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Lies and Lives Matter

Dear Editor: 

Last week saw another black citizen shot by police in unclear circumstances. It also saw a riot break out thanks to lies spread across the internet. The result was tear gas, looting and more blood on the streets of Charlotte. 

This is a pattern that has to stop. The truth matters. I won’t go out on a limb and say this was a righteous police shooting but I will say that the person who spread the story that an “unarmed Keith Scott was shot by a white cop while holding a book” has more blood on her hands than the police officer who fired the fatal bullet. The officer may have had to shoot. The blogger was not in a life-or-death situation. She chose to commit the internet equivalent of shouting “Fire” in a crowded movie theater or throwing a match on gasoline. 

As a result of her lies, another black man died on the streets of Charlotte, a white bystander was beaten by a mob, several other people were injured and stores were looted in Uptown. The strife also reinforced the ongoing division that makes it impossible for our country to solve this problem. 

For me, the truth is bad enough when a Travon Martin, Michael Brown, Keith Scott or Terence Crutcher gets killed. We can learn from the truth and maybe make some sense out of tragedy. Unfortunately, the truth is not good enough for many “social justice activists.” 

Lies, like the ones spread about Charlotte, are the currency they need to justify their bad deeds. These extremists grab the spotlight from peaceful protestors and bring their own brand of racism to the streets and the media. Lies become unassailable truths. Anyone who questions them is vilified. No good change can occur in this toxic atmosphere. 

We all have a choice. We can be part of the solution or part of the problem. People who choose to do nothing are part of the problem. People who share inflammatory tales without taking a moment to question them are part of the problem. They magnify lies and put more lives in danger. 

Open dialogue is the only way to work through and resolve the problems at hand. It’s okay to start from a point of honest disagreement – honest being the key word. Lies matter, too.