The Truth about Watchdogs

   Written by on December 7, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I tell my Grand-brats the story of a juvenile delinquent named Goldilocks who was sent to Juvenile Detention for Breaking and Entering and Vandalism.  I tell them the story of The Wolf Who Cried “Boy” and I tell them about a dog I once had.

The dog’s previous owner described him as a Lab but the only lab that dog had even been involved with was the one that built him.  I called him Frankendog.  His job was to be a watchdog.  He was supposed to alert me to anything in the yard that was potentially dangerous to me or my property.

One of the defects in his manufacture was he considered everything dangerous. He barked at intruders and bears and raccoons in the chicken pen as his job description required. The problem was he also barked at butterflies, bats, beetles and bugs as well as everything that moved or caught his attention including his own tail.

In short he was useless.  Even though he did everything required in his job description the mistakes (or lies if you prefer) made his legitimate warnings nothing but more noise.  See “The Wolf Who Cried Boy.”

It wasn’t long before he was fired and sent to a place where his lies and poor judgment didn’t disrupt anyone.

I also tell my Grand-brats it is important to tell the truth and to be certain what you say is accurate.

If you tell the truth 95 percent of the time, every time you say something I have to wonder if it is true or part of the 5 percent lies you tell. This makes everything you say suspect.

If I make a factual mistake in an article I am morally obligated to print a correction.

This is why we seldom publish citizen comments to the Board of Supervisors.  Many if not most citizen comments are at least partially incorrect or opinions.  Because they were said does not make them news.  That is the purpose of letters to the Editor and even then if we know the information is incorrect we will not help spread falsehoods.

Often people don’t understand their statement was a “true or false” situation. One exception makes it false.  An example is the speaker who stated, “Every county in Virginia includes citizen comments to the board in their written minutes with the exception of Charlotte.” I found two exceptions and didn’t look anymore. That statement was false.  The speaker insisted “it was almost true.”

Last month a speaker addressed the board and claimed the one section of sidewalk in Charlotte Court House removed by Dominion Virginian Power at the new courthouse constituted an EPA violation.  That is also untrue.  It was ugly and it was messy but it wasn’t an EPA violation.  Besides, most country folks understand construction is in progress and are smart enough to walk around a mud hole. That just isn’t an issue.

The Messenger is always happy to print citizens’ comments and letters to the Editor, just not the ones that bark at everything.

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