When is a lie not a lie?

March 29, 2016


Lawrance Bernabo
The Sneezing Opossum

As we continue our collective march to whatever insanity awaits us in the presidential election, I have come to the conclusion that accusing politicians of lying is no longer sufficient. By definition, “lying” is saying something that is not true. But politicians simply say what they need to say to do what they want to do. Think of it as, “The end justifies the words.”

I first became aware there was a separate type of prevarication peculiar to politicians when members of the Manson Family would come up for parole. When they were denied, the invariable explanation was that they “still pose a risk to society.”

Now, for Charles Manson, that would clearly be true. But every time they use the same rationale for one of his 60-year-old former followers, the claim rings hollow. Especially when she has brain cancer and one leg amputated.

I am not arguing that anyone from the Manson Family should be let out, but we can at least be upfront about why. They are going to be in prison until they die, not because they are “still a risk to society,” but because, “They should die in prison,” is not an option on the official form.

The same principle is at work behind a Texas bill requiring abortion clinics to upgrade to hospital-like standards, with doctors who have hospital admitting privileges. If the law goes into effect, it would close all but about 10 of more than 40 facilities in the state.

The rationale is it “provides common sense health and safety regulations to protect women,” because advocates of the law cannot admit they are trying to make it impossible for a woman in Texas to receive a legal abortion.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas Solicitor General had to defend the medical necessity of the law, given the low risk of abortion procedures, and skirt questions as to why this is the only procedure to benefit from common sense health and safety regulations. Colonoscopy and liposuction are outpatient procedures that both have higher complication and mortality rates, but neither Texas nor any other state is doing anything about that.

Keep in mind that women’s health and safety is only the first rationale. The legislature gets to make rules for medical procedures, and nothing requires them to make rules based on medical rather than ideological reasons.

So why cloak the attempt in sheep’s clothing?  Because once again if you couch what you are doing in the right language, then people are supposed to accept it, which makes such linguistic dancing something other than lying. People who are lying are hiding the truth. Politicians aren’t hiding the truth; they are simply standing in front of it.

In the North Carolina primary, over 200,000 registered voters did not have an acceptable form of identification required by law to vote. The rationale for this law was to prevent voter fraud. Most people would think preventing voter fraud is a good thing, but it does not appear to be a significant problem demanding immediate action.

Initial estimates of North Carolinians whose names, birthdates, and last four digits of their Social Security numbers match people in other states who might have voted were eventually reduced from 35,570 to 765. Reports of ballots cast in the name of dead people also seem to have been exaggerated.
Opponents of voter ID laws insist they disenfranchise minority voters, and Republican-controlled state legislatures are passing laws that impact mainly Democratic voters. But nothing other than the mantra of preventing voter fraud will ever pass the lips of those politicians.

In other words, they are not lying; they are simply saying the right thing. Or should I say, the “Right” thing? I suppose I would be lying if I did not.

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