Facts First (When They Benefit Us)

This week, CNN released an advertisement which made an argument, seemingly directed at President Donald Trump, concerning truth. However, this same advertisement unknowingly attacked their own arguments concerning transgenderism.

On Sunday, President Trump referenced a Politico/Morning Consult poll in a tweet reading, “It is finally sinking through. 46% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS ORGS FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME. FAKE NEWS, even worse! Lost cred.”

CNN responded the next day with a commercial on their social media accounts depicting a sole red apple with a voiceover saying, “This is an apple. Some people might try and tell you that it’s a banana. They might scream banana, banana, banana over and over and over again. They might put BANANA in all caps. You might even start to believe that this is a banana. But it’s not. This is an apple.” The words, “Facts First” replace the apple before the red CNN logo concludes the ad. The words are simple and resonate with the viewer. The imagery is clear and no doubt is meant to associate the objectivity of the apple to that of CNN through the association of both the color red and the placement of each in the frame.

The subtle polemic argues simply that truth is not shaped by rhetoric, volume, or perception. Truth is shaped by its truthfulness; its correspondence to objective reality. This is at its base Correspondence Theory, one of the earliest epistemological arguments posited in Aristotle’s Metaphysics more than 2,300 years ago. This correspondence to objective reality remains the standard definition of truthfulness. It is an argument that should be affirmed, not because it is persuasive but because it is true. Truthfulness is not a party line. It neither raises up nor denigrates conservatives or liberals. It simply is.

The great irony here is the inconsistency of application from this premise, namely in the rise of transgenderism. Transgenderism argues that gender is not determined by biology but by the individual. If a man feels like he is a woman and desires to live as one, he must be afforded the rights of any other woman. This would include anything from admittance to women’s facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms to participation in women’s sports or competitions and may or may not include an attempt to alter their biological gender. Each facet of this argument requires greater attention than can be given here, so instead our focus will remain on the contention of the ad- that truth is truth.

We do not have the luxury to pick and choose when truth is relevant to us or to only apply it to our own benefit. May I offer again that truth is not shaped by rhetoric, volume, or perception. And yet, time and time again we see CNN and others promoting that gender and its consequent accesses are determined by the individual. We are told emotionally, loudly, and unceasingly that we have no gauge to determine or limit the rights of another because we do not understand how they feel or what they know. In essence, they have another truth. This is categorically inconsistent with the definition of truth. Truth’s objectivity dictates that no amount of subjection may sway it. Here the words of the ad are particularly relevant reframed, “This is [Objective Truth]. Some people might try and tell you that it’s [subjective]. They might scream [subjective], [subjective], [subjective] over and over and over again. They might put [SUBJECTIVE] in all caps. You might even start to believe that this is [subjective]. But it’s not. This is [Objective Truth].”

The objective truth of gender is not determined by the individual; neither is objective truth at any level. While it can be enticing to point out the inconsistencies of others and apply truth when it is beneficial to us, we must recognize that anything less than objective truth is less than reality. May I leave you with the words of Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”

Paul J. Morrison is lead pastor of Grantwood Community Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Sarah live in Cleveland, Ohio as church revitalizers with the North American Mission Board. Follow him on Twitter @PaulMorrison116.