Honor, Integrity, Honesty, and Dignity

 Posted on October 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

Quite often a guilty subject will invoke such expressions as, "I swear to God I'm telling the truth," "I hope my mother drops dead if I'm lying," "I'll swear on a stack of Bibles," etc. Although expressions of this type cannot be considered as symptoms of deception, they frequently are used by guilty subjects in an effort to lend forcefulness or conviction to their assertions of innocence.

Inbau & Reid, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, 1962.

In the interrogation room, the truthfulness of the subject is naturally in question. The man who proclaims his honesty (when it is not otherwise challenged) is probably not being honest. When dealing with someone who tells you he's honest, keep a hand on your wallet.

Likewise integrity. If you have integrity, people will know it without being told. If they don't or if you aren't, telling them won't convince them. In fact, if people don't know you to have integrity and you claim to, they will (appropriately) question why you should think it necessary to protest. The more offended noises you make in response, the more their questions will seem justified.

In the same way that unprovokedly proclaiming one's own integrity calls into question that integrity, so does righteous concern over one's honor and dignity reveal a lack of honor and dignity.

Honor and dignity are not something that someone else can take away. If you have honor and dignity, it doesn't matter what people think of you. Dignity and honor are in how you behave, not how people see you. If you're upset that someone might be depriving you of either, you've already lost-no, surrendered-it.

Yet people die over honor and dignity-or over the perceived loss of honor or dignity. That's what road rage crimes are often about-loss of control, perceived loss of dignity, escalation ("I'll show him!"), wrinkled sheet metal, gunplay. In a flash one person has gone from defending his honor to being dead, and another has gone from resenting being treated with indignity to a jail cell.

Which is stupid, since each of them had, from the beginning, the option of driving calmly away on with dignity intact.

Every prosecution in Texas is pursued in the name of "the peace and dignity of the State."

Which is stupid, too. Peace, sure, but the dignity of the State of Texas? Anything-human or not-that has to punish people for affronts on its dignity doesn't have any.

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