The Politically Correct Way To Call Someone A Liar
KEYWORDS: politics, political, parliament, congress, britain, america, obama, wilson, brown, liar, teminological inexactitude, churchill, misrepresentation
Congressman Joe Wilson made a lot of trouble for himself when he shouted 'You Lie' at Barack Obama during the Presidents big speech on healthcare. Wilson was not wrong but it is a breach of etiquette to name someone, especially the President, as a liar in the debating chamber. Here are some politically correct ways of saying Liar, liar, pants on fire.
CREATIVE COMMONS: Some rights reserved. Distribution: Non - commercial, attrib, no derivs, All reproductions should be credited to Boggart Blog and linked to "http://www.greenteethmm.com/"
The Politically Correct Way To Call Someone A Liar
by Ian R Thorpe
12 Sept 2009
So much fuss this past week over South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson yelling "You lie!" upon hearing a blatant misrepresentation of facts in President Barack Obama’s address to the United States Congress which was aimed at bolstering enthusiasm for his healtcare bill. Obama was saying things that were just simply not true and, where I come from, that constitutes lying.
In the debating chamber of any National Assembly, however, there are a certain protocols and a strict etiquette to be adhered to. Until now I was not aware that members of the U.S. House of Representatives are not permitted to call each other "liar," but the reason this is so has its origins in The Mother Of All Parliaments, sorry The Mother Of Parliaments as we dishonestly like to refer to our own British seat of government*. Here, as the members do battle and trade insults, they must refer to each other as "The Honourable Gentleman" in spite of everybody in the world being aware they are the most dishonourable and disreputable bunch of scoundrels ever to be assembled under a single roof.
The origin of this traditional pretence of mutual respect cannot be pinpointed, but it is very old. The notion must have its roots in the feudal system, however, it is based on the idea of a person’s status in society being ordained by God. Therefore, the reasoning goes, a person born into high estate, a noble or a gentleman would be too honourable and decent to ever lie, just as no Knight of a chivalrous order would ever strike an unfair blow in battle, or press home his advantage if an opponent stumbled. The thread of logic has, from there, wound through the warp and weft of Britain’s unwritten constitution until now our elected representatives are allowed to assume this mantle of rectitude dispite most of them having been caught with their pants down or their fingers in the till at some time.
Honourable gentlemen, yeah, right, you might well be thinking -- or at least you ought to be -- because, if you don’t know as well as I do, the noble Knights of old were the most rapacious, brutish, boozy, thieving rabble in history you simply weren't paying attention during school history lessons. Similarly, politicians make a career out of lying and cheating.
The nobility of the old gentry is rather questionable, anyway, in days of yore anybody with Ł20 to spare could petition the College of Heralds for Letters Patent and a Coat of Arms. The Thorpe Arms depict a Knight Errant facing a Gryphon Rampant over the motto Super Ancient Vias ("Upon Ancient Ways"). Like I said, they'd have any rabble who sent them the money.
So How can a relevant debate take place when participants cannot call each other liars even though each side knows the other lot are lying through their teeth? In Britain, we get around that by accusing people of lying while not actually calling them liars. Winston Churchill, the old rascal, was a master of this. He once accused his Labour opponent of a "terminological inexactitude" and, on another occasion, accused the Labour leaders of being "economical with the truth."
In the weekly ritual of Prime Ministers Question Time, the Prime Minister and Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition routinely face each other across the floor and bat accusations of lying backwards and forwards without ever using the term "liar." All remarks are, of course, addressed to the Speaker.
• "The Honourable Gentleman is misleading the House"
• "I suspect the Honourable Gentleman is answering the question he wanted me to ask rather than the one I asked."
• "The Honourable Gentleman appear to be suffering from conceptual confusion."
It was no better in the past. Benjamin Disraeli famously said that "there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics," thus damning statistics for all time. A famously devious Liberal leader, David Lloyd George, was once accused thus: "It would be unfair to accuse the Right Honourable Gentleman of lying, he clearly does not understand the concept of telling the truth."
The shots fired at Prime Ministers Question Time are of course Carnivalesque insults; the participants, after all, are playing to the crowd. It is no more than a political pie fight. In more reasoned debate, the insults must be more opaque. "An oversimplification of the case," was one leveled at Tony Blair as he marshaled a very fragile argument to railroad Parliament into supporting war.
A technique used very cleverly by current Conservative leader David Cameron is to turn an accusation into a question:
"You are, are you not, aware that the facts do not support the information given in your answer?" Cameron recently taunted Gordon Brown while probing him on unemployment figures. Cameron, a compulsive showboater, then looked over his shoulder at his own supporters as if saying "See what I did there?" Jeers and shouts of "resign!" greeted Gordon Brown as he rose to respond.
There is a purpose to all this elaborate pretence of politeness. Anyone who has seen footage of the House of Commons will have noticed the benches occupied by the two sides are separated by a wide aisle -- this is to keep opposing factions two sword-lengths apart. In the days when Westminster was a far more boisterous part of London than it is now, it was necessary for members of the assembly to arm themselves with swords to get to the debating chamber. In a heated debate which had probably been preceded for most members by a lunch involving a "pint of port" (a heavy, gout inducing fortified wine), members inevitably became over-excited.
Anybody who stepped into the aisle with a drawn sword was liable to expulsion.
Weapons are not allowed in the chamber now, but there have been several instances recently of MPs seizing the Mace--an elaborately ornamental silver gilt club that is the symbol of Parliamentary authority--and threatening opponents with it. Most famous of these incidents involved Michael Heseltine, a mangificently maned partician who felt as though the Labour Party had cheated to win a confidence motion by a single vote--that of the supposedly impartial speaker--and clung to power, and was infuriated when Labour MPs started singing The Red Flag. Brandishing the near sacred Mace, Heseltine shouted something along the lines of: "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!"
Many people thought Michael Heseltine was the best leader we never had. I'm not sure about that. I liked him -- but, then again, I'm drawn to hotheads.
The tradition of physically fighting in Parliaments, through frowned upon in Britain and America, is alive and well in places where the national temperament is more volatile. The Taiwanese parliament is famed for its fisticuffs. Regular skirmishes are commonplace in Serbia. And in the Italian Parliament a few years ago, a punch-up between two members with a track record of mutual loathing developed into a free-for-all as about fifty others piled in.
Drunkenness is also a prime cause of disorderly behaviour among politicians. Long lunches are fatal and the free meals at the European Union centres are accompanied by beer and wine that is sold far too cheaply. Debates in the European Parliament can become very boisterous, particularly since parties that oppose federalisation gained strength. I remember from my own six-month contract at the EU Commission in Luxembourg that nobody ever got anything done in the afternoon. We were fortunately not required to argue at such times over contentious issues of principle and national pride.
A stroll along the ancient city wall is an ideal way to work off a heavy lunch in the EU Commission staff canteen. I hope nobody was naďve enough to believe organizations like the EU base themselves in such delightful locations in order to benefit the local economy. All politics is lies.
Though drunkenness is one of the reasons members can be excluded from Parliament, it is seldom used. One of the most famous exchanges (totally off topic but I love it) was between Winston Churchill and Mary Astor. Churchill had arrived in the Chamber for a late-night debate and, hoping to embarrass him into withdrawing, Lady Astor rose and said in an imperious tone: "You, sir, are drunk."
To which Churchill replied: "Yes Madam, I am drunk ... and you are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober and you will still be ugly." Insults had class in those days.
In Britain, it is only a no-no to call a politician a "liar" in the Houses of Parliament. Call them liars in print or in public and you will be a lot safer. While it is clearly defamatory to accuse someone of lying, what are the chances a politician will sue and risk all sorts of inconvenient details of their private lives and relationships being exposed? Of the last three MPs to risk litigation after having their honesty questioned, two have served prison terms after details that emerged in the libel trials resulted in criminal prosecutions while the other was so damaged he now makes his living by appearing on reality TV shows. Now, I’m not recommending Joe Wilson should call Barack Obama a liar in print, however. People who question the American president seem more likely to end up sleeping with the fishes than facing a libel suit.
That’s the way they do politics in Chicago, or so I hear.
Mr. Wilson will have to apologise, but if he is smart his statement will be worded as an apology for bad manners and a brench of etiquette while simultaneously suggesting Mr. Obama rereads the relevant passage in his health care bill before commenting again. It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it -- as Conservative European Parliament member Daniel Hannan knows:
Daniel Hannan calls Gordon Brown "A Devalued Prime Minister of a Devalued Government
*Britain's Parliament was not truly part of government until after the Restoration. Iceland, The Isle of Man and Switzerland can all claim to be the oldest functioning democracy but Britain cannot. We had a 700-year break between the Saxon Witan (great council) and Cromwell's Parliament during which Parliament was usually subject to the whim of the Monarch.
[ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ]
LATEST POSTS & COMMENTS
Hackers Hacked - Government Ties Exposed
An Italian company develops hacking tools for government security agencies itself became the target of a hacker attack, resulting in its internal documents being leaked online and its deals with numerous governments being exposed.
Four Converging Crises Could Destroy Europe
Four great crises around Europeâ€™s fringes threaten to engulf the European Union, potentially setting the ambitious post-war unification project back by decades. The EUâ€™s unity, solidarity and international standing are at risk from Greeceâ€™s debt, Russiaâ€™s role in Ukraine, Britainâ€™s attempt to change its relationship with the bloc, and Mediterranean migration.
Oregon bakery that refused same-sex couple owes $135,000 in damages
This page started by looking as a case of personal liberty versus gay fascism in Belfast, Northern Ireland but looks set to spread in all directions. While the Belfast Gay Cake case was, to the best of our knowledge, the first of its kind in Britain, there have already been a number of high profile cases in which the authorities have deemed that gay bitchiness trumps the civil rights of straight people,
Troika Is Manoeuvering To Rig The Greek Referendum
According to Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, the troika, the IMF, European Central Bank and EU Commission is planning to rig the outcome of the Greek referendum on whether to accept further austerity measures in return for bail out cash
Ending the Ownership of Money
It must be common knowledge by now that some of the worldâ€™s most economically powerful nations are insolvent due to the burden of sovereign debt. These economies are held together through by the faith of citizens and businesses in the currency. If that faith evaporates, the leading economies will crash as voters realise the only thing underwriting the economy is debt.
Climate Change: Physicist Asks Is a Deadly Ice Age on the Horizon?
The last ice age ended approximately 12,000 years ago, and since then weâ€™ve been enjoying a pleasantly warm â€śinterglacial period.â€ť But given that an interglacial may last only 12,000 years, weâ€™re confronted with a scary prospect: Another ice age may be nigh.
Government Paid Trolls Are Using 'Psychology-Based Influence Techniques' in Social Media
Have you ever come across someone on the Internet that you suspected was a paid government troll? Well, there is a very good chance that you were not imagining things. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have solid proof that paid government trolls are using â€śpsychology-based influence techniquesâ€ť on social media websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
According to eye witnesses nearly 100 people have been killed in an attack on mosques and houses in a village in north-eastern Nigerian by suspected Boko Haram militants, news feeds reported today (2 July 2015).
War, Famine, Plague and all that
It is no secret that â€śnewsâ€ť media in the developed world is owned by a few corporate empires whose ultimate owners' are financial operators whose reach extends into manufacturing, extraction industries, big agriculture and food,
Artificial Intelligence: Will It Kill Human Society?
The media, the so called 'experts' and politicians hail every technological advance as if it will btransport us from reality to a utopian paradise. but does Artificial Intelligence and related internet and computer technology pose theats to human society that far outweigh any possible advantages? Whateve, Google plan to put machines in our place on top of the food chain.
Have US tactics only helped to make ISIS more powerful?/b>
We have questioned the US led efforts to defeat ISIS in the middle east many times, pointing out that every time the western alliance steps up opposition to the establishment of a news Islamic Caliphate, Islamic State seem to get stronger. 'Conspiracy Theorists', our critics yell. So let's look at opinion from around the world that concurs with ours.
Refugee host school in Germany bans revealing clothes
We have asked before and no doubt will again, when the citizens of a nation are constantly asked to give up their freedoms and change their behaviour in order to avoid offending new arrivals from medievalist cultures, whose effing country is it anyway.
How Ironic That Humourless Warmageddonists Will Not See The Irony
I've lost count of how many times this blog has highlighted the extraordinary consistency with which politicians and scientists working in concert manage to achieve the exact opposite of what they are aiming for. One might be tempted to think that the first step in proposing a scientific solution to any problem is to first understand what harm the unintended consequences of your solution might cause.
Saying The Unsayable
Watching BBC Question Time last Thursday, I was struck once again by the way it was left to one of the stock hate figures of the left, Melanie Phillips, to actually pronounce the great, clunking truth that the online activities of left wing hate mobs have rendered unsayable.
Mediterranean Boat People Crisis Threatens European Identity
As European leaders gathere for a summit meeting on the Mediterranean Immigrant crisis, Italy's Matteo Renzi has warned that Europe must find a solution to the ever increasing flow of migrants from third world locations or risk losing its identity.
Saying The Unsayable: Today, Melanie Phillips
Watching BBC Question Time last Thursday, I was struck once again by the way it was left to one of the stock hate figures of the left, Melanie Phillips, to actually pronounce the great, clunking truth that left wing hate mobs have made unsayable.
Russia Outmanoeuvres the west again
While mainstream media (and even some of the more rabidly fascistic left wing bloggers) have been trying to demonize Russia as a way of drumming up public sympathy for Barack Obama's efforts to start a shooting war with Moscow, we Boggart Bloggers and ...
America and UK Lead the World in Climate Scepticism
Several times now it has looked as if the climate chance scare was over as the enthusiasm of climate scitentists for changing real world data to fit in with the predictions of their mathematical models has been exposed. But as the scare was never about the environment, but was a scam to redistribute wealth from rich to poor countries, the politicians are throwing their propaganda budgets behind it again.
Sham Marriages To Beat Immigration Laws Are Out Of Control
With main immigration news on being dominated by the Mediterranean boat people crisis and the masses at Calais hoping to stow away in a freight container, we forget that another way of getting somebody into the country is the sham marriage. Numbers involved may be small, but it is another indication of our governments' failure to address the immigration problem.
Mediterranean Immigrant Composite
The flow of undocumented migrants from Africa trying to cross the Mediterranean from the coast of Libya to Italian, Greek and Maltese territory seems unstoppable. Two factors in the problem however have been western (particlarly American meddling in the internal affairs of African states, and wester aid leading to a population explosion national infrastructures are unable to cope with. And of course European leaders haven't a clue how to deal with the problem.