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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In Favor of an Anti-Lying Law

I disagree with Tom Keane that forbidding a lie has no place in politics (Boston Globe, June 22, 2014.
I sympathize that some hyperbole and exaggeration are inevitable in political campaigns. However lies can be damaging and if repeated over and over again become utterly believable so that attempts to correct the lie become viewed as incorrect.
I would suggest that it is time to amend the First Amendment. We need a mendacity amendment. 
This would not prevent politicians from lying -- after all in the heat of the moment a little exaggeration can be expected. 
However, once a statement had been judged to be a lie by independent observers, the politician who had uttered the lie would be prohibited from repeating it: in person, over the airwaves, in newspaper reports, in fliers. Surrogates and the politician's allies, party and campaign staff, as well as friendly PAC's would also suffer this prohibition. 
The Federal Elections Commission would be responsible for enforcing this rule.
This would allow for exaggeration but forbid it becoming institutionalized.

Sent to Boston Globe

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