The cost of saying something false or stupid is usually minor. But the cost of retraction can be bankrupting. We’ve already seen this with Dean Letts’ and Jagmeet Singh’s going off half-cocked over the Kamloops ‘revelations’. But the Linda Beardy case ratchets it up a notch.

Never mind that she wasn’t murdered. That she climbed into a garbage bin of her own accord, where she probably fell asleep. The bin was picked up by a garbage truck and dumped in a landfill site, where the body was eventually discovered. But would any of the fist-pumpers, up to and including the Prime Minister, retract their very public assumption that she was yet another victim of white male racism? Not a one. Why? Because the cost of doing so would be absolutely prohibitive. Because to retract an accusation of racism is racism.

Would that we could say the smart money, therefore, goes to holding one’s tongue until the facts are in. But that seems not to be the case, because as it’s now been made clear to us, silence is violence. So when something could be racist, it has to be called out as such, and called out immediately. It wouldn’t be called the benefit of the doubt if it wasn’t doubt. And as we all know from the We Believe You campaign, doubt is denial.

So on those occasions when the facts falsify the narrative, can politicians be blamed for doubling down rather than retracting? Not if the retraction does more damage than the lie. And who assigns these damages? We do. Because we take a criticism of p as an assertion that not-p. If Linda Beardy wasn’t murdered, then no Indigenous woman has been.

I’m a philosophy professor. What we could do is train our students to think a tad better than this. But it’s been made clear to me that doing so is racist.

Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy

Tags: , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Excellent.



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