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  • Victoria A.C. Luckie M.A.

Limping slowly after

Have just been singing 10 year old daughter the Skye Boat song (one of the lullabies I have always sung her) and suddenly she pipes up with "Mama what are Buffaloes?" Confused I asked for a little more clarification. "You know, Buffalos stand by the shore".

The lyric is actually:

"Baffled, our foes stand by the shore, follow they will not dare." It relates to the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie from Scotland. But it makes me wonder how long she has imagined buffalos? I must remember to ask her tomorrow.

Today I also corrected someone online who, in a bid to gain signatures for a petition about another medical condition, was relaying misunderstood medical information regarding MS. I corrected it because it was a serious error that might have left her followers, the politician it was directed at, and the signatories (possibly including a relative through whom I saw the information) believing it to be true. This could have serious implications on how these people viewed and understood the disease that I, and others, have.

It just goes to show how easily oral histories and things said generally get misunderstood and how fast gossip and misunderstanding and lies can spread and I won't bore you with paragraphs on propaganda, and slander and libel. Nor with rumination on the motives, so I will hold back on quotes from Machiavelli and an examination of the part propaganda has played in terrible things in the past. Perhaps it is wrong of me but I will assume knowledge of the rise of the Nazi party during the 1930s, or McCarthyism, of it's vital part in atrocities like Rwanda and other horrible events that to me seem all too recent and just say that I have found that the truth is usually the best bet. So mindful of a quote attributed to Churchill and Twain that I have used previously and seemed particularly apt to describe this situation, I used my journalistic skills to verify. In the process finding this, much earlier, quote by Jonathan Swift:

"Few lies carry the inventor’s mark, and the most prostitute enemy to truth may spread a thousand, without being known for the author: besides, as the vilest writer hath his readers, so the greatest liar hath his believers: and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work, and there is no further occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man, who hath thought of a good repartee when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead."

It sometimes seems to me that we have learned little over the years.

Quote from Political Lying. Vol. III. From The Examiner, full article here:

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