As far as possible, one should avoid speech that is displeasing to others, but sometimes it is necessary to refute untruths. Nowadays, there is a lot of fake news available as it is easy for rumours to spread without anyone checking the facts. Even before the invention of the Internet, this was a problem. Sir Winston Churchill said: “A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” (Brainy Quotes)
Politicians with an agenda use lies and half-truths to stir up hatred between different groups. Religious and political leaders should be promoting tolerance and harmony, but many seek their own advantage by spreading intolerance and racism. In the Dabbhapuppha Jātaka, a wily jackal saw two otters disputing over the ownership of a fish. He offered his services to make a judgement on their dispute. They agreed, so he gave the head to one, the tail to the other, and took the middle for himself.
In any community where there are people of different religions, or from different ethnic backgrounds, the entire community can be prosperous if they co-operate and remain in harmony. Even within a family or a workplace there can be disputes. Wherever harmony is destroyed, everyone suffers. People may be lynched or beaten to death on the basis of a rumour. Careers, friendships, and marriages can be destroyed by false allegations. Anyone who claims to be fighting the war on error should make a proper inquiry before accepting as true the statement of another, words written in any book or on the Internet. Whenever accusations of serious wrong-doing are made, such as murder, theft, or sexual assault, a proper investigation should be made by the police and a judgement made in the courts. If the decision is just, everyone should accept it and abide by the ruling. If it is not, then one can appeal to a higher court, or just accept it as the result of past evil kamma and get on with one’s life. The world is full of injustice, and it is seldom worthwhile dedicating one’s entire life to reversing an unjust decision.