How can we spot a bad liar?

By Jeff Linville -

Jeff Linville

It’s in a child’s nature to tell a lie — if it protects one’s self from harm.

If a young boy thinks he might get spanked, just about any lousy lie will roll off the tongue.

As parents, we know this so we tell them something like, “If you lie to me, you’re going to get it worse than if you tell the truth.” Usually this is followed immediately thereafter with, “And I can tell when you’re lying.”

That usually convinces the kid to spill the beans, but some will hang onto the lie until you prove just how ridiculous their stories are.

Let’s say you are in the kitchen when you hear a crash. You go into the living room to see your 8-year-old child sitting on the sofa and watching TV.

“How did my lamp get broken?”

“I don’t know. I was just sitting here.”

“So the lamp just jumped off the table and committed suicide?”

If there are two or more kids in the house, a favorite ploy is passing the blame off on the other kid(s).

Bobby says Johnny did it, and Johnny says Bobby did it. He said/he said, so you can’t punish the innocent, right? You look to see which one looks nervous and which one looks mad that he’s been falsely accused.

Then Johnny says he couldn’t have done it because he was in the washroom with the other parent.

So now Bobby has figured out that (a) he needs a scapegoat to take the heat off himself; (b) he needs to have an alibi while the scapegoat doesn’t have one; and (c) if he appears angry at being accused it could make him look more innocent.

Over time, the troublemakers get caught lying so many times they keep learning how to tell a better one next time.

I think about things like this when I hear some celebrity trying to squirm out of trouble. Sometimes they are in trouble so deep that even their lies come across as fairly bad.

Did Kobe Bryant rape a hotel worker in Denver in 2003? No, he said, he just had a one-night stand behind his wife’s back, and the girl liked it a little rough and kinky. That’s the good version of the story? He had extramarital sex with a stranger in a hotel room that got a little kinky the night before he was to have knee surgery?

Did Ray Lewis kill two men outside a bar in Atlanta in 2000? At first he tried to deny he was there. Then after he was caught in that lie, he turned state’s evidence and testified against his own friends. He didn’t stab anyone, but he did call his limo to swing around and pick up him and two friends so they could flee the scene of a crime before cops arrived. Sure, one victim’s blood was inside the limo, but he didn’t do it, and the white suit he was wearing at the club just miraculously disappeared so it couldn’t be tested for blood samples.

On Monday Florida prosecutors announced former Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin will not be charged with sexual assault.

Irvin felt vindicated that he won’t be prosecuted, but the cops never said he was innocent. What the district attorney’s office said is that the evidence wasn’t sufficient to prove his guilt. That’s not the same as innocent.

A 27-year-old woman accused Irvin of drugging and sexually assaulting her at the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale in March.

That’s the bad version. So what’s Irvin’s good version of that night?

Irvin, who is married, exchanged texts with this young woman and said he would be in Fort Lauderdale soon. They met up at a bar at 10:30 p.m., stayed out drinking with a couple of friends, then went back to his hotel room at 3:30 a.m. The two of them argued briefly in the lobby before the woman left around 6 a.m. The woman had cocaine, ectasy and prescription drugs in her system, and yet was still drinking with Irvin all night.

This is the good version? That a married man, who gives speeches as a Christian, was running around behind his wife’s back with another woman? Then he took that woman who was clearly under the influence of something back to his hotel room at 3:30 a.m. to chat and drink, but not have sex? Then two-and-a-half hours later she left just before sunrise?

Irvin, who previously settled a sexual assault lawsuit in 2011, said Monday that these latest allegations had cost him “millions” in endorsements and business opportunities, but declined to give details.

Interesting that only now he’s concerned with his public image. Where was this concern when he was bar-hopping and taking a woman back to his hotel room? You think that story alone might cost him some speaking engagements and TV commercials?

There is an old phrase: the hint of impropriety. In days of yore, a man wanting to court a woman wasn’t left alone in a room with her because that was improper. Even today, if a 17-year-old boy wants to take a girl up to his bedroom, his mother is going to have something to say about that.

Considering Irvin already paid an undisclosed settlement amount in 2011 with another woman, why would he put himself in a position to be burned again? If he was innocent of both crimes, he should have avoided any situation where he could end up paying money to get himself out of trouble. He certainly wouldn’t be caught on hotel video taking a woman into his room at 3:30 in the morning.

Even the best version of his story sounds really sketchy.

I think the lamp just jumped off the table again.

Jeff Linville Linville

By Jeff Linville

Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

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