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The Burden of Proof


This has been a funny year for Democratic politics in Loudoun. there are a lot of reasons, but none more annoying than the overwhelming preponderance of rumors. This candidate is switching parties (Not True). That candidate is moving Districts (Not True). This person is doing this thing to that other person (Not True). Last I checked, high school is over for most voters – and all active Democrats. That doesn’t stop the flurry of rumors from flying about, however.

Now I know that this kind of intra-organizational gossip is simply a function of being human. What political organizations experience is not different from what dog breeding groups experience, in that manner. (And I was struck by the deep similarities of intra-organizational gossip between the two by being subjected to gossip from an example of each within fifteen minutes of conversations.) What is uniquely frustrating this year, however, is the depth of the rumors and the amount of sheer falsehood therein.

Take, for example, the (in this case, Loudoun-specific) rumor that a Democratic candidate was going to pick up and move Districts in order to…well, I’m not sure why. The rumor was just that the candidate was going to move and run in a neighboring District. The question was chased down, and determined – as all of these rumors are, so far – to have been completely false. And that’s the point of this post.

The problem with political rumors is that the burden of proof, for reasons that are beyond me, is on those trying to disprove the rumor, rather than on those spreading the rumor itself. The good news is that this problem has a very, very simple solution – when you hear a rumor, ask the person spreading it to provide proof, right then. If enough Democrats (or members of any organization, frankly) were to push back, immediately, on allegations that are made by private phone calls and emails by simply asking for evidence beyond that of simple personal assertion, I believe that most of the fog would be lifted.

But I could be wrong. That’s just what I heard.

(Crossposted from Loudoun Progress.)


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