Nietzsche once said the visionary lies to himself while the liar only lies to others. And I have to believe he would’ve gotten a kick out of the current state of a world he once wrote was too hung up on morals.
No worries, Fred. It was just a phase.
George Washington could not tell a lie, Nixon insisted he did not tell a lie, Clinton never lied about weed or women, and the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has applied a four letter Warhol manifesto to the as defined three letter ‘assertion believed to be false’. And while many of his followers regale in this new age hegemony, where lies are currency and feelings be damned, the truth of the matter is their guy ain’t the father of fib. He’s just the latest slouch to rent its effete epidemiology.
And yes, politics is easy pickings since the rule of every practical voter is to choose the person who lies least. Unless you’re a MAGA member, in which case lies are akin to medals.
Lying is everywhere, and it’s not simply an acceptable endeavor, it has become monetized. From YouTube urban legend makers to parents who misplaced their kids and are conducting their search for the abductors in Hawaii . . . lies are that most valuable social commodity; they are magnets to the trending cycle. And so what if you can’t prove a theory or produce your children for authorities? The empty calories will still make you rich!
In sports, the bottom line is lie-proof. College basketball coaches like Roy Williams lie about academics and get away with it until they stop winning. College football coaches like Mel Tucker rail on about how players should be loyal to their commitment to a university and then they hightail it to another school for a bigger payday. Pete Rose wants to be in the Hall of Fame because he insists his fifteen year long lie was less criminal than steroids and sign stealing. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says that the health of his players is most important while pushing for more games.
And the lying liars of the sports world have a new champion this week. Enter Jim Crane; owner of the Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017 by hook and crook and garbage cans. The Astros held a press conference the other day in which they did something that was previously thought to be impossible; they looked worse for it. Crane insisted the elaborate system his team utilized in order to gain an advantage “did not impact the game,” and then a minute later he said . . with a straight face, mind you “I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game . . .” Well . . now that we have that straight.
And as much as I love my Yankees, Brian Cashman has to chill with all the indignant jabs he’s throwing at Houston. Because Cash was plenty okay with signing drug cheats like A-Rod and Robinson Cano and Roget Clemens once upon a time. And no, those lies were not okay because they were our lies. For fuck’s sake, that’s why we find ourselves at this intersection of wrong and wronger.
History proves that lying has always proven more worth it than not. Herodotus was the chronicler of the Persian Empire who was born in a time before fact checking became a job description. And no . . . Nero didn’t start the fire. Columbus never should have had a day to begin with and Ben Franklin dabbled in fake news in order to get the French to help us tag team the Brits off American soil. Of course, not all lies are created equal . . and yes, expediency in the name of freedom is dressed in a sweet and worthwhile rind. Unfortunately, history has engaged a more insidious byproduct as a result of all this lying. It has created an alibi.
We live in the age of reality shows that have absolutely nothing to do with reality and the news is oftentimes less reliable than a makeshift subway station food stand. So when Debbie Mazar makes misleading claims about losing weight and Jussie Smolett makes claims that mislead us regarding loser Magats, we don’t even flinch. So attuned are we to the prevailing winds of small change, that lies are an expected device. Makes you wistful for the good old days when tobacco companies recommended smoking for better health and LBJ warned our parents that a vote for Goldwater was a vote for nuclear annihilation.
I’d like to think this too shall pass, but maybe I’m just lying to myself.