When an open-ended statement shows a preconceived notion

“Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The truth will come out.”

This is a phrase a particular person in my life (he/she shall remain nameless, for various and sundry reasons) has used at particular times when expressing an opinion about somebody as though it were fact.

In one case, it accompanied an accusation of infidelity against a third party close to both of us. This was some years ago.

In another case, it punctuated an argument regarding how a particular individual’s middle name might impact his/her execution of a public function. That conversation was last night. (And as Bp. Hilarion said, “I will not elaborate on that.” If you know what I mean, fine. If you don’t know what I mean, I’m not going to give it further credibility by voicing, even to dismiss, the nonsense that’s being tossed about as “evidence.”)

“Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The truth will come out.”

What a cheap, cowardly thing to say.  The “maybe he isn’t” is disingenuous; the expression of “the truth will come out” as its own clause rather than as the consequence of a conditional statement — e. g., “If he is, the truth will come out” — states rather clearly that the truth has not yet come out, so whatever is currently understood is wrong. “Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The truth will come out.” It’s a carefully crafted sentence intended to suggest more openness to possibility than is in fact communicated by the words — the phrase “maybe he isn’t”, and in fact the very presence of the word “maybe”, strategically placed to make the speaker sound more reasonable than they are actually being, are flatly contradicted by “the truth will come out”. What is actually meant, and what would be a far more honest and straightforward thing to say, is “I think he is” — whatever the implied predicate may be — “and if more people don’t than do, then that just means it’s still being covered up.”

By the way, this person no longer believes that their accusation of infidelity was accurate. Has “the truth come out,” as they said it would? No — there was nothing to come out because the truth was already known. Does this person acknowledge this? No.

“Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The truth will come out.”

The person saying this has already decided what the truth is — so you know what? Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Let your yes be yes and your no, no. It makes things a lot easier and a lot less frustrating when you do.

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1 Response to “When an open-ended statement shows a preconceived notion”


  1. 1 Irene 8 November 2013 at 6:11 am

    People like you explain, are GOSSIPS who live an empty unhappy existence and need to feed on others misfortunes,and when there is no slander to get their teeth into, they happily create some. As the saying goes….The reason a dog has so many friends is cause he wags his tail instead of his tongue….How true!


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