Friday, June 22, 2018

Why the word "Liar" should not be over-used.

There is a good article here on why the accusation of lying should not be over-used - even when one is very angry with someone.

It is my impression that, when the accusation of lying is thrown about during political debate, nine times out of ten what has actually happened is either that someone has said something which is wrong through a silly mistake or a failure to listen properly rather than a deliberate lie, or that two people have views so diametrically opposed that they cannot understand a sincere person holding the opposite opinion.

There are two reasons why a wise person should not accuse another individual of being a liar unless you are absolutely certain that they have deliberately and knowingly made a false statement and you can prove it.

The first reason is that you might find you really do have to prove it - in court. And the consequences if you cannot prove it could be unpleasant.

The second is that if you don't have proof, then there must be a possibility either that people who you think are lying may have made an honest mistake - or that they may be telling the truth and it is you who have made a mistake. The more people you accuse of lying the greater the chance that you have, possibly inadvertently, accused someone of lying who isn't - and this really is not a nice thing to do.

The third is that regular and frequent accusations of bad faith and lying are examples of the type of conduct which is coarsening political discourse in Britain and around the world, making constructive debate more difficult and driving decent people out of politics.

In my time in politics I've been called a liar when I was telling the truth more times than l could keep track of and there are few things more annoying. So I try very hard not to do the same thing to anyone else. If you search this blog or the rest of my social media output, you will find very few cases of my accusing any of my political opponents of lying.

1 comment:

Chris Whiteside said...

Update march 2019 - the article linked to was freely open to view when this post was made but the owner has since restricted it.