Fifth Column (I’m A Liar and a Cheat, Honestly) – Issue 22

Hear the modern virtue of ‘honesty’ when admitting you are a liar and criminal character.

We are hearing more and more the mantra, “Sorry but it was a mistake,” that is in response to a person of some social standing being caught doing something in contradiction to their position of great trust placed in them by the electorate and, by informal education by parents to children. Instead of being vilified and properly punished for their actions, these people are ‘judged’ in the trite and ignorant, “It’s good he’s being honest admitting his guilt.”

As one diligent and ‘honest’ reporter said to an MP who had deceived her voters but was incredibly reluctant to take responsibility for her actions: “But why didn’t you think of the anger and betraying of the voters when you were committing the deliberately dishonest act by which you are now revealed to be something of a crooked and disingenuous character?”

Even in the realm of sport, pastimes making the protagonists extremely rich, we find cheats and liars being praised for their honesty of admitting what has already been found out to be less than honest behaviour. Like the above media person, we should always refer the miscreant to the wilful act of dishonesty that fully defines their character, and not see their ‘admittance’ as a virtue which cancels out the act.

In the field of high politics, we now see welcoming of those intelligent and influential agents of capitalism busy not creating wealth by any hard work, but creaming off the proceeds and deliberately avoiding the law and any semblance of fairness through calculated and full knowing tax avoidance. The political will that then claims the apparent ‘transparency’ of now declaring tax avoidance evinces either a naivety or continued dishonesty in that it does not fully condemn the acts. There’s a form of intellectual gymnastics that almost blames the systems, but which never acknowledges their role in creating and perpetuating the very systems by which tax avoidance is promulgated.  The loop holes were always there in the first drafts of legislation they all, regardless of the colour of their political underwear, were only too happy to create. It comes as no shock to anyone not requiring a bib when they eat that the political and social elites perpetuate their power and influence by deliberately creating conditions in which large personal wealth can be made on the back of those masses who help create the wealth but who in the final analysis,  see so little of it.

Transparency isn’t the issue, especially when the ‘criminal’ and dishonest acts have not been morally and ethically censured by society as a whole and legislation in particular. It is exactly this attitude of it’s alright now because they are admitting their gross dishonesty and we can now read more about it, more easily than ever it should be eradicated through not only legislation but also through attitudinal censure of such behaviour in all media and speech when it matters: before the event analysis, whereby motives are judged rather than the miscreants’ merely apparent contrition.

We are, as a society it seems happy to prosecute justice many years after an event or dishonest act committed by some folk yet conveniently overlook clear and present dangers to next generations’ sense of morality and ethical consistency of behaviour that would properly eradicate acts that make performance apologies necessary.

Without authentic censure, we find the ludicrous situation of the half-arsed religious attitude of forgiveness based only on the social and economic class of the miscreant rather than the act itself: ‘punishment’ is meted out by saying things will change and the miscreant of the higher social and economic class being put in the background of public life temporarily, as some of the higher profile cases make it back into the highest echelons after a short time in media exile without any distrust of their newly acquired epiphany-like transparency. It’s as if the emperor has found a new transparent cloak after being found to be naked before.

So, let’s not exalt after the dishonest event ‘honesty’ and address the conditions that promote and perpetuate dishonesty as a so-called fact of life. We need to look at the power structures that make it too easy for dishonesty – we only need to throw our tired minds back a few whizzing-by years to the MPs expenses debacles and institutionalised lying of ‘sexy dossiers’ – created and enjoyed by some of the best educated and most lauded people in our society. Sadly they are also some of the most influential. Lest we forget, it’s still about ‘class’.