In far too many circles, ex-NBA star Charles Barkley is profoundly revered for his “honesty”. As a regular contributor to NBA TV broadcasts, he has a long history of instant, unabashed expatiation on any topic under discussion, no matter how deep and sluggishly his ignorance runs. Most of it is harmless enough, I suppose.
But last week in an appearance on Colbert, when asked about how America should behave in response to the existential menace of the Coronavirus, he hesitated with an opinion for about as long as a St. Bernard rushes to slobber up a vat of Alpo. He reassured the millions of viewers that life should proceed as normal, period. He offered no cautions, no narrow strand of equivocation. Most, I guess, would describe it as Barkley barking out with his characteristic “honesty.” I wonder if Rudy Golbert, probably a Barkley admirer, did, before he playfully settled the virus on his friend and teammate, Donavan Mitchell and who-knows-how-many others.
So maybe it’s time to think about redefining the word Honest. Maybe it’s time to draw a distinction between “Honesty” and “Candor.” What Barkley chronically engages in is mere candor, not honesty. If he had been earnestly honest in responding to Colbert’s question, he would have modestly, faintly intoned, “Sorry, I though I know everybody is entitled to an opinion on any subject, I’m afraid I won’t render one on this one, because I know nothing about it.”
Which brings me to this entreaty aimed at all. I know that today–thanks to the mountain ranges of social media — one and all are allowed voice–helter-skelter–any of their views. But before you indulge, ask yourself this question: Have I actually studied this matter by referencing responsible books, articles, lectures, etc. from responsible experts? And while you’re at the exercise of self-questioning, ask yourself when the the last time you read a respectable book, magazine, newspaper, etc. …or if you’ve ever read anything all since your jailbreak from formal education.
If your honest answer brings you up short, please shut up.