If You Tell A Lie And Nobody Cares, Is It Still Wrong?

Literary controversies rarely generate much national debate these days, but the dust-up over James Frey’s alleged fibbing in his memoir exploded into something larger this week when Oprah Winfrey, who had selected Frey’s tome for her famed on-air book club, weighed in with the opinion that Frey’s manufactured truth just isn’t that big a deal. The controversy is bigger than Frey, of course, and even bigger than Oprah. The issue is that major lies seem to have lost their power to outrage us as a nation. “Are we so used to being duped that over time, our outrage muscles have gone all slack and gooey? … Softened up by relentless hyperbole and the hot air of advertising, it’s easier for us to roll over and play dead when confronted with an actual lie.”