Mark Twain’s line that “Truth is stranger than fiction” has been getting plenty of mileage these days, particularly in conversations about the White House. (Does our current president really believe that our past president tapped his phone at Trump Tower? You just can’t make this stuff up.)
But few recognize this for what it is – a partial quote. First appearing 120 years go in Twain’s book “Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World,” the full quote is “Truth is stranger than fiction — but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
It’s that obligation to possibilities — including rumor, speculation and anger-backed assumptions — without a commitment to fact that also gives fiction a jump start on truth, leading to another memorable quote that is often attributed, if incorrectly, to Twain that “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on,” (This is more likely a variation on the Jonathan Swift quote that “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”)
Either way, it’s a quote that’s relevant now more than ever, as a lie can circle the digital globe many times over before the truth can even remember its password.
It’s in this frenetic environment that those of us on The Press Democrat Editorial Board took a step back to make sure that we’re focusing on the right issues. In other words, we know how easy it can be, as overseers of the opinion pages, to simply react to the news and tweets that are happening by the hour and miss out on advocating for programs and issues that are most in need and are developing — or not — over time.
As a result, as we have done in previous years, we have developed some editorial priorities for this year that I want to share with readers. Most are not subjects that are new to our section. But they represent the issues that we believe require regular attention and discussion on our pages. If you think we’ve left something out, let me know.
1. Track and advocate for adoption of clear rules and guidelines and sensible taxing plans concerning the sale and use of cannabis on the North Coast.
Few would probably argue with this one. This is particularly timely given the upcoming Measure A election, which calls for the creation of a cannabis tax for Sonoma County.
Yes, there’s an election on Tuesday, and, as demonstrated by our editorial on page B10, we support it. Measure A is comparable to taxes in cities and counties across the state, most of which have been approved by wide margins.
But given that it’s facing a fair amount of opposition here, including from growers, its outcome is uncertain. Santa Rosa also is planning to go to voters with a cannabis tax in June. Regardless of the success of these measures, there’s no disputing that the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana as well as the issuance of permits and licenses to cannabis-related businesses means major change for this region.
2. Maintaining public awareness of the growing crisis of rental housing in Sonoma County and support the creation of funding mechanisms to provide for the development of low- and moderate-income housing.
This also will be on the ballot in June when Santa Rosa voters will decide whether to overturn a modest rent control measure approved by the City Council in August.