Yesterday at the Republican National Convention in Florida, vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan got up and made a rousing speech about democracy and the future and why President Obama is a great big bozo who's pooping in America's mouth and calling it the warmed-up Tootsie Roll of Freedom. Ryan talked all about all the wonderful programs Obama has canceled, the jobs he's destroyed, the auto plants he's closed, and the utter failure of his stimulus package. Everybody loved it! Woooooo! Paul Ryan for Vice President and CEO and Chairman of the Board and Lord of the Flies and Duchess of Cambridge and Gwaihir, King of the Eagles and World's Greatest Grandpa! Paul Ryan is the best—you know, because of all that stuff he talked about! The only problem? The stuff in Ryan's speech wasn't true.
Ryan went on TV and lied to his own party and the American public at large, in what was essentially his job interview. And they're not even subtle, carefully orchestrated lies, either. They're obvious lies, debunkable by even the drunkest, most casual armchair wonk watching the speech. Here, look, Salon made a list. There has to have been some kind of mistake.
Ryan lied about Medicare funds, the auto industry, the stimulus package, the deficit, and the idea that the Obama administration is unfriendly to small businesses. And all of Ryan's accusations are things that either Obama didn't do, but instead happened under Republican leadership; or they're things that Obama did do, but Paul Ryan & Co. heartily voted for as well. Full-throated, proud, shouty lies.
And then...was there outrage? Shame? Retractions, corrections, and apologies? Nope. No one, apparently, was bothered. Instead, everyone was just all, "Yaaaaaaaaaaayyy!!! Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap! Paul Ryan for DOUBLE PRESIDENT! Clap clap clap! Clap clap!!! I wish I had extra hands so that I could clap and masturbate at the same time because DEMOCRACY!!!!!"
Now. At first, like a lot of elitist liberal bloggers clackety-clacking away at my spittle-flecked laptop, I was pretty mad. But then I realized that conservatives' tolerance for outright dishonesty couldn't possibly be a deliberate, flagrant disregard for truth and decency—I should give human beings more credit than that. Instead, it must be a basic failure of primary education (curse these dangerously underfunded public schools, amirite!?). I'm thinking maybe you conservatives don't really understand what lying is. But it's not your fault, precious lambs! You couldn't have known if no one taught you! Just so we can avoid this kind of awkward situation in the future, let's start on the first day of kindergarten and talk about lying and why it's bad.
What Is a Lie?
A lie is when you make words with your mouth, lungs, and talkybox, and present them as if they are true when, in fact, you know that they are not true. Like if I said to you, "Did you break social justice because you were playing Frisbee in the house, Little Republican?" and you said "No, I did not," that would be a lie.
Why Is Lying Bad?
Lying hurts people's feelings because it is a form of tricking, and tricking, as we all know, is mean. And sometimes lying hurts more than their feelings, like when you lie about something important. Like whether or not people can get health care (because sometimes they die!), or whether or not people can get jobs and feed their families (because sometimes they die!), or whether or not we should send people to murder people in other countries (because sometimes everybody dies!).
In our interactions with other people—particularly when we are asking those people to trust us with a big job—there's an assumption of mutual truth-telling. And when we lie, it undermines that trust, which undermines the basic foundation of communication. Does that make sense? If you don't understand any of these words, just look them up in the dictionary. (Make sure you look them up, because making up new definitions of words, such as "rape," is a form of lying!)
What are some examples of lies that hurt people?
1. "We don't believe in big government!" You can't say you don't believe in big government when you have the hugest, most expensive army on the entire earth. This lie hurts people because you're really just against the parts of big government that help vulnerable people. You're totally for the parts of big government that blow people up.
2. "We should go have an Iraq War!" We really shouldn't have. It really wasn't a good idea. This lie hurt people because it really literally hurt people. As in, their limbs fell off and sometimes their brains came apart.
3. "We don't like gay people because we believe in families!" This lie hurts people because being against marriage equality really isn't about "families" at all, it's about bigotry. You don't think gay people are dangerous, you think gay people are gross. But you can trick a bunch of other people into voting against marriage equality by telling them their "families" are threatened! And that's really not good for gay people who—fun fact—also have families.
4. "Barack Obama voted against all this stuff, but I would never vote against that stuff!" Except you did, though. This lie hurts people because it tricks them into thinking that voting for you will preserve programs and funding that they depend on and care about. Except it won't at all, because you are lying. You are tricking people into voting against their own interests so that you can make a bunch of money for you and your friends. Not very nice! One really important part of voting is making sure voters understand what they're voting for when they vote!
5. "I totally respect women!" Oops, no you don't. Because if you respected women, you would respect women's dominion over their bodies—like when they say, "I would like you to please prosecute my rapist!" or "Get this bundle of cells out of me or else I shall surely die!" or "Kindly cease wanding my privates for no reason!" This lie hurts people because women are people.
6. "Monica Lewinsky totally didn't give me a blowjob!" This lie didn't matter very much. But it still wasn't very nice. It probably hurt Hillary's feelings.
I really hope this cleared some stuff up for you guys! If you have any questions, make sure you ask a grown-up you trust, like your mom. Wait, maybe not. She kind of got you into this mess in the first place. Ask your barista or your maid or something, I guess. Happy truthing!!! See you at the next speech!