Rob's Soapbox Archives

June 1st, 2009


Nothing, and I mean nothing, continues to shock and annoy me on a regular basis more than peoples’ needs to be right, as opposed to being correct. What’s the difference, you ask? Being correct is the act of actually gathering, confirming and affirming all possible facts to come to a proper conclusion; in other words, your motivation is to know and argue based on the truth. Being right is defending a conclusion you’ve reached without being correct; in other words your motivation is to make yourself look good because you have such low regard for yourself that you are incapable of acknowledging that you are wrong. As a friend once said to me, “they can’t eat you,” meaning the worst thing that can happen is that you might be embarrassed by a few small minded people. So be it’ you’ll be congratulated and revered by those that mattered for having the courage to admit your shortcomings. Get over yourself.

The most common version of someone “being right,” is the person who stupidly repeats aloud something he or she heard, having never confirmed or researched it. When confronted, the person then refuses to correct the record. For example, still to this day people claim that you “will catch a cold if you go outside with a wet head.” This has been proven patently false (you catch a cold from a virus, not a combination of moisture and temperature), yet people still repeat it. Or, there’s always the issue of the brown recluse spider; anytime someone mentions it on our show some idiot has to call to tell us there’s no such thing as brown recluse spiders in Northern California or Nevada. This assertion is based on the fact that the original, literal spider known as “the brown recluse,” has never been known to exist here; however, there are 54 other forms of recluse spiders confirmed in America, including 10 indigenous one, and the difference between them is moot once you’ve been bitten.

While we’re on the subject of spiders, stop making an ass of yourself and spreading the absurd lie that we swallow an average of 8 spiders per year while sleeping. That was fun once to scare Dawn and even more hysterical when we were all in the third grade, but can we please move on?


Often times, “group think,” becomes the rule. So many people read and repeat something never true, that it’s almost impossible to turn the tide, despite how untrue the assertion is. Recently, on the 10 year anniversary of the Columbine shooting, the FBI files from the investigation were finally released and it was revealed that basically everything we thought true about the day is a lie. There were no trench coats, no students who were ordered to renounce God, no Marilyn Manson connection, no shotgun in the bedroom…none of it.


Our culture also has a propensity to simply repeat what’s popular, because it makes them liked. Global warming and warnings to “wash your hands,” are two examples that come to mind. Almost no one that walks around spouting off about global warming knows anything about what they’re saying, and even fewer can intelligently answer any questions about it. The hand washing Nazis demand that you remain clean to avoid germs, refusing to acknowledge the possibility that our obsession with cleanliness is weakening our immune systems and making us more susceptible to illness. Arguing their claim will usually garner a hardy “whatever,” in response.

Alas, I accept this form of human ignorance and arrogance, though I still try to fight against it. This column is an attempt to demonstrate all sides of how to be correct, and eschew being right.

HOA AMERICAN FLAGS: On Friday, May 29, 2009, we were discussing a story about a woman asked to remove her American flag from her workspace. That evolved into a conversation about rights as they relate to American flags and my recounting of a Homeowner’s Association rule that disallows all flags, including American flags, from being flown. Within 30 seconds, some know-it-all had emailed a chapter and verse dissertation about how wrong I was, based on the Freedom To Display the American Flag Act of 2005.” (Keep in mind that the HOA I was referring to was my own, and this clown was literally telling me that I was not experiencing something that I was). The claim was that the law prevents HOA’s from banning American flags. While it’s true that was the intent of the law, the truth is that the law’s practical effects have no such effect because of the provision that allows HOAs to ignore the law. In other words, the law was symbolic and means nothing, as I stated.
HOA’s across America continue to ban American flags at their leisure. A simple Google search will turn up dozens of such unchallenged incidents since the Flag law was passed.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS OPT OUT RULES: Earlier in the week, we tried to discuss the Unified School District of Alameda forcing children to remain in class while being lectured on Gays and Lesbians. Before I had even begun the debate a well intentioned, intelligent sounding woman called and quoted the law to me that she claims makes it impossible in California for a school district to not allow parents an option to say their children will “opt-out” of a certain lesson. She may very well be right that something is written somewhere meaning to protect parents’ rights. I had already stated that some would argue that. However, there are (as previously demonstrated in the flag law) always loop-holes and creative ways to wrongly push agendas. Simply waving a piece of paper and saying “it’s against the law,” doesn’t change the fact that kids in Alameda will be failed this fall if they opt out of Gay & Lesbian day.


BAG SEARCHES: One of my favorite long standing debates with morons is the ability we have, as consumers, to refuse to have our shopping bags searched. Mind you, I never do it because I am neither offended by the assertion nor an asshole (what’s the big deal? People with nothing to hide, hide nothing). The truth, however, is that random retail stores that do not require membership contracts (like Costco) cannot demand that you allow them to search your bags as you exit their store. It must be voluntary. However, every time I mention this fact, countless people call in to tell me I am wrong, providing no factual backing for their assertion, other than “oh yeah.”


BREAK IT, DON’T BUY IT: Another oldie but goody are people that believe stores can actually force you to pay for something that you break on accident. How stupid do you have to be to buy into this? (Pun intended). Yet, any time it comes up, people claim that a store can enforce their meaningless signs. This idea is so ridiculous, that Pottery Barn was actually offended when then Secretary of State Colin Powell, called “you break it, you buy it,” the Pottery Barn rule! They even went out of their way to tell people that when things break in their store, they simply write it off and allow the customer to continue shopping.

THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE: Oh please. In America? It is of course completely unlawful to simply refuse to serve someone. Obviously, if a customer is entering your store after closing time or violating code or abusing employees, service can be refused, but that’s not refusing service to “anyone,” as the dopey signs imply. You can’t just refuse service randomly in America. Christ on a crutch.

HOW TO BE CORRECT: Earlier this year, I was happy to clear the air on something I had stupidly been repeating; a caller, Arnie and I had erroneously asserted that Candy Lightner, the original founder of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, had been arrested multiple times for DUI. This is nothing more than an urban legend. Research revealed to me two things related to the origin of this myth; for one thing, it doesn’t take a lot of work to discover that numerous MADD members, volunteers and allies are arrested on a regular basis for hypocritically drinking and driving. Perhaps this legitimate trend led to an erroneous exaggeration or was intentionally used as a spring board in an attempt to smear the entire organization.
Secondly, there is clearly a very palpable anger and backlash against MADD for what it’s become. I am amongst that group and have been for decades. While no right minded person believes that drunks should be encouraged to drive or even treated leniently if caught doing so, that in no way justifies the systematic dissolving of our rights as MADD does today. It is also clear that their ultimate goal is to ban alcohol. Such legitimate, logical arguments however, in no way justify smearing Ms. Lightner with lies. There are plenty of reasonable ways to fight back against the Nazis that currently control MADD.
In fact, as I have stated on air more than once since correcting my mistake, Candy Lightner is to be revered. She founded a well intentioned organization that was taken over by what she calls “neo-prohibitionists,” who took her cause and turned it into an anti-alcohol organization. She properly quit her own group when she saw that occurring. Bravo.

HOW TO BE CORRECT II: All of this brings us to a new clarification on my part, for which I apologize. On that issue of American flags that I referenced earlier; early on in our on-air discussion a caller tried to justify the flag’s presence anywhere, all the time by referencing the oath we all take to America. There is, of course no oath that we take to be Americans, I said, and that is true. The pledge of allegiance is not an oath, nor law binding, nor compulsory.

I did, however, make the mistake of claiming that the oath taken by immigrants coming to America who become citizens is voluntary as well. This was done in a hasty bout of research on my part during a commercial break during which I erroneously thought I read that the oath was a choice. I was wrong. Immigrants who want to become citizens are required to take an oath. It is true that half of the oath can be opted-out of for religious or conscientious objector reasons, but overall, the oath is required.

One ironic thing that came out of my research of the citizenship oath later in the day when I had time to look it over properly was the absurdity of the language of the oath and the fact that it is not enforced whatsoever. You may find some of the reading fascinating, as I did; essentially, the oath is antiquated, needs to be rewritten, and violates America’s own dual citizenship law, which is why our government never enforces any of the words of the oath. Not only is all of that fairly comical, it’s also sad. People taking the oath are proud to do so and we should offer them better verbiage than platitudes that are ignored.


Either way, I screwed up. I have now corrected the record and go forward having learned another valuable lesson about being right; and how wrong it is.