Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Still Not the News


In the continuing saga of “Not the News”, I turn your attention to this post from the summer:

Not the News

Again, our community has been stirred up by piece of writing which is not news. It’s an opinion piece in the Howard County Times about the very same issue, the ongoing legal case about the Symphony of Lights display. People have very strong feelings about this topic and it has been easy to catch the public’s imagination with suggestions of a big bad Grinch’s malintent.

But it’s not the news. 

It appears to be a highly successful piece of persuasive writing, and it’s backed by the kind of pass-it-on organizing that helped to save Merriweather Post Pavillion. It stirs us up with wanting to help David take on Goliath. But when a piece of writing encourages you to set aside your critical thinking skills and go full steam ahead with your emotions, you lose something.

I have been reticent to write on this topic because I’m a well-known advocate for the Inner Arbor Trust/ Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, which is a party to the lawsuit. I have felt that the responsible thing to do was to allow the case to proceed in court. If you haven’t seen a lot of “publicity” expressing the other side of this story, I suspect that’s why: not because their reasoning doesn’t hold up, but because they have an ethical commitment to uphold.

We are living through a very hard time and I don’t fault people for leading with their emotions when responding to a narrowly drawn opinion piece. We are only human. We have experienced loss, our worlds are changing, and we have every reason to want to cling to things in our past that comfort us.

But there’s just one thing. Truth matters. People in Columbia and Howard County are not stupid and deserve facts and not fables to be able to make up their minds. The Symphony of Lights display is not worth saving if one has to lie to make it so. That’s not the stuff Columbia is made of.

That’s not how you shed light in the darkness.

I’ll definitely have more to say once the case is decided. In the meantime, I’m just sad for my community.

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