Lies, lies, liesPosted: May 5, 2011
The details of the assassination of Osama bin Laden have gone through a few official revisions. First Osama was in a mansion, engaging in a fire-fight and using his wife as a human shield. Slowly, as information started coming from other sources, we have learned (or we think we have learned) that the “mansion” was a house in an unimpressive part of town and had a value of about a quarter of the initial report. It also came to light that the wife was not a human shield, but was running toward the SEALs. Lastly, Osama was unarmed and it seems probable that the “fire-fight” consisted of the SEALs shooting everybody quickly and efficiently without any resistance to speak of.
H. L. Mencken claims that “lying stands on a stands on a different plane from all other moral offenses.” Unlike murder or stealing, lying is not legislated against or universally recognized as wrong. However, the presence of lies surrounding other actions serves as an “accurate gauge of other immoral acts.” Various actions are not wrong in themselves, but when combined with lies they become immoral. So it seems that the most important question about the bin Laden assassination is not “what really happened?” The most important question is “why did they lie about what happened?”
Beer of the Week: WA Bar Dunkel – The distributor of this beer may not be a liar, but he is certainly a bit misleading (although perhaps unintentionally.) First, the name is taken from a chain of bars in Korea called WA Bar. The beer itself, however, is from Germany and is brewed by our friends at Oettinger. So the beer is brewed in Germany and repackaged in Korea (notice the Korean writing on the can.) Most interesting though is the beer itself. I don’t recall ever having a dark wheat beer. This dunkel weizen is rather good. It has some of the caramel and coffee flavor of a stout, but with the sweet, light feel of a hefewiezen. And it has a good head on its shoulders.
Reading for the Week: Damn! A Book of Calumny by H. L. Mencken, Chapter XII: On Lying – Lying is in a class of it’s own. It is unlike other sins, yet almost a necessary part of many of them. And as for Mencken, he shows his devilish wit even in this short passage when he declares that “the line between stealing and not stealing is beautifully vague.”
Question of the Week: Is lying immoral in and of itself? If so, why is lying not prohibited in civilized society?