.)  Therefore, this is a fact.

Donald Trump is a poor choice for president.  Or, Donald Trump is a great choice for president. Both statements are a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. Therefore, both statements are an opinion.

I describe myself as an imperfect follower of a perfect God.  That God is a loving, compassionate God who forgives over and over.  If I am to follow him, though, he does expect certain actions and attitudes from me.  (His Holy Spirit will give me the power to follow him and produce those actions and attitudes.)   One of those actions is to tell the truth.

My blog, Allyn's Alley, is the product of a woman who writes about anything and everything from the point of view of a Christian conservative.  One complaint about the media is that they have a "hidden agenda" or that they are "biased".  Here, when you read what I write, you will read the writings of a Christian who is a conservative morally, fiscally, and politically (admittedly, an imperfect conservative.)  That's my "agenda", or "bias", if you will.

But even with that admitted "bias" or "worldview", I will always strive to tell the truth.  I will report facts, and when I share opinions, they will be labeled as opinions.

This will be a place where I will be open with my views.

And ultimately, I want to be a writer who is trustworthy.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore, December 29, 1936-January 25, 2017

"Who can turn the world on with her smile . . .?"

For seven seasons, between 1970 and 1977, millions of Americans tuned into CBS on Saturdays at 9 p.m. to learn the answer to that question.

Her name was Mary Tyler Moore, and when she died on Wednesday, she was rightfully hailed as "iconic".

My generation grew up knowing her as Mary Richards, single, professional newswoman, who worked at the fictional WJM-TV in Minneapolis.  We saw her spar with her boss, Lou Grant, ("I hate spunk!") and groan at the antics of Ted Baxter.  When her series ended in 1977, Mary's character said, as one of her last lines, "Thank you for being my family."  Whether that was written in the script, or she ad-libbed it, I have no doubt that she meant it--not only speaking as her character to her fellow characters, but speaking as an actress to her fellow thespians.

My parents' generation knew her as Laura Petrie from The Dick Van Dyke Show, with her signature catchphrase, "Oh, Rob!"  Last night, while watching a CBS special about Mary Tyler Moore, it was mentioned that Mary's Capri pants were groundbreaking--the network complained, "She should be in a skirt!"

I didn't realize that Mary Tyler Moore played a groundbreaking feminist who showed women that it was okay to not have a date on Saturday nights, because they could stay home and watch Mary.  No, it was just a fun show for me to watch, a fun show with a catchy title theme that you could sing along to.  (I even played the tambourine along with it one time, over my sister's protests!)

I do remember one show where Mary and her date came back to the apartment and the date started taking off his shirt.  I was young, naive, and uneducated in certain areas, and I didn't understand why he was taking his shirt off, nor did I understand why Mary got so upset with him.  I do remember her doing the math and realizing she'd been on, "2000 dates!"

When Mary Tyler Moore played Betty Rollin in "First, You Cry", a TV movie based on Rollin's memoir of her struggle with breast cancer, a reviewer noted that one thing that MTM could do was act, and that she shouldn't be ashamed of it.  I've remembered that review off and on.  MTM is underrated as a serious actress.  She, along with Carol Burnett, is one of a rare handful of actors and actresses who can do comedy and drama equally well.  In 1981, I sat in the Moore Auditorium at Florida State University and watched Ordinary People, the movie that earned MTM an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.  Several years later, she played opposite James Garner in Heartsounds, the story of a couple's struggle after the husband suffered two severe heart attacks.

Her real-life struggles also made news.  She dealt with alcoholism.  She was married three times and divorced twice.  Her only child accidentally shot and killed himself in 1980.  She also had Type 1 diabetes, and when testifying before a Congressional committee, she described the "tyranny" that diabetes wracked on her every day of her life.

In later years, the diabetes attacked her eyes and kidneys.  In a 2014 episode of Hot In Cleveland, the five women who'd participated in the Mary Tyler Moore show -- Betty White, Cloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Georgia Engle, and Mary herself -- came together for a reunion show.

In the scene, the first four women walked into a restaurant where another woman held a menu in front of her face.  When the menu dropped, revealing Mary Tyler Moore's face, the crowd roared, and Betty commented, "Well, looks like she made it after all!"

By that time, Mary was nearly blind.

She died with her husband, Richard Levine, at her side.

In the first season of the Mary Tyler Moore show, the question the theme song asked was not the famous, "Who can turn the world on with her smile?" Rather, it was, "How will you make it on your own?"  The lyrics addressed the premise of the series, which was that of a woman who'd just ended a relationship and was moving to the big city to start over.  The song ended with, "You might just make it after all."

When the series was picked up for a second season, the network called the songwriter, Sonny Curtis, and told him, we need new lyrics!

He focused on the personality of Mary Richards -- the woman who could turn the world on with her smile, who could take a nothing date and make it seem worthwhile -- and ended with the optimistic declaration, "You're gonna make it after all!"

She did make it after all.  She turned the world on with her smile.  We are richer for having known that smile, and poorer now that it is gone.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Feeling shamed . . .

This is a personal post.  To be honest, lately, I've been feeling shamed.

Most of this is self-shaming, I will admit.

I feel shamed, on the one hand, because I am not a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a high-powered lawyer, or part of one of the STEM professions (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.)
I work in a "traditionally feminine" clerical position (I proofread deposition transcripts from home), and in my life before Matthew, I was a librarian, which is also a traditionally female profession.

On the other hand, I feel shamed because I'm a Christian woman, and Christian women are "supposed" to get married, have kids, stay at home and raise them, and homeschool them all.  Or, at the very least, make sure they are not in "godless" public schools unless it's to be "salt and light".

I honestly think that we give lip service to the words, "feminism is all about giving women choices and empowering them".  That may have been the intent of feminism in the beginning.

But now?  I really think that there are people who will not be satisfied until we have a female President, Vice-President, Cabinet, and Congress; until all Fortune 500 companies are run by women, until all STEM positions are filled by women, and until secretaries, waitresses, and all other "traditionally female" jobs are filled by men . . . and until all fathers are stay-at-home dads!

I truly do not know where this message is coming from.  But it is what I read between the lines.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.