The Bull Sheet* – Part Five – The Fatuous Statement

fatuThe first thing a newspaper writer must learn is that there is no such thing as too fatuous a statement – at least not in in print. Particularly if someone rich or famous has uttered it.

When a politician’s or activist’s thoughts reach the page they achieve gravity and merit. This may not have been a feature of the words as spoken, but once they have been seen by the reader, they are invested with these properties…by virtue of having been seen by the reader. The reader’s mind cannot be wrong.

In other words, there is an internal mechanism of self-flattery that makes perception the judge of performance. ie. when they see something, it must be right…because they have seen it.

This is wonderful. This is the Golden Fleece of thought – to be sought by any buccaneer or bagman who wants to become popular – and more than that – who wants to be paid handsomely while doing it. It is the reason you see corporate pirates mouthing platitudes as they sell off business and lives. It enables politicians with no more oratorical power than the cat to rise in the public mind…because the public mind obligingly sinks to accommodate them. It may never be able to see through their schemes but from that lower level it can see right up their nose.

Try it yourself. Go into a crowded party and find a circle of strangers. Look at one earnestly, drop your voice half an octave and slowly, gravely, tell them the time. If you do it well they will start, sweat, and look round. Do it really well and they will pump your hand, thank you profusely, and rush out the door. You may be sure that you they will always regard you as a sage and a benefactor.




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