Category Archives: lies

The guilty-if-accused school of jurisprudence

George Pell at court: an overdue victory for the rule of law

Detention without trial, guilt without proof

It is shocking, writes Dalrymple, that the case against Cardinal Pell was seriously investigated in the absence of evidence, and even more shocking that it was brought to trial and ended in conviction. Of course,

it is terrible for someone who has suffered abuse to not be believed. But it is also terrible for an innocent man to be wrongly accused, even if he is eventually exonerated. It is part of the unavoidable tragic dimension of life that both are possible: not for nothing is the prohibition of bearing false witness one of the Ten Commandments.

He warns of the danger of surrendering legal administration

to the political and emotional pressure of those who believe that certain categories of crime are so heinous that normal safeguards against false conviction must be abrogated. Better that ninety-nine innocent men be convicted than one guilty man be acquitted, especially when he already belongs to a category of persons whom one dislikes.

No one is guilty merely because he is accused

Dalrymple notes that campuses,

with their censorship and de-platforming, have demonstrated how shallow is the commitment of some people to the notion of freedom of speech and thought. Likewise, the Pell case has illustrated how shallowly implanted is the commitment of some people to the principle that a man is innocent until proved guilty, once moral enthusiasm for a cause takes over.

This,

be it remembered, takes place in polities in which the principles of freedom of speech and the rule of law are supposed to be deeply rooted. Things are often more fragile than one supposes, including the commitment to basic rights of the accused.

Associations in defence of victims of abuse are said to have been angered by the overturning of the Cardinal’s conviction. Dalrymple asks:

Would they prefer detention without trial, and guilt without proof? Perhaps if it were under their direction.

There are fears for the safety of the Cardinal,

so certain are his calumniators of the rectitude of their outrage.

The hackneyed all-our-thoughts formula

Usman Khan

Dalrymple points out that whenever high-profile murders take place in the West,

someone in high authority is bound to say something like All our thoughts are with the victims (or the relatives of the victims).

He points out that

this is a lie, and by no means a noble one: all the high authority’s thoughts ought not to be with the victims or with the relatives of the victims. The authority ought rather to be thinking of whether there are means to prevent similar attacks in the future. It is perfectly possible to express decent condolences without resort to obvious and insincere exaggeration.

Madoff’s masterly $65bn sucker game

Web of exquisite lies

Bernie Madoff, writes Dalrymple, was the type of swindler

who is hyper-respectable and sober in appearance. How gladly I should have entrusted my savings to him if he had asked me! Such a calm, intelligent face, full of strong but discreet character!

His Ponzi scheme

was so brilliant that even now it excites my admiration, though I know that it was wicked.

Madoff offered

not huge and spectacular gains, but steady, invariant, yet more than adequate ones that could plausibly have been the fruit of unusually wise investment in turbulent times.

The gains were offered

only to the people whom Madoff accepted as clients, who then came to think of themselves as specially privileged to be taken into his embrace, which turned out be more spider’s web than sheltering fold.

To require expressions of remorse from prisoners is to demand to be lied to

Remorse, writes Dalrymple,

is a private emotion, and is sullied and rendered doubtful by the possibility of personal advantage if it be expressed.

Moreover,

there are some crimes so heinous that remorse for them is beside the point, at least where earthly judgment is concerned.

And

while people may pride themselves on their compassion when they claim that no person is beyond the reach of remorse, redemption, and rehabilitation, in fact what they show is a lack of imagination. There are some crimes that are properly beyond secular forgiveness; there were many in the 20th century; and we should not confuse the realm of the secular and divine.

Dalrymple’s Dictionary of Debased Modern English

OED

Austerity

This word, Dalrymple writes, is in Europe today used

to denote attempts by governments to align more closely (not absolutely) their expenses with their incomes. It would be as accurate to call a rich miser profligate with his money if he bought a loaf of bread.

Using the right terminology, says Dalrymple, would not settle the question of whether attempts to balance the government budget were economically wise or foolish, but

a proper discussion can hardly begin while spending only 3% or 4% more than one’s income rather than, say, 8% or 10% is regarded as some kind of sadomasochistic or penitential asceticism.

All terminology is flawed, no doubt, but

some terms are more flawed than others—and some amount to full-blown and highly motivated lies.

Lies of the British political class

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 08.17.57Dalrymple explains that in the run-up to the Common Market referendum in 1975, the British government, which was in favour of remaining,

lied to people.

The main argument of those who wished to leave the EEC, Dalrymple reminds us,

was that remaining would destroy British sovereignty and therefore parliamentary democracy.

The government distributed a pamphlet to every household in which it claimed, inter alia:

No important new policy can be decided by Brussels or anywhere else without the consent of a British Minister answerable to a British Government and British Parliament.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 08.18.34This was, of course, a falsehood. Everyone knew, Dalrymple points out,

that the EEC was never intended to be merely a free-trade area (or rather, customs union), and that it was, from the very first, a political project more than an economic one. The falsity of the claims in the government’s pamphlet was soon evident, but there was no demand for another referendum.

British membership of the EEC thus

continued on a foundation of false promises by British leaders.

Slavish Britons

Dalrymple points out taht jobs depend on trade, not the EU

Dalrymple points out that jobs depend on trade, not the EU

Dalrymple lives some of the time in England, and returning to his house there one fine day he discovers that a pamphlet has been pushed through his letterbox from a group called The In Campaign Ltd.

The document is a repetitive shambles of variously feeble, dubious, specious and dishonest assertions, with heavy reliance on suggestio falsi, weasel words, misrepresentations and lies. The arguments are all, Dalrymple notes,

economistic in nature.

The assumption, he says,

is that the whole question is whether we have more or less in our pocket after the referendum. If it is really true that we are prepared to abandon our sovereignty for the sake of 50p [75¢] a week in our pocket, then it would be true that we do not deserve any sovereignty. We would indeed be a nation of slaves.

Are you sure?

Are you sure?

 

Moral weakness par excellence

Close down the drug addiction clinics!

Addicts, writes Dalrymple,

would then have to face the truth, that they are as responsible for their actions as anyone else.

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Dalrymple bashes bank bunkum

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Unctuous cant

An advertisement for a big bank pretends that it is

working for the creation of a more equal world.

This

cannot possibly be the case and is, in effect, a lie. At least, one hopes it is a lie, for that is the most charitable interpretation of the slogan.

It is obvious, writes Dalrymple, that

the aim of a commercial bank cannot be a more equal world, if only because it has financial obligations to its shareholders that it does not have to the rest of humanity.

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Bank poppycock

The bank’s shareholders

have not invested to provide everyone in the world with paid dividends; and while they might hope that the bank’s activities are honest and contribute to the growth of the economy, this is not at all the same thing as equalising the world.

A world in which everyone were starving

might be a more equal world, indeed a perfectly equal one. Equality of misery is equality all right, but is not therefore either a just or desirable goal that the bank might pride itself on having brought about.

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Bank balderdash

What the bank really meant — if it meant anything at all — was that

it was working towards a richer, more prosperous world. But working for wealth does not have the same moral cachet as working for equality.

In short,

the bank was indulging in humbug; unctuously proclaiming ideals that it cannot, will never and ought not to have.

Humbug, Dalrymple points out, is

an insidious pollutant of the mind, which not only distorts but perverts. It clears the primrose path to earthly damnation.

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Bank baloney

The demand to be lied to

img_2970The demand, writes Dalrymple,

for public expressions of contrition is the demand to be lied to, and it rewards thespian skill more than moral regeneration.

Often such expressions are

laughable, though no one laughs. How seriously is one supposed to take (as I have heard recounted to me) the alleged realisation that smashing a baby’s head against the wall and trying to stuff its body down the lavatory is wrong?

Even if such a realisation were

as genuine as Buddha’s enlightenment under the sacred Bo Tree, of what importance would it be, what would it count for? Is everything made right by a little light contrition afterwards?