Musicologist Ted Gioia may be on to something when he says that after 9/11, the long reign of cool had ended, the reign of hot had begun. Especially but not exclusively on the left, it seems bad form nowadays, and even evidence of some kind of guilt, to subject any passionately-made claim to cool examination. Consider a well-covered racial incident at Smith College where slandering any number of white people became the preferred alternative to a black person having to hear that she was wrong.
Distrust of the media, and the media’s own disavowal of the supposedly tired idol of “objectivity,” is another factor. If no disinterested authority exists who can be trusted to refute a lie without fear or favor, it begets lying. A lawyer for a voting machine company told the New York Times recently: “So many people out there, including people in positions of authority, are just willing to say anything, regardless of whether it has any relationship to the truth or not.’’
Lately there have been a few curative apparitions. Those lawsuits by voting-machine makers may be legally weak but they represent a healthy impulse to get the evidence before a forum where evidence still matters. Adam Schiff so recently imagined himself a U.S. senator. Now he is reported to be practically begging California’s governor to appoint him to the soon-to-be-vacant post of California attorney general, where he can change the subject from his congressional record and bathe away the after-odors of his collusion performance before facing voters again.