Loopholes for lying?
I find the intellectual gymnastics necessary to be a fundamentalist quite interesting. The born again are rather adapt at ignoring their own contradictions and inconsistencies. Consider an exchange I had with a rabid Right fundamentalist.
The Americans for Truth web site, run by Peter LaBarbera published an article that contained false allegations against the film Breakfast with Scot. In addition the article was rather rabid and hateful. In other words typical fare for the fundamentalist. LaBarbera runs the site, he printed the article. And I held him responsible for doing so.
An ally of LaBarbera, she links to his web site from her blog and she writes for another blog that reprinted the same article verbatim, posted a comment: “The headline and all the information in the post comes from Lifesite News, not Americans for Truth. It is simply a post linking to the article which was written by Hilary White, not Peter LaBarbera.”
Actually this woman is wrong. It is not simply “linking to the article” but it is a full reprint of the article. To link to an article does not mean to reprint it word for word on one’s own web site. When one reprints it and supports it, as LaBarbera has done, one endorses it. When one repeats the allegations as true one is taking responsibility for the allegations. LaBarbera, while not originating the lies, repeated the lies.
Apparently these Christians think there is a loop hole in “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Apparently they think the command is “Thou shalt not bear false witness unless thou art the second to do so.”
A lie is lie whether one makes it up or repeats it. Now it would not be a lie if one did not know it was false. Lying implies knowledge of the falsehood one is spreading. But in this case all the knowledge necessary is contained in the article itself. It clearly said that the Toronto Maple Leafs were sponsoring this film. Yet when you read the article all they did was allow their logo and name to be used. The film is about a former hockey player and the Maple Leafs agreed to be the team with which the fictional player had formerly been affiliated.
The article itself made it quite clear there was no sponsorship. LaBarbera surely read the article before he printed it. He would know that there was no sponsorship. The fundie blogger who crowed about LaBarbera not actually authoring the accusations, merely repeating them, blogs for a site that also reprinted the article in full. In other words she needs to defend LaBarbera because the site she is affiliated with committed the same deception. They lied about the role of a major sports team and urged readers to send protest letters to the team for “sponsoring” a film which they simply did not sponsor.
Now it could be that these people are not too bright. Certainly most the fundamentalists I know are not that intelligent -- which is why so few of them finish college and many of them barely make it out of high school -- if that. They may not know what words actually mean. They may think words have any meaning they wish them to have.
So for them “sponsor” may not actually mean “to financially support” but to have any link whatsoever to the film. Why do I think this. Well they got the definition of sponsor wrong. And this blogger who contacted us said that LaBarbera only “linked” to the article. He did not link to the article he printed it in full. If he quoted from it and then provided a link that is a link. But to reprint it in full is not linking as much as publishing.
But LaBarbera also plays with his own definitions. He says the article he published is “excerpted from” the original. What does that mean? It means to “select or use (a passage or segment from a longer work).” If LaBarbera took a quote from the article and reprinted that it would be an excerpt. He did not do that. He reprinted it word for word. The entire original was republished by him. Excerpts are passages from a longer work not the longer work itself.
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty tells Alice: “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.” Alice replied: “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
And this is the problem with the fundamentalist. They make words mean anything they want it to mean. Sponsor doesn’t have to mean “financial support”, link can mean reprint and excerpt can mean the entire article. How does one communicate when this happens?
This is why reading fundamentalist literature is so difficult. They have their own meanings. Any film with a gay character is “homosexual propaganda”. All gays are “radical homosexuals”. Gays don’t have concerns or issues, they have an “agenda”. What fundies used to call “creationism” is now called “intelligent design”. To refuse to give fundies state property for Christian messages is to “ban” Christianity. When government teachers don’t lead prayers that is called “making prayer illegal”.
And now we get the argument that repeating a lie is not lying. LaBarbera is, I take it, not responsible for his false witness because he merely repeated the lie and did not originate it.
What a unique defense. “Yes, your honor,” the defendant said to the judge, “I was part of the gang that mugged the victim. But your honor, I was the second one to hit him so it doesn’t count.” It is false witness no matter how many people said it first. When LaBarbera chose to use the article on his web site he took responsibility for it. He did not link to it. He printed it. He did not excerpt it he printed the entire article. His face is next to the article. He was not responsible for it before he did this. But the moment he printed it on his site he became responsible for it.