Democracy Is Fragile. Do You Feel Lucky?

Tom Standage, editor of “The World in 2021“, a feature of The Economist published on November 16, 2020 asked:

Do you feel lucky? The number 21 is connected with luck, risk, taking chances and rolling the dice. It’s the number of spots on a standard die, and the number of shillings in a guinea, the currency of wagers and horse-racing. It’s the minimum age at which you can enter a casino in America, and the name of a family of card games, including blackjack, that are popular with gamblers.

All of which seems strangely appropriate for a year of unusual uncertainty.

I am not sure how many Canadians felt shocked while watching events unfold in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. Horror definitely. Shock, perhaps not. Anxiety and sadness over evidence that democracies are fragile, absolutely.

As a legal information specialist, I value sources of truth, facts and the curation of them. I value legal information and access to legal information that facilitates access to justice. As an individual, I value the rule of law, democracy, personal safety and security. I believe that information can profoundly impact democracy.

Watching the events at the Capitol unfold on a variety of media and social media sources last Wednesday and in days since, I saw tangible evidence of the results of the deliberate distribution and circulation of misinformation. Legal information that could be characterized as misrepresenting the law. For example, suggestions from leaders that the Vice President of the United States had something other than a ceremonial role in certifying state votes after an election. The history of the VPs role is clear.

A Washington Post article about a petition to disbar Senators Cruz and Hawley suggests that the consequences of spreading legal misinformation may be steep.

I will always hope for truth. I will always hope for peace. With some good luck peace and truth be with us all.

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