2010/05/01

Evidence, the nature of


I had a dispute with a right-winger today in the comments section to the Inky's letters page. I had commented earlier on the astroturfed nature of the teabaggers (Nah, we can't call them that in these comments as the Inky won't allow those comments to be posted).
Posted 09:05 AM, 05/01/2010
turkytom
rich! Tea party folks are accused of racial taunts against reps, and nothing caught on tape anywhere... Lewis turned down an offer to get $10,000 donated to a black scholarship if he submitted to a lie detector test. The same offer was made for anyone who could produce any recordings of those slurs. Nothing. Yet that lie is still told. But video evidence of not taunts, but outright violence, and you brush it off with "No blood, no injuries, no sort of limp"!!!

To which I responded:
Posted 09:15 AM, 05/01/2010
rich2506
turkeytom, there were several reporters present who testified to the insults. How one Earth did anyone prove anything before the invention of cheap, handheld video cameras?

Later:
Posted 11:14 AM, 05/01/2010
turkytom
Rich, the homophobic comment was reported by several, and the TP'rs turned on the person immediately, Nobody has documented the racial slurs.

Teabaggers turning on the homophobe is news to me (No one ever denied that Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) was called a "faggot"). I certainly never heard of any teabaggers "turning on" the person. But the racial slurs were not documented?!?!? From the Huffington Post:
Three Democratic congressmen – all black – say they heard racial slurs as they walked through thousands of angry protesters outside the U.S. Capitol. A white lawmaker says he heard the epithets too. Conservative activists say the lawmakers are lying.
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The dispute pits the lawmakers – one of them, Lewis, is a leader and survivor of 1960s civil rights battles – against conservatives determined to counter claims of racism within the predominantly white and middle-aged tea party movement.
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A fourth Democrat, Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who is white, backed up his colleagues, telling the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News that he heard the slurs.

And I'm sorry, I really hate quoting Bill O'Reilly as the sensible voice of reason here, but:
O'Reilly said, "Just because it's not on tape doesn't mean it's fabricated."

And I agree, since when does the lack of video evidence prove anything? If there was no video of the name-calling, well, there very simply was no video of it. I don't blame Lewis for not wanting to drag the issue out by submitting to a lie-detector test. I frankly think he was probably pretty insulted by the notion that he might have lied and would have to prove otherwise.

Widely accessible video cameras are a pretty recent invention. Did people have no way of proving anything before video cameras? Nothing was considered "documented" until it could be electronically recorded? Needless to say, such a concept would be news to a lawyer, who deals in eyewitness evidence all the time.

BTW, the dispute that "turkytom" refers to is over Kenneth Gladney, who another commenter described as "savagely beaten." That description would lead one to believe that Gladney spent some time in intensive care, followed by recovery time in a hospital bed. In reality, Gladney never even took any medical complaints to a paramedic, let alone a doctor. The video that was shot of that incident shows Gladney tussling with a union person, then getting right up minus any visible evidence of any sort of injury. Not saying that the union person was right to be tussling with Gladney in the first place, but "savagely beaten" is obviously an absolutely HUGE overstatement.

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