Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sometimes slander goes unpunished

As a teen, I once scraped together enough money to buy a hamburger at a diner, then sat down at a table and waited.  I watched waitresses serving customers around me and after a long period, I caught the attention of one waitress.  I asked if someone could take my order.  She replied that another waitress had seen me steal a tip and that's why nobody would wait on me.  The charge was bogus.  I had taken nothing.  I protested my innocence and left the diner with emotions recalled decades later as I write these words.

The point is, if one is going to accuse another of being a thief, one must be able to back up the accusation, or there ought to be consequences for the accuser.  Whether it breaches a legal standard or not, slanderous or libelous commentary is often allowed in America's political environment because it's passed off as free speech and there are no rules for fair play
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when public policy fights occur.  Unfortunately, class warfare is one avenue that works well to smear someone as long as the one doing the smearing advocates for a populist cause.  Too often, without evidence, one can accuse another of depraved motives like "voter suppression" or "racism" and get away with it.  Want examples?   

Do you recall when Sen. Harry Reid likened the GOP to slavery sympathizers because he couldn't handle Obamacare criticisms?  (See my Examiner column published here).  His disgraceful words are largely forgotten.  

Consider Vice President Joe Biden's spoken gem on the campaign trail, telling an African-American audience that Republicans are "...going to put y'all back in chains."  Pundits dismissed the remark as one more bone-headed comment by Biden, then Romney got crucified for citing an accurate statistic about the extent of government transfer payments. Romney's utterance, wasn't populist so the opposition could vilify him, yet Biden's reprehensible remarks left him unscathed.

Political slander often occurs after Conservatives disclose ideas to reform the welfare state or tax system.  Some ideas are better than others, but there's always a number of character assassins that cry "racism!"  And honest advocates to reduce voter fraud often attract a full scale tar job, replete with charges of "voter suppression."   

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Most Conservatives encounter this sort of thing sooner or later.  So, what if political slander happens to you?  My advice is to expose your character assassins fully, fairly and early on.  Fight with facts -- but fight no less.  

If you have a better remedy; please let me know.