Claiming opinion is fact weakens one’s argument
I felt compelled to respond to a letter that appeared in Everybody’s Column on Oct. 15, “Regardless of intent, many are offended.” The writer illustrated (likely without intention) one of the many problems with political discourse today. His obfuscation of the word “fact” is an example of why we are in what I call “a war on truth.” As a former elementary school teacher, I felt the need to clarify the meaning of the word “fact” and distinguish it from “opinion.” It’s what teachers do!
The subject of the letter was the controversial decision by many NFL players to “take a knee” in protest of racial injustice. Early on in his letter, the writer stated his opinion that the NFL players are disparaging the military by kneeling. He continued, “Whether or not they mean to, the fact is they are.” Well, no. Actually, that is not a “fact.” That is an opinion (a curious one since the players have frequently and publicly stated that the protest was against racial injustice). Saying something frequently and loudly does not make it a fact. Claiming that opinions are facts makes one’s position less credible.
A fact is something that is indisputable. Since it is disputable that the players knelt to disrespect the flag, the anthem or the military, the writer erred in proclaiming it a “fact.” In the interest of more productive dialogue, let us all agree that one is entitled to one’s own opinions, but one is not entitled to one’s own “facts.”