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A little deception goes a long way

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

We both have truths. Aren’t mine the same as yours?

— From “Jesus Christ Superstar”

It was in Jasper, Ala., during the post-Thanksgiving/pre-Christmas semi-holiday period that I was given an eye-opening dose of reality, courtesy of 3-year-old Sam Fletcher.

Sam’s mom, Jessica, lamented that the tyke needed a haircut but that he’d refused to allow her to get close to his head with a pair of scissors. Thinking that the Batman-loving young gunslinger would easily bend to the will of his “Poppy,” I offered my best watch-this pose and said, “Hey, Sammy, would you let Tammy cut your hair?”

He looked at me — and at Tammy, my wife — for a beat, and I offered what I thought would be the clincher: “She cuts Poppy’s hair.”

Sam did not stop playing with his new train set for even a second before responding.

“No,” he said with a finality that was undeniable.

“Why not?” I asked, my grandfatherly pride wounded.

“Because she’s not a barber,” Sam replied, simply.

No debate needed; none necessary. Just BAM! Take that bit of 3-year-old logic and deal with it.

In the week since returning from my trip to Jasper, as I’ve carried out the journalistic duties of this position, I’ve thought frequently of Sam Fletcher’s pre-school truthism. And I’ve wondered at what point we who call ourselves grown-ups lose that childlike ability to speak what’s in our hearts and on our minds without irony, sarcasm or artifice.

In the last five days alone I’ve held conversations with politicians who’ve stretched the truth so far you’d no longer recognize the word; I’ve questioned people whose dancing skills while avoiding giving a direct answer to a direct question rival anything Cheryl Burke does on “Dancing With the Stars.”

And I’ve interviewed people who’ve gone out of their way to assure me that the reason they’d leaked damning information “they’d heard” about a business rival had nothing at all to do with the fact that they were competitors, when all the time they were talking it was painfully obvious that their words had absolutely everything to do with the fact that they were hoping to generate a little bad press at their rivals’ expense. (In one case, incidentally, a simple two-minute fact check proved the malicious claims that slipped out had not one iota of fact attached.)

Taking stock of all the untruths, half-truths, truth-stretching, innuendo, rumors, misleading information and just plain old bald-faced lies that have become something of an acceptable part of the current landscape, I started wondering when we as people get it into our heads that the way to go is to avoid any truth that might be the least bit unpleasant. Is it when we learn, as toddlers, that blaming bad things on the family pet — even things that family pets don’t have the capacity for, like say, flushing dad’s wallet down the toilet — sometimes gets us out of a spanking (or timeout in more enlightened families)?

Is it when we manage to convince our trusting first girlfriend that we got that strange mark on our neck when our mom’s wildly erratic vacuum cleaner leapt out of our hands and attached itself to our person and had nothing at all to do with the fact that we give that Swedish exchange student a ride home from school after detention?

Is it when we figure that, despite their ominous warnings, the IRS rarely audits folks who make as little money as we do, so why not throw in just a few “extra” exemptions on our returns each year to keep a little more of the fruits of our labor than we’re not supposed to get?

Or is it when we find out we can just make BS up, call it a platform for change and lie our way into a political office, where the real money is?

Jesus left word a long time ago that “the truth shall set you free.” But who cares about freedom when there’s ill-gotten gain available for the taking ... just so long as we’re able to conjure up a convincing enough lie.

Besides ... nowadays, any clown with a pair of scissors calls himself a barber.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Comments

WeAreThey 2 years ago

Amen, Brother Fletcher! Amen!! Our society has progressed far past simply lying to cover your backside. Now it is acceptable to lie as means to achieve an end. The pursuit of truth is exhausting. As a member of the Fourth Estate, I hope you and your colleagues at the Herald will continue to work tirelessly to pursue the truth - the whole truth.

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waltspecht 2 years ago

It is a sorry case when we immediately assume a Politician is lying when they speak. A friend once told me some folks will lie when the truth would serve them better simply to do what they always do. Many years ago, a law enforcement guru told me they lie so much, even a lie detector can't tell if they are lying or not. Now I have always allowed for war stories, fishing and hunting tales and the occasional stretch by a guy or girl trying to impress. However I have since learned to verify everything from Military Discharge papers to High School Diplomas and especially any Advanced Degrees. Administering a basic test has been an eye opener as to the quality of education of some schools. Attending in service training has also opened my eyes as to some Teacher qualifications. I strongly believe most people see others getting away with this sort of thing, and do it themselves. I know of one family member that lied about a High School Diploma and has since parlayed this into several promotions they never were eligable for had their cridentials been checked. I guess it is now an accepted part of life. Incidently, if I tell you where that trail camera caught that big buck, or where at the Tarply Bridge the flounder stack. I would be lying. I just don't want to hurt your feelings by saying what I really think about your nerve for asking the question. About like someone asking where I caugh all those fish. My feeling is I put in the work to find them, and you didn't. So my standard answer to these rude people is "in the water."

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blacksheep 2 years ago

You get offended when somebody asks you where you "caugh" a couple of fish? What a huge world you must live in.

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waltspecht 2 years ago

No, I'm offended by people that always want the easy way to success on the backs of others. So I mistyped the word, I think you still understood the context of the sentance. I don't type perfectly, nor am I an English major. I am but a simple man that has never accepted a government handout, nor have I ever said I was highly educated in the academics.

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blacksheep 2 years ago

Not to beat it to death, but a guy who asks you where you caught a fish is some kind of freeloader riding your back? Why not just tell the guy where you caught the fish so he can go catch one too? Of course, then you wouldn't have all the fish to yourself.

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waltspecht 2 years ago

You know, if you knew me you would know I only ever keep enough fish for supper. I have all too often seen where I do someone a favor and tell them where the fish are, and the next time I go fishing there, the place has been wiped out and over fished. What I am saying is people need to do their homework. I can tell you stories of people sneaking a GPS along on a Guided fishing trip to get the Guides numbers. Now in many cases that Guide has spent a considerable amount of time and effort to locate those fish, and their livlihood depends on them being able to produce fish for their clients. As an example, An old High tension power pole was found off of Cape San Blas. It was full of fish and was enjoyed by several locals who had found it. Then one told a friend where it was. This individual told many others apparently. In short order there was a Commercial bottom fishing boat sitting on the Tower, and pretty much fished it out. If all people were conservative in their fishing, I probably wouldn't have a problem telling them where the fish are. However the mind set seems to be I am going to get all I can and fill the freezer if possible. That is the problem I have with telling folks where the fish are.

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USTPC 2 years ago

A lie told loud enough and long enough becomes the "truth" because most people are just to lazy to actually do any research to find the truth. They want someone to tell them what to do, how to do it, when to do, where to do it and they do not really care why they do it as long as they are told they will get something for doing it.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years ago

Nov 6th proved your point.

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RedEric 2 years ago

Oh crap, I agree with Fletcher. I told the people I worked with "you cannot solve a problem unless you deal in the truth, and the hardest part of solving a problem is finding the truth". Most of the people I worked with weren't lying, they were just telling things from their point of view. That resulted in wildly differing stories even when everyone was telling the truth. When you add a liar to the mix it makes it improbable that you completely solve the problem. I agree with Fletch (wince!) lying has become way to common and acceptable.

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pooterguy 2 years ago

Although he is not a member of The Fourth Estate, movie writer Aaron Sorkin may be credited for this gem of a confrontation between a great actor playing the bad guy and a lousy actor portraying the good guy.

Bad Guy: "You want answers?" Good Guy: "I think I'm entitled to them." Bad Guy: "You want answers?" Good Guy: "I want the truth!" Bad Guy: "You can't handle the truth!"

Though only a Hollywood script, they were both telling the truth. The notable difference between fiction and reality here - is that in the movie - the bad guy lost.

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