Political Bloggers and Candidates Have a Legal Right to Lie

If you haven’t noticed the political season is on in the United States, you will soon. The Blogosphere will soon be overrun with political blogs and blogs promoting US presidential and other candidates.

For me, this is a time when freedom of speech and objectivity in journalism clashes with the blogging spirit. It’s a mess no matter how you look at it.

I recently stumbled across an article written on the popular Fact Check site called False Ads – There Oughta Be a Law which applies even today:

Here’s a fact that may surprise you: Candidates have a legal right to lie to voters just about as much as they want.

That comes as a shock to many. After all, consumers have been protected for decades from false ads for commercial products. Shouldn’t there be “truth-in-advertising” laws to protect voters, too?

Turns out, that’s a tougher question than you might imagine.

For one thing, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” and that applies to candidates for office especially. And secondly, in the few states that have enacted laws against false political ads, they haven’t been very effective.

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Hacker To John McCain: Thou Shalt Not Steal (MySpace)

It looks like a US presidential hopeful has learned an awful lesson regarding the consequences of using another’s work and bandwidth without proper credit.

An employee of McCain’s office was using a template developed by Mike Davidson for their political MySpace page. Apparently they not only left off crediting Mike for the design, but decided to use his bandwidth too (by linking to his images) so Mike decided to have a little fun with the Senator involving some “humorous issues.”
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Blogging Freedom of Speech: Can You Really Say Whatever You Want?

Bloggers Right image

Copycense was incensed by the idea of journal publishing being compared to slavery, a claim made by Richard Smith, a member of the board of directors at the US Public Library of Science in a public speech recently. Their response was to condemn the reference.

The increasingly dark, dire imagery used to characterize issues within the digital content debate too often goes far beyond framing, spin, or public relations. Language like this is grossly unprofessional and personally indecent. Nothing in this debate is nearly as urgent or serious as terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, or slavery, and the people who insist on perpetuating this language should be censured. Enough is enough.

I have to say that this condemnation speaks loudly for much of the writing and creative license with words I find on many blogs today. Freedom of speech isn’t permission to just say anything and everything you want to say. Sure, you can say whatever you want, but there are consequences you must live with if others don’t like what you say, or the law disagrees with your right to say it.

The United States is living in a time when freedom of speech is persecuted from every angle by the government. It’s okay to be for the President or for the troupes, but let’s pound you into the ground if you are against the war. If you are against the war, you must be against the President. You are definitely against the troupes. They seem to forget that you can be for many things and against many things, and the connections do not have to connect.

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What Do Drugs, Politics And Web 2.0 Have In Common?

Answer: They all promise to bring fulfillment to their users in life, but they can often leave a bad after taste in ones mouth.

With all of the political buzz online between the conservative, progressive, and “unaffiliated” voices in cyberspace, it looks like the road towards 2008 is going to reveal a lot of ugly warts from anybody considering entering the presidential race.

But it seems that some politicians are finding creative ways of reaching out towards their base via the world wide web, and here is a brief snapshot of those using the internet to their advantage.
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YouTube launches You Choose ’08

YouTube announced the launch of YouTube You Choose ’08, a voter education initiative that enables political candidates to easily inform millions of potential voters about their campaigns through video.

YouTube You Choose ’08 is a centralized hub of candidate-created Channels that feature campaign videos, speeches, informal chats, behind-the-scenes footage and more. In addition, YouTube You Choose 2008 provides a platform for people to engage in dialogue with candidates and each other through the use of community features such as video responses, text comments and ratings. [Read more…]

Warning: Politics Can Get Messy on Digg

Recently a conservative blog called Little Green Footballs voiced their displeasure with Digg’s “mob rule”, claiming that they are falling victim to left-wing diggers. If you set aside the partisan politics, there is actually a lot to learn from the situation surrounding this particular site on Digg. It brings to light some common misconceptions about Digg as well as problems that need solving.

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Blogging Can Affect Politics — On Local Level

Blogging, as a means to give every disenfranchinesed individual a mouthpiece, has grown to encompass cities far beyond Silicon Valley.  Take Greensboro, North Carolina, for example.  The local City Manager recently met with a group of individuals who had a few complaints about how the city operations were being run.  What did they have in common?  They were all bloggers, for one.

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