When is it okay to lie?


My reaction is shaped by the extent of my knowledge. For example, last week, most of my knowledge about Apple manufacturing operations came from Mike Daisey’s monologue. I accepted the story as truth and then proceeded to form an opinion. Now, my knowledge of these operations has expanded after listening to Retraction. I can now form another opinion. Personally, however, knowing the truth about Daisey’s lies and exaggerations does not change anything for me. It doesn’t really matter that his account of the facts wasn’t always first hand, or that he visited 3 factories instead of 10, or whether or not the guards were carrying guns. Those details are not important. I am mainly concerned with the story. His story, in particular, had an emotional impact on his listeners and on me.

The main issue to discuss now is the troubling question: when is it okay to lie? When is it okay to fudge the truth a little to get your point across? I believe that intentions often determine how acceptable a lie is. Mike Daisey was ticked off that people were starting to forget what was going on in the factories in China because the media craze from all the suicides had started to fade. He started his research with the good intentions of just trying to make people care. He succeeded in this endeavor. Also, everything in his monologue was built on the truth, with truthful foundations and intentions. To express this truth into a better story, he had to sequence some things differently. Why should it be so bad that we heard them a little out of order? Daisey felt conflicted. He really wanted to get his story out there and needed to tell it, but went about it in the wrong way. He regrets presenting the piece as journalism because it cannot hold up to those standards. In those regards, he made a mistake.

Mike Daisey’s monologue should be presented as a piece for theater. The interviewer, Ira, says that even as being labeled “theater”, Daisy should still express that his monologue is fiction. This is where I disagree. His story is mostly true and the effect from hearing the story is so much greater when we believe in its credibility. The exaggerations and partial fabrications were used to bring awareness to these issues. They aided him in accomplishing his goal of making people care.

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4 thoughts on “When is it okay to lie?

  1. Pingback: iTruth: Truth. Lies, and Podcasts (Blog Prompt 3) « Business, Government and Society VII

  2. I agree with you that the story is what matters most. I think that Daisey’s intentions were good in that he wanted to make people continue to care about this issue. He seems to have accomplished this based on many of the reactions I read in people’s blogs last week and what I wrote about in my own. In my opinion, Daisey’s main mistake was how he presented his information. While I don’t think his monologue should be advertised as a piece of fiction, I definitely do not think it should be labeled as nonfiction either. Use the words “based on true stories” to get the readers’ attention and have them realize he is truly passionate about changing these labor practices.

  3. I agree with both of you. Daisey’s monologue was powerful and brought awareness back to the circumstances in China. I also do not believe his monologue should be portrayed as fact or fiction but I enjoy Jennie’s saying “based on true stories.” So many movies nowadays are “based on a true story.” People know that going into it and the emotions they feel during that movie are still real as well as the awareness created towards the issues presented. Daisey’s story was originally presented in a slightly untruthful way however many of the things he said are still true or mostly true. The truth seems to be that the conditions in these factories are not good and Mike Daisey created an engaging story to share this issue with the public.

  4. I think that Mike Daisey’s lies were acceptable because of his intentions and desire to exposure the conditions in the factories.I do agree with Jennie’s comment that the piece should not be labeled as a nonfiction because almost all of the events that he talked about happened just not to him. He did lie about experiencing the events, but the basis of the events did occur in at one point in China. People need to stop worrying about the little facts that may or may not happened, depending on how you ask, and have to focus about the larger issue at hand. Daisey successful turned the public’s interest back on the labor issues in China. I think that the ends do justify the means in this case.

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