The Economist posted a video a couple of months ago discussing whether or not politicians lie. I didn’t agree with most of it, seeing as their conclusion was that something was only a lie if the person telling it had the intent and knowledge they were doing so. They instead try to palm certain things off – even Trump’s antics – as things like ‘exaggeration’, ‘untruths’ (isn’t that just synonymous with lies?), ‘nonsense’, or (quoting the academic prowess of a philosopher) ‘bullshit’. How trite.
I don’t disagree with the terminology entirely. Most of what Trump and his White House says in indeed some form of nonsense, bullshit, and exaggeration – just look at the rally he has planned at the Orlando Amway Center (yes, it pains me to write the Americanised form, but it’s a proper noun here). Trump has claimed that the venue will hold 25,000 people, and that there will be preparations outside for those who can’t fit in. Only problem is, the Amway Center is listed as having a capacity of only 18,500.
According to the Economist’s definition of a lie, unless Trump knows the true capacity and stated 25,000 anyway, he isn’t necessarily lying. Even then, it could still fit neatly into their category of exaggeration. I feel that adding layers to the concept of a lie merely downplays or excuses certain statements, regardless of who the speaker is. The Economist justifies it by saying the opposite – don’t downplay the word itself so it can retain its meaning, so when it is used people know the impact of the word.
This makes little sense to me – a lie is something opposite to the truth, contrary to fact. If something is provably true or false, and someone rejects or contradicts that, then it is a lie. Trump’s, or anyone else’s, intentions are irrelevant, and if a person believes something to be true that isn’t then it only serves to showcase their ignorance. If someone says climate change is not real, whether they believe that or not does not detract from the fact it is a false statement, a lie. When Trump says (and it is, admittedly, a trivial example) the capacity of a venue is higher than it really is, it is a lie. Although if over 25,000 people do rock up I’d like to see him try cram them all in.
There are grey areas, perhaps where someone may say something, but future events lead them to be incorrect. That person, at the time of the statement, was not lying even though what they said ultimately ended up being false. I’m sure there could be a lengthy discussion of numerous grey areas, or arguments against my line of thinking, but I feel that downplaying the prolific string of lies, particularly from Trump, by calling them merely nonsense or exaggeration only gives him credibility when he speaks.
Besides, lying is a politician’s job.
- Despite Palaszczuk’s insistence that QLD Labor is ‘on the same page’ regarding Adani approvals, the Environment Minister seems to have been put aside. Odd that the Environment Minister lost control over approving such an environmental blight.
- I wrote the other day about how racism is an institutionalised issue in Australia. I mentioned the prison system, particularly the NT and WA where Human Rights Watch has called out instances of abuses against children. QLD also joins that list now, but the Queensland police deny it.
- Despite Scott Morrison’s promises of lower electricity prices and a better economy, yesterday I received an Energy Assistance Payment from Centrelink to help with “increasing energy prices”. Odd that the Department of Human Services would be giving small sums of money to people for something that is supposedly going down.
- Botswana, which used to be a haven for elephants, has now been hit with poaching after the government took away hunting bans. According to Elephants Without Borders, if the current rate of killings continues it could cause the population to drastically decline.
- Egypt’s former Prime Minister, and the only one democratically elected in free elections, Mohammed Morsi died in court today. The Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt’s current dictator, the US, and Israel have designated a terrorist organisation, has called it an assassination. I’m inclined to agree; human rights groups and others have noted that inadequate medical care for Morsi whilst in prison is likely to blame for his death.
- I see no reason for Iran to have attacked those two tankers. Same as North Korea, the government is authoritarian, but they don’t have a death wish. Under the pretext of Iran carrying out the attack, the US has announced even more troops will be sent to the Middle East. It’s almost like the US has been lying and begging for a war… WMDs, anyone?
- Sudan’s military has refused to back down for the rise of a civilian government. Easily over a thousand people have been killed, injured, or raped this month alone while the crackdown of protests intensifies. The Sudan Military Council has said they “will not lie” to the people, but this seems rather insignificant given the events of the past week – we may kill you, but we won’t lie, we just won’t talk about it.
- While I wouldn’t wish to lay on the ground of the CBD, I think the two Extinction Rebellion activists that glued themselves to Queen St in Brisbane today made their point well. Disruptive protests make people confront the issue, and all those complaining about longer commute times appear to be missing the point of that.
- I can see why the US is such good friends with Saudi Arabia – wedding with a bang!
- In a win for the BDS movement and Palestinians, the EU has suggested that products hailing from the Occupied Territories must be labelled as such. The “Made in Israel” label has been contentious for years, but then so have the illegal settlements and businesses running in them.
- Research being carried out at James Cook University is looking to find out how and when Australia’s Indigenous population may have arrived. It is generally agreed that 50,000 years is the minimum timeframe, with average estimates reaching 65,000, and some going as high as 120,000 (although that is rather unlikely). Results so far seem to point towards the first arrivals having much greater technological ability than we give them credit for, a common colonial practice.
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