12/5/13 Published Opinion vs. Public Opinion

There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.

Winston Churchill


Opinions are like love bugs on a humid July evening. They flit about aimlessly on their brief amorous adventures, only to find themselves mashed against your windshield about the same time they find a mate. I don’t think anything even eats them. I could be wrong about that, since it is speculation, not really an opinion. The only opinion I have on love bugs is that they are a mess when squashed and stuck to the paint on the front of your car, and even worse when inhaled. I have a valid opinion on the perils of aspirated love bugs. It is based on experience.

We have a glut of opinions these days. Mine is just one more added to the maelstrom. From reading all the opinions, varied and sundry though they are, we might fool ourselves into thinking that we have come up with some consensus of public opinion. Many published opinions try to present themselves in such a favorable manner. Having built a consensus of opinion for one’s own purposes is no indication of veracity, though; it merely sounds good when hearing it.

Publishers are everywhere these days, as common as indie music acts, as common as digital recording studios, as common as HD video cameras. They are all ubiquitous and driven by ubiquitous solipsists. There is no escaping publishers. I should know, because I am one myself, thus the opinion you see published here. I offer no apology.

I am a bit different, though. I am not going to try to impress you with a bunch of useless facts. I have written about this before, and it seems to be a recurring theme, popping up from time to time like a sensitive tooth reminding us not to bite down on that side too hard…like a young filly with too much energy for an inexperienced rider…like the guinea wasps that warn you to stay away from the tack room at the barn. I am just going to tell you what I think without bothering with facts at all. In fact, I don’t trust facts. They usually lag far behind the truth, and even further behind the story, though they seem to be right front and center. I am always suspicious when the facts are too obvious, much like a young Esther Williams-esque’s chaperone old-maid aunt might be suspicious of the Victor Mature types when they hover too closely around, offering to open doors and performing all sorts of chivalrous deeds. That old-maid aunt is wiser that you think. She has opinions, too, and they are very likely right. She doesn’t need any facts. She’s got everything she needs right at hand to offer her highly qualified opinion. That Victor Mature type may be cute, but he’s no good or just looking for a good time the aunt might say to herself sternly, but somewhat nostalgically, secretly wishing she were younger, resenting that any affections are not meant for her, and hardening her resolve all at the same time, swatting ol’ Victor like he was a love-starved love bug now mashed against a Studebaker windshield.

If you give those specious facts an inch, they’ll take a mile. They’ll have their way with you and you’ll be swearing over them, exhibiting them like they were a trophy lion taken on safari when they turn out to be more like a pole-cat taken from the roadway on a moonlit evening; the moon being the only thing romantic about that whole scene: and it retreating into the western sky as fast as it can.

I will give you my unvarnished opinion. I will strip off the embellishments and let you have it just like it was a rough diamond, one not yet cut and polished. The essence is still the same, but the polishing reveals more about the art of man than it does about the diamond, since diamonds are never perfect, and the perfect diamond is never a diamond but something else entirely. I’d stop and digest that for a minute if I were you. You don’t want to run past something like that…it is a real jewel…a diamond in the rough as some might say. Make of it what you will; it is my published opinion and I’m sticking to it. If you don’t like it, then go and get your own opinion and leave mine alone.

I have read more fact flinging published opinions today than there are genuine facts. Most of the published opinions contain faux-facts, which are by far the most common kind. I read food-diet-nutrition opinions, global warming opinions, anthropological opinions, political opinions, musical opinions, and at least one opinion issued by a state’s attorney general, which was the one most likely to have any real impact on anyone. That AG’s opinion will at least stand until there is another AG, while the rest of the aforementioned opinions are as durable as the love bugs I keep talking about.

Opinions have a way of changing, but published opinions have a way of reappearing in the most embarrassing way. I recently read some excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s autobiography that was published in 2003. Whoa!! It seems like she is going to be a little closer to the ACA than she is wanting to be, since she says things that seem to have been adopted word for word by the administration. I suspect that the opinion of many pundits will be that the Obama administration has plagiarized Hillary Clinton but she will no doubt deny this adamantly, because if she cries plagiarism, then by admission, the ideas and the words are hers. I doubt that will happen, but that is only my opinion. Unfortunately, her autobiography was published, and that is not an opinion, that is a fact. And in her book, when Hillary Clinton uses the word “I”, she means herself, or I have every reasonable expectation that she means herself, and she says things in her book that she’s rather silent about now, perhaps wishing she hadn’t said them then. Her publisher thinks she said them, though. I think so, too. Perhaps her publisher will file a plagiarism suit. Perhaps they won’t. I would if I was them, but I’m not and that’s a fact.

See, I also use facts when I find them convenient, but mostly ignore them like money from a mother-in-law…there are strings on that money…don’t touch it! I will not be saddled with someone else’s spurious facts! Not even Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman’s facts. There are no facts in economics…no blacks, no whites, no absolutes…only an infinite gradation of varying degrees of gray. What a miserable, but safe world. It is impossible to be wrong with economics. Conversely, it is impossible to be right. It is possible to contemplate that grayness of an economic matter, just like German theologians have endlessly contemplated the concept of Dasein. To spend one’s life in contemplation of thereness is just too much like economics for me.

So, here’s my published opinion about it. It is a publicly published opinion, too. It may not be worth much, but at least it is not tarnished with too many facts. It is just a pure, unvarnished opinion.

And I enjoyed writing about it, and that’s a fact

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