If anyone had the displeasure of watching the first hour and a half of the meeting of the Temecula City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 25 you may have witnessed something truly concerning.
During the public comments section of the meeting, some 70 commenters submitted letters to be read by City Clerk Randi Johl and the majority of those letters focused on topics that were based on lies and misinformation disseminated — likely — on social media.
The comments centered around a false narrative that the city council had been or would be considering a proposal to “defund police,” something that the council had not discussed, had no plans to discuss or propose doing any such thing.
One commenter suggested that the council was being “sneaky” in attempting to defund the police, another called the council a bunch of “losers,” and yet another suggested that “a certain group that has infiltrated our city” and demanded the defunding of the police and had “threatened to destroy our city if they don’t get their way.”
It went on, and on, and on, repeatedly regurgitating the same false talking points and threats.
Another popular comment subject had to do with the city’s recently approved resolution passed by the council on Aug. 18 which supported “the fair and equal treatment of all human beings, denouncing racism in all its form, and declaring its commitment to the advancement of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
Many focused on one aspect of the council’s direction to city staff to continue to work on the creation of a permanent commission to focus on issues of race and equity within the city.
Apparently including the perspective of minority groups in citywide discussion and policy, offended some commenters.
Bob Kowell, a resident of Murrieta (according to his Facebook page) and a moderator of the Murrieta Temecula Republican Assembly’s Facebook page, submitted an alternative resolution for consideration.
“Please support the people of this area and replace the resolution passed Aug. 18 with the attached resolution which shows Temecula as a very caring and loving community,” his comment read. “There is no need to create another commission which diverts more money and time to something that is not needed. Systemic racism does not exist in Temecula or in this area.”
The Murrieta resident went on to argue that Temecula councilmember Matt Rahn “is of Middle Eastern descent” and “we only have one white man on the council right now.”
In a later response, Rahn confirmed that he is not of Middle Eastern descent, by the way.
It turns out, the concerns expressed by the commenters were pure fiction. The insinuation of information they claimed to have knowledge of was fake.
And here we are.
The great national debate (I prefer to call it political fiction) about the dissemination of fake news has finally hit home.
In my opinion, what happened here in Temecula is a byproduct of social media and the people actively using the platform as a manner by which they attempt, foolishly and manipulatively, to advance the cause of their respective party of choice with lies and misinformation.
Lies are not viewpoints, they are simply lies.
The reason social media companies are having to fact-check information shared on their platforms is because of what happened during the public comment section of the Temecula City Council meeting on Tuesday night.
Whoever shared the false claim that the city was considering defunding police, likely did so knowing the information was false but shared it anyway in order to advance a political agenda.
Whoever spread the misinformation about the councilmember’s ethnic background, did so, I believe purposefully, in order to falsely further their argument.
These local gadflies seeking attention and notoriety, the ones who posted on social media that the Target in Temecula and then the Walmart in Murrieta was being looted, they are the fake news. Because those things didn’t happen.
The people that posted and texted friends saying that busloads of “Antifa” protesters were on their way to our communities to destroy neighborhoods and steal our big-screen TVs, they are the liars. I know, because those things didn’t happen.
These people should be held accountable for their lies and irresponsible behavior. They should be called out publicly for their transparent attempts to persuade and influence by any means necessary.
And they should be cast aside as unpatriotic, unscrupulous members of our communities who cannot be trusted any further.
If a lie is required to advance your agenda or argument, it speaks volumes about the poor quality of your agenda and argument and it has no place in our community or our community’s conversation.
Take your snake oil elsewhere.
Jeff Pack, Temecula
Editor’s note; The opinion reflected herein is that of the writer and in no way represents the opinion of Valley News, Reeder Media or any of it’s subsidaries.