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ARE LIES ABOUT TO LOST THEIR LUSTER?

December 4, 2016

ARE LIES ABOUT TO LOSE THEIR LUSTER?

Remember when it was regarded as a “sin” to tell a lie? Moms and dads and preachers and priests weren’t having it and many juvenile transgressors will attest that they have felt the lash of the switch or hickory stick for their lies. The biblical statement that Thou Shalt not bear False Witness was enforced, and remnants of that earlier day’s proscription are to be found in our court system where yet today one lying under oath is subject to imprisonment for perjury. Why lying while not under oath apparently is not as bad as lying while under oath, no one has sufficiently explained the difference to me, especially since most lies are not told under oath but may result in damage beyond that of lies told under oath.

That day of truth-telling has apparently passed in any event as we slide into Trumpworld. Lies are not lies anymore; they are just interpretations of truth and how things ought to be rather than what they are when they are not suited to the moment and to the perceived advantage of the liar. The word “liar” itself is thus a relative term; there are no absolutes in this new world. There may still be punishment for juvenile liars, but adult misrepresentation gets a pass in Trumpworld, with the best example of such a new view of things being Trump himself. Only results count; lies are not lies if they frustrate obtaining results.

Telling lies that fit and conform reality to one’s advantage can now even be seen as virtuous acts – and certainly not “sins.” (Trump’s lying asides: Now that I have your vote, I didn’t really mean by my rhetoric during the campaign to have the Mexicans build the wall or keep all Muslims out of the country, especially now that the Lord Mayor of London is a Muslim, and you should have known that that was just stump talk designed to get you to vote for me. Ha ha! Oh, and by the way, I didn’t really mean I was going to tear up the trade treaties or bring good-paying jobs back to America either because I can’t. I found out it doesn’t work that way even though I did recently bribe Carrier into retaining part of their workforce back in Indiana and thus let the taxpayers fund the bribe deal. I’m good at spending other peoples’ money. You’re going to love it!)

In a Trade Regulation class in law school we were taught the difference between false advertising and “dealers’ puffing.” False advertising, for instance, would include a claim that Bayer Aspirin cures cancer whereas “dealers’ puffing,” while not altogether true, was an allowable departure from the truth in a judicial bow to commercial interests. Many of us have been victimized by “dealers’ puffing” in which breathless shills for used cars and “not sold in stores” items on TV are lionized and “must have” assets to grace our driveways and medicine cabinets. This is the electronic version of the old medicine man shows in which the high powered salesmen sold worthless patent medicines to a gullible public. Not much has changed in the false representation domain other than the means of notification to the unwary.

A society in which lying is rampant though approved to the point that no one can believe anything anybody says cannot, in my opinion, survive. There has to be at least some minimal trust in the spoken and written  word; otherwise we might as well with our lack of meaningful communication be living back in the cave and communicate with ugs and grunts. I therefore predict a backlash in Trumpworld when the liars in the upcoming administration find that they must themselves depend upon at least occasional truth-telling or be prevented from carrying out their nefarious plans and purposes on behalf of you and me.

Such a return to at least some truth-telling may even penetrate into Trump’s vision for America, if he has one. His denial of reality has to have practical limits, but a return to minimal truth-telling to describe that reality is not a matter of a return to some puritanical yesteryear; it is rather a matter of national survival. So is lying about to lose its luster? We can hope.       GERALD       E

 

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