Wednesday, May 20, 2020

What's french for 'liar liar pants on fire'

Stephane Bourgoin is a French expert on serial killers. He's written dozens of books on the topic, and has appeared many times on TV to opine about the genius of Jerry Lewis serial killing. In fact, he may be the French expert on serial killers. Because why would France - which doesn't even crack the Top 10 when it comes to serial killers - have much call for expertise in the matter. (You're probably not even bothering to ask which country heads the list when it comes to serial killers.)
Bourgoin, 67, built a reputation as the country's foremost expert in serial killers, writing more than 75 books and producing dozens of documentaries, before an investigation brought him down.
His standing as an expert in his field meant he was called upon as a guest lecturer for trainees at the French national judiciary police academy and regularly toured the country to give speeches on his experiences. (Source: CNN)
Turns out, there is something serial about Bourgoin. He's a serial liar. 

And Bourgoin was a pretty big deal in France. This would be like finding out that America's Most Wanted crimebuster John Walsh's son hadn't really been murdered. (Or, more pleasantly, that Rick Steves has actually never been anywhere.)
Bourgoin was uncovered by an outfit called 4e Oeil, an anonymous collective the focuses on crime. 

Members of the group had their suspicions that Bourgoin had plagiarized books originally written in English and noticed dates that didn't match up or inconsistencies from one of his books to another, said the spokesperson.
"His television interviews convinced us that he was truly making it all up," they told CNN.
Among other things Bourgoin made up:

  • Training with the FBI at Quantico
  • Meeting with Charles Manson
  • A murdered wife (there was a murdered woman; turns out she was a bartender Bourgoin had met a couple of times)
  • Having been a professional footballer

Bourgoin has fessed up, expressed contrition and in good true-confession fashion, blamed it all on feelings of inadequacy.

“My lies have weighed me down,” he told Paris Match last week in his first interview about the accusations. “I have arrived at the balance-sheet time.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Le Parisien on Tuesday, he went further, describing himself as a mythomaniac. “I completely admit my faults. I am ashamed to have lied, to have concealed things,” Bourgoin said.
"It is true that when I was in the public eye I sometimes happened to embellish, to extrapolate, to exaggerate my importance because I always had the deep feeling of not really 'being loved.'" (Source: The Guardian)
Bourgoin has categorized his lies as "ridiculous", and says now that he needed psychological counselling.  Well, yep and yep.

I actually feel kind of bad for the guy. It sounds like he really does have expertise in serial killing (admittedly an oddball specialty). But somewhere along the line, he felt compelled to spin up a little self-aggrandizing bullshit. And a little more self-aggrandizing bullshit. And a little more self-aggrandizing bullshit. Which, apparently, no one over the decades had bothered to check up on, until the vigilantes at 4e Oeil decided to play 'I spy with my little eye' on him. 

Bourgoin comes across as pretty pathetic here. Come on, polishing your credentials with a claim that you've met Charles Manson? Fabricating a dead wife? 

Then bleeding all over French media once the gig is up?

Why not just quietly issue a statement, admit to being a BS artist, but stand by your actual expertise. And then get the hell out of the public eye for good. But, no, once in the limelight I guess you always want to bask in it, even if the limelighting doesn't show you in an especially favorable light.

I actually get the lying. Once you tell a whopper it's hard to walk it back - 'Say, remember how I said I knew Charlie Manson? Only kidding!' 

And once you get away with telling a whopper, it's easy to tell another. ('Did I ever tell you the one about my murdered wife?')

In much the same way, most embezzlers - from what I gather - start out with the equivalent of taking a few bucks out of petty cash with the full intention of paying it back. And when no one notices, things just escalate into the big bucks. 

So I get how the lying happens and gets out of control.

But I really don't get Stephane Bourgoin's need to so publicly explain himself in such a humiliating manner. I kind of pity him, but I just don't get him.

And then there's 4e Oeil's game.

Sure, it's fun to sleuth things out. And, let's face it, we all like to see bigshots riding for a fall who actually fall. Yay! But why the anonymity, why the invisibility cloak? I much prefer it when the unmaskers are themselves no wearing masks (other than in legit whistleblower circumstances, where people need to protect themselves). 

Stephane Bourgoin may be a putz, but he has acknowledged he's a liar - and he's not costing anyone their life. 

I guess that's the reason I found this story a nice little diversion, a nice little change of pace. If only our liars would admit to lying and stop killing people...

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