What is truth? | AspenTimes.com

What is truth?

Dear Editor:

Presumably aiming at Marilyn Marks, Jack Johnson wrote on the Aspen Post website:

“I suppose the ability to so delude oneself as to be unable to see the truth behind the simple meaning of your own words is a trait – though I suspect not a commendable one. I maintain the truth is that the Aspen Election Commission was secretly manipulated by Marilyn Marks to further her own goals (including overturning the election) at public expense. Read and decide for yourself – they are your documents.”

Johnson dramatically raises a fundamental question: What constitutes truth? Is truth what he “maintains” based on his reading of Election Commission related e-mails? Is truth what you might interpret based on your own reading of his selected excerpts? Is it acceptable to ignore what authors have to say about their own intentions when their e-mails have been spectacularly converted by surprise from informal chatter into widely distributed public documents?

Johnson has turned his fertile imaginations into an info-war machine against his perceived enemies.

The accused are suffering from a deliberate failure by the accusers to communicate. Johnson and the mayor refuse to talk with Marilyn Marks. Only selected e-mails from thousands of pages collected through transparency laws have been published. Citizen volunteers with insufficient political experience were either na├»ve or acting on principle or both: All their e-mails have been opened to observation during the time they tried their best to protect the quality of the public’s election.

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Unlike an experienced politician like Johnson, they didn’t know to avoid confusing, incomplete or potentially misleading language in their e-mails. In fact they were simply unaware of the possibility that all could become accessible. The record therefore is one which borders on the invasive in its transparency including not surprising rough edges. Still there is nothing to hide.

When words are claimed to mean something other than what was intended there is a failure to communicate. Not a delusion on the part of the author, but a misunderstanding by the reader, sometimes intentional.

Johnson’s idea that anyone could be “unable to see the truth behind the simple meaning of [their] own words” is a self-admission of a communication problem. He describes not someone deliberately lying to serve a political purpose, but someone who writes in words that cannot be understood correctly. I know from extensive experience that neither of these cases describes Marilyn Marks.

When and how does “truth” stray so far from the author’s own meaning? Johnson flatly “maintains” his interpretation is correct. Perhaps he agrees with Michael Conniff that politicians simply cannot be trusted. However, he has been a politician longer than Marilyn Marks.

Harvie Branscomb

El Jebel