alexa There’s a reason ‘clean’ is not always right - Daily Nation

There’s a reason ‘clean’ is not always right

Friday February 8 2019

information, NEWS, FAKE NEWS

Whenever “information” is what you are in the marketplace to sell, you must first ensure the information is genuine, accurate and psycho-socially clean. PHOTO | ELIJAH O'DONNEL | UNSPLASH 

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What Kenya’s extraordinarily avaricious consumer class usually pretends to condemn as “fake goods” is that such goods may be truly terribly perilous to the body and the mind. Thus, whenever “information” is what you are in the marketplace to sell, you must first ensure the information is genuine, accurate and psycho-socially clean.

Yet the adjective “clean” is what is frequently controversial. Concerning information, nevertheless, all individuals involved in gathering, editing and disseminating information should know what the adjective “clean” means. Frequently, nevertheless, society is not in one accord concerning what is socially clean.

The merchant class, especially, is always downloading psycho-physical dangers onto society. Moreover, society never seems to agree on what is not safely passable as information to, for instance, a minor. It is for that reason that, as an information vessel, the writer or speaker frequently exposes himself or herself to charges of trying to enrich himself or herself through what our law courts are likely to condemn by the nonsensically tautological term “false pretences”. I call it tautological because I know no pretence which is not also a falsity.


Indeed, for those better educated on language, tautological locutions always raises question marks in the minds of listeners and readers. From Kenya’s newspapers, for example, one thought always painfully invades the informed mind. It is — as we always hear from our courts of law — that, there are such things as “false pretences”.

In that case, their opposite numbers must also exist, namely, “correct pretences”, “accurate pretences”, even “socially excellent pretences”. That is the question that frequently faces a country’s information organs, including the media and even the schoolrooms. It is the question for such information officers as marketers, priests, PROs, reporters and teachers.

The question is: Do you know of any “accurate pretences”, “correct pretences”, “genuine pretences”? Are you aware of any behaviour of that kind that is ethically approvable? I ask because, personally, I know no such things. For, indeed, a form of conduct can be called genuine only in a social situation where it has been sanctified as a normal and useful way of thinking and doing things.


Frequently, to be quite sure, the parent deliberately offers inexact information to his or her child because, although the exact form of that information is important, it might be too heavy for a child’s mind. To offer it exactly as it is might terribly damage his or her still extraordinarily tender psychological pathways

It is for the reason of juvenile protection that the human parent often consciously gives incorrect or at least inaccurate information to her or his child. For the information may be such that to give it wholly accurately might terribly damage the still extremely tender links that compose the child’s information gathering propensity.

It is thus that — especially when the baby begins to learn the oral language of its society, the wise parent always uses protective metaphors in order not to damage psychologically the child’s still dangerously fragile information-gathering apparatus.

The writer is a veteran journalist.