It’s an old joke: How do you know if a politician is lying? His lips are moving.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hired an “anger translator” or some might say “truth sayer” to interpret his comments and share his real thoughts at the annual Inner Circle charity dinner. It was, to say the least, enlightening.
When de Blasio talked about moving into Gracie Mansion, the translator said what the mayor really thought: “He really wants to live in Boston. He hates it here.”
Commenting on “Vision Zero,” a plan to reduce pedestrian deaths, the translator claimed “Never gonna happen. The only way to have zero pedestrian deaths is to have zero stupid people."
And in discussing the policing of New York City, the translator chimed in, “I have pot on me.”
Of course, said translator was comedian Louis C.K. So the mayor had his scapegoat. But it was certainly refreshing to hear a politician – or his translator – tell the unvarnished truth about what he really thought. It never happens, otherwise.
And it made me wonder. I grew up with sayings like “The truth shall set you free” and “Honesty is the best policy.” However, as an adult, I learned that context and people’s feelings are equally important.
Why tell the cold hard truth when it isn’t really requested? Politeness has its value and there’s no reason to hurt someone just so you can be righteously honest.
So when a Fox reporter states that singer Kelly Clarkson should stay away from deep dish pizzas, it may be true. She has gained a lot of weight. But Clarkson has spoken of her weight challenges for years, she is a first-time mother dealing with a new body, and others have already commented on it. This is no longer news. So why bother other than to be hurtful?
But that’s not why the cold hard facts are so rarely heard these days. Forget the notion of honour codes or a desire to be kind to one’s fellow man. The media is often legally hamstrung in what they can report when it comes to real facts about real stories. They need more than just “a source.”
And the politicians? They certainly need to make sure every statement is prettied up to be more palatable in order to protect their careers.
Of course, this isn’t solely a big city issue. Even here in Thunder Bay, we know we don’t have the full story regarding the Event Centre debacle. And we likely never will.
So is it any wonder that people are becoming more “truthful” in the unofficial media, the social media? And to heck with being polite or tactful? We’re tired of the stories we’re being fed.
Perhaps a truth translator should be assigned to every politician. So reporters can get the real story. And we can laugh – even if the truth hurts.