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OPINION | MASTERSON ONLINE: Hyper-hypocrisy

by Mike Masterson | January 22, 2022 at 2:55 a.m.


I place no trust in a person who attempts to silence my voice, hides truth to achieve selfish goals, or denies the constitutionally protected right to express a different point of view than theirs.

How about you, valued readers? Have such folks earned your trust?

After all, what gives another the right to call me foul names simply because my thoughts don't match their own? Short of producing convincing facts, what gives another the stunning arrogance to believe only they have the correct answers?

Simply because another who agrees with them told them so?

Do you consider mine a "radical" view in 2022 America? If not, would you freely offer your trust under similar circumstances?

Seems to me that any person or entity that strives to achieve personal ends through a form of verbal coercion is the radical one. I certainly cannot locate such bully-boy tactics enshrined in our Constitution.

What I have noticed is the degree of flagrant hypocrisy on display by those we elect to lead all of us and ensure our collective welfare.

They too often freely dictate one thing for you and I to do while ignoring their own commands to benefit themselves. We've all seen plenty of that over the past two years.

An opinion piece published on The Hill website last year was headlined "A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics." It said "a large majority of Americans have become highly distrustful and dissatisfied with Washington and the failure of repeated administrations to govern wisely and inclusively."

It also said that while hypocrisy is "as old as politics," the resulting outgrowth has created "a condition of hyper-hypocrisy in American politics that, left to fester, can be more dangerous than perhaps any terrorist wishing the nation ill."

Some bigger-city mayors have been quick to issue mandates that require masks at gatherings while they go maskless at social events with friends and supporters.

I've watched as conservative speakers at ultra-leftist universities are shouted down, even disinvited, simply because they hold competing views. In other words, no thoughts can be expressed on some of America's tax-supported university campuses that don't fall fully in lockstep with what one group, often beset by calculated propaganda, insists upon believing.

Our society's hypocrisies stretch well beyond politics. The parent who admonishes their children not to drink alcohol while climbing behind the wheel after three shots, or who admonishes them never to lie as they routinely rationalize fibbing to their offspring.

I can't pinpoint when or where this rise in hypocrisy gained such popularity, yet it's certainly flourishing across the nation today much like one of those Western wildfires consuming one acre and home after another.

In another matter involving being chronically misinformed by a woeful lack of basic information, it's sad indeed when many Americans who attend schools (including universities) to be educated and informed apparently aren't taught enough about our most influential historical leaders to understand what they are arguing about with the better informed among us.

A good example of such surprising ignorance comes from homework-help website Brainly and its recent survey concerning the remarkable impact of Martin Luther King Jr. had on our nation and its youth through promoting nonviolence and acceptance of others.

Keep in mind, Brainly prides itself on connecting children of diverse backgrounds and educational opportunity. It has no desires for political power at the expense of truth.

According to the data compiled by Brainly, reported Family Times Magazine, 63 percent of U.S. students surveyed "incorrectly identified Dr. King's accomplishments or were simply not aware of some of the most important things he did to contribute to America's Civil Rights Movement."

Among the findings, the magazine reported, more than 25 percent of the students claimed he did not lead the Montgomery Bus boycott, about 18 percent didn't know King organized the historic March on Washington, and 19 percent said he didn't give the "I Have a Dream" speech.

Sounds to me like we could all benefit enormously from a meaningful exchange of viewpoints and facts on campuses everywhere, rather than embracing hypocrisy or choosing to blindly follow the calculated indoctrination and agendas of a narrow radical ideology, much as happens in totalitarian countries.

King director in Harrison

Speaking of Dr. King, DuShun Scarbrough, executive director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, was in town the other day to celebrate Dr. King's birthday bash at Harrison High School.

While it's always a pleasure to host the personable and committed Scarbrough in this gateway to the Ozarks, it was the truth of what he said about the nature of this community that captured my attention.

"Every time we come to Harrison, we are greeted with open arms and we thank you so much for that," he told the audience. Scarbrough said his mission (and that of the commission) is to perpetuate King's legacy of service, empathy and education to help future generations carry that torch.

Mayor Jerry Jackson told students in the crowd welcoming Scarbrough and keynote speaker Eric Braeden (Victor Newman from "The Young and the Restless") that "Harrison is not a racist community," as some in the media continue to insist upon portraying it.

Jackson also referred to a YouTube viral video last summer as "a lie" when it came to accurately portraying the nature of Harrison and urged townspeople to always stand up for their community against that undeserved reputation.

"We all know it. We get accused of it. We can't be silent about that," Jackson added. He is correct. The rampant misinformation spread about the Harrison of today is largely fabricated and inaccurate.

Considering the city and its task force on race relations in 2016 received the coveted MLK Dream Keepers Award for its achievements in enhancing race relations, I'd say that only reinforces the mayor's comments.

Suit seeks data

In the continuing saga of professor Robert Steinbuch versus UALR's Bowen School of Law, Fort Smith attorney Joey "Bulldog" McCutchen has filed a lawsuit against the university alleging a violation of the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The matter stems from an FOIA request made by McCutchen's law partner Chip Sexton, who is seeking the internal UALR report regarding alleged religious discrimination against Steinbuch, a co-author of the definitive textbook on Arkansas FOIA.

The suit contends UALR declined to produce the record, claiming it was either a protected employee evaluation report or personnel record, which would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

McCutchen wasn't buying that argument. "We understand that UALR produced this record pursuant to a FOIA request to Robert Steinbuch, the person making the initial complaint about religious discrimination," said McCutchen. "If the claim [to not produce the record] is that it violates Steinbuch's privacy rights, he has waived any such claim.

"The only other person whose rights could be involved is the UALR law school dean [Theresa Beiner], but production of the report to Steinbuch under FOIA eliminates that possibility."

Steinbuch says it is not an evaluation report or personnel record for purposes of complying with the FOIA.

So, valued readers, stay tuned as the world continues turning around the university and its law school.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.


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