Movies

‘What Jennifer Did’ Was Lie Till She Could Not

In a key dialogue featured in the documentary, Detective Slade to Jennifer who admitted, ‘I’m just a little nervous’, says, ‘Don’t be nervous. Okay? I know that’s tough to say. The truth is always the best way to relieve anxiety. Okay?’ Conversely, to keep lying is always the easiest way to increase anxiety. The truths we already know do not need any ‘maintenance’ at all, while lies need constant ‘upkeeping.’

Are there cases when lying seems warranted, especially in the name of truth? In a key technique used later, Detective Courtice narrates, ‘What Jennifer doesn’t know is that in Canada, police are allowed to lie. So long as we’re not bringing the administration of justice into disrepute, then we can do that.’ To motivate her to spill the beans on what she really did and knows, there was some fair ‘entrapment.’

As it turns out, in the interrogations, Jennifer was spinning an elaborate web of lies to the police, based on the set of lies told to her parents for the last four years. Tell a lie and many others might follow to cover the first lie, and the more lies there are, as intertwined with others, there more likely is it that some strands stick out, for others to tug at, to unravel it all. The immoral lie for selfish benefits, while the moral always tell the truth and only skilfully conceal the truth for larger selfless purposes.

In Ambalaṭṭhikā Rāhulovāda Sutta (Discourse On The Exhortation to Rāhula at Mango Stone), the Buddha taught thus to his son, ‘When anyone feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie, there is no evil, I tell you, he will not do. Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself, “I will not tell a deliberate lie even in jest.”‘ There is no other evil a habitual liar cannot do as s/he can simply do it and lie to cover up. One might even outsource the murder of one’s parents, which is ‘what Jennifer did.’

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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