Recently a car smashed into our family car from behind. Yet insurance balked at paying for the damage. The reason for the delay? The other driver opted...

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Recently a car smashed into our family car from behind. Yet insurance balked at paying for the damage.

The reason for the delay? The other driver opted to lie about what happened.

It was a run-of-the-mill rear-ender in a backup on a freeway offramp. Nobody was hurt, but our car was heavily damaged.

The driver who hit us was a reasonable guy, even apologetic, at the scene. The police report says he was at fault. But later he spun a yarn anyway, telling his insurance company we caused the crash by first hitting the car in front of us, which simply did not happen.

We got covered eventually. But I can’t stop thinking about the lie — and more so, the reaction to it. When I tell people about it, they shrug and say, “Big deal, everybody lies to insurance companies.” The agent confirmed this. As she put it, “People choose to tell their own version of events.”

I asked her if there’s any penalty for fabricating, any repercussion down the road. Not really, she said.

“It’s expected. We just move on.”

So lying is expected. Is lying not wrong anymore?

It is now known, through the release of e-mails last week, that the Oklahoma owners of the Sonics have been lying to us.

It is also clear that elected officials in Oklahoma City have been shining on the public down there. Such as when their mayor said it was “preposterous” his staff was in talks with the Sonics last summer. E-mails now show that they were.

But the biggest of all whoppers was cooed like sweet nothings, as they often are. Sonics lead owner Clay Bennett wrote a note to NBA Commissioner David Stern that is so mawkish, suck-uppy and deceitful it reads like a bad bromance novel.

You are gifted, wise, charismatic, deep, Bennett writes. You are one of my favorite people on Earth. I would never breach your trust.

Which, in the very next sentence, he does. He tells Stern that as “remarkable as it may seem,” he and other owners have never discussed moving the Sonics to Oklahoma — a lie so brash and credulity-defying it’s no real surprise when it’s exposed.

But does any of this matter? Does anybody care?

Stern doesn’t seem to. He writes back that he is “acting on the premise that everything you say … is true.” That is hardly “I believe you, Clay.” Stern is saying what the insurance agent said: It’s all part of the biz, boys. Let’s move on.

And so we do. It’s part of politics, where it doesn’t matter much if someone says they endured sniper fire when they didn’t. It’s part of publishing, where fake memoirs outsell real ones.

I’ve argued before that not all lies are a big deal. Such as when ex-Husky football coach Slick Rick Neuheisel fibbed about his betting pools and his job interviews.

Nobody tells nothing but the truth, all the time. But it is starting to feel like we’re in a race to the bottom here. When lying is expected, even the rule, you’re perversely penalized unless you play along.

Take the Sonics. Last summer one of the Oklahoma owners, Aubrey McLendon, blurted to a reporter that “We didn’t buy the team to keep it in Seattle.” He was fined $250,000 for making a “statement detrimental to the NBA.”

Think about that. In all these layers of lies, only one person has been singled out for punishment: The guy who told the truth.

Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com.