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May 4, 2005

The Bullshit / Lie Line...

The thing about lies is how acceptable they are. Look at them from two extremes in today's paper.

First, Pat Tillman - great American hero.  Died in service to his country after leaving a promising and lucrative career in the NFL. Big feel-good-American event, lots of press coverage, national pride, etc.  Cut to a safe time after the mourning and the Army discloses that it knew almost immediately that Tillman was killed by friendly fire - a stupid mistake intentionally covered up by the Army at the level of Generals. They lied.  Does anyone care, or did they time it right?

Second, American Idol - Amazingly enough a very talented singer voted off last week by "popular vote." Suspicions are that the AI producers are keeping the lousy singer on to promote controversy, or that there is a wildly successful underground voting movement to screw with the vote and keep an amazingly bad candidate in the running.  They lied?  The voters Lied?  Somebody isn't coming clean there. But it's just entertainment, right, and scandal makes for good entertainment these days.  At least the ratings say so.  But who trusts the ratings?

It's all bullshit.  Harry G. Frankfurt has written a book called "On Bullshit" about how there's so much bullshit around that people just expect it. It's critical that there is some level of bullshit, some maximum we can tolerate before pointing the finger and shouting "Liar!"  Some times the level of tolerance is based on your theological disposition, like the bullshit about certain crazy miracles being the literal truth.  Sometimes your moral judgment, like whether a destiny of human turned vegetable merits national bullshit attention or should be limited to the privacy of family. Then there's the political lie, as in whether a bullshit functional illiterate incapable of forming complete structured sentences in English is actually entitled to ruin the country.  (No, no misspellings in that sentence.)

Perhaps the whole integrity issue is really where you draw your own line between bullshit and lies?

We've had our own say on the matter.  The rest is just lies.


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