“A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”
Terry Pratchett, The Truth

“When you are rich and powerful, no one will challenge you to your face or give you a chance to explain yourself. All the whispers are behind your back. You are left with no means of clearing your own name. And after a while you realize there is no point in even attempting to do so. No one wants the truth. All anyone wants is the chance to add more fuel to the fires of gossip. The whispers become so loud that sometimes you think you will drown in them.”
Amanda Quick, Ravished

“Don’t forget this, too: Rumors aren’t interested in the unsensational story; rumors don’t care what’s true.”
John Irving, In One Person

“Always remember… Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.”
Ziad K. Abdelnour, Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics

Among the many inane things we say when we don’t have something witty of our own to offer (hey, don’t knock it … someone else’s bon mot beats out “duh” every time), there are a few genuinely despicable ones.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

It has become everyone’s justification for deciding guilt based on rumor, hearsay, or malice. I’ve heard people say this so many times, in a wide variety of situations, but it always means the same thing.

“I haven’t a shred of evidence, but I’ve heard stuff about you-know-who. He/she/they must be guilty of something, right? Because where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

No one with good intentions would say this. It’s mean-spirited. Small-minded. How can you justify this when you live in a nation supposedly founded on the principle of not convicting anyone without due process? Without a trial? Without evidence?


Being unpopular — or accused of wrongdoing — is not proof . Neither is attending a different church, or no church. Or dressing funny, having a bad attitude, failing to mow the lawn, keeping to ones self, being anti-social, holding unpopular opinions, or having bad manners. It is legal to be different.

And hey, how about gossip, eh? People say all kinds of shit. It can ruin reputations and careers. Destroy families. All because a guy said something to another guy about someone. Then a couple of other guys in a bar repeated what they thought they’d heard, plus a few embellishments. Their girlfriends passed it to their BFFs who published it on Facebook. Rumor becomes fact because where there’s smoke, there’s gotta be fire. Everyone knows that.


So now, you’ve got everything you need for a quick conviction without benefit of judge, jury, or trial. The next thing you know, a lynch mob is forming.

If ever you hear yourself saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” or words to that effect, stop. Ask yourself what gives you the right to judge. Because you too can be judged and I bet you won’t much like it.

Assuming the pingbacks are working, these days a big assumption, this is part of SWEET LITTLE LIES –

for the Daily Prompt.

Categories: Daily Prompt, Media, Quotation, Sayings and Platitudes, social media

Tags: , , , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Facebook is the birthplace of lies in all variations with videos to go with it. They start with “omg” , “you must watch this” etc. etc. so I ignore it all. My dad always said he only believes it when he sees it himself, but he believes everything in the daily newspaper – go figure.


    • There was a time when — for the most part — the news was at least true. Slanted maybe, at least a bit, because no reporter is entirely neutral, but at least they tried to be. Now, the fundamental premise of “news” reporting seems to be if you repeat it often and loudly enough, it will become true. Other than a few little bubble popping games, I spend almost no time on Facebook. I use it to publicize my blog, and sometimes drop by to see what someone I know is doing … but otherwise? I have blocked, un-friended, and deleted people who offend me. They are entitled to their opinion, but I am entitled to not have to read it. This is not the first time in our history we have gone down this road, but it’s the first time we done it electronically. It’s so PERVASIVE. So ugly. You can ruin someone without any evidence. All you need is malice. Awful stuff.


      • The news used to be polite and truthful, but that does not seem to bring the cash today, so let’s twist it. You are naturally closer to the business than I am. Mr. Swiss loves watching the political news programmes on TV. I read a book. I love to watch the old news films of how it was. They were original reports with original comments. Today I have the feeling it is all twisted and turned in various directions.


        • And you’d be right. What, if anything, can be done about it other than people getting their heads right and not watching that crap, I don’t know. We don’t watch it. We don’t watch news at all … Garry follows sports. The news is painful to watch. It isn’t news at all … it’s all opinion and slander and scandals. Awful.


  2. Great post. I like this quote by C.H. Spurgeon, “No one knows who is listening, say nothing you would not wish put in the newspapers,” or in the case of our time…”on the Internet!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great quote! It turns out this is a subject on which there are a great many quotes, so I must not be alone in thinking it is one of the scourges of our society. I have rumor and innuendo. It’s the WORST kind of lies because you can’t fight back.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wrote up two co-workers for false claims that I was cheating on my wife. They were joking and laughing about it as they spread this poison. I took the smile right off their faces when the three of us were sitting in front of the branch manager. The two culprits had permanent letters of reprimand placed in their personnel records and were denied a raise that year as a result. I’m not into gossip of any kind.


    • So rare that the rumor mongers get what they deserve. Usually you never find out who started the whole thing.


      • They were stupid enough to say the things they did while I was there. In fact, they were taunting with accusations that I was sleeping with that neighbor, mother to a quadriplegic my wife cared for as a home health care nurse. That’s sick and they deserved their punishment. One of them there was my foreman, a 20 year employee of the company. Guarantee you it put a stop to it, especially when it took effect on their wallets.


  4. LOVE this Marilyn. It always amazes me to see people quick to share some shred of gossip and state the rumor as fact. I run fast in the opposite direction from people like that. As you said, it is no one’s place to judge.


    • I hate this kind of stuff. It’s a frequent subject on WordPress, back in the good old days when the Daily Prompt worked! I’ve never seen anything amusing about it, either, though a lot of rumor spreading is done because other people think it’s funny. I suppose it could be done in fun, but in my experience, it is always intended to hurt someone.


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