Bruce Burgess carries out the lie detector tests on The Jeremy Kyle Show. He recently received a suspended jail sentence for lying regarding the driving of his car when involved in a speeding offence. Which got me thinking about lying in general. (And the title of Kyle's new book? 'I'm Only Being Honest'. Honest!)
Lie. A false statement or piece of information deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
And there seems to be a lot of it about.
Many Members of Parliament have been found guilty of lying, there's no other word for it, to gain extra cash to add to their not inconsiderable salaries, perks and pensions. Some Irish Catholic priests have been found to be living sordid perverted lives, a lying existence that must be horrific to live with. Footballers cheat in all sorts of ways and indignantly deny their lies when presented with the evidence. Cheats, and cheating involves lying and goes on at all levels. Perhaps it has always been so. A common response by some, though not all schoolchildren when accused of misdemeanours is 'Prove it.' Note, not 'I didn't do it' but simply 'prove it.'
I once gave evidence in court. I could not believe the lies told by one particular witness under oath. Boy, was I naive. There is no doubt many perjure themselves in British Courts on a daily basis, seldom found out. Perhaps they are thinking in terms of 'white lies'.
White lie. Minor lies which could be considered to be harmless or even beneficial in the long term. Maybe there is such a thing. I try not to lie. (see blog dated 29th June 2008 Tell a Lie and Find the Truth. Spanish Proverb.) But maybe, just maybe white lies are acceptable.
Our American friends have the heart lifting story of George to put them on the straight and narrow should they wish to stray from the truth. Boy George, not the English Boy George, silly, became the proud owner of a brand new hatchet. He used it to cut down father's favourite cherry tree. Father was not best pleased. 'Did you do that, son?' asked father. George thought of lying, but he was a well brought up child. Plus the chopper was sticking out from under his vest. His answer is well documented. 'I cannot tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.'
'Well done, George' said father. George, George Washington that is, went on to become the American President.
Less well known is the story of Tony, a mischievous boy brought up in the wilds of northern England. Left to his own devices one day, he thought it great fun to push the family privy into the nearby river. (All northern families have privies to this day, a fact seldom mentioned in polite circles.) The family were not amused, there were cross words and crossed legs. 'Did you do that, our Tony?' asked dad sternly but kindly. Tony did think of saying 'prove it,' but it were a long time ago. Plus he thought of George Washington, telling the truth hadn't done him any harm, and he finished up in politics.
'Yes dad, it were me' said Tony proudly. And his dad gave him a right good hiding. Poor Tony howled and enquired, with tears running down his ruddy red cheeks, 'What did you do that for? George didn't get a good hiding.'
'Very true,' said dad, 'but there again George's dad wasn't up the cherry tree!'
But the incident taught young Tony one thing. Sometimes it pays to be economical with the truth. I wonder whatever happened to him.