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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A weekly column for those who live and walk in Silicon Valley

by Barbara Dahlgren

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
Column for the week of July 29-August 4, 2001

It was 10 years ago when Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court. You may remember that Anita Hill, a law professor who had worked for Thomas in the 80s brought allegations of sexual harassment against him. Hearings took place. As most judges and politicians tend to do, Thomas denied the charges. The Senate in a 52 to 48 vote confirmed him. Around that time an author by the name of David Brock wrote a book entitled The Real Anita Hill. In it he discredited Hill and called her "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." It was a run away best seller.

Well, now Brock has a new book coming out in September called Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. You can read excerpts from it in the August issue of Talk Magazine. It seems that he is recanting what he wrote in his first book. He says, "I knowingly published a lie. I falsified the record." And what will Brock's retribution be for lying and falsifying? Will it be another bestseller?

It kind of reminds me of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. John Cleese is a mock Lancelot, trotting into the courtyard, killing everyone in sight. When he gets into the castle he sees a bride and groom. Someone says something like, "What have you done? You've killed the whole wedding party." Lancelot just gets that dumb look on his face and basically responds with, "Oh, I'm sorry. Well, there's nothing I can do about it now." That is how I feel about Brock. Big deal, he's sorry. Never mind that he maligned this woman and spread lies about her. "Oh, I'm sorry." One has to wonder if he's really sorry or has just come up with a clever way to sell another book. I guess only he and God will know for sure.

The sad part is that we live in a society where lying is a way of life. Some of us embellish the truth or exaggerate our accomplishments like historian Joseph Ellis who regaled people with stories of his Vietnam War experiences. Come to find out he spent the Vietnam War teaching history at West Point. Or Douglas Ginsburg, the Supreme Court nominee who said he'd taken 34 cases to court for the Justice Department when he had only taken one. Some of us cheat on tests. In the July 16 issue of Newsweek they have a little article entitled Bringing Colleges Up to Code. It seems some universities have such an honesty problem they are asking students to write and sign an honor pledge. The only flaw is that people who are not honest have no qualms about signing a pledge of honesty. It means nothing to them. Even when someone testifies in court we ask them to swear to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" Of course, if you are a liar you can swear to tell the truth but that doesn't mean you will. And why do we say, "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" If we were really truthful people, why would we have to add all of that extra stuff?

Proverbs 6:16-19 lists six things that God hates. Two of them have to do with lying: a lying tongue and a false witness that speaks lies. God is not fond of liars. If you are always truthful your life may not sound as exciting to others, you may not sell as many books, but you never have to worry about getting caught and humiliated in a lie.

But I know it's hard to be truthful all the time. For example, next time your spouse asks, "Does this outfit make me look fat?" and it really does, what will you say? If you are David Brock you might say, "Hey, baby! It makes you look a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." But would that be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Well, I guess you could always say, "I'm sorry" ten years later.


©July 2001

Be sure to visit this page every week to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at bydahlgren@aol.com.



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