I recently promised to take my grandson Nathan to a hockey game. Unfortunately something came up and I had to cancel. Nathan was very understanding. He exclaimed, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."
Nathan's comment got me thinking about the concept of honesty. Perhaps adults should be as explicit as children when they feel that someone is not telling the truth. It would be refreshing for example for a judge to comment in his reasons, "I totally reject the accused's evidence. Liar, liar, pants on fire."
It would certainly get the accused to look at his pants.
People do not like to be told that they are liars. Hardly a Wild West movie goes by without that saloon poker scene where some Johnny Ringo pulls four aces. This does not sit well with The Colorado Kid, who happens to be holding an ace and when the Kid simply clears his throat, Ringo says, "You callin' me a liar?" If the Kid then even blinks he'll be out on the street pronto just a quick draw away from a trip to Boot Hill.
It is not surprising that people are uncomfortable with the concept of dishonesty and we accordingly use a myriad of expressions to fervently convince others that we are honest.
One such expression is, "I swear on a stack of bibles".
Swearing on one bible is a very solemn occasion. If you don't tell the truth after swearing on even a single bible, then you are destined to be banished to a hotter climate in the netherworld. But where can you possibly go if you lie after swearing on a stack of bibles? Buffalo?
Then there is the guy who swears, "up and down". When I hear this witness affirming his honesty, I imagine him in front of a judge and jury taking a bible into his hands and uttering the oath while doing five deep knee bends. Now who can disbelieve this individual?
Then we have the philosopher. When challenged, he'll say, "Why would I lie?" Former president Bill Clinton in fact once asked, "Why would I ask other people to lie?"
Now wasn't that comment convincing!
Let's not forget the people who are so convinced of their honesty that they invite disaster to be visited upon themselves if they're lying. They say, "Cross my heart and hope to die."
Some are more specific: "May I be struck by a bolt of lightening."
I believe that these latter people must be taken seriously as to date I have yet to be in a courtroom and see a bolt of lightening head straight for the witness box.
These people are bolder than the chickens that direct the consequences of their dishonesty to others. I am talking about the witness who says, "I swear on my children".
Others are really bold and weird with someone else's children. They say, "It's true or I'll be a monkey's uncle."
Then we have the sports minded people: "I'm as straight as an arrow."
This one sometimes makes me uneasy. If arrows were as straight as some of these clowns, then if I were William Tell's son, there's no way I would stand there with that apple on my head.
Speaking of little boys let us not forget the son of all little liars, Pinocchio. I'd say the invention of the century would be a fairy that could stand near a party and ensure that his nose grows whenever he lies. It would certainly speed up court trials. It might even put many lawyers out of a job. But that's OK. I mean it. Scout's honour.
Please also visit my law practice website www.striglaw.com . I cannot tell a lie. The info, including the testimonials, is all 4 aces.