Remember a while back when Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl stood on the floor of the Senate and announced that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's services were abortion related? When his office was contacted by reporters who pointed out that in reality only about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's services go toward any type of abortion assistance, the senator's office responded thusly, "The senator's remark was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions ..."
Get it, kids? He was just making a point. And since reality did not provide the level of support he wanted for his point, he made things up. This, however, should not be confused with lying. I don't know why.
So I have to assume when I'm getting ready to board a bush plane here in Alaska and I'm asked to state my weight so the plane can be balanced, I can say 119 pounds. Then, when the plane takes off and dips dangerously due to the extra pounds on one side, I can just say that I did not mean that number to be a factual statement of my actual weight. It was more of a homage to the weight I want to be. After all, somewhere in my actual poundage the figure 119 appears. If a U.S. Senator can make up facts to justify his position, then I can make up a factual statement of my weight. Clearly neither of us chooses to be restricted by reality.
Our world seems to be moving more and more in that direction nowadays. People apparently feel that facts should not interfere with what they know to be true, even if the facts prove that what they know to be true is false. Are you following, boys and girls? Up is down. Down is up. And we've all fallen through the looking glass.
I knew reality had become completely passe when an acquaintance who is a birther made this statement to me about the documentation President Obama has presented concerning his birthplace. "He's never produced a birth certificate. He keeps producing certificates of live birth. Where's his birth certificate?" There is really not much that can be said in response to that statement, mostly because any sane person at that point is standing there with their mouth agape at the tortured, twisted logic just utilized to differentiate a birth certificate from a certificate of live birth. As the kids would say, OMG!
The problem is that if we can simply choose to ignore the truth when it is inconvenient and then make up facts to prove the opposite and do it all boldly as though we were actually doing a great service to the national dialogue ... well, Alice's queen will soon seem quite sane in comparison.
When facts appear to disprove what some people believe, they resolve the conflict by labeling them "your" facts as opposed to "my" facts. The people doing this believe that two sets of opposing facts can co-exist, with both being equally true.
I never thought I'd live long enough to see the Flat Earth Society adherents winning the battle for reality, but I apparently have. Against all odds, and all pictures sent from satellites in space, a group of people still exist who insist the earth is a flat disk. While we may laugh at them, the fact that there are groups of people who still do not believe Obama was born in America or that the earth is older than 6,000 years or that Clinton did not order Vince Foster's death makes those Flat Earthers look not quite as bizarre as they once did. I mean, it's quite possible science has just been pulling our legs all these years with a round-earth hoax.
So to summarize, things presented to us by public figures as facts may be nothing more than a truth that exists only in that person's mind. What is reality and what is reality as I am determined to see it despite all evidence to the contrary are equal.
And back on that bush plane, I'm 119 pounds. Deal with it. And please lean in the direction opposite me after takeoff. We will all be much safer from my factual weight statement that way.
Elise Patkotak is an Alaska writer and author of "Parallel Logic," her memoir of 28 years in Barrow. Website, www.elisepatkotak.com.