Monday, December 10, 2018


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

      A rumor is an unconfirmed, widely spread story or statement. Rumors may or may not contain elements of truth, but their veracity is anyone’s guess—rumors carry no factual certainty. Rumors are also known as gossip, which is nothing short of the devil’s Ponzi scheme for sowing disunity.  In politics, spreading rumors is a stock in trade.  Politician operatives delight in using a ‘whisper’ campaign to discredit a client’s opponent.  Like Willie Nelson they tell people they hear things when silence is all they hear.  Will Rogers said, “The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.”  Everyone loves a good rumor, especially if it presents them as being part of an exclusive group.  It’s just part of our fallen nature, but the fact is deliberately spreading rumors- either true or unsubstantiated- is unethical and unchristian.    

     Gossip in politics is a huge problem.  It is often marketed under the euphemism like, “sharing our concern,” or “people have a right to know,” when the blabbermouth spreading the scuttlebutt really doesn’t care and people really don’t need to know. 

      In a recent local campaign, a rumor was spread regarding a candidate’s health under the guises of “concern for them.” The fact is the busybody was trying to plant doubt in voter’s minds about the ability of the opponent to carry out the duties of the office, which was completely false.  Shameful, unethical and unchristian behavior.  Two thoughts on rumors and gossip:

     First, the first step to shutting down gossip is to not listen to it.  Instead of being passive, confront those who carry it.  Demand the talebearer to name their sources.  In a court of law, unsubstantiated testimony is not allowed, but in politics a rumor is considered true until the subject of the rumor has proven otherwise.   Choose to not participate in destructive behavior.  When a flibbertigibbet begins to defame someone, simply tell them you don’t want to hear it.  Don’t be passive.   If they have no audience, the effectiveness of their innuendo dwindles.

      Second, the subject of the political rumor/gossip should confront the circulator.  Conventional political wisdom is to not do that, but that is the biblical pattern found in Matthew 18.  The busybody should know they have offended and if they have any integrity, they will seek to resolve it.  Resolution is often not possible, but the wronged shouldn’t allow slander and lies to be spread without confronting the scandalmonger. 

     Gossip- in all aspects of life- is nasty. It is never good and should be despised by all who call themselves a believer. Instead of being passive and tolerating something that is widespread we should be vigilant to remove something that is destructive and vile. We should work to shut down gossip. Socrates said, “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

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