Is Lying Really That Bad?

The Kavanaugh Affair is incredibly symptomatic of the United States today, and I don’t mean in the matter of polarization along political lines, true as that may be.

Kavanaugh, as I noted earlier, is on record as denying under oath that he received hacked emails when he was working for President George W. Bush. When actual proof surfaced during his confirmation hearings, his defense was that everyone was doing it. This was anything but honest. Yet what everyone focused on in the end was his assault on Dr. Ford when they were both teenagers. The lying was always secondary in the public arena, yet very few seemed to connect the lies about using stolen emails with Kavanaugh’s denial of assaulting Dr. Ford. There were a number of other statements in Kavanaugh’s testimony that, if not lies, were problematical, such as the business of his father reading from his calendars [given at the time Kavanaugh recalls, his father had only been keeping a calendar for a year].

There’s a great American myth about George Washington saying that he couldn’t tell a lie and that he was the one who chopped down the cherry tree. And then there’s “honest Abe,” another great president. Americans have always prided themselves on being honest and direct, not sneaky like other nations.

Maybe we were at some point, but not certainly as much as we like to recall, and certainly not now. The fact is that the American public didn’t care all that much about the fact that Kavanaugh had repeatedly lied and misstated events, and then took umbrage at the fact that someone had charged him with, at the very least, highly improper behavior. Most people didn’t care that his self-justifying behavior reflected an attitude and a temperament at odds with a judicial mindset. It’s almost as though most of his opponents were incensed by his attitude toward women, and most of his supporters could have cared less about his character in any way, only about his political views.

Instead, the conflict was all about whether an “honest” man had been unjustly accused or whether a man who assaulted women deserved a seat on the nation’s highest court. Yet almost no one was assessing Kavanaugh’s honesty in terms of matters already on the record.

We give honesty great lip service, but when it comes to business and government, it’s just that, and little more. We’ll elect a president whose business dealings are shady at best, the only one ever not to make his tax returns public, and rather than seeking factual confirmation of his statements and assertions, we’ve allowed truth to be “personal,” rather than something to be determined by assessment against objective and verifiable facts. In fact, we’re to the point where some assert, in effect, that nothing is objectively verifiable… and thus, all the evidence, and it’s there for anyone who really wants to look, of Kavanaugh’s less than honest and sterling character means absolutely nothing, because for those who want a certain political objective lying is just another means to their end.

This is scarcely new, but the open and brazen nature of ignoring the obvious brings political expediency to a new low… and one I fear we’ll all regret in the years to come.

8 thoughts on “Is Lying Really That Bad?”

  1. Phineas says:

    Republicans are bad, but not as bad as the Abortion Death Cult (that’s Democrats/liberals, in case it’s not clear). However, it’s probably just as well that the one thing both sides are fairly good at is obstructing and undoing things the other side tries to do. Hence after every new president is elected, the opposite party usually does particularly well in the next midterm. The American voters are smarter than the political class thinks!

    1. I’m sorry, but terming those who would allow a woman control of her own body as members of an “Abortion Death Cult” is one of the most politically extreme statements I’ve seen.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        Control consists of hanging rapists (preferably publicly), so that “no” is more likely to be honored, and recidivism is reduced. And optionally, of precautions that prevent fertilization.

        All else hangs on whether one wishes to err on the side of caution on when a specific potential human being becomes an actual human being. That does not require any metaphysics that exceed the government’s jurisdiction, IMO. It does require remembering the history of consequences that follow excessively narrow definitions of “human”.

        No actual human being, even if utterly dependent on another, should become property; not the woman, not the unborn either. Not even the man. 🙂

  2. Wayne Kernochan says:

    I must note that according to Nathan Lents’ “Human Errors”, which discusses the ways in which our bodies are suboptimally designed, approximately 50-75% of all fertilized ova fail to reach 20 weeks. Given that perhaps 15 billion people have been born since the advent of Homo sapiens sapiens, this would suggest that between 15 billion and 45 billion such cases have occurred. This would suggest that God is by far the greatest abortionist of all time. Accordingly, by your respondent’s logic, God is a liberal Democrat and abortion opponents are Satanists .

  3. WendyS says:

    The lying is bad as well as the support for torture. The whole process was Kabuki theater. The real tragedy is that he will support the Corporate side in cases as opposed to the people’s side. We are much closer to losing our democracy, if we haven’t already. If you haven’t been to Naked Capitalism you will find lots of interesting discussion there

    1. M. Kilian says:

      As if democracy was ever the ideal of the United States? The strong point of the USA is that it is a republic, and democracy was a vessel that could provide the mechanic for such provided the majority cared and understood the governance of the country.

      Things like the electoral college exist to protect the country from being outright populist. Having the two major parties named as they are may confuse the matter for some, but people should try to see beyond such.

      Rather than worrying about your democracy, perhaps you should be worrying as to whether your republic is still intact, or if the two-party system has been robbing the people of their agency long before the current year.

  4. Tom says:

    “Studies have shown that human children begin practicing deception as early as six months of age through such attention-getting gambits as fake crying or laughter. But we tend to only get really good at lying – that is, at lying convincingly – after another four years of studious practice.” So lying like the other “sins” are part of our ‘out of Eden’ nature.

    The problem is that without rules, regulations, and laws that restrict our ”freedom” we cannot have ‘society’. In the same way without repressing our tendency to lie we cannot have trust.

    The question is; why have we come to accept lying as accepted behavior rather than something to be avoided? This is not just a US cultural problem but is world wide.

    Maybe we do need ‘belief’ of some kind to make us curtail our deadly sins and give us morality. Legislating morals does not work. But then if our beliefs are enforced by untrustworthy ‘saints’ or other ‘leaders’ who say “do as I say not as I do”. Who would vote for a goody-goody gumshoe who will restrict our joyful sinning?

    Well, here we are! The next step is … what?

    1. Derek says:

      We already have belief, overwhelmingly so in most countries. A lack of religion is an outlier, not the norm. Despite that, we’re in the same situation.

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