Liars, dammed liars, and presidents

by Emrys Westacott

There is a famous exchange in Casablanca between Rick  (Humphrey Bogart) and Captain Renault (Claude Rains):

Capt. Renault:  What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?

Rick:  I came to Casablanca for the waters.

Capt. Renault: The waters?  What waters? We’re in the desert.

Rick:  I was misinformed.

Rick’s response is funny because it is preposterous.  It also communicates something about him and his view of Renault, a corrupt Chief of Police working for the collaborationist Vichy government. It tells us that Rick has no respect for him or his office.  This is apparent from the fact that what Rick says is an obvious falsehood, and he is utterly indifferent to the fact that Renault must realize this.

Telling a blatant lie to someone’s face, fully aware that they know you are lying, is one way of expressing open contempt for that person. If you ask me to help you with something and I, lying in a hammock soaking up the sun, reply that I’m just too busy at the moment, I’m either making a joke, or I’m making it clear that I don’t give a damn about you, your needs, or what you think of me. Read more »