There's a popular movie line which says, "You can't handle the truth!"
At the risk of arguing with actor Jack Nicholson, I think I can handle the truth. When it comes down to it, I'd prefer the truth nearly every time.
The only exception that comes to mind is my prized guacamole dip. If you don't think it's delicious, it's OK to fudge it and tell me it's great.
I mention the importance of truthful and accurate information because it's easy to take this for granted, that is until it disappears. In the case Scout Sullivan, the WCHS student who was shot to death last week in Cannon County, the sheriff's department there has released no information to me about his case despite repeated requests.
I am not alone. Sullivan's mother called me Wednesday in exasperation at her inability to obtain basic facts about her son's shooting. She doesn't even know what time it happened other than it was Tuesday morning, a broad, 12-hour window.
"I've heard all sorts of rumors," mother Brandi Byars told me. "Some of them are just crazy. I don't know what to believe."
Crazy rumors tend to surface when law enforcement officials don't release reliable information. People begin to speculate and pass around false information as being accurate. When the truth is not available, that's what occurs.
That's been reinforced by the murder investigation currently taking place in McMinnville. Police have released minimal details about how a 55-year-old former Marine was killed and that has led people to produce their own theories.
McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton acknowledged this problem in a story on today's front page. Said Denton, “There is a lot of unsubstantiated information flying around out there on social media. This puts a lot of people in fear when there is no reason. It seems like these rumors take on a life of their own.”
I understand McMinnville police detectives are searching for a killer and there's some information that should be kept private to help their investigation, but this proves my statement. In the absence of reliable information, people are going to make up their own version of events.
What makes all this even more troubling is it appears we have a White House administration that wants to have a loose relationship with the truth. In less than a month of President Trump we already have a new catchphrase, "alternative facts," which was said by White House official Kellyanne Conway while defending a false statement about inauguration attendance.
As for President Trump, he seems unconcerned with releasing false information. Then when someone tries to correct him with the truth, he will attack them on Twitter.
Contrary to Jack Nicholson's famous line, I think most of us can handle the truth. Speaking for myself, I know I prefer it.
The more we are denied accurate information, the more we are going to realize how vital it is to a thriving and free society.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.