The trick with fake news and disinformation is to mix the real story with so many lies, alternatives, and obfuscations that it becomes exhausting and possibly even counterproductive to pursue the actual truth to its end-- it becomes more efficient to deal with the dilemma at hand, in the present, and forget about judgement and justice . . . here are a couple of cases in point . . . two recent incidents with my children:
1) Alex was certainly wrestling with three of his friends in the locker room before gym class, and he may have been warned twice to get out of the locker room by the gym teacher, he may have pinned down one of his friends, beaten him, and he may have also kneed this friend in the testicles-- causing him to cry-- although Alex claims he was only warned once to leave the locker room and did not knee his friend in the testicles . . . and then Alex definitely got very upset and lost his shit because the gym teacher would not listen to his side of the story and told Alex he was writing him up and calling home and Alex definitely used some profanity, and this profanity may have been directed at the gym teacher (or, as Alex claims, the expletives may have been directed at himself because he was upset that he was going to get in trouble) and then Alex probably smacked the write-up off the teacher's clipboard-- but it was initially reported that he smacked the write-up out of the teacher's hand . . . which certainly would have been worse, but now we've come to the consensus that the clipboard was on a desk in the gym, next to the teacher, a marginally better detail (but not much better) and there were definitely calls to my wife about the incident from the gym teacher (who did not mention the clipboard smack, possibly to protect Alex) and the vice-principal (who did report about Alex smacking the disciplinary write-up) and I think Alex and his friends went to the office to tell their side of the story, that it wasn't a real fight and they were only fooling around, and that Alex wasn't the testicle-crusher . . . but the story got so complicated that it became futile to try to figure out the actual truth-- and we explained to him that no one cared about the truth . . . he was acting like a total idiot and so were his friends, and once you're in that context, you don't get to explain slight gradations in culpability because everyone involved is in trouble and we left it at that and grounded him for two weeks and made him write a letter of apology to the gym teacher for being a complete nightmare . . . and we're not sure what the consequence will be at school, but there hasn't been anything yet (besides the phone calls home) and so they may be experiencing the same disinformation exhaustion that much of the country is working through;
2) last week, Ian may have mistakenly touched the spray bottle that he uses to humidify his lizard tank with the ceramic heat emitter-- a flattened bulb that screws into a clamp lamp, gets rather hot, and sits on top of the mesh top of the tank-- when I noticed the horrible plastic burning stench, this is what Ian claimed, and then he pointed out a tiny melted spot on the bottle, but today I noticed that the lamp was not turned on, and so I turned it on, and within minutes, the same burning plastic smell began emanating from the ceramic bulb and when I investigated closely, I noticed there was a bunch of brownish gunk on the ceramic bulb, and after further interrogation, Ian admitted that he had touched the bulb to another piece of plastic-- perhaps the top to a Play-Doh box-- and this was done purposefully and in the name of experimentation, I think, and then he turned off the ceramic heat bulb because he noticed it was making an awful plastic burning stench and didn't tell us anything, and I could not remove the melted plastic from the bulb, though I tried alcohol, vinegar, and bleach, and so he's going to have to buy a new one and we gave him a lecture about starting fires, doing dangerous things in the house, and not telling us when he's damaged something vital-- he could have killed his lizard (either with plastic fumes or lack of heat) and I told him that I did many similar experiments when I was young (and was often obfuscating with my own parents . . . why is there a sock marinating in lighter fluid in the basement? why is this squirt bottle filled with kerosene? where did all these melted lead D&D figurines come from? why does it smell smoky in the basement?) and that I understood his inquisitive nature . . . but he was still going to have to pay for a new ceramic heat emitter . . .
anyway, I hope this illustrates my point-- it was exhausting trying to get to the truth, and I don't think we were successful; God only knows if our punishments fit the crimes, and while we tried our best to give each child pertinent lessons for future situations, they never seem to apply anything they "learn" from us . . . but it's not like there's a better way to go about it.