Did you hear the one about Starbucks?

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Were you surfing through Facebook toward the end of August and read a shocking, horrifying post about the Starbucks barista in Menifee who “refused” service to a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy?

“Well, today something happened that has caused me to stop going to Starbucks,” according to the post. “My hubby went to get me coffee from the Menifee Marketplace Starbucks by Chipotle. He was in line behind a Riverside County motorcycle officer. The officer ordered two coffees, and the barista refused to fill his order. She refused him service because he was an officer. The officer walked out.”

Did you click on the post and use an “angry” emoji to show your disdain for such behavior? Did you post a “back the blue” meme to show your support for the denied police officer? Did you share the post with all your friends and call on them to boycott that Starbucks location?

Did you?

Well, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Association, nothing of the sort ever happened. The Facebook user, seemingly a well-meaning mother of three in Menifee, appeared to have posted something that wasn’t entirely true or couldn’t be proven to be true.

“Starbucks opened an investigation claim to determine if a Riverside County motor deputy had a negative experience in one of their stores,” the sheriff’s union said. “The Starbucks investigation included review of the store’s security footage, talking to their store partners and customers. Careful review of the investigation did not substantiate the claims made in the Facebook post.”

In an official statement, the association said they attempted to contact the individual who made the claims but received no response.

As far as I can find, the person in question has not responded to the sheriff’s investigation’s findings.

Wait, let me stop there.

Starbucks and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Association actually investigated a claim – a claim that came from Facebook – that one of their deputies was denied service at a Starbucks.

Astounding.

This is what we are spending our time on these days?

This is how many find their value in society, by making wild claims not based in facts or proof of any kind in order to call attention to an injustice that actually never happened.

These are the people that influence your thoughts, beliefs and actions – if they are effective in their storytelling.

Heck, it’s how I do it. Everything I report on, however, actually has facts and a timeline and is based in reality.

Listen, this is just par for the course. This is America now.

If people aren’t hearing you, if the public isn’t listening to your perspective and viewpoint … lie.

It happened in August at the Temecula City Council, which I wrote about two weeks ago, when dozens and dozens of people pushed a false narrative that the council had been considering defunding the police.

As I sat and watched that meeting, seeing council members actually listen and shake their heads in disbelief and disgust to what was happening, I logged on to Facebook.

Guess what? That false narrative, too, came from Facebook.

You can argue with me, tell me how differing viewpoints proven to be false don’t necessarily mean someone is lying, they are simply seeing things from a different perspective.

You can, but you’d be wrong.

As we navigate this election season, with daily reports coming out of Washington D.C. regarding the (cough) inconsistencies (cough) in statements coming out of the White House, is it really any different?

The president of the United States actually said – on tape – “I wanted to always play it down,” regarding the threat that COVID-19 posed to the American public.

“This is deadly stuff,” the president told journalist Bob Woodward in an interview.

Three days later, according to The Associated Press, the president told Fox Business, “I think the virus is going to be – it’s going to be fine.”

More than 191,000 U.S. deaths later, the president went about defending his statements to Woodward, but … I guess proposing that Woodward was at fault for not doing something about it at the time?

“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months,” the president said on Twitter. “If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

And that is what this comes down to: accountability.

How can we, as a society and a community, expect people to refrain from lying and damaging our neighbors, our businesses, our cities and each other when there is ultimately no accountability for their actions?

When the person individually charged with facilitating the health and well-being of our nation purposefully and negligently downplays a very real threat that he himself acknowledges for what can only be assumed to be for personal gain – how do we expect others to act?

Talk about your slippery slope, America.

Lying, deceiving, falsifying … that passes for making an argument and it’s wrong. Simply, unequivocally wrong.

Clean it up.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.