In our ordinary dealings with each other, we take for granted that we cannot understand what is said if we cannot assume the accountability of the speaker, the accuracy of his speech, and mutual agreement on the structures of language and the meanings of words. We assume, in short, that language is communal, and that its purpose is to tell the truth… And there are times, according to the only reliable ethics we have, when one is required to tell the truth, whatever the urgings of purpose, audience, and situation. Ethics requires this because, in terms of the practical realities of our lives, the truth is safer than falsehood. To ignore this is simply to put language at the service of purpose—any purpose. It is, in terms of the most urgent realities of our own time, to abet a dangerous confusion between public responsibility and public relations.
Standing by Words