Wisdom About Lies

I found the following quotations on Daryl Cagle’s site, which is an “an index of pro [political] cartoonists.” They–the quotations–present some wisdom about lying.

“An exaggeration is a truth that has lost its temper.” — Kahlil Gibran

“It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.” — H.L. Mencken

“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.” — Demosthenes

We can apply these to what we have heard and read, but also to what we, too, have said or written sometimes–yes? (Or perhaps I should just post for myself and implicate no one else!) Put another interrogatively, haven’t we all lost contact, if only momentarily, from the truth because of temper, or because of the situation we are in, or because of what we wish to be true–or because of all three?

Ironically, Cagle himself may have lost contact with the truth when, in the midst of upbraiding President Obama for lying, he provides an example whereby Obama may not have been lying when he said there would be no “death panels” but was nonetheless still fudging because “governments ration health-care.” Cagle leaves his argument there, so it’s for us to fill it in. All governments that are involved in health-care ration health-care; “Obama’s” health-care plan is governmental; therefore it will ration health-care; and therefore Obama is lying (by omission?). Cagle may experience some temper with regard to health-care reform, may want President Obama to be lying, and/or may find himself in a position whereby he feels he must discredit health-care reform. We’ve all been there.

(Many observers have noted Charles Krauthammer’s imperfect relationship to truth with regard to “Obamacare,” a propagandistic label that emits low-grade lying, and that imitates “Hillarycare” dully.)

But let us focus briefly on the quotation from Gibran:

“An exaggeration is a truth that has lost its temper.” — Kahlil Gibran

Has the political environment in the U.S. lost its temper to a greater extent than in previous eras? I want this to be true, but I don’t know if it is. I find it hard to claim it is less temperate than it was in the 1950s, especially from any African American’s point of view. Nonetheless, the punditry of anger seems at least robust. Matthews, Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and Ingraham (to name just a few) seem perpetually angry. True, their schticks call for much faux anger, but I think some of the rage is real and chronic. They are pundits who seem put upon. They interrupt and mis-characterize: tactics of angry rhetoric. Limbaugh seems to live in a bubble of rage, and his mania for control is such that he won’t even take calls anymore, let alone safely screened calls. His animosity toward women and African Americans seems genuine, not simply part of the schtick. He broadcasts from a bunker of simmering rage.


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