Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Common Thread in “Lust, Fear, & Pride”

During a recent week in Toronto I had the opportunity to follow two significant stories on the news.  One story was from the United States, the other from Canada.  The former was about the trial of former U.S. presidential candidate John Edwards’ with respect to his possible misuse of campaign funds to support his mistress.  The second story was home-grown right here in Toronto and it had to do with the fact that some judges were finding far too many municipal and provincial police officers were lying in their testimonies in a desperate attempt to convict suspects.

In the same week, I attended a Pops Series concert of the Toronto Symphony where the theme was famous Sci-Fi Music and the guest host was none other than George Takei about whom the program said, “known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise.”  Takei took the opportunity, at least for his solo parts of the concert, to tell us that all the good things the producer of Star Trek had in mind when he produced the show many decades ago were indeed coming true and the world is a much more wonderful place to live in now than it was back in the days the first time the good ship Enterprise cruised the universe.

For some crazy reason, perhaps understood only by those that understand how my mind works, I started reconsidering all three of these stories, both individually and as a group, by the end of the week.  I discovered something that all three had in common.  I noticed that each story was really about hiding the truth and furthermore, about propagating a lie.  Let me explain the observation in each case.

The story of the downfall of John Edwards involved lying at the personal level.  Not only did Edwards lie to his wife and others, but also individuals in his employ or circle of friends lied in order to perpetuate the likelihood of his lies being believed.  First, we have the lie that his campaign aide, Andrew Young, told in which he claimed he was the father of the baby that Edwards had with his mistress, Rielle Hunter, in order to protect Edwards.  Then we have the lie that the aide’s wife, Cheri Andrew, agreed to when she let her husband say that.  According to her, Edwards had said that if they didn’t go along with this lie, his campaign would die, and his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, would find out about his affair.  And of course, the mistress agreed to the lie as well.  You can’t easily come up with this kind of stuff in Hollywood, unless you are Woody Allen or Steve Martin, but in real life, it finds you.  Wonderful.

Before we examine the cause of the various lying, let’s take a look at our second story – the case of too many police officers lying on the stand.  While each police office who lies during a court case does so as an individual, the fact is that there is often solidarity and supporting lies required not only by one’s police partner, but the whole division, and ultimately the entire force, in some cases.  Police officers bond together better than any Bull-Grip glue you can find at Home Depot.  This often occurs for some good reason, but almost always with some very good results, for them.  Not so the case for the poor sucker who is the butt of the lying.  In this particular story, the Toronto Star newspaper had identified at least 100 cases of police deception.  The paper also discovered that while judges may note such findings and even comment on them, they are powerless to do anything about them under current legislation.  Go figure.  For some reason perjury it seems does not apply to law enforcement officers.  The research discovered cases where officers had lied, misled the court, or fabricated evidence.  In many of those cases, the judges tossed out the evidence against the accused, and they walked free.  If they were guilty, certainly justice, any victims, and society as a whole, were not served.  You may want to think that it serves the police right for the dishonest role they may have played, but before we jump to that conclusion, we need to also remember that some of those who ‘walked’ in these cases were possessors of child pornography, a major ecstasy drug manufacturer operating out of a residence, and drug dealers carrying loaded handguns.  To make matters worse, probably because of the solidarity of those in the forces, most officers caught being dishonest are not dealt with at all.  Clearly, there ought to be another approach.

When the paper first gave rise to the issue, the Toronto police spokesperson sent a rather strong letter to the paper criticizing it for not ‘understanding’ certain things or caring enough to help readers ‘understand’ the situation.  Really.  Then a few days later, the president of the Toronto Police Association (read ‘union’) wrote an opinion article in the same paper explaining how the coverage “oversimplified the facts”.  The author claims that the 100 cases the paper identified was nothing compared to the 1.5 million cases heard across Canada in the same period of time.  Mike McCormack had a good point.  We need to be careful that we don’t paint all our men and women in police uniforms as liars and deceivers.  They are not.  However, if my grandchild gets raped by a child molester; murdered by an armed dealer because he got in the way; or hit by a drunken driver, that was released because of just one police officer lying then, for me, that’s one officer too many lying.  And, it is rather odd that of those accused of lying, the number of officers found guilty by their own forces is almost zero.

The furor over this story ended recently when the Attorney General of Ontario agreed to probe the case of police officers “who are found by judges to have lied in court.”  I welcomed this and so did Police Association President McCormack – but perhaps for different reasons.

Sadly enough the controversy of whether or not police lie on the stand was also followed by another form of lying the police may be guilty of as a group.  For years, drivers swore that Toronto police officers worked on a quota when it came to giving out violation tickets to drivers.  The police and their employer denied it.  But lo and behold, in the same week, one leaked memo to officers of a large Toronto Division states they are “expected to write a book a day.”  A book is 25 tickets.  When questioned, the Deputy Police Chef said the memo used “inappropriate language” and “there’s no quota, just an expectation” to do what they are supposed to do, he argued.  Let’s get real for a moment.  In the service, when the ‘expectation’ comes from a superior officer and he also tells you that promotion is based partly on your record which includes doing your job in this area, then I submit to you, this ‘expectation’ is heard and read and obeyed as a ‘quota’.  If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck, it’s a duck.  Welcome to collective lying – a practice almost as old as the world’s oldest profession if not older, as I read ancient texts.

That now takes me briefly to my third story and its associated lies – the one that George Takei and other liberals promote constantly around the world, using their fame and fortune to do so.  It is what I call lying at the “global” level.  Politicians and activists are very good at this – think Al Gore and the millions he has made on the lie of global warming.  I am sure you can find other examples like the individuals who deny the holocaust ever happened.

According to his write-up, Takei was “unjustly” interned in two U.S. camps during WWII (those awful Americans), is a human rights and community activist, spokesman for the ‘Coming Out Project’ and he “currently lives in Los Angeles with his husband Brad Takei”.  Fine and dandy, Takei is free to be and do what he wants to be and do.  I mention this only to tell you what his philosophy of life and political ideology is like.  And they both affect his thinking as do mine affect my thinking, I admit. But if Takei thinks that mankind is much better off these days than we were half a century ago, I think he must have lost his reading glasses somewhere in outer space when he stepped outside the Enterprise for a stroll.  He is missing the hunger, the exploits, the illiteracy, the illnesses, the racism, and so much more that is not only still with us, but growing in the world.  And then when he and his buddies start to tell us that “man” can solve the world’s problems, you know he is, at best, deceiving himself.  One only needs to look at America, Europe, Africa, the Arab States, the Middle East, and many other places in 2012 to know there is not an iota of truth in that.  But good luck, George.

Okay, that’s three stories – all tied to lying, but at different levels.  Edwards at the personal level; the police at the group level or organizational level; and Takei and friends at the global level.  But what exactly causes these three levels of lying?  Is the cause one and the same for all three?  Are they different?  Well, yes and no.

When I am faced with such difficult questions, I have the privilege (and the blessing) of asking a very reliable source – my wife.  And that’s exactly what I did.

“Honey, when a person gets involved in extra-marital affairs, what, in your opinion, is the key driving cause?” I asked her.  “Lust!” she replied without any hesitation.  The cause of John Edwards’ lying was his affair, which in turn, was caused by lust.  He simply was not satisfied with the beautiful woman he had, who was the girl of his youth, who was the mother of his children, and the woman who right now needed him more than any other person in the world.  Instead, he lusted after another woman.  And now he had to lie about it to salvage a number of things and people – his wife being one of them.

“Honey, when a police officer lies on the stand and the whole force tends to support him afterwards, what causes that?” I continued my research.  “Fear!” she replied, again without any hesitation.  People lie in their work because they are afraid of failure.  Others lie with them because they fear the repercussions of having one in their ranks of failing or in this case, caught lying.

I was on a roll.  “Honey,” I tried once more, “when someone like George Takei lies publicly and globally about the state of the world today and about man’s likelihood of solving his own problems, what causes that?”  Again, no hesitation as she blurted out the answer, “Pride!”  Bingo!  She was right again I realized.  When man lies about the state of the world and the state of man’s future, it is his pride that actually blinds his minds’ eyes so that he cannot see his own shortcomings and thinks he can save himself, to the point where he may not even know he is lying.  He just is.

So, I thought, we lie alone in situations like extra-marital affairs and cheating on our spouses because of lust.  We lie alone and in groups because of fear.  We lie alone, in groups, and in global movements because of pride.  I repeated the findings to her.  She nodded.  Then she asked me a question.  “And dear, what do all these things – lust, fear, and pride, have in common?”  “SIN!” I replied.   “Bingo” she said.

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