Presumption of Probity & the American Psyche

So, the presumption of probity, the antecedent of “innocents unless proven guilty” is a practical strategy. After all it would be extremely wasteful of energy and time to presume all men are born evil (sinful), if one wanted to get anything done. Which suggests that perhaps christianity was never about doing, but about ruling and exploiting.

Although perhaps not as overt about their rejection of religion, the Founders were doers. They has a whole continent to conquer and so their main concern was the subdivision of land for effective management. Natural born persons were left to fend for themselves. Although the presumption of probity applied to all persons, some major portions of the population were excluded via the simple stratagem of categorizing them as something else–non persons, chattel and chattel slaves. The chattel survives to this day in 2022.

But, to return to the presumption of probity and the likelihood that it accounts for the prevalence of con-men and scallawags in American society. Does the presumption account for the acceptance of unrealistic representations?

Slumming on the internet this morning, I came to the announcement that Garrison Keillor is surrendering his Lake Woebegon schtick to concentrate on writing (presumably) fiction. I had thought (optimistically) that he was long gone because I never liked his fake humility and condescension. His parting explanation that he was an undiagnosed autistic whose perception of the world was a bit quirky does not change my dislike of his style. Neither does the explanation that his purpose was to present a cheerful perspective to dispel the audience’s gloom. But, I suppose it was the presumption of that attitude, the notion that an entertainer has a mission to redirect his audience, which I perceived and resented. There is a basic difference between sharing and converting. Religion justifies the latter and is, therefor basically antagonistic to liberty.

Would I go so far as to suggest that Keillor has been pushing a secular acceptance of authoritarianism? I don’t know.

In my slumming, I also reviewed more of the biography of Mehmet Oz, who was actually born in Cleveland and, according to his telling, attended college in Pennsylvania and claims that his unorthodox approach to health care (his quackery) is derived from his Turkish heritage. From where I sit, he apparently noticed that minorities get easier plaudits than native born Euro-Americans, so he sucked up to the likes of Oprah and Henry Louis Gates, who were flattered by his attention. Self-promotion is Oz’s forte. There is no way his bio is legitimate. 200 heart surgeries a year while writing books and hosting a TV show? Give me a break!

Does the principle of probity promote credulity? “Trust but verify.” Reagan knew of what he spoke. Does the principle of probity serve to promote the lie?

Confidence, the abiding American principle!