Lies, bullshit, or spin?

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror October 10, 2007 edition, p. A10.

“On Bullshit” is an essay on deception by Harry Frankfurter, a retired Princeton University philosophy professor. It helped me see through the stories peddled by the ZTE plunder gang.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, summarizes Frankfurter’s work:

In the essay, Frankfurt sketches a theory of bullshit, defining the concept and analyzing its applications.

In particular, Frankfurt contrasts bullshitting and lying; where the liar deliberately makes false claims, the bullshitter is simply uninterested in the truth. Rather, bullshitters aim primarily to impress and persuade their audiences.

Whereas the liar needs to know the truth the better to conceal it, the bullshitter, interested solely in advancing his own agenda, has no use for the truth.

By virtue of this, Frankfurt claims, “bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

Okay.

Here’s a statement Frankfurter would call bullshit:

“When we learned of an alleged bribery attempt in connection with the broadband projects, we instructed that the matter be discreetly investigated,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

Here’s why Mrs. Arroyo’s claim is bullshit:

At the Senate ZTE hearing, the administration representatives present were asked if any of them were questioned by anybody regarding the ZTE deal or if they even heard about the probe Mrs. Arroyo was talking about. To a man, they answered “No.”

Here’s more bullshit:

Reacting to Joey De Venecia’s “Back Off!” story, former Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos said, “It’s a big lie. There was no such meeting. Why don’t you ask Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza if there was such a meeting?”

Here’s why the denial of Abalos is bullshit:

Mike Arroyo admitted there was such a meeting in Wack Wack.

Now here’s Mike Arroyo’s lawyer lying about that Wack Wack meeting, using 77 words to conceal two words: “Back off!”

“Mr. Arroyo had gone to Wack Wack that day simply to play golf when the young De Venecia arrived and sat beside Secretary Larry Mendoza. Mr. Arroyo overheard the young De Venecia following up his project proposal with Secretary Mendoza….De Venecia continued to follow up his project proposal to Mendoza, prompting Mr. Arroyo to remind the young De Venecia that he cannot be involved in any government transaction because he is the son of the Speaker,” said Attorney Jess Santos.

Here’s Mike Arroyo mixing two parts bullshit and one part Jess Santos:

“I never said to him, ‘back off.’ That is not even in my vocabulary… I never pointed a finger at Joey De Venecia. I only met him there, how can I do that? …What I did is that I reminded him that he might be guilty, he might be liable under the anti-graft law because he’s the son of the Speaker, he cannot, he cannot deal with government contracts.”

That was Mike Arroyo’s statement upon arrival from his long-planned sudden trip to Europe.

Why do people with unlimited resources bullshit and lie when they can afford to buy spin?

For those unfamiliar with the term “spin”, Wikipedia says it is “a heavily biased portrayal in one’s own favor of an event or situation.”

Let’s go back to the story of Attorney Santos and add a paragraph to modify it:

“The young De Venecia responded by thrusting his face at Mr. Arroyo, explaining the AHI bid in a rude and loud manner. The young De Venecia’s behavior, especially since it was the first time he met my client, startled Mr. Arroyo prompting him to point his finger and exclaim, “Back off, please!”

Voila! We transformed a lie into spin. We even placed “Back off” in a favorable light.

If Attorney Santos used our spin, Mike Arroyo’s arrival statement could have been  less defensive and more masculine:

“Of course, I told him to back off.  It’s the first time I met the guy and he shoved his face right up mine… Coño! Que mal educado! He’s lucky I didn’t hit him!”

I don’t know how much the Arroyos spend for image-makers, lap dummies, and autopen machines in the press but whatever it is, they are not getting what they pay for.

They spend all that money and they still have to take all the heat for the unabated criminal activities of everyone around them. It’s ridiculous!

That poor hardworking woman and her kindhearted ailing husband are innocent of all wrongdoing. They’re unwitting victims of rapacious relatives, friends, business associates, political appointees, and bloodthirsty scalawags in the military and police forces.

Now, did I just tell a lie, bullshit, or spin?

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