Being Fooled

“There are two ways to be fooled.
One is to believe what isn’t true;
the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
Søren Kierkegaard

One of Hanna’s comments in Aggravated continues to resurface for me periodically. In her May 2006 interview with Tom Swearingen, less than two months before the first trial began, she said “It is not that hard to fool people around here.”

She said that in response to a comment from Tom when he told her he hadn’t found anyone else who said that Steve had done anything like what Hanna was claiming. Here’s a bit of that part of the interview.

TOM: See, I’m trying to find somebody else that I can find that says they’ll corroborate that some things like this happened. I’ve talked to a lot of young ladies out there [near Steve’s house], and …uh, he either has a lot of people fooled…

HANNA: [4-second pause] I believe that he does, because of my parents’ divorce. My dad had a lot of people fooled, and it is not that hard to fool people around here.

TOM: How did your dad have people fooled?

HANNA: [pause ] Just lies. So many lies.

TOM: What type of lies?

HANNA: I don’t really know. I was very young at the time. Um, I just know that he …I believe to this day he’s a compulsive liar. He lies even though the truth would help him out more, because he’s lied to me several times by just saying, “I did not say that,” and he just kept his look on his face like you had no choice but to believe him. And after he skipped town, after my parents’ divorce, my mom had people coming up and apologizing to her saying, “I’m so sorry I ever believed him. I apologize for treating you the way I did. You didn’t deserve it. You’re a good mom.” Blah, blah, blah, blah.

The blah, blah, blah’s seem to indicate that the apologies didn’t mean too much to her, but maybe the attention her mom got did. In essence, though, Hanna was saying that people in her area were easily fooled, and her reason for believing that was because she had seen her dad lie multiple times. She seemed to be painting him as someone who lied uncontrollably to her and her mother, and likely to people in the town as well. She also seemed to indicate that people in the town had been fooled by her father and hadn’t believed her mother (which was what prompted the apologies from the townspeople).

Obviously, there are a number of different ways to look at that dialogue. The person who is making the comment (Hanna) was trying to counter Tom’s comment that he hadn’t found anyone who had made a similar claim against Steve. Her argument was that people in that county were easily hoodwinked (Rubes? Idiots? Gullible?), so that’s why no one also had accused Steve of molesting them. Logically, that makes no sense, of course. Other people coming forward to accuse Steve of something similar would have helped her story be more believable, but no one did. The only thing remotely close to an accusation from anyone was a rumor from a friend of Steve’s daughter, Marri, who claimed that Marri told her she had walked in on Steve and Hanna in a compromising position. Marri has denied ever saying that, or seeing that, and her friend’s story has been completely debunked in Aggravated.

Isn’t it more likely, if Hanna did learn this behavior from her father, and did learn that people are gullible, that she was using those lessons to convince others that something (that never happened) did happen to her? Maybe to garner some sympathy for herself?

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