Right wing sanctimony aside, America, especially conservative America, revels in a culture of lying. So it came as no surprise that many in the media had a jolly good time excoriating and making fun of Manti Te'o after learning that the Notre Dame's celebrated linebacker's girlfriend he mentioned so often in interviews was not real. Many were disappointed and some were outraged that a football player from a storied football team and a reputable institution of higher education like Notre Dame would "perpetuate a hoax" about having girlfriend who had died.
However, before we continue to heap more insults and disappointment on Notre Dame and on Manti Te'o, America should take a closer look at an American culture of lying that validates lies if they support an influential political group's point of view. Conservative Republicans were adamant during the political campaign that lies told during the campaign were appropriate because the ends justify the means. American apparently hold athletes--especially minority athlete--to a higher standard of truth than it does many other in the public view. We expect them to be role models.
We hold athletes to a higher standard of behavior and truth than we hold political pundits who emit influencing rhetoric to millions daily. We hold athletes to a higher standard of behavior and veracity than we do politician who affect our liberty, education, social conditions, health, and economic welfare.
But what are we telling our children when we celebrate some liars and the lies they tell as if they were true? What are we telling our children when we celebrate a liar as if he were a king without blemishes? We validate that a lie is OK if it promotes a political agenda or religious theology. We validate that a liar can be celebrated as a valued celebrity--indeed become wealthy--if he or she has a large enough audience that embraces their lies.
Children are not stupid. Because of a broken and purposely underfunded public education system, America's children may be lacking in an education that values critical thinking and the social moral values of truth, justice, and equality, but they are not socially stupid. Children know that if it weren't for lies that play into the fears, anger, and hate of his audience--many of their parents among them--Rush Limbaugh would not have a popular radio show. Children know that Fox News routinely lie about everything that is not consistent with a right wing conservative point of view or does not promotes a right wing conservative Republican Party agenda of division, fear, and hate.
So, if America wants its youth to value the truth, America should not value the lie. An America that values the truth would have been outraged when leaders in the Republican party declared that they were not going to let facts get in the way of their political campaign of 2012.
Fox News claims to be fair and balanced. To be sure, we acknowledge that there is nothing unfair about consistently presenting your point of view. However, it is wrong, morally irresponsible, unfair, and decidedly unbalanced when every presentation is based on lies, half-truths, and lies about your lies.
Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative pundits consistently and repeatedly lie about President Barack Obama. Most of our youth are at least capable of seeing through this culture of lying. What they do with this knowledge is not always predictable. But don't be surprised when it morphs into something that even right wing conservatives would call evil.