Everyday Lies

On Lying

The line between dishonesty and stupidity can be difficult to spot

This article is taken from the August/September 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issue for just £10.

The distinction between a lie and stupidity is not one which is always easy to make. When an intelligent person says something that is obviously stupid, one may suspect him of lying, but high intelligence and foolishness are certainly no strangers. It is an old saw that there is nothing so foolish that some philosopher has not already said it.

Some words, in their modern usages, either invite lies or are in themselves implicit lies. One such word, of course, is diversity. Another is inclusion. Just as the Ministry of Love in Nineteen Eighty-Four was responsible for repression and torture, so the word diversity promotes the imposition of uniformity and inclusion promotes exclusion.

Some words, in their modern usages, either invite lies or are in themselves implicit lies

The Royal Academy of Arts gave its “commitment” to the “values” of diversity and inclusion as the reason for its later rescinded decision to withdraw from sale in its shop the work of Jess de Wahls. The artistic quality of her work, on which I am agnostic, had nothing to do with the decision.

On the contrary, her work was withdrawn from sale because the attention of the Academy had been drawn to a blog she had written two years earlier saying what everyone knows, namely that women are born not made. She was careful to express no personal hostility whatever to transgender persons but, in the eyes of the Savonarolas of sex-change, this was not enough to absolve her from the charge of transphobia: another lying word, incidentally, as if she were irrationally cowering in her house, fearing to go out in case she should meet a transgender person.

Did the apparatchiks of the Royal Academy lie when they excluded in the name of inclusion and imposed an orthodoxy in the name of diversity? Or were they merely too stupid to notice the contradiction? No doubt sheer cowardice had much to do with it, for cowardice is often the midwife of lies.

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