Knock-Out Punches, Murder and Political Correctness Bullying: Let’s Play “SPOT THAT DECEIT!”

Game show set

I am fascinated by deceit, and not just because I live near Washington, D.C., where it is the official tongue. It is fascinating because deceit is often the most effective kind of lie, tricking a listener or a reader  using their own assumptions, desires, misplaced trust or inattentiveness against them by stating a literal truth to imply an actual falsehood. Most of all, deceit is fascinating because so many people, including those who employ it habitually, think that it isn’t a lie at all.

This morning I found three wonderful examples of deceit, brought to our attention by three distinguished bloggers, so let’s play the challenging, exciting and never-ending game that’s sweeping the nation…

Spot That DECEIT!

Let’s warm up with something easy…

1. The NFL Deceit

Law prof-blogger Ann Althouse found it difficult to believe that the NFL hadn’t seen the videotape showing Baltimore Ravens stat Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee with a well-aimed punch before it gave him his first, absurdly light punishment, though the official spokesperson yesterday said…

“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator.That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today.”

OK, audience…

Spot That DECEIT!

Time! Did you spot it? It’s this:

“…no one in our office has seen it until today.”

Althouse notes that the New York Times picked up on the fact that the spokesman, NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello. would not comment on whether any of the league’s investigators who do not work in the office had previously seen the video! Cute! See how at works? All right, on to our second challenge..

2. The Statistics Deceit

On his blog ALAS!, old friend Barry Deutsch expertly debunks a dubious statistic, but he needn’t have  bothered. The statement he dissects is this one, by Kimberle Crenshaw, in her article Intersectionality and Identity Politics: Learning from Violence Against Women of Color:

“An estimated 63 percent of young men between the ages of 11 and 20 who are imprisoned for homicide have killed their mothers’ batterers.”

Barry explains why the statistic is probably bogus, but the statement itself is still technically true, though deceitful.


Spot That DECEIT!

TIME! The deceit is obvious once you point it out:

An estimated 63 percent of young men…”

She never actually says that 63% is an accurate figure; she only says that someone has estimated that’s the figure. Guess who estimates that? Kimberle Crenshaw, of course? Who “estimates” a figure like 63%? Same answer. I can say, “It is estimated that 63% of everything Kimberle Crenshaw says in public is total nonsense,” and that statement is 100% true: that is the estimate, by me.

Isn’t deceit fun?

For the final test, we go to another law prof’s blog, Res Ipsa Loquitur, where familiar TV face Jonathan Turley observes the world of law and culture, as he brings us..

3. The Redskins Deceit

Leaping on board the Washington Redskins Ethics Train Wreck, Turley’s censorious colleague at George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, has  filed of a complaint opposing the renewal of the license of radio station that broadcast’s Washington Redskins games, because he has decided that the name is offensive, and thus believes that the government should force the team’s owner to re-name his own property, First Amendment be damned. Banzhaf’s explanation:

“Most people I think would agree that a station that repeatedly used the n-word on the air would have their license taken away. American Indians call it the r-word. Therefore broadcasters shouldn’t be using the term ‘Redskins.’”

For the last time, can you…

Spot That DECEIT?

TIME’s UP! The deceit is just one of the problems with the Professor’s ridiculous argument for telling American citizens what teams they can cheer by name, but I’ve elaborated on that elsewhere. For now, let’s just focus on the deceit, which is here…

“…Therefore broadcasters shouldn’t be using the term ‘Redskins.’”

The term “redskins,” as a racial slur intended to denigrate Native Americans, is not the football team name “Redskins,” which does not refer to Native Americans at all, but to the team, the franchise and its players, non of which are, in fact, Native Americans. What the professor asserts regarding the racial slur, the “term,’ may be true (though I am not certain of that), but it is certainly not true regarding the name, since whenever it is used by the radio station in broadcasts, the meaning is clear. When an announcer shouts, “And the Redskins score!“, does he mean that a group of Native Americans have crossed the goal line, and he is denigrating them? Does a single listener believe that? Of course not, because they know that the “r-word” is not being used. Similarly, “redskins” is not the same term when it is applied to potatoes. Has anyone run a poll regarding whether Native Americans find the name of the tuber offensive?

Thanks for playing along, be sure to buy the home version of our game for hours of fun, and tune in next time, when we all play…

Spot That DECEIT!



Sources: ALAS!, Res Ipsa Loquitur, Althouse

8 thoughts on “Knock-Out Punches, Murder and Political Correctness Bullying: Let’s Play “SPOT THAT DECEIT!”

  1. Jack,
    It’s also ironic that, despite finding the term so deplorable, he nonetheless repeats it at least once in that quote (and probably others throughout the rest of the article). It’s like apologizing to someone for insulting them by quoting the insult in the apology. “I’m sorry for calling your wife a bloated, ugly cow.”


    On a side note, would your view on the matter change if they were called the “Niggers” or “Faggots” or, ignoring the bigotry aspect, the “Motherfuckers.”? I’m not trying to spark debate (and you may have covered this before), I’m genuinely curious. I feel like you once did a post in regards to profane slogans on clothing, though I don’t now remember the specifics.

    Anyways, good article.

    • I’m sure I’ve dealt with the “Niggers” hypo more than once, unless you are positing a parallel universe in which nigger was ever a benign expression in any context and a mostly white sports team would deem it sensible to honor the group once referred to as niggers by naming the team after said group using that term. IF such a team existed, and in a universe where nigger was not the word it is in this one, yes, I’d say the same thing. Similarly “Faggots.” Indeed, I’d submit that a culture that viewed “niggers” and ” faggots” an honorable name a large multi-racial, diverse community would be proud to cheer would be a hell of a lot healthier than ours.

      If you just mean those words in the context those words really have, it’s a bad analogy. People name sports teams after people and things they admire. “Niggers, Faggots and Motherfuckers” are not names of such things to the people who would have to so employ them, so it would never happen, and is a false and indeed misleading argument.

      And Tex is right about the last one. There’s no identifiable group that the word denigrates. It’s just a vulgarity.

  2. It’s like apologizing to someone for insulting them by quoting the insult in the apology. “I’m sorry for calling your wife a bloated, ugly cow.”

    It’s possible to do better (worse) than that. We can adapt an apology that Robert Heinlein had one of his characters make in The Star Beast thus: “It is true that I called your wife a bloated, ugly cow, and I am sorry for it”. Do you see the alternative reading of that?

  3. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been in a meeting where the kind of lie these represent is planned. It’s common practice to explore the ways the letter of the truth can be displayed while the deceit goes on underneath.
    If you’ve ever been in a session like that you should know to look carefully at public statements. Especially if the statement is made in reaction to a controversy.
    The saddest part, and the part that makes it possible for these things to continue is the knowing cooperation of the people being lied to.

  4. Jack,
    No pressure to respond but, did you not see the quote, or are you choosing not to respond? I only ask because I don’t want to post if my commentary isn’t welcome — and, most of the time, it feels like the latter.

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