But Is It True?

What role does the truth play when speech offends?

Rep. Steve King
Rep. Steve King
Rep Peter King is in hot water with his recent comment that the number of illegal immigrant "dreamers" that are valedictorians is far less than the number that are "mules", smuggling drugs across the border.  He points out that the proposed immigration law changes would legalize both, and we are using the valedictorians to justify the legislation, while ignoring the large number of "mules" that would also be legalized by the proposal. (see here)

His critics have been harsh, complaining that his comments are racist, "toxic", bigoted, "hateful", and offensive.  Even his allies have felt the need to distance themselves from his comments.

I have a question - is what he said true?  Isn't the truth higher priority than offense?  Do we disallow true, relevant speech on public policy when it offends?

This is a common thread in political debates today.  When you want to suppress a fact, an idea or a speaker, label the speech with some hateful label, and shout the speaker off the stage.  Paint his supporters with the same brush and sneer at them as though they are unfit for polite society.  Don't debate.  Shout.  Don't offer facts.  Call it "toxic", "hateful", "harmful".  Discredit and demoralize your opponent, and suppress those ideas you don't want discussed.

Rep King's assertion may be true.  No one seems interested in checking.  There is only one valedictorian per high school, and only a fraction of them are illegals.  Smugglers are caught crossing the border every day.  The "reform" being proposed appears to legalize both.  Common sense suggests that what Rep King has said may well be true, and is relevant to the legislation.

The question must be asked - given the facts, is the legislation wise?  Facts that are relevant and true must be part of discussions of public policy.  Cowing speakers into silence is thuggery.  Being cowed is cowardice.

It takes courage to speak out on topics that are important, knowing that people will hate what you say.  We, the voters should not allow the shrill and the offended to drive the truth from political debate.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donald Lee August 04, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Liberaltarian - please be careful with your history. The "last time" the Israelis and the "Arabs" had a war was not 1967. There were conflicts in 1973, 1980, and a few others, depending on what you count. The 1973 conflict was not a big "victory" for anyone, and neither was 1980 (Lebanon). Facts and the truth matter. Let's be careful to get them right.
Roy Roscoe August 04, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Joyce: Nice link to brown.edu. Although there are many omissions it was nice to read a brief condensed piece that was not propaganda. What exactly, does this have to do with Obama giving 300 tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood? And, how Jews feels about that? Does my opinion about the Iran-Contra affair pertain?
Joyce August 05, 2013 at 11:51 AM
David Hansen asked: 'What exactly, does this have to do with Obama giving 300 tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood? And, how Jews feels about that? Does my opinion about the Iran-Contra affair pertain?' ............................ I'm just contrasting the lack of outrage when Reagan illegally sold arms to Iran and the apoplectic response to Obama continuing a legal policy, established by his predecessors in the Oval Office, of aid to Egypt. ................ 'Egypt and Israel have been the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid since 1979, when Washington brokered a landmark peace deal between the dueling nations. The Camp David Accords remain the main pillar of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Ensuring that Cairo continues to adhere to the terms of the deal, which is explosively unpopular on the Egyptian street, is the Obama administration’s leading incentive to continue the aid. But the United States has other interests, including continued naval access to the Suez Canal, which connects the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. It also wants to help Egypt restore order in the Sinai Peninsula, a large desert stretch bordering Israel that has become a breeding ground for Islamist militants.' ............ http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-02/world/37388565_1_military-aid-conservative-islamist-group-muslim-brotherhood
Roy Roscoe August 05, 2013 at 09:42 PM
One difference in the comparisons is Israel brokered the The Iranian-Contra missile deal. Israel had nothing to do with the recent "aid".
Liberaltarian August 05, 2013 at 10:50 PM
DL - I try to be pretty careful with my history. Sometimes I'm wrong, but I don't think I am this time. I said "the last time the Arabs tried to take Israel". By that I meant the last time the Arabs tried to take over the original (post WWII) territory of Israel. Subsequent to that, I think the Arabs were chiefly interested in regaining the territory they had lost in '67. But my point was that Israel is no South Vietnam. It's highly unlikely that cutting off aid to Israel would result in its demise - provided we also cut off aid to Egypt and other so-called "friendly" Arab or predominantly Muslim nations such as Pakistan.
Donald Lee August 05, 2013 at 11:51 PM
I did not intend to gratuitously criticize. The Israelis can clearly take care of themselves, but that does not mean they don't need support from their only real ally - us. Their fate without our help is not so clear. The 1973 (Yom Kippur) war must not be overlooked. That conflict at times went very poorly for the Israelis. It took the intervention of both the USSR and the USA to stop the fighting. It is not clear at all that the Israelis would have prevailed. It is also not so clear what the Egyptians would have done should they have broken through in the Sinai. Remember that officially, there are several countries and organizations in the vicinity of Israel who are officially committed to the proposition of "wiping Israel off the map". The Israelis have reason to be skittish ANY time there is conflict. Israel is strong. It is not invincible.
Donald Lee August 05, 2013 at 11:54 PM
To be clear - I agree that we meddle too much in the mideast, and we would do well to stop selling/giving weapons to both sides.
amy farland August 07, 2013 at 04:44 AM
David: on Mexican Corn: here's one analysis from Tufts U: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/rp/WiseNACLADumpingFeb2011.pdf My head is not up my ass David, no matter how nice you wish to phrase it.
Mike B. August 24, 2013 at 05:41 PM
I would like to see a 2016 presidential ticket of Rep. Steven King and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. That's a strong, winning conservative ticket in my book.
Liberaltarian August 24, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Gov. Christie would make a strong Republican candidate in the general election - probably can't win the nomination though. Tea Party neo-cons are still too dominant.
Roy Roscoe August 24, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Amy F. I was not able to copy and paste the link. I believe you are referring to the Timothy Wise article from early in 2011. That is an excellent article. It's very informative and I believe the data is accurate. That said from your reading of it you have made a few conclusions that the article does not make. Primarily, that the US and US farmers have done anything wrong. First of all NAFTA was an agreement, Mexico was not forced to sign it. They did because they saw advantages. Second, the article in no way included the vary important contribution Amercan farmers and agricultural scientists have made to improved yields and more efficient corn production in Mexico. Thirdly, the article also does not even touch on the fundamental costs of making corn useful and they are storeage, transportation, handling but of even more but less tangible importance are price volitiity, risk management, insurance and financing. The poor Mexican village farmer does not hedge profits using corn futures, likely dosent buy crop insurance which probably means he can not get financing to imprive his competitive advantage. He probably harvests his crop when weather permits it and takes what ever price the local grannary is paying that day, less the costs of any imputs he needed to borrow to get the harvest (seed, hebicide, fertilizer etc) As I see it, the big problem and the cause of the struggle for poor Mexican farmers is caused by the Mexican government who likely uses the gains from the positive sides of the NAFTA agreement and the lower priced imported corn to subsidize othe ventures and, like most countries politicians, political cronies and political paybacks.
Liberaltarian August 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM
My parents made a living farming about 500 acres of corn and soybeans. The average amount of land farmed in that area by a single family is now at least triple that. There's no way that someone can make a living raising corn on 60 acres or 30 acres. It doesn't matter if they're in Mexico, Missouri, or Martin County. To expect that Mexican farmers would be able to compete on such a small scale is unrealistic. The US didn't cause this. The Mexican gov't didn't cause this. It's just the way it is.
Donald Lee August 24, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Ethanol subsidies, corn "allocations" and other market distortions that exist to keep US corn prices high and US farmers happy are also driving up world corn prices. The US is by far the largest producer of corn, I believe.
Roy Roscoe August 25, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Liberaltarian is mostly correct. I say mostly, because the Mexican goverent does subsidize Mexicos larger corp farms that puts Mexicos subsistence farmers at further disadvantage. Keep in mind the cost of living and standard of living is considerably lower in rural Mexico.
fb.com/WCwatchdog August 25, 2013 at 12:59 AM
DL and DH... you're never going to convince the socialist like Joyce and amy. You make solid points after solid points, to which they respond by changing the subject. They can't accept facts and logic because it doesn't agree with their emotional convictions. For once I'd like to see these people stay on topic.
Joyce August 25, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Mike B. wrote: 'I would like to see a 2016 presidential ticket of Rep. Steven King and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. That's a strong, winning conservative ticket in my book.' __________ I'd love to see that too!
Joyce August 25, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Donald Lee wrote: 'Ethanol subsidies, corn "allocations" and other market distortions that exist to keep US corn prices high and US farmers happy are also driving up world corn prices. The US is by far the largest producer of corn, I believe.' _________ Yes, indeed, thanks to policies put into place by Earl Butz, during the Nixon administration, to benefit Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland.
Donald Lee August 25, 2013 at 03:24 PM
I think I just saw Joyce suggest that the crop subsidies put in place in the 1970s are bad policy and should be reduced or eliminated. I agree.
Roy Roscoe August 25, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Joyce, Please, in more recent history, who did not wish to lose Ohio, IL and IA and supported Corn! If you guessed Obama you would be correct.
Roy Roscoe August 25, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Obama supports high priced corn. He supports ethanol. That hurts every consumer of meat and the very labor intensive meat industry.
Liberaltarian August 26, 2013 at 10:35 AM
DL - I think you're a little off on the "high-priced corn" thing. There aren't any federal policies that I'm aware of that cause corn prices to be high - except maybe the Fed Reserve's policy to keep interest rates artificially low, which weakens the dollar, which makes our commodities less expensive for foreign buyers, which increases the quantity demanded, which increases the price in the US. ------------ Programs like federal subsidized crop insurance actually keep the price lower since it greatly reduces the risk of planting corn on marginal ground.
Liberaltarian August 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Regarding ethanol: Whenever there's a threat to the US supply of foreign oil, Republicans and Democrats alike clamor to reduce our dependence on it. To achieve that, there has to be considerable infrastructure investment. The private sector won't make these investments without government subsidy because, when foreign oil is readily available, domestic energy production can't compete price-wise. Ethanol isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, but its benefits go well beyond simply propping up corn prices.
Joyce August 26, 2013 at 11:25 AM
David Hansen wrote: 'Joyce, Please, in more recent history, who did not wish to lose Ohio, IL and IA and supported Corn! If you guessed Obama you would be correct.' ++++++++++++++++++++++ David, why do you assume that every liberal supports every policy that every Democratic politician supports? The fact is, despite the ultra-liberal, even socialist caricatures of Obama created by the right wing, our President is very much a centrist; in fact, he is so centrist that many of us on the left are quite unhappy with his somewhat conservative policies.
Donald Lee August 26, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Liberaltarian may not be aware, but North Dakota and Canada are experiencing an oil boom. Our biggest source of "foreign oil" is (drum roll..... )CANADA. He might also have heard of something called the "Keystone XL pipeline". This is a multi-billion dollar project, entirely privately financed, to carry this oil to a (private) hub in the american south. Tell me again why government has to invest in ethanol? These investments - in oil drilling in N Dak, in Canada, in pipelines -don't count? My local Kwik Trip just ripped up its parking lot to install natural gas "pumps" for its trucks. What a great idea? Government involved? no, just economics. Nat Gas is much cheaper than diesel. The reason the private sector won't invest in ethanol is that with current demand and technology, it makes no economic sense. Translation: it is not profitable in either the short or long term. The ethanol subsidies and incentives give taxpayer money to large agribusiness and ethanol producers to produce a product that has to be forced on consumers through EPA regulation, and with dubious environmental benefits (at best). Ethanol subsidies should end. Now.
Liberaltarian August 26, 2013 at 12:32 PM
I'm aware of the oil boom in North Dakota and Canada. I support building the Keystone XL pipeline. I'm fine with fracking and mining frac sand. I'd like to see more hydro-electric power development. If the nuclear waste storage facility could ever get built in Nevada, adding nuclear power plants would be a fine option. Coal is still a viable energy source. But still, most of the time it's cheaper to simply buy the oil from other places.
Liberaltarian August 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM
The more honest solution economically would be to put a tariff on imported energy and then let the free market determine whether ethanol, wind, coal, domestic oil, etc. is the best alternative for domestically produced energy. That way the gov't would be collecting taxes from the importers rather than subsidizing the domestic producers. Theoretically, energy prices would go up some, but taxes could fall by an equal amount.
Joyce August 26, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Liberaltarian wrote: 'I support building the Keystone XL pipeline.' _______ What is the basis for your support? Aside from endangering the Oglala aquifer and other environmental concerns, the oil will most likely be exported, and will not lower fuel prices in the United States: __________ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324392804578358791884145514.html
Donald Lee August 26, 2013 at 01:05 PM
I agree with LT. Stop trying to micromanage energy production. Markets work. Coal, oil, Nat Gas, nuclear, hydropower.... all are viable. All have downsides, as do biomass, wind, solar, etc. Markets to a good job of reflecting those costs. Let them work. (BTW - the delays in Yucca mountain are foolish. We are begging for serious trouble by not finding a place for all our nuclear waste.)
Liberaltarian August 26, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Since the pipeline is privately funded economic development, it's none of my concern where the oil comes from or where it goes provided the owners pay their taxes and don't cause harm to someone else. The only concern I have is with the environmental risk to the Ogallala aquifer and I'm no expert on that. However, it seems like the risk of anything other than some very localized contamination is extremely remote. Assuming that's true, I see no reason to hold up the project.
Donald Lee August 26, 2013 at 02:27 PM
To add.... The pipeline is a lot safer, cheaper than its alternative, already in use - mile long trains of tank cars. (that sometimes derail)


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