“restraining order is bullsh*t”: A Lesson in Lying

Posted on November 5, 2013


The previous post concerned lying to get restraining orders, how easily frauds are put over, and the possible value to recipients of false restraining orders of lying better than their accusers.

The quoted phrase in this post’s title, slightly censored, represents an actual search term that has brought several such recipients to this blog.

Among those with no firsthand knowledge of how restraining orders are abused or why, there’s an assumption that by lying, complainants of restraining order fraud mean exaggeration, inflation of allegations that at least bear some correspondence to fact.

This assumption is mistakenly based on the belief that courts only act on proof. Proof is not the standard by which civil matters are judged or the criterion upon which civil restraining orders are approved. Restraining order interviews between applicants and judges are five- or 10-minute screen tests, nothing more; proof is unnecessary.

“But surely you can’t just make things up!” You surely can. Anything. There are no consequences to lying to the police, lying under oath to a judge, or lying on a sworn document unless the district attorney’s office opts to prosecute you, and this seldom happens in civil matters and never in those as low on its list of priorities as restraining order fraud. Statutes that threaten penalties for false reporting or committing perjury are like padlocks: they’re only meant to keep honest people honest.

Not only can people lie to the courts—and with impunity—they can lie BIG.

Not many years ago, philosopher Harry Frankfurt published a treatise that I was amused to discover called On Bullshit (which predictably mounted the bestseller list on the allure of its title alone).

In his book—which is brilliant, in fact, and well-deserving of acclaim—Dr. Frankfurt distinguishes “lies” from “bullshit.” Lies, he explains, have a basic or tangential relationship with the truth, that is, they’re not purely imaginative; they fandango the truth. Bullshit, in contrast to lies, lacks even a passing acquaintance with truth. It’s wholly improvisational. The bullshitter doesn’t “reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all.”

False allegations on restraining orders may not be lies simply; they may be bullshit, fabrications that are utterly divorced from reality. A number of respondents to this blog who have been accused of violence, for example, are vegetarian or vegan women who scruple about the welfare of insects and regard violence as unthinkable. Their accusers haven’t merely misrepresented them but reinvented them. The motive? Sheer malice. What correspondence restraining order applicants’ bullshit may have with the truth is antithetical: they allege falsehoods—ones completely estranged from the truth—that they know will most searingly damage their victims.

Success in leading anyone who hasn’t been abused in this way toward realizing that accusers can and do lie is tricky enough; getting them to perceive that allegations may be out-and-out bullshit requires forceful eye-opening.

I can’t responsibly advocate lying. I do, however, acknowledge that since opportunities afforded restraining order defendants to expose the bullshit of unscrupulous accusers may permit them all of 15 minutes to work a miracle, defendants’ following the dictum “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” has something to recommend it.

The logical extension of there being no consequences for lying is there being no consequences for lying back. Bigger and better.

It could be advantageous, speaking practically not morally, for defendants of false restraining orders to embrace this premise and—instead of trying to deflect turds flung at them—to respond in kind (and even less kindly). Fairness, one of our courts’ fundamental procedural principles, dictates that if judicators are willing to tolerate monkey-cage antics from one side (and moreover reward those antics), they can hardly be averse to bilateral flingfests.

Maybe the only way to prompt this process to evolve is to expose it to its own degeneracy: Monkey see, monkey doo-doo.

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