Is Honesty Really the Best Policy?

To be completely honest, I’m not comfortable with being completely honest.

For one thing, if we had total honesty, there would be no privacy, and that would be like eating, reading, and having sex in glass houses.

People and agencies of government advocating unconstitutional snooping and searches are famous for saying, “If you have nothing to hide, you can’t complain about such programs.”

The thing is, I do have something to hide: the stuff that’s nobody’s business. That’s my right to privacy.

While I may have to accept the possibility that the Creator knows all and sees all as the Eye of Providence on our dollar bill suggests, I don’t accept the notion that anyone who is not the Creator needs an all-seeing eye. I don’t want Sauron’s eye from “The Lord of the Rings” watching–must less recording–what I’m having for breakfast and what book I’m reading before lunch.

Some people say that if they (or the Feds or the Cops) have the all-seeing eye of Sauron (and promise to use it in a purportedly proper manner), we will all be safer. I’ve never seen any evidence that proves the truth of that fable, and even if it were true, it would make us all manacled to those using the eye.

When it comes to spies with eyes, I’m keeping my curtains closed, and if you ask me what I’m doing inside those curtains, I will lie about it. Sure, I know the day will come when somebody will invent an all-knowing brain that will hear every thought we have. When that happens, we’ll probably have people lobbying for a PreCrime division of the department of justice similar to what we saw in the Tom Cuise movie “Minority Report.”

Except the all knowing brain will be worse, for not only will it be able to predict and stop crimes before they happen, it will stop whatever we’re planning to do before we can do it. The brain sees that I’m planning to drink a bottle of booze, so it alerts the authorities. Or the brain sees that I’m planning to read a book the brain doesn’t want me to read, so the people that own the brain come to my house on a warrantless search and take away the book.

You can see the potential of that, right?

Perhaps, on the day when the eye of Sauron and the all knowing brain are created by Congress or implemented by one alphabet soup department or another without Congress’ knowledge, writers will be given magic rings that make them immune. After all, it’s our job to make stuff up. I’m cynical about that. If we were given immunity, there would probably be an override button so that–say, for national security or some other catchphrase–those with the proper clearances will know that on Friday, I will put sugar on my sugar cookie before sitting down to write a post called “Is Honesty the Best Policy?”

I don’t think so.

Gosh, such a notion might destroy government as we know it because what if people swore they were telling the truth when they weren’t telling the truth? Some say we’re not telling the truth even when we think we’re telling the truth. We’ve all heard that eye-witness testimony is often wrong even though the witnesses providing it don’t think they’re lying. Perhaps all testimony is perjury, one way or another.

Some quantum physicists believe that everything that can happen does happen. If so, then lies really can’t exist can they?

Until we accept that reality, what we need when our privacy is at stake is well-crafted perjury that can’t be detected. I’m comfortable with that.


As you might suspect even without the help of an all-seeing eye, Malcolm R. Campbell writes novels that are often labeled as fantasy and/or magic.



6 thoughts on “Is Honesty Really the Best Policy?

  1. Great perspective, but then again… perspective may not be truth.
    Thought provoking indeed.

  2. For decades now (damn, that makes me sound old), I’ve had a personal honesty policy. If you ask me a question, I will answer in one of three ways: I’ll answer your question truthfully or I’ll respond that what you’re asking is not mine to tell or I’ll tell you that what you’re asking is none of your business. It works for me.

    Big brother type crap has no business in my business.

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