Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mama On: Gossip

"Don't believe everything you hear."

Okay, we all know that my mother (the original Mamaknologist) was good for coming up with sayings, but Ben Franklin got her on this one. Ben said, "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear."

Unless you've been under a rock, we have all heard what was said about Shirley Sherrod over the past week or so... And this was a bit of ugly, crude, mean gossip that the world could have done without.

You remember: Rightwing blogger, Andrew Brietbart and Fox news released a tiny clip (less than 20-seconds) of a speech made by Sherrod at an NAACP meeting. Brietbart intentionally choose words geared to bigotry, tagged it racism, and released it to the world. The clip showed Sherrod saying that she had not used the full force of her power to help a white rural farmer.

Of course we later learned that her father had been killed in a racially motivated incident and that she surmounted her personal pain and provided the best possible service to the farmer and his family. We also learned that she uses the incident as a teaching tool for her staff and her community.

And we only learned this after the farmer and his wife (who still own the farm that she helped them save) made their thoughts known. "Something in the woodpile ain't clean," the now elderly man insisted. His wife went on to tell every listening source that Sherrod was being unfairly persecuted and vilified.

It was not until AFTER Sherrod was badgered into resigning that the truth surfaced, OMG are there ever red faces aplenty!

Sherrod hasn't decided what she plans to do, whether she will return to her job or not, but I'm betting that there will be lawsuits to match the ever-growing stack of apologes. And there should be... And, yes, the government and the country as a whole should consider this teachable moment as an opportunity to reflect upon knee-jerk judgements and mudslinging in media and politics.

But what do you want to bet that Brietbart and a few others are wishing that they had taken Ben Franklin's advice?