The Crusader Online

September 26, 2008
Vol. 50 No. 4

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The Chaplain's Corner

"The first casualty of war is truth."

Attributed to sources ranging from the Greek dramatist Aeschylus in the 6th century BCE to U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson in the 20th, this quote takes on fresh meaning in an election year.

Recent examples of lies, whoppers and outright mendacity emanating from both major parties (compounded by the media's torpor with regard to verifying candidates' claims instead of merely reporting them) make me wonder whether our paradigm for election campaigns is faulty. The proper paradigm ought not to be war, in which truth is invariably a casualty, but contest or competition.

From football to forensics, there are rules by which contestants compete. Break the rules and there are penalties. Hyperbole, exaggeration and embellishment have and always will be part of any political campaign, but it is up to the electorate -- aided by the Forth Estate, the press -- to distinguish between true and false claims and assertions and hold candidates accountable for playing fast and loose with the truth.

As another major figure from antiquity said, "You shall not bear false witness."

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