Sunday, March 23, 2014

How 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 and waited.  I watched waitresses serving customers around me and after a long period, I caught the attention of one waitress.  I asked her 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 the charge and left the diner with emotions that affected me decades later and even as I write these words.  I never learned the identity of my accuser.

The point of the story is that if one is going to charge another of being a thief, one must be able to back up the accusation, or there ought to be consequences for the accuser.  

Slanderous or libelous commentary is allowed in America's political environment because it's accepted 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 for the accuser mob 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 holding depraved motives like "voter suppression" or "racism" and the accusers 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 comparison is largely forgotten today.  

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."  Many pundits dismissed the remark as just one more bone-headed comment by Biden.  Now contrast that sorry episode with how Mitt 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 as a contemptible elitist, yet Biden's reprehensible remarks about the GOP left him unscathed.  

Political slander often occurs after Conservatives disclose ideas to reform the welfare state, curtail federal spending, or simplify the tax system.  Some ideas are better than others, but there's always a number of character assassins that will cry "Racism!"  And advocates trying 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.  What if it happens to you?  My advice is to expose your character assassins fully, fairly and early.  Fight with facts, but fight no less.  

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