The most offensive four-letter word in our culture is not what one would consider a traditional obscenity, but is considered to be a word one should not use in polite company and never in public. Yet it is precisely because that word is so hated that we need to continue using that four-letter word. That word, of course, is liar.
We live in a culture that increasingly hates confrontation and judgment. We think it wrong for people to use strong language, especially language that directly attacks the character of someone else. But it is nonetheless necessary to be direct with our language, and not to couch it in flowery prose that does not make the point that needs to be made.
When someone knowingly and intentionally makes a false statement, that person is a liar. When the lies are meant to smear someone else’s reputation, it is important that the word liar be employed. No other word is as useful in dispelling the defamatory accusations as the word liar, because it is a direct challenge not only to the false “facts” provided, but to the character of the attacker.
The other reason the word liar is important is that we are a culture that increasingly hates truth itself. Too many people (especially in academia) embrace the notion of “my truth” and “your truth,” which is patently absurd. Facts are not subject to interpretation. If we accept the postmodern notion that truth is relative, civil discourse becomes impossible because we cannot even agree on the basics before we make our arguments.
Finally, the use of the word liar is important for civility itself. Liars destroy civil discourse and make reasonable discussion impossible. No one wants to have a discussion with someone who cannot be trusted. Therefore, they must be called out, no matter how much they may whine about their honor being insulted. Shaming a liar by demonstrating his lies is effective in either shaming him or discrediting him.
Therefore, I will continue to use my favorite offensive four-letter word when it is needed.