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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Liars and other folks  

A brief skim through the comments after the columns and letters in the OC Register and the Daily Pilot suggests that everyone in Costa Mesa must be a liar. Over three-quarters of the comments reviewed during the last five days complain of lies told by the opposition or else brands the opposition liars.

The liar's punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.”
― George Bernard ShawThe Quintessence of Ibsenism

Perhaps Mr. Shaw nailed it for Costa Mesa during this election. Liars cannot believe anyone else, especially not their opponents, so they are vigorously branding and labeling and accusing others of being liars. Branding and labeling are propaganda techniques we've discussed.

What is a lie

But, what is a lie? According to Wikipedia, it means to deliver a false statement to another person which the speaking person knows is not the whole truth, intentionally.  This includes the contextual lie in which one states part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression.  We discussed quoting out of context in an earlier blog (2 Oct.).

Quoting out of context was illustrated with candidate John Stephens’ mailers quoting a couple of phrases from a piece in a Wall Street Journal article. The quote implied that some California cities face bankruptcy because they are Charter cities. 

Out of context lie

The article actually suggested that the cities, adopting a Charter with input from unions, accepted provisions that benefited the unions but drove them to bankruptcy. Mr. Stephens wants to write a different Charter for Costa Mesa with more input from stakeholders. (It should be noted that he is supported and endorsed by labor unions, which probably represent stakeholders in his mind.)

Others' views on lies

Religion weighs in on lying, too. The Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible both contain statements that God cannot lie and that lying is immoral. In the Qur'an those who lie destroy their souls. "For a liar who has violated the one law (of truthfulness) holds in scorn the hereafter, there is no evil that he cannot do.”

Be bad, but at least don't be a liar, a deceiver!” 
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Somewhat or mostly lies

Some examples of mendaciousness in Costa Mesa’s elections don’t involve complete lies, but rather, selected truths. For example, one City Council candidate assures us she’s in favor of youth sport activities and even wore a high-school sports T-shirt to show her support. And, she assures us she’s been an avid supporter of the City for over 25 years.

What she doesn't say, is that she opposed lighting a sports field because it would bring noise to her quiet neighborhood. She suggested instead that the kids walk or ride a couple of miles (through traffic) to another, more crowded, but lighted field. Parents were outraged, but she has no children and perhaps didn't consider the dangers of traffic to youthful sports enthusiasts.

And, she made a very “cute” presentation to another city’s City Council, warning them against partnering with Costa Mesa to save expenses. She suggested that Costa Mesa couldn't be depended upon to keep its promises. (Another Quote from the Bard is suggested here: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”)

Are her statements lies? Probably not complete lies, at least according to the Wikipedia definition. There may be a different answer, though, from those who define mendacity from Biblical or Muslim scriptures.


So, we can summarize and say that liars tend to consider everyone liars, and there are many ways to sidestep the truth. And, we cannot really call someone a liar based upon a single false or misleading statement; it could be a simple error.

On the other hand, we should be particularly alert to attempts to manipulate our opinion by those who brand others liars. That is, we should suspect propaganda and investigate much more thoroughly any statements from them.

It’s election season in Costa Mesa: don’t get fooled by labels (like liar) or other attempts to manipulate your opinion by arousing emotion. That’s just propaganda. Instead, decide to support candidates and propositions based upon logic and facts.

I've decided to vote for Mensinger, Monahan, McCarthy, and to vote YES on Measure V. 

1 comment:

  1. Costa Mesa Voter04 November, 2012 01:16

    Excellent article.

    The candidate you speak about is Sandy Genis. I saw what she did at the Huntington Beach City Council. Such a disgrace for our city. Here is a short video of what I mean: