Just the Facts


"Just the facts, M'am, just the facts!" This is the famous laconic sentence repeated by "Sgt.Friday" of Dragnet. Dragnet was a television series some years ago.

The main character, Sgt. Friday, was always the man who had to interview the "witnesses" of a crime. Invariably, the witness gave free reign to imagination. Since it was usually the female of the species with the most vivid imagination, the witness character was presented as an elderly lady.

Politely, but firmly, Sgt. Friday would have to say: "Please, M'am, just the facts!" But, do you think these people would listen? No way! Impervious to anything but the figments of their imaginations, the `witnesses' continue to ramble on and on about what they `saw'!

Few people realize that when they start using adjectives, they almost immediately enter the field of subjective evaluation. People `see' things that are not there. They `hear' things that were never spoken.

Are they crazy? Are they unstable? Do they need psychiatric help? Where can you find a psychiatrist who himself is not in need of a psychiatrist?

Take a pill? Heaven knows, our society is just one vast open mouth _ ready to gobble down any pill the pushers tell us will cure whatever ails us.

"Please, M'am, just the facts!"

Of course, men are just as guilty of bearing false witness as anybody else. The reason they pick on the ladies is probably because the ladies are more prone to this human weakness.

If we were to ask the newspaper publishers "Just give us the facts," there would not be much `news' to print. Especially the political page would have to turn to gardening or `How to raise your pet rat' articles.

There are so many lies flooding the spiritual world of ideas that it is totally appalling.

What are the `facts'? To begin with, what do you understand by the very word `facts'? Without going into the tortuous epistemological problem of whether or not we can trust our senses and intellect to perceive reality as it truly is, it is vital to be able to make a reasonable judgment.

Well, what is a `fact'? No, no. A `fact' is not a figment of your imagination. And, quite honestly, too many people confuse figments with facts.

We get the word `fact' from the Latin past participle, `factus' which simply means a `thing done.' A `fact,' therefore, is `something that has been done.'

A `fact' is something that actually has been done, or has happened. It is a deed. At law, `facts' are any of the circumstances or matter of a case as alleged; also, that which is of actual occurrence; reality as an event.

"Just the facts, M'am, just the facts!"

People avidly listen to the news on the radio or watch and listen as the newscaster tells them what is going on in the world. Books are published and spread the ideas contained in them. Some books are called "fiction" because they are primarily the work of someone's subjective imagination. Fiction serves only to create an illusionary world _ a world that does not exist except in the imagination of the writer. Fiction and non-fiction both require some raw material upon which to build.

Fiction is attractive to superficial people because it generally does not require much thought. Fiction is designed to appeal to the emotions and not to the intellect. Fiction is fabricated fact.

Non-fiction, on the other hand, seeks to relate only that which is objectively true. History ought to be a record of human events as they actually happened. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals have found that much money can be made by fictionalizing history.

The manipulation of facts _ even the actual magic-like creation of `facts' _ has come to be regarded as `history.'

And upon this `fictionalized history' the present world basis its future. Well did George Orwell say: "He who controls the past, controls the present; and he who controls the present controls the future."

This is the reason for the extreme concern of certain groups to protect their `history' from the peering eyes of the skeptical or the investigative research of genuine objective historians.

Falsified history requires some element of objective fact. For example: In our little work shed hanging on the wall are several pieces of memorabilia: old carpenter tools, and among them is a policeman's `Billy club.'

Here we have several facts. It is a fact that a Billy club is hanging on the wall.

What is it doing there? Simply, there was no place to put it and there was no need for it other than as an ornament.

Now, we come to the famous words of Sgt. Friday: "Just the facts, M'am, just the facts!" If that little shed still stands when the present Superior is long dead, someone might come along and ask: "Oh, what is that Billy club doing there?" And would you believe it (Of course you would!) the new caretakers might say: "Ah, that is what the Superior used to beat those who would not obey." Awed by this sinister revelation, the stranger would go away and repeat the ridiculous explanation.

Who knows, someone might find it profitable to even build a museum to contain this infamous Billy club!

Yes, Sgt. Friday, it would be nice if you were a real person who went around every time some thoughtless and irresponsible individual vented her or his spleen upon the innocent and say:

"Just the facts, M'am, just the facts!"

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