Being economical with the truth involves deliberate deception and may lead to unpleasant consequences as outright lies – and yours truly finds it extremely hard to justify drawing a moral distinction between the two sorts of deception, whereas the main difference seems to be that lying is usually easier to prove than cases of being economical with the truth.
Some people persuade themselves that choosing not to say something incriminating is less culpable than outright lying and sometimes go to the lengths of avoiding uttering anything that is untrue, whilst being quite content to be economical with the truth and mislead other people in the process.
This is simply wishful thinking on their part, because what is wrong with lying is not just that it typically results in people believing things that are not true, but also that it involves deliberate deception and may have bad consequences.
Being economical with the truth is very different from mere forgetfulness since the former involves a conscious attempt to mislead while the latter may reveal an unconscious desire to mislead. But these desires and their expression are not of a kind for which we usually hold people responsible.
Yours truly has deliberately selected to delve into the definition of lying and the now famously coined phrase, “Economical with the Truth” after following with keen interest recent revelations by the disgruntled former National Rugby Union Director of Finance Peter Fick and the Union’s embattled President Dirk Conradie in the aftermath of the Rugby World Cup ticket scandal.
One just finds it hard to stomach the amateurish fashion in which both gentlemen are now passing the buck, with Conradie pleading ignorance by claiming that he was not fully acquainted with the practical details of ticket sales despite being at the helm of the NRU for donkeys’ years, while Fick selectively withheld vital information which could have caused deception.
It is crystal clear that the “credible” Fick had an axe to grind with the no-nonsense rugby boss and attempted to fix the shrewd legal practitioner.
There are various mechanisms in place and if the self-confessed man of principles (Fick) had detected some irregularities in the manner in which the tickets were disposed of to which he was a signatory, he could have easily cat-footed across the street and alerted the National Sport Commission
Instead, the brother selectively chose to sidestep local sport authorities and sought refuge in the International Rugby Union just to settle old scores with Conradie with catastrophic consequences, so to speak.
The fact that none of the NRU executives pocketed the envisaged hefty commission from ticket sales which were sold way above the face value, does not in any way exempt them from any wrongdoings and the same applies to Fick, who kept a lid on the boiling pot of the shenanigans in the NRU only to loosen his grip after a soured relationship with his former boss.
Needless to ask a bloke who has spent a good chunk of his summers paging through the dos and don’ts of the law whether it was appropriate to channel public money through his personal bank account or that of his law firm.
Whichever way it is for the two – they are still bound to arrive at the same destination via different routes.
So, I hope when the late Bob Marley penned down the lyrics of his hit song “I shot the Sheriff” he did not have Fick and Conradie in mind.