A Turn of Phrase

“Wow, did you see that?” she said. “British Petroleum donated over 23 billion dollars to the states down in the gulf to help with their businesses down there. That’s so cool that a company would show its gratitude and help people after Katrina.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked confused.

“I just saw it on television.”

“In the news?”

“No, I think it was a public service mesage.”

Still confused, he asked her to point it out the next time she saw it on TV. It wasn’t very long before she pointed to the television and said “here it is. This is that message!”

Sure, it looked as though there was something very philanthropic about the money BP “invested” in the gulf states, but the truth is, that the 23 billion was damages demanded by the government for the 100 billion dollars worth of damage done then one of their oil wells spewed crude into the ocean and devastated the coast. There was absolutely nothing philanthropic about their so called gift, yet a lot of people couldn’t help but misunderstand because of the way that BP phrased their advertisements. In no way had BP invested in those states and people; their money hasn’t made those devastated by their recklessness anywhere near whole again.

It’s not any different than the commercials that the natural gas industry is spewing trying to cage their use of “fracking” as being good for the nation in spite of the widespread contamination of aquifers and the inducing of low grade earthquakes as a result of the fracturing of the bedrock necessary for stability. There are also releases of chemicals that when airborne, cause headaches and nausea, and even causes neuropathy in some. Those of us with Multiple Myeloma and those near to us understand the severe negative of contaminants –those self same contaminants are responsible for our cancer. We know how real the danger is.

I hate puffery –the term for advertisements that misrepresent their products in a favorable light. But I despise outright lies, especially those that try to conceal such gross negativity. Better these profiteers present real facts when it comes to the welfare of the citizens and allow us to choose how much risk we choose to have in our lives and allow the majority to decide. That’s the democratic way, and the way a democratic republic should operate.

It’s bad enough that companies like Nuance misrepresent their Dragon Naturally Speaking by refusing to show that their product will not simply listen to speech and accurately represent what it hears, punctuation and all. It doesn’t even come close to doing that. But buying into Dragon’s puffery isn’t likely to kill people or make them suffer.

This is, I think, a big deal. We Americans are lied to on a daily basis, whether it’s politics, business, or virtually anything else, and we accept it like grazing sheep oblivious to the wolves stalking our herd.  And I have a feeling that if we don’t wise up and start holding those who damage us so knowingly and willfully responsible, and make their existence as tenuous as they make ours, we’re in for trouble..