Saturday, 1 January 2011

Reckless disregard for truth and outright lies

The distinction, while subtle, is there. Both are disreputable, the second more so than the first..
A commitment to truth and upholding truth is demonstrated by a willingness to hold your hands up and admit it if you get something wrong, then to correct the error. Its opposite is wholesale abandonment of any pretence that accuracy or truth matters, particularly in pursuit of the goal of impugning your opponents by any means, fair or foul.

On 9th December Joana Morais published this on her blog:

You can see, it is a claim that the Mccanns’ lawyer, Isabel Duarte, was forced to return copies of a book, hitherto the subject of a banning order, written by Goncalo Amaral, Truth of the lie, despite a firm pledge that she would retain possession of them until the outcome of the next appeal against the overturning of the injunction. Soon afterwards, Nigel Moore of mccannfiles fame posted the same story on his blog, as well as announcing the ‘news’ in a rolling banner headline running across the top of his site that Isabel Duarte had returned the books. The banner, at least, still rolls on TheMccanfiles site.

We might, perhaps, be (comparatively) charitable and say that, initially, Morais just didn’t check her sources as thoroughly as she might have. Perhaps, in doing so, we are being unduly charitable? Whether or not that’s so, what, at best, began as reckless disregard for the truth has turned into an outright lie. It’s difficult to suppose that Moore has any excuses, either. He surely must read Morais’ blog? And as a quote from Mark Twain on themccannfiles tells us, those who tell the truth don’t have to remember what they say. On the other hand, those who don’t care about the truth neither care if they are caught out in lies. They just brazenly heap lie upon lie, perhaps vaguely hoping that others will forget what lies they have told, but not being much troubled if others don’t.

Morais’ latest article on her blog has the following addendum.

The Appeals Court agreed with Gonçalo Amaral, and that was a “beautiful moment” that was used to plan the future. “The books remain illegally with their keeper, the McCanns’ lawyer, and I doubt that they still exist. Now, it is up to Guerra e Paz to ensure that the Appeals Court’s decision concerning the book ‘Maddie – The Truth of the Lie’ is fulfilled.” All in all, “over 120 000 copies have been sold”, and the book was translated for France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. 

There! There the lie that Isabel Duarte was forced to return the books to the publisher refuted by Amaral himself, while Morais still carries the original article on her blog, and Moore persists with the banner headline proclaiming the lie. But notice something worse. The original lie (that Ms Duarte had been forced to return the books, contrary to her own, solemn pledge that she wouldn’t, at least yet!) has not merely been refuted; it has been contradicted by the new lie replacing it, that Ms Duarte has actually destroyed the books. Clearly, if she had destroyed them, then she could never have returned them in the first place.

So perhaps Morais is relying on an interval of nearly a month, and several articles in between to distract her readers away from the lie in the article she published on 9th combined with the hope that they simply focus on the new lie (that Ms Duarte has destroyed copies of the book in her possession).

There can be little doubt that this new aspersion is a lie and a canard, because at the outset, when the McCanns applied for the injunction, they asked the judges to authorize the destruction of copies of the book, and the judges refused. So if Ms Duarte had destroyed copies of the book, she would be in direct contempt of court. She is too experienced a lawyer to fall down an obvious pothole of that sort.

And if Portuguese civil law mirrors its criminal, then neither is Ms Duarte in contempt of any court ruling in declining to return the book to the publisher. Dr Amaral does not, technically, have a criminal conviction arising from his role in covering for colleagues who beat a ‘confession’ out of Leonor Cipriano because, by the Napoleonic Code, any criminal conviction is set aside until the last appeal is lost, and Amaral has appealed. Probably, something similar pertains in civil law. The McCanns won the original injunction against [i]Truth of the lie[/i] and the injunction stays in place until the outcome of the final appeal. So Ms Duarte’s continued possession of the book is quite legal and constitutional.

In the meantime, both Morais and Moore would do well to ponder the words of wisdom of Mark Twain.

By Honest Broker