Kent Bush: You can’t handle the truth, at least not well
We’ve all been there.
You say something with great conviction because of your great convictions and then upon further review you wish you could unsay the words that you just said.
For most people, that situation would result in a phone call or text apologizing for the unintended effect of your loose lips.
Unfortunately, when you have a bigger platform, those apologies have to be bigger as well.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently mocked and bashed Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee who will be formally placed at the top of his party’s ticket at the upcoming convention.
She is not the first person to express concerns about a Trump candidacy and possible presidency. I’m sure there are people who wear the same robe she does that feel the same way about a Hillary Clinton candidacy and possible presidency.
The difference is none of those other Justices have been interviewed in the press about their feelings. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but Supreme Court Justices are supposed to be apolitical arbiters of the law who leave partisanship to politicians and merely insure the constitutionality of laws and lower court rulings.
Because of that, Ginsburg felt compelled to apologize for her comments.
“On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” she said. “In the future, I will be more circumspect.”
Ginsburg isn’t alone here.
One of my favorite pastors actually removed all of his sermons from early in his tenure removed from his church’s website.
Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Texas blamed his youth for why early sermons needed to be removed.
“I was 28. I had some extra vinegar in me back then,” Chandler said. “I lacked some grace. I lacked some understanding.”
It makes me feel better that even one of my favorite pastors had this issue.
I became an editor at the ripe old age of 24. I had a lot of success early in my career and became quite enamored with myself. Unfortunately, the main thing I have learned in the past two decades is how little I really knew when I thought I knew everything.
There were many times, early on, where being more circumspect would have been a benefit to me.
I remember one column where I recommended filling Lake Chickasha with Jell-O and I don’t even like Jell-O.
When the Turnpike Authority was considering placing concrete median barriers along the highway between Chickasha and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, I felt like the cost was too high. In Chickasha, the turnpike is a big deal. Everyone there remembers being told there would be a toll until the road was paid off and then the toll would drop or go away entirely. Of course, the price has only increased for Chickasha drivers.
In the wisdom of my youth, I said spending $500,000 per mile was too expensive for concrete median barriers. Other more cost effective options were available.
But I didn’t focus there. In fact, I said you can put a price on a human life and this price was too high. I went on to say if we care so much about a few people’s safety, we should fill Lake Chickasha with lime Jell-O to prevent death by drowning there.
I even said the fish would be like pineapple pieces in the Jell-O.
Somehow, people whose family members were killed or seriously injured in accidents where vehicles crossed the center median at high speeds found my seemingly hilarious column insensitive. Shockingly, those whose family members had been drowning victims in the lake also found me to be a bit of a jerk.
I would still tell you that there are cheaper and better ways to keep people safe on a turnpike between Chickasha and Oklahoma City.
I would just say it in a more thoughtful and reasonable way.
Pastor Chandler went on to say that, like me and Justice Ginsburg, he always wanted to speak the truth, “but there is a way to handle the truth that is helpful and a way to handle it that is not helpful.”
He learned that early in his ministry. I am still learning it as a publisher. It looks like even an 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice is still learning it this week.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.