A Lie Is a Lie Is a Lie

By Maeve Maddox

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A web search for the term “crisis of truth” brings up more than a million hits.

Public figures have always lied in order to advance their careers, but in former times, they had the grace to be embarrassed when caught in their lies.

Nowadays, political candidates and their lawyers caught up in lies are quick to point out that there’s no law against lying.

Merchants are bound by “truth in advertising” laws, but politicians are not. Nor, apparently are lawyers, at least not when they are not in court. Attorney Sidney Powell—sued for her lies about voting machines—asked the court to disregard her public statements as “too incredible to be taken seriously.”

A linguistic watershed was reached on January 27, 2017 when Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the then-president, coined the expression “alternative facts” while defending Sean Spicer’s demonstrably false assertion that more people attended the 2017 Inauguration than had attended the one in 2009. It was a brilliant use of Orwellian double-think: A lie is not a lie; it is an alternative fact.

Most writers mock the use of “alternative fact,” but continue to use other euphemisms for what amounts to plain lying.

First, the anchor words, fact, truth, and lie.

fact: Truth attested by direct observation or authentic testimony; reality.

truth: Something that conforms with fact or reality.

lie: A false statement made with intent to deceive.

Here are a few of the words commonly used to cloak untruthful statements.

denial: The asserting (of anything) to be untrue or untenable; contradiction of a statement or allegation as untrue or invalid; also, the denying of the existence or reality of a thing.

Pope Benedict XVI has issued his strongest condemnation yet of Holocaust denial.

There is widespread denial for example that fish stocks are being overexploited.

Climate change denial and unintended consequence denial are dueling principles.

disinformation: The dissemination of deliberately false information, especially when supplied by a government or its agent to a foreign power or to the media, with the intention of influencing the policies or opinions of those who receive it.

What you say here is a complete re-invention of history and pure disinformation.

Big Pharma is behind the official reports and the media disinformation campaign.

The reports also showed how the regime was quick to believe its own disinformation.

fabrication: An invention; a false statement; a forgery.

Check your facts before basing your arguments upon this newspaper fabrication.

A year after the war, however, this allegation was revealed to be a fabrication.

Kurtz’s entire article is an obvious and knowing fabrication designed to do harm.

half-truth: A proposition or statement which is or conveys only one half or a part of the truth.

They insult my intelligence with half-truths and misrepresentation of the truth.

In Kate’s case, he may have figured that she couldn’t catch the lie or half truth.

The first denier myth is, as most denier myths are, based on a half-truth.

misinformation: Wrong or misleading information.

Poor intelligence and excellent misinformation put out by Iraq fooled all of us.

Do a little research before making such judgements and spreading misinformation.

There is some evidence that the misinformation may have hampered relief efforts.

propaganda: The systematic dissemination of information, especially in a biased or misleading way, in order to promote a political cause or point of view.

What’s happened here is this has become part of the election process propaganda.

Nipping conflict in the bud by silencing dark propaganda would do a lot of good.

Sometimes their view might be quite right, but it might also be pure propaganda.

Seems to me that something said or written intentionally to deceive is a lie. “Partially true” doesn’t change its purpose or effect.

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