Dean Minnich: You can't believe what you see or hear

At the end of his autobiography, "A Man From the Palatinate," former state Del. Jake Yingling poses the question of whether we have changed from a nation of doers to a nation of voyeurs.

That was written more than 10 years ago. Since then, it would seem we have stepped even further away from reality, and been drawn deeper into a world where philosophies are truncated to bumper stickers, thought is whatever is being tweeted at the moment and popularity is more valued than integrity.

I awoke from a dream the other morning that left me standing without sufficient words as I stood before a classroom full of 6-year-olds, trying to explain to them why adults are unable to adopt reasonable ways to make them feel safe in their world.

That was my nightmare. What is theirs?

Tough issues are not resolved in the current America, which may go down in history as a Land of Oz.

We merely choose sides. We believe what we want to believe.

About two years ago, a video making the rounds on the internet showed Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, disrobing down to bra and panties on the steps of the Capitol during a press conference.

Not only were the images totally fabricated, but so were the very words in the audio that went with it. To an unsuspecting visitor from the last century, it was a scandal taking place right before the eyes and ears of the American public.

No doubt some people believed it was real. They saw it on the internet. Thanks to the digital age, you can't believe what you see - but you can believe anything you want to believe, no matter how absurd.

There were variations making the rounds before the election: Obama making a speech in which he acknowledges that he is Muslim first and American President second. Obama embracing the rantings of some fire and brimstone hater of America. Obama crowing, or lying, or - whatever.

I guess you're supposed to overlook the choppy editing, the amateurish photoshopping and the obvious misdirection of facts. Let alone the changing background from one second to another.

Look! Obama refuses to salute the flag! Look! Obama admits to being a communist, socialist, muslim, left-wing wackjob!

Nothing proliferates ignorance faster than the combination of hatred, fear and the internet.

Recently, I received an email full of huff and puff indignation. A word that was not part of the sender's vocabulary sent him looking it up, because he was certain it was something nefarious. He knew that because it was a word allegedly included in the national health-care reform act.

"What I read made me want to puke!'' he texted, adding that this was a perfect example of how the main stream media (another constant irritant to the rowdy Right) was "not telling the truth about Obama."

The word at issue is supposed to be Muslim in origin, and has to do with the way debts are made and repaid in a culture that considers a financial loan a sin.

Aside that it was connected to those Muslims, the really big problem, according to this forwarded email, is that it means that Muslims are not required to pay for health care, but are entitled to all the benefits. Outrageous! Roars the tea party mob.

Here's the kicker: There is a link right there in the midst of the so-called "truth" that refers readers to the fact-checking website, Snopes. If you stop ranting long enough to actually click on the link, the word "false" comes up in big red letters. Then it goes on to recount the incorrect allegations, which some dim lights apparently cannot decipher as merely a recap of a lie because they want so much for it to be true. If you read all the way to the end, you get the whole, complete and probably disappointing revelation that you have been duped. All worked up for nothing.

My conservative friends want so much to wallow and enjoy their hatred of President Obama, and Democrats, and liberals in particular, but they've got to calm down before they have a collective stroke, and the world is taken over by moderates.

Wouldn't that be a bite.