Some people believe in black and whites, no shades of gray. Of course that depends on circumstances and the subject of the contention. Some lies are pure overt lies. No question about that. It is a case of true or false and no in-between. Then there are circumstances that thread between true or false, giving the opportunity for a shade of gray to emerge. Then there is another category where people justify a lie – a “white lie” simply because the lie can be justified based on the extraordinary situation or moral grounds that warrant it. Strictly, a lie is a lie, there is no shades of gray. But ….
In the legal arena, lawyers are often accused of making “truth” out of falsehood. In fact, that could often times be a measure of how good a legal advisor is. How a lawyer manages to wrangle a falsehood into a truth of shades of gray becomes the deciding factor in a win or lose litigation. Consider this anecdote (source unknown).
A lawyer had a wife and 12 children and needed to move as his rental agreement was coming to an end for the home where he lived. He was having difficulty to find a new home.
When he said he had 12 children, no one would rent him a home because of the potential damage from his huge family.
If he said he had no children that would be a lie which he, being an honest lawyer would not do. He had a brilliant idea.
He sent his wife for a walk in the cemetery with his 11 children while he took the remaining child with him to view homes with the real estate agent. At the home which he liked, the agent asked, “How many children do you have?”
He answered, “12 children.”
The agent continued, “Where are the others?”
The lawyer answered with a sombre look, “They are in the cemetery with their mother.”
He got to rent the home.
The moral of the story: It is not necessary to lie, but how words are used in a situation may distort the fact and intent of the meaning. Obviously there was an intent to mislead without resorting to an overt lie. So, did the lawyer lie?
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.