What is truth?

This is Michael Bloomberg’s recent “apology” for overseeing the so-called “stop and frisk” policing policy during his time as mayor of New York City: I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused. By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95%, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized—and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities…. [As] president of the United States, I will work to dismantle systems that are plagued by bias and discrimination. I will invest in the communities that bore the brunt of those systems for generations. And I’ll put this work at the very top of our agenda.I intend to address two questions today: what is the nature of truth, and what is truly an apology? In a way, that is one question. An “ apology” is only valid if it’s true.

Was he telling THE truth, or HIS truth? Let’s visit through Wikipedia what he said back in 2012-2015 when he defended the policy. In response to allegations that the program unfairly targets African-American and Hispanic-American individuals, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stated that it is because African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are more likely to be violent criminals and victims of violent crime. On June 17, 2012, several thousand people marched silently down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue from lower Harlem to Bloomberg’s Upper East Side townhouse in protest of the stop-question-and-frisk policy. The mayor refused to end the program, contending that the program reduces crime and saves lives. Truths: he did say that, he probably did believe it, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be victims of crimes and it was probably true that the policy helped reduce crimes.

In June 2013, in an interview with WOR Radio, Michael Bloomberg responded to claims that the program disproportionately targeted minorities. Bloomberg argued that the data should be assessed based on murder suspects’ descriptions and not the population as a whole. Bloomberg explained: “One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying ‘oh it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the [crime]. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.” Truths: the majority of individual criminal acts (not counting actions by groups), not just proportional to population but numerically, are committed by……who? Not minorities per se, but young American blacks. Ask the law abiding blacks and other minorities in their neighborhood.

In February 2020, an audio recording surfaced of Michael Bloomberg defending the program at a February 2015 Aspen Institute event. In the speech, Bloomberg said: “Ninety-five percent of murders-murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed. So you want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets. Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. So one of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them… And then they start… ‘Oh I don’t want to get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.Truths: almost all of it, though it isn’t accurate to say “all” the crime is in minority neighborhoods. You could excuse away the truth by saying it isn’t the ethnic makeup of the neighborhood but the poverty that is responsible for most of the crime. Then why was there less crime in the United States during the Great Depression, when more people were poor than before or since?

WHAT IS TRUTH? Almost everything that Bloomberg was saying above (I believe and he believed) was true. Can those words be true in 2015 and then those same words false 5 years later? Of course, the Bible has a lot to say on the subject. Don’t get hung up here on racism, I am willing to debate my comments, let’s focus on truth first, not the narrative.

Rosaria Butterfield, in her post Are We Living Out Romans 1?, cites the A.W. Pink book Profiting from the Word, which insightfully commented that the word of God, when read the wrong way and for the wrong reasons, issues “no spiritual profit,” but instead provides “a curse rather than a blessing.” What is the right way to “profit” from God’s word, so that it serves as a blessing rather than a curse? Pink says that you can only profit from God’s word if it:

  1. convicts you of your sin,
  2. leads you to sorrow over your sin,
  3. draws you to confess your sin,
  4. develops in you a deeper hatred of your indwelling sins,
  5. causes you to forsake your sins,
  6. fortifies you against sin, and
  7. compels you to practice the opposite of your sin.

She applies this lesson to her former LGBTQ “allies” and their defenders. “Because the word of God is divine revelation and a groundswell of supernatural power, it can conquer your sin. Instead of using the Bible to anchor our fickle hearts in Christ, the Bible is bent and twisted in the hands of gay-activist ‘Christians’ to serve our wicked hearts. In the hands of gay-rights activists who call themselves progressive Christians, the Bible becomes a curse. But there is no lasting peace in sin, even for the unbeliever.

Listening to the challenges of people who identify as LGBTQ (as well as the praying parents that stand behind them) can be helpful if it allows you to meet them where they are with the gospel that changes minds, wills, affections, and allegiances. Biblical counseling and faithful preaching that breaks our hearts on the Rock of Christ is crucial to this conversation, as is kindness and genuine care for the well-being of others. But Romans 1 is the true Christian’s guide as we seek to live for Christ in this post-Obergefell world. A person’s well-being is never disconnected from truth, because truth is not only true, it is better, it is beautiful, it is ethical, and it is lovely.

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend
. Psalm 15.

I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right. Isaiah 45:19.

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 18:37.

Author: iamcurmudgeon

When I began this blog, I was a 70 year old man, with a young mind and a body trying to recover from a stroke, and my purpose for this whole blog thing is to provoke thinking, to ridicule reflex reaction, and provide a legacy to my children.

2 thoughts on “What is truth?”

  1. Absolutely outstanding! Loved your insights into reading the word of God through the lens of the cross, the gospel. Only then is it life and not death.


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