Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Using Lies and Deception to Make Your Point
Leapa reports that a pashkevil hanging up around Boro Park (pictured at right) states:
The fact is: Eighty percent (80%) of Gitin (Jewish Divorces) .... are products of a computer at home, or a cellphone or i-pod in a pocket.
This is the dry fact. It is attested to by all Rabbonim which do Gitin.
Dear Young Person (Yingerman): If you do not want this device to throw you out of your house, throw it out first!!!
(Note: My Yiddish skills are minimal. The translation is Leapa's. However, from what little I do know, it looks reasonably accurate. If it's not, please let me know and I'll modify the translation accordingly.)
To be perfectly honest, I'm not an expert in the field of divorce, so I'll be the first to admit that I could be wrong. However, I *highly* doubt that 80% of all divorces among Orthodox Jews are because of a computer in the home (it doesn't even mention the Internet), an Ipod or a cellphone. Unless, of course, "being caused by" equates to "owning one," in which case, I'd say that over 99% of all divorces are caused by telephones and electricity.
Now, if someone wants to start a crusade against computers, cellphones and Ipods, I don't have a problem with it (as long as there is no coercion involved). I have no problem with someone asking me to get rid of my computer, my TV or my MP3 player (which isn't an Ipod), as long as they don't get involved in coercion or deception.
It's when people start using deception and make up facts that I start to get annoyed and begin to "push back." The best example from my experience, I suppose, is that I have no beef with Christian missionaries, whereas I have nothing but utter contempt for Jews for Jesus -- specifically because the former is simply advancing their ideas in a straightforward manner and the latter are being deceptive to accomplish their goals.
It's when someone starts to use deception that my sympathies for their goal start to go downhill. For example, a few weeks ago, the President of a shul in my neighborhood got up on Friday night after davening and asked the congregants to contact their representatives (or was it the president?) about Jonathan Pollard. In his little speech, he said that the Pollard incident was "the Dreyfus Affair all over again." Now, we can argue whether or not Pollard deserved his life sentence; we can debate whether or not he should still be in prison; but one thing is clear -- Alfred Dreyfus was framed and innocent of all the charges against him. Jonathan Pollard, on the other hand, broke the law -- a fact that no one denies. Comparing him to Dreyfus completely destroyed his case, in my opinion. I have little tolerance for deception in rhetoric -- and yes, exaggeration is a form of deception. Are there divorces caused by computers (i.e. the Internet)? No doubt there are -- but 80%?
You often here this from members of our community regarding things that they want to do away with. Invariably, someone will get up and state that [fill in the blank] is the "greatest danger to K'lal Yisroel" today. It could be television, movies, cell phones, computers, DVDs, Ipods, mixed seating, college education, or whatever. If I had a dime for every time I heard something was the "greatest danger..., " well, I wouldn't be a millionaire, but I'd probably have at least two bucks. By definition, there can only be one "greatest danger" and yet it shifts every time to be whatever the particular speaker is talking about.
Is it possible to have an argument using just plain old simple facts? If you think that computers, cellphones and Ipods are deleterious to a marriage, then please make a cogent case for it. But don't pull numbers out of thin air. If you think that Pollard should be out of prison, then make a case for it; but don't compare him to an innocent man. And the next time someone thinks that some product or service is bad for the Jewish community, let him say so without shouting that it's the "greatest danger to K'lal Yisroel." Just make a good case using simple facts and reasoning.