In Sunday school, we were taught the Ten Commandments, the ninth of which states, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” From it we learned not to lie or misrepresent truth. 

In due course, we learned to distinguish between rhetorical excess and bald-faced lies — little white lies and dishonest politicking. However, one thing remained clear: Scalawags and hornswoggles were best run out of office before they did any more damage. Better by the ballot, than with tar and feather.

Calling an emerging epidemic the Democrats’ “new hoax” and then claiming to having quickly responded is the height of dishonesty — simply a lie.

Back in Indiana, where I come from, we would say that person was either “tetched” or attempting to sell you bad goods. In our view, such trickery was equivalent to a player running out of bounds and claiming to still possess the ball.

We also had the expression “to face the music,” which meant to us that sooner or later truth would come out and falsehood would not triumph. For that reason, we believed in law and order. But to make a rule for others and not follow it yourself is hypocritical. We would say, “You are only as good as your word.”

Truth-telling is fundamental to civic order. To lie in small things opens the door to colossal falsehoods in matters of state and conspiracy theories. Once people accept a big lie, the whole building of mutuality and trust collapses. Thereby is democracy in peril. Truth matters.

Eugene Clemens