Monday, April 14, 2014
The Misinformation Bandwagon
Admittedly, I don't want the news too much anymore. After being deliberately misrespented by a reporter too lazy to check her facts, or too interested in writing for the ratings, I've become disenfranchised with the "news", especially since they often report only half the story or make a deliberately skewed point. I often read foreign newspapers to see what they report and compare that to what the US news is reporting and realize that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I've been following the news about Flight 370 pretty closely because I find the story fascinating. But, there was another news story that recently wrapped up; Cliven Bundy, the cattle-rancher who had a standoff with the Beareau of Land Management in Nevada.
This story has blown up and made national headlines. It's certainly got a lot of people riled up. I don't purport to know the truth of the situation, but I do know that the news is not the only group of people who deliberately skew or mis-represent data; everyone else does it too. Most of us are quick to jump on the bandwagon and get fired up about something because our friends said that it was bad. Most of us never stop to look at the information objectively or consider the source or the truth before developing an opinion.
Now, I'm not going to get into a debate about who was right or wrong in this case, but let's examine some of the things that happened.
1. The BLM reported that Cliven Bundy's cattle were a hazard to the Desert Tortoise in the area. This is bogus. Back in August of 2013 the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center was killing the tortoises by the hunderds. It was so bad that there was even a Change.org petition to get the killing of the tortoises to stop. That was clearly an excuse.
2. I don't about the allegetions of who paid what to whom or not and I had trouble verifying that with actual documents, so I reserve the right to comment on that one.
3. There are allegations of BLM Officer misconduct, particularly where one of the officers threw a woman to the ground. Let's be real about that for a minute. Yes, the officer threw the woman to the ground. But, the woman was also stepping in front of a moving truck, putting herself at risk, which is a pretty damned stupid thing to do. On the one hand, you could argue that he was abusing her because he didn't let her get run over. Or, on the other hand you could argue that throwing her to the ground was an effort to keep her safe. Or you could just say "Meh, I don't care either way". The fact that this woman is a cancer-survivor really has no bearing on the situation and is used as a pity-card to get sympathy.
4. There are allegations that the BLM was stealing Bundy's cattle. To be clear, the BLM removed the cattle that were grazing on the county's land, not off of Bundy's personal property as many assert. Bundy's grandfather bought the rights to graze and develop the land, allegedly, but that did not transfer ownership of the land to him. They don't own that land, they simply have rights to graze there. The BLM alleges that they own the land and the previous agreement is null and void. I don't know which is right, that's a matter for the judge, but from the opposite point of view, the BLM wasn't stealing the cattle, they were confiscating the cattle for trespassing on county land.
5. The most ridiculous thing that I've seen going around is that the real reason for the standoff was so Sen. Harry Reid can seize the land and sell it to the Chinese to build a solar-panel farm to sell us energy. Now, the source of this allegation is decidedly less-than-reputable, but given the obvious misdirection about the tortoises, I thought it worth investigating. I did find a page, listed below, about plans to develop a solar-power farm, however, I did not find any information linking that to Chinese developers or interests. Also, if you look at the attached maps of the planned area where the solar farm is to be developed, and compare that area to Bunkerville, where the Bundy Ranch is located, you will see that these areas are roughly 50 miles apart, so it doesn't make sense for them to seize his land for development of a solar panel farm that is 50 miles away.
The important thing to remember before getting all riled about events is to take a deep breath and examine the facts critically before forming an opinion. Just jumping on whatever people tell you at face value and propagating that information forward makes you no better than crappy reporters.
BLM - Solar Power: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2014/March/BLM_Seeks_Public_Interest_for_Solar_Energy_Development_in_the_Dry_Lake_Solar_Energy_Zone.html
BLM - Cattle Trespass: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/more/trespass_cattle.html
Chinese Solar Power - http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/harry-reids-last-roundup/