Friday 1 September 2017
On Wednesday in my Trump report I drew attention to the enormity of his lying. In the comments section people had some interesting things to say on the subject. For example, the comments of ‘Wam’ alluded to what he described as my fixation on the subject. I’m not suggesting that he was being critical. To the contrary, I believe he is just giving an honest appraisal of my thinking.
”The Lord has a fixation with the word, diannart, (another commentator) and cannot accept that the Abbott as opus dei cannot lie. He does not accept a pragmatic approach and is honest in his belief that there is a truth and demands it of politicians as of himself. Truth before consideration of consequences. Following his comments are my extended thoughts on the subject.”
”Truth is a fact or belief that is accepted as true’ is the normal definition.”
”I believe truth needs proof which absolves me from god’s truth, Malcolm Roberts truth and Abbott’s truth.”
”Perhaps, he cannot understand how, with hindsight or science, a truth today could be a lie tomorrow.”
”No person can tell the truth other than what is believed to be true. Careful choice of words(not my forte) can, may, might, lead your leader.”
”I expect that ‘honesty’ is a quality that politicians feel is missing from journalists’ character in equal measure as politicians other than themselves.”
”International police? The septics spend more on defence than the next 8 countries (including Russia, China, France and the poms) combined.”
Why I think the truth is a necessary part of society and in particular politics
How important is truth in politics? As a writer who happens to love the way words can be constructed to shape a thought, send a message, express love, anger, or convey an action I am lost without them. Without them something vanishes from our discourse. Without words the ability to communicate the seemingly endless aspects of human emotion is taken from us.
Words of course are at their best when they are accompanied by a factual truth of what they are wanting to convey.
”Have we reached the point in politics where TRUTH is something that politicians have convinced us to believe, “like alternative facts” rather than TRUTH based on factual evidence and sound arguments”
The acceptance of lying generally and more particularly in politics is not only alarming but is also a reflection of the decline of ethical standards in society.
It would appear now that with the election of Donald Trump all understanding of political truth has been destroyed. Read my piece on Trump.
Honesty isn’t popular anymore. It doesn’t carry the weight of society’s approval it once did. The rise of the right has brought with it a new political language. One that has not yet been classified because it defies any normal understanding as to whether truth has a place in it.
What we do know is that at its base is an absence of truth. Everyone would be aware of what Trump said during the election campaign. Here are some examples:” On day one of the Trump administration we will ask congress to immediately repeal Obamacare”
Throughout his campaign he said that Obamacare was dead and buried. It cannot be more unequivocal than that, yet we now know that most of it will be retained.
The building of a wall and making Mexico pay for it was a core promise, ”Mark my words” he said repeatedly. Absolutely unambiguously you might say.
Yet Newt Gingrich has admitted the presidents promise to get Mexico to pay for it may have been a”campaign device”. Although now he is threatening to close down the Government if the don’t come up with the money.
”He may not spend much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it”, Gingrich said.”But it was a great campaign device.”
Then there was the end of ”War on coal”
”The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource. Those who mine it and their families should be protected from the Democratic Party’s radical anti-coal agenda”
He strode through the American rust belt shouting: “End the war on coal”.
It was clear to all and sundry from what he said that he vowed to restore coal jobs, dismissing clean energy as part of President Obama’s ‘war on coal’.
But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s “hard to tell” if the government will be able to expand the coal industry in a meaningful way.
“We are going to be presenting to the new president a variety of options that could end this assault on coal”, McConnell said. “Whether that immediately brings business back is hard to tell because it’s a private sector activity”.
Another core promise was that he would deport illegal immigrants through mass deportations. It was explicit, a cornerstone of his campaign.
Trump: “We’re rounding ’em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they’re going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn’t sound nice. But not everything is nice”.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebusy has said Trump is no longer calling for “mass deportation” and is instead calling for the deportation of criminals.
The Iran peace treaty will be gone, he promised. Indisputable his words were.
He would “renegotiate” the agreement. He said the deal was the “stupidest deal of all time” and running mate Mike Pence said that the deal would be “ripped up”. When one might ask?
Trump adviser Walid Phares now claims that the treaty will instead be “renegotiated”.
So what were his words worth? The same could be said of Tony Abbott when he was leader of the Australian Opposition leader and later Prime Minister.
Abbott said that what he said shouldn’t be taken seriously unless it was written down. An American friend said that Trumps words should be taken seriously but not literally.
‘When you tell a lie you deny the other person’s right to the truth.”
Well I suggested to him that It is better to be comforted with the truth than be controlled by lies. Continuous lying breaks down trust and destroys our means of communication. As does lying by exaggeration or omission.
It all gives rise to the question of the value of the words politicians’ use. I for one would never believe a word Abbot said, then or now. There is ample evidence that he is a liar, and he has declared so himself.
But let’s take a look at the broader picture and ask ourselves what is a lie in general and what constitutes political lying.
We know that a lie has three essential ingredients; it communicates some information. The liar intends to deceive or mislead. The liar believes that what they are ‘saying’ is not true. And we call people who use these three principles blatant liars.
When it comes to controlling human beings there is no better instrument than lies. Because, you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts” (Michael Ende, The Never-ending Story).
”If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed”. (Goebbles)
On a more personal level there are what we call white lies where we deliberately color what we say in shades of hue to protect the feelings of others or ourselves, or to avoid argument.
”Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is” (Barbara Bush).
Consider the case where telling a lie would mean that 10 other lies would not be told. If 10 lies are worse than 1 lie then it would seem to be a good thing to tell the first lie, but if lying is always wrong then it’s wrong to tell the first lie… When politicians lie over a long period of time. It only serves to denigrate the liar, and show contempt for the voter’s intelligence. Especially if the lies are chronic and systemic. The current use of the term “no direct knowledge” is a lie within a lie pretending to absolve a person who is fully conversant with the facts.
”Oh, what a tangled web we weave … when first we practice to deceive”
Walter Scott Marmion says that ”Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we carry out (one researcher has said ‘lying is an unavoidable part of human nature’), so it’s worth spending time thinking about it. Why is lying wrong? There are many reasons why people think lying is wrong; which ones resonate best with you will depend on the way you think about ethics. Lying is bad because a generally truthful world is a good thing: lying diminishes trust between human beings: if people generally didn’t tell the truth, life would become very difficult, as nobody could be trusted and nothing you heard or read could be trusted – you would have to find everything out for yourself and an untrusting world is also bad for liars – lying isn’t much use if everyone is doing it”
In the US election Republican Donald Trump took lying to an unprecedented level. The same fascination for untruth by conservatives in America has been exported to Australia. We should all remember that when they lie they deny us our right to the truth. It is totally unacceptable.
My thought for the day
“Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there might often be pain in truth but there is no harm in it.”
PS: and another thought
“The word ”lying” (in political terms) has been replaced with the more subtle reference of ”overstatement”.”