nce upon a time, a man named John Doe decided to enter the political arena and run for office. He ran for city council and won. Unfortunately, his ideas ran contrary to the views of the local news media.
At one meeting, Mr. Doe proposed some infrastructure work. “For example, we might pave the sidewalks in town,” he suggested. “That would result in safer, easier walking, and it would upgrade our town’s image. After all, no more tracking mud into our homes and stores would be a significant positive for everyone.”
The next day, the local paper, the Clarion, ran this article:
In a poorly thought-through idea and demonstrating an astonishing lack of fiscal responsibility, first-term Councilman John Doe shocked yesterday’s council meeting by proposing out of thin air that an unspecified—but likely very large—amount of money be spent to improve Pleasantville’s already perfectly good infrastructure, making the suggested expenditure a waste.
And as if that weren’t enough foolishness, Doe added insult to injury by claiming that throwing money away on infrastructure would “upgrade the town’s image,” implying that Pleasantville suffers from a negative image. If so, it’s people like Doe who are contributing to it.
This sort of scurrilous attack on the good people of this city is intolerable. Just who does Doe think he is that he can feel free to cast disrespectful calumnies on this nationally well-respected town? Such an insufferable insult should be . . . [Etc.].
“Hey Tom, why do you think this Doe character proposed putting in sidewalks?” the reporter asked.
“Who knows? Maybe he’s just a do-gooder. Or maybe he owns stock in the paving company. Or maybe he took a bribe from the concrete plant. Anything’s possible these days.”
The next day, the Clarion ran this story:
Sources speculated yesterday that Councilman John Doe might have taken a bribe from a company potentially involved in completing the infrastructure project Doe proposed at a recent council meeting. The fact that observers could identify no other reason for the proposed “improvements” lends weight to the bribery possibility.
Not only is taking a bribe reprehensible in itself, but it is inexcusable in the context of local government, where small municipalities have limited resources. To think that Doe is willing to cash in on his friends and neighbors is just despicable and tells us that he does not understand even the basic principles of local government. How such a self-serving, seemingly dishonest person could ever get elected . . . [Etc.].
Mr. Doe was understandably upset by this charge, so he called the Clarion to protest.
“I have never taken a bribe for any purpose, nor would I,” he said.
The next day the Clarion ran the following news:
Yesterday, Councilman John Doe, already embroiled in a pay-for-play controversy over accusations that he has taken one or more bribes in exchange for proposing unneeded make-work projects in the city, collapsed under public pressure amid the whispering campaign that had concluded not only was he guilty of the extortion attempts, but was actively pursuing other payola schemes of a similar kind but with potentially greater payoffs.
Of course, Doe denied, a little bit too artfully, that he had ever taken one or several bribes in order to propose ridiculously expensive and wasteful infrastructure projects around town.
Such projects would, of course, need to be paid for by stealing taxpayer money from other accounts in the city’s already very tight budget. Perhaps school bus service and school lunches would be eliminated, forcing our youngsters to walk to school, often in dangerous neighborhoods. Even those who weren’t victimized by crime would be unable to concentrate because of the distracting discomfort that an empty stomach and lack of essential food intake would cause. But then, Councilman Doe apparently does not care about. . . [Etc.].
“My proposal,” he told them, “would be paid for by long-term municipal bonds, repaid over thirty years through a few dollars a year increase in property tax. There would be no impact on the current city budget.”
The next day, the Clarion featured this article:
In an interview at the Clarion yesterday, inexperienced councilman John Doe revealed himself as just another tax-and-spend politician when he proposed a ruinous debt to pay for his foolish and unnecessary infrastructure idea by imposing a needless, heavy, thirty-year tax burden on city taxpayers, their children, and their grand children. When concerned citizen Ernie Mellick was asked what he thought about the councilman’s ridiculous proposal, he replied, “I don’t think we want no crooked bribers rising our taxes. They is just too much [expletive deleted] corruption around here, anyway.”
Ten other citizens were asked, and they all rejected Doe’s preposterous proposal scornfully. Molly Beartree commented, “I heard that Doe wants to pay for his plan by stealing food from the mouths of babes and children. No more school lunch. That means that if Doe gets his way, kids will starve. Sick children will die. He’s an evil man.”
Another citizen added, “Doe is a murderer.”
Nearby on the first page, was another article.
Over Crazy Doe Proposal
Molly Beartree, a long-time, well respected resident of Pleasantville, told the Clarion today that she is fed up with the “idiocy,” as she puts it, of Councilman John Doe’s proposal to slap a ruinous thirty-year tax on residents to pay for what some have said is a project born of bribery. “I’m sick and tired of all the underhanded crookedness going on in this town,” she said. “It’s time we made our voices heard.”
Asked if she planned to get together with angry friends to protest against the councilman, Mrs. Beartree said that was a possibility. “We just might do that tonight. We’re meeting in Smith Park at 8:00 pm. We have signs already made.”
That night a few dozen protesters met at the park where Mrs. Beartree spoke to them. She informed the crowd about Councilman Doe’s character: “Doe is a slimy, bribe-taking crook who wants our children to die in the agony of terminal hunger pains while he lives off the fancy food he can afford because of the bribes and kickbacks he takes.” She then said, “Are we going to take this? Are we going to sit by while Doe rapes our city and kills our children?”
The crowd screamed, “No!”
Mrs. Beartree then yelled, “Then let’s march to Doe’s house and tell him we aren’t going to take it anymore!”
The anger of the crowd increased as the citizens marched toward Councilman Doe’s house and began to chant, “Doe, Doe, got to go! Doe, Doe, got to go!” When the crowd arrived at Doe’s house, it wasn’t long before his windows were smashed and his front yard destroyed. Protesters ran through Mr. Doe’s house, spilling paint on the floors and walls. Mr. Doe called the police, but by the time they arrived, his house was in ruins.
The next day, the Clarion ran the following story.
Hundreds Protest Doe’s Underhanded and Self-Serving Proposal
Last night hundreds of Pleasantville citizens exercised their free speech rights and, in a mostly peaceful demonstration, protested Councilman Doe’s plot to empty the city treasury in order, as some have speculated, to pay back his cronies for the bribes they gave him.
There were some reports of damage to Doe’s front lawn and an unconfirmed claim that a window had been broken, whether as a stunt by Doe to gain sympathy or by some other means was not clear.
A fire department spokesman, speaking on the scene, said that none of his men had broken the window. Similar disclaimers were offered by the police department, ambulance service, sheriff, and bomb squad. Mr. Manny Jonson, of Manny’s Towing, said that neither of the cars he was hauling away was still on fire when he arrived, and he saw no signs of violent protest.
The Clarion concluded its story by saying that Mr. Doe was unavailable for comment.
Truth is the foundation of civilization, society, relationship, prosperity, and progress. Those who lie or distort the truth for their own ends are worse than selfish. They are destroyers.