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This photograph, enlarged and framed hung in the courtroom of George W. Crockett II, in Recorder’s Court, Detroit, Michigan. Later, after the Judge had retired and become a US Congressman, it hung in the courtroom of his son, George W. Crockett III, whom I was privileged to work with and call friend.

I never failed to notice and sometimes contemplate  it as I sat awaiting a case being called, or perhaps during some portion of a trial. It always impressed me, this thoughtful, deep thinking man, carrying so much weight upon his shoulders.

King, I am told, ultimately moved to a “redistribution of wealth” point of view. He opposed the Vietnam war. He of course promoted and insisted upon a passive resistance approach in the Civil Rights movement. He learned his non-violence from Gandhi, at least in part. No doubt, he learned a great deal of it from Jesus of Nazareth.

How odd, how very ironic that we are fresh from violence a mere week ago. On this day we contemplate peace, and unity, civil discourse. How ironic that we are so strident in our speaking, so hateful in our speech.

I wonder. Are we a people, Americans that is, who are suspicious by nature? Do we distrust as part of our North American DNA? Sometimes I think so. But I am stymied as to why it seems so much worse now. Or maybe I am not. Maybe I’m just not sure.

I have read a good deal over the past few days, some small amount on virulently right-wing blogs and sites. I concentrate on the comments. And vicious is about the kindest words I can find.

All the glowing tributes to the fine speech by our President are gone. But to most of these commenters, they never had anything glowing to say, they merely waited until it was okay to spew. And spew they do.

The Right and Fox now accuse the Obama administration of distributing t-shirts at the memorial with the words “Together We Thrive.” Commentors screamed that there was “rock the vote” below the words, proof of course. None of this was documented of course, and of course it was exactly wrong.

The University of Arizona said the t-shirt and saying originated with them and that the sub-logo said “Tucson & American”. This is ignored, not fitting the agenda.

Worse, a photo has been moving around that shows Obama on the jumbotron at the auditorium. At the bottom are the words “applause.” Self-righteous horror at the ugly use of propaganda, used to make people applaud for the president, using the memorial in such a political way. “That ‘s the way of libtards,” one screeched. (Wouldn’t the use of libtard be an inappropriate bastardization of retard?)

The truth? This was close captioned for the hearing impaired, and when there was a pause for applause that erupted, the word applause served to notify the deaf why the president had stopped speaking.

The University has since explained that all the plans for the service were made by them, with the sole exception of security where the administration had input. None of this of course is mentioned by the Right Wing Media wonkettes.

There is no desire to know truth, since desire informs truth.

Similarly, but for different reasons, the British and American medical community have made it most clear that the British doctor who claimed that autism was in at least part caused by juvenile inoculations is a fraud. His study has been determined to be utterly fraudulent, his medical license stripped. No study (at least 5) have replicated his findings.

Still, lay people, surely wanting only the best for their children, continue to support the doctor and argue that there is some “massive conspiracy” to hide the truth. Why always comes down now, to “the only way to get research dollars is to go along with the prevailing ‘truth’.”

I find this hard to believe. As hard as I find it to believe when evolution is the topic, and the same argument is made. People simply don’t waste their entire professional lives on research they know to be bogus. People want to be noted for accomplishments, not being cogs in some massive grant scheme to benefit? who exactly?

Yet, people are not trusting. More and more doctors report that their patient’s parents don’t trust their advice. Having no expertise, they scurry to the Internet and discover “truth” for themselves. Yet, the Internet is chock full of charlatans, those who are making a living or better playing to fear and anger of this type.

I don’t think we are more suspicious than we have ever been. But I do think we have access to more information of fraud, and that causes us to think we should investigate better ourselves, and that leads us to sources we have no clue about. We are not equipped to determine which are legit and which are not.

I’m not sure how we work our way out of this dilemma, but surely we must. We are fast becoming in this age of information, horribly uninformed. And worse, we think we are MORE informed than others. How to negotiate this miasma of crazy to brilliant “information” is the problem we face.

If we cannot agree on what are legitimate sources, then civil discourse of the type envisioned by King and so many others will forever elude us.

Any ideas?