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Carol Perkins: Fighting words

Carol Perkins remembers when no one in her family was ever allowed to call another "liar." Now she's had toapply that standard to what was once a favorite Tv show - one she no longer watches because it went over the line.
The next earlier Carol Perkins column: Carol Perkins: Glasgow/Barren County Expo was success

By Carol Perkins

Although I don't remember having discussions about this subject, I grew up knowing what was appropriate to say and what was not. I knew never to point out the flaws of others, make hateful remarks, or ask inappropriate questions such as "What is that on your nose!" Above all, I knew never to call anyone a liar. Those were "fightin'" words. There is a reason for my recent thinking about this topic and it has to do with Bill O'Reilly.


Bill and I have a few things in common. He was an English teacher before going into journalism. I was an English teacher. He is passionate sometimes to a fault ideas and I have been known to take a stand about a few things

Bill is a writer, having co-authored The Killing of Lincoln and The Killing of Kennedy and is now working on what he says will be his greatest work. I am not a writer of his magnitude, but I do write.

I watch both CNN and Fox News. I know what I am going to hear on both. On CNN I like Anderson Cooper and on Fox I watch The O'Reilly Factor. Tonight I tuned in just as Bill was in a rage, pointing his finger and drilling democrat Alan Combs, insisting he name "one thing that Mr. Obama has cut." Combs, formerly of Hannity and Combs, stumbled to find an answer as O'Reilly pressed and pressed. When he finally came up with a response, Bill glared, pointed, and said, "You're a LIAR." He did not say it once; he said it repeatedly. At that point, I would have walked off the set. At that point, I lost respect for Mr. O'Reilly.

The first time I heard one person publicly call another person a liar other than on a soap opera or in a movie was during the recent campaign. I was floored! I can't count the times I heard someone from the Obama camp call Mr. Romney a liar and the other way around. I said to Guy, "Since when is it okay to call someone a liar."

We have all known people who don't tell the truth. We have them in our families and we know when they are talking, they are probably lying, but we don't call them out on it. We know to filter what they say and certainly never repeat what they say because it might not be true! Never would we say, "You're lying."

One day the grandkids came running up the basement steps, talking at the same time about what happened below. One told on the other and all of a sudden the youngest (five) said, "YOU'RE A LIAR!" I couldn't believe my ears. NEVER in my own home as a young person or in my home as an adult had anyone called another a liar.

"What did you say?" I pounced, as they all grew quiet. They had not seen me so mad. He knew not to repeat what he said, so he continued with, "Well, he said I broke it (whatever it was) but I didn't!" He was beginning to tear up, knowing I was mad at his words. I launched into a lesson with all four about never calling anyone a liar.

My son heard my teaching moment and later said, "We're having a problem with this at home. It seems that at school the kids freely call each other liars. The older two know better, but the little one has spent a lot of time on the stool!"

All of us tell lies, usually to spare others or ourselves from insult or injury. At school, if you ask a student if he saw who hit first, he will usually say "no" because he knows what might happen if he tells the truth. A teacher would never look at him and say, "YOU'RE LYING!" She would say, "Are you sure?"

I'll never forget the line in To Kill A Mockingbird when Tom Robinson was on trial and Mr. Gilmer, lawyer for Mayella, said, "Are you saying she's lying, boy?"

Tom said, "No sir; I'm just saying she is mistaken in her mind." - Carol Perkins


This story was posted on 2013-03-10 06:33:54
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