In the midst of all manner of terror attacks, both physical and verbal, we missed a very important yet jaw-dropping moment in history — a ruling that upholds the right of a politician to lie. Stay with me.
The Supreme Court of the United States declared on April 21, 2014 that lying by politicians is protected by the First Amendment because it is an expression of their religion. I can just see your face! Religion? Yes, religion.
By a 5–4 majority, the court struck down an Ohio law that would make it harder to lie in political ads, arguing instead that “any attempt to restrict or punish lying by politicians is an unconstitutional infringement on a religion they have practiced for decades.”
The court’s decision won praise from both republicans and democrats with many saying that the Justices’ recognition of lying as a religion was “long overdue.” Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts argued, “For politicians, lying is a religious observance akin to attending a church or a synagogue, except that they do it seven days a week.”
Now shocking as that may seem, there is a lot of truth in it and the sooner we come to terms with it the better. The only reason I'm bringing this up is because in the past three weeks we have dealt with bare-faced lies of our politicians from Anglo Leasing to Maina Njenga's shooting and even university degrees that remain in question. However, the quick manner in which we react to the lies is downright sad. It's like the jilted chick who refuses to believe or accept that the love of her life loves another.
I can now see you screaming to yourself "I will never trust another politician! Why, why do politicians lie?" Well, other than the fact that it's their religion, politicians lie because the public wants to be lied to.
We don't want to hear the truth — people want to hear what they want to hear. When two candidates are running and one of them tells the truth and the other says what the public wants to hear, the one who says what the public wants to hear wins the election.
Let's take a really cool lie from the expert — Bill Clinton.
When it came to smoking some holy weed, Clinton didn't inhale. To admit you smoked Jah's holy weed is to admit that you knowingly and deliberately broke the law. Now do we want to elect a person who knowingly breaks the law? What kind of example does that set? What does the voter want to hear that makes it easier and okay to vote for a law-breaker? Simple — say you didn't inhale even if you know you got stoned and were higher than a lion in zion!
Sex and holy matrimony is another minefield for politicians. Once they lie, they tell us what we want to hear. Let's get something straight about males who go into politics and win. It's not all men who are cut out for it, only some. The men who have the drive, strength, leadership, and confidence to rise above the herd are usually very sexually active men. Throughout history, kings and other great men have usually had many lovers. I'm just saying it as it is — I'm not a politician so I don't have to lie to you. It's a fact — there is a correlation between the sexual activeness of a man and his drive to lead, rule, be a political player.
Now, here's another uncomfortable truth. Women are biologically attracted to men of power and authority. And men of power and authority have a hard time resisting the temptations of large numbers of women wanting to have sex. So the candidate is faced with having to lie about sex and the nature of his sex life to get elected. That's why the wife gets pulled out and dusted during the campaigns and ceremonial events and quickly discarded the moment the politician has achieved his goal. But to get elected he must present the image of "family man" without a wanton sexual appetite. Of course the gossip blogs and The Nairobian aren't helping.
So do you and I have any right to get shocked or even angry or feel disappointed when we catch our favourite politician telling fat lies? In a perfect world politicians wouldn't lie. But when nutcases like you and I elect politicians who lie over those who tell the truth then we shouldn't be surprised when they get caught being less than truthful.
However, my intention in writing this piece is not to make you come to terms with the fact that politicians lie — you never will. However, I am hoping to convince you to stop punishing honesty. As voters are going to have to be ready to face the truth and the hard decisions that the politicians have to face in doing their job, passing fair laws that are good for the people. No one will bother to venture into the muddy waters of "the truth" if what happens in return is you are punished and worse still, shunned at the ballot box.
Some issues are tough and require tough choices and require a solution that is more complicated than a slogan. In the coming weeks, months and years before the next round of campaigns and election promises/lies, let's try and accept that the truth needs some space and the politicians telling the truth are the good guys, not the ones telling us what we think we want to hear.
Our aversion to the truth must be dealt with, not just at a political level but at a personal, professional and religious level as well. The lies we insist on telling and being told are defining our relationships (on Facebook and otherwise), our work life, our medical lives and even our faith. We don't know who the person we say we are in a relationship with really is. We tell mad lies about what we earn and how we spend it. We can't seem to stop exaggerating the figures associated with our earnings. Doctors no longer tell us what truly ails us — phrases like "exercise, cut back on the sugar, salt and fat etc" are seen as heralding the end of times. And even when it comes to matters of faith and members of the clergy, we want to hear the lies so badly, that a day without a "pastor scandal" is odd.
The question for all of us going forward is to figure out if we want the truth, at all. Whether it be from our partners, colleagues, pastors and even our politicians. As you consider that, know this: If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way. And that's the truth.