Monday, January 13, 2014

Lying is Freedom!

It doesn't get much more blatant than this. Two political groups in the State of Ohio have taken a lawsuit all the way up to the SCOTUS. They are suing Ohio on the grounds that the state's False Statement Laws violate their 1st Amendment rights to Free Speech.

For reference, here is the actual law in its original language. Basically, all it does is prevent political ads from making false statements or offers to the voting public. Seems pretty basic in terms of upholding democracy, since a well-informed populace is essential for democracy to exist.

Well, apparently some of these conservative groups believe that their right to lie to the American People is constitutionally protected, and that those rights are violated by this law. Now, in a world of ass-backwards logic, this might make sense. Thankfully, we're not there yet.

If this ruling goes in favor of striking down the law, think of the implications. A person who is found to have lied under oath can simply claim that they were exercising their right to free speech. You would no longer be able to prosecute individuals for bearing false witness or any other crime related to false information.

And what about private companies? Couldn't they exercise their free speech rights by lying about what's in their products, what the nutritional content is, or how much it will cost? It's all protected, right? Lying is a freedom guaranteed by the founding fathers! It's a cornerstone of our great nation! After all, if we hadn't lied to the Native Americans, where would we be?!

In all honesty, this kind of thing makes me want to smash my head against a wall in frustration. It astounds me that this would even be brought before the Supreme Court. But it seems to me that the Right's view of Free Speech continues to widen. When the Duck Dynasty thing was going on, all the conservative talking heads were up in arms over the fact that the television network kicked the guy off the show. They claimed it violated his right to Free Speech. But like I wrote at the time, the guy never had his speech rights violated. The network simply exercised their rights to respond. Freedom of speech does not protect you from consequences of what you say or do. It merely protects your right to say or do them in the first place. It's the reason you can't threaten someone without possibly facing charges.

In the case of this lawsuit, these groups want to be able to lie point-blank to the American People, and do so with impunity. Any group that would want to spread ignorance, disinformation, and downright lies among the general population is not an ally of Democracy. I don't want to use the term "enemy" here, but that's how it feels to me. They would rather mislead the public than present the public with an honest plan that the majority would support.

I sincerely hope that this lawsuit is either dismissed or that the groups lose out in the end. I think it could be a real toss-up when it hits the SCOTUS. But our democracy, our freedom, truly depends on this ruling. I hope and pray that the outcome is good.

No comments: