We Can Handle The Truth

“You can’t handle the truth!”

– the character played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.

For at least as long as that movie has been out – since the early nineties – our supposed cultural betters have been telling us the same. Their view is that for our own good we should be shielded from rough language and even, in a more recent development, information or argumentation that they find … inconvenient.

I was already long out of college when I first heard the phrase ‘politically incorrect’ as an admonishment about words that might be taken as offensive by some. It was an alien concept: while good manners already effectively prevented me from being crude in mixed company, and a sense of basic decency restrained me from referring to other groups with any sincere intent to demean, I had grown up in an era during which often-humorous banter about familiar ethnic and religious groups, my own included, seemed as much a part of the environment as the air around us.

When words used with hurtful intent were aimed at us, we were taught to toughen up: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. That didn’t mean our feelings weren’t hurt occasionally – it was the intent that wounded, not the words –  but as we grew we developed harder shells of emotional armor than kids do today.

Further, just as it was correctly assumed that we would come across all kinds of crude, indecent and/or derogatory words in casual conversation, we were expected to react to such words analytically rather than emotionally when they were encountered in literature or other entertainment. We routinely read books and watched movies or saw plays that used language and had ideas not suitable for polite company. In well-known works the words and ideas that were ‘politically incorrect’ avant la lettre were generally set out with the clear intent of discrediting them, but sometimes they were relics of outdated sensibilities. We were expected to understand the differences and take them in stride.

Not now. According to the wokescolds who dominate our ‘high’ culture today, much of the literature of yesteryear has to be expurgated, or rejected entirely.

Back when I first heard the phrase ‘politically incorrect’, I thought it was ridiculous: weren’t we all grown-up enough to make our own judgments about offensive words or concepts? I thought the whole idea was flatly unsuited to a free society. With the fervent support of the academy, allegedly looking after the tender feelings of its students rather than teaching them to deal with life as it comes, it took off, though.

Some of the freedom of boyhood, to say nothing of great literature, is lost when, say, Huckleberry Finn and even Uncle Tom’s Cabin are widely banned. The Nigger of the Narcissus sits on my bookshelf, a fondly remembered relic of high school forty-five years ago; who would dare teach it today? Are we even still allowed (and by whom?) to utter sentences including that title?  

We should’ve seen what was coming when the smug censors of the new, heightened sensibilities started casting books with challenging language or ideas out of the standard curricula. The censors were just getting going. Even more important freedoms than enjoying yesterday’s important stories are also in their sights.


The idea that we are children who must be protected from each other and from ourselves by enlightened elites – that we ‘can’t handle the truth’ has burst into fuller flower over the last year. Now we are to be ‘protected’ not only from literature and entertainment deemed offensive, but also from information and argumentation that the elites don’t want us to see.

During the recent presidential election, the established media – with the sole significant exception of The New Yok Post – and the tech lords who oversee the distribution of information through the internet – saw fit to actively suppress new information about the Biden family’s pay-to-play business. They didn’t think it was in their interest for the public to independently evaluate evidence about how that business reflected on Joe Biden’s character and fitness for the office he sought. They made up transparently phony reasons to explain their suppression of this news – the precise opposite of what the role of the news media is supposed to be; it was done to drag Joe Biden over the finish line by means fair or foul. No doubt they tell themselves that burying this information was for our own good, but really it was because they didn’t trust the public to make the decision that they wanted. They were acting as disguised participants in the political battle, not even-handed reporters of it.

Just as tellingly, the same established media and tech lords are doing their best to suppress information that can be taken as implying that the Covid19 pandemic is less dangerous than the authorities would have us believe or that the various state and city governments’ lockdown edicts are misguided.

An old friend (and regular CH reader) recently sent me an email asserting that a friend of his is the CEO of a major Canadian insurance company, and that that friend had told him that he had told his board that no additional loss reserves are needed to cover the pandemic deaths because, in the aggregate, there aren’t any. In other words, the total number of people insured by their company who have died in 2020 is no greater than in prior years. If true, this information is perfectly consistent with the assertion of this (https://web.archive.org/web/20201126223119/https:/www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2020/11/a-closer-look-at-u-s-deaths-due-to-covid-19) study by Johns Hopkins (referenced in a previous CH post) that was retracted because it might be ‘misunderstood’ by the public.

You won’t read about such statistics in any significant media outlet because they challenge the accepted narrative. Are the these ‘facts’ correct? I don’t know – but I do know both that the media don’t know, either, and that we are not being given a clear look at facts that might allow us to make our own decisions. The infantilization of the voting public – and of our culture – continues.


The lesson of A Few Good Men was that, actually, the lawyer and jury at whom Nicholson’s character shouted his famous words could handle the truth. In fact, it was the shouter who was attempting to mislead, and the movie’s story couldn’t come to a just conclusion until the truth was revealed.

It’s a lesson our elites seem to have forgotten just as the movie was being made.

M.H. Johnston        

3 comments to We Can Handle The Truth

  • Anonymous  says:

    Fair points all around and “not being able to handle the truth” also helps explain the rise to elected office of Trynk – the states of amerika are held together without enough policy based on common sense, Where are the discussions of term limits? Rank choice in primaries? Increased sensible gun control? – instead fevered coverage of wedge issues and a desire to blame brings a poorly educated, isolated, medicated and armed population out to the streets defending or attacking what? Just to displaying a sense of righteous indignation? perhaps the aftermath of Trynk could be to “make amerika, america again” by showing how our institutions have worked and can serve us all moving forward.

  • DOUG  says:

    Anonymous, I don’t think you can have it both ways. When you refer to a “poorly educated, isolated” population in one breath, you are claiming settled science and debunked theories with the next. Shouldn’t the poorly educated 74,000,000 be given the chance to learn? Why does CNN talk about the death statistics in aggregate terms or specific terms that show (CDC not me) a reduction in cancer deaths, other Lower Respiratory deaths, and a reduction in Cardiovascular disease that ‘offsets’ covid? What if the chinese Russian ctber attack DID alter the election outcome? What if the statistical anomolies in the voting in 5 urban ateas DO represent fraud and a theft of our democracy? Who is going to educate the uneducated if you won’t allow for discovery and fact finding? CNN Twitter Google with their censorship certainly aren’t helping.

  • Anonymous  says:

    Doug, the poorly educated are not just the 74 million you refer to. Trynk voters are just as much victims of the corrupt self serving aspect of amerikan government as Biden voters. Media’s statistical wedge creation (we need less breaking news and more BRAKING NEWS!) issue coverage boosts ratings while harming society as a whole. Poorly educated is a term applicable to most people unfortunately. It’s so much easier to influence with emotion than rational thought. Human nature.

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