The Right to Lie

A right-to-life group is suing for the right to lie. No kidding. And the US Supreme Court agrees they have a case. Is this a great country or what?

In America, you can say just about anything. You can call the President a monkey, for example, and you can draw a Hitler mustache on his photo. It seems that you can even incite violence against the chief of state as white-power activists and media loud-mouths often do.

As for facts, who needs ’em?

Like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, your words can mean whatever you want them to mean. You can even make up your own facts to support whatever argument you’re pushing. (Makes you think of Fox News, doesn’t it?)

Take the case of the Susan B. Anthony List vs. Driehaus.

In 2010, the Susan B. Anthony List  – which is dedicated to fighting abortion – wanted to run billboards accusing Democratic Rep. Steven Driehaus of supporting “taxpayer-funded abortion” because he voted for Obamacare. Of course, Obamacare – more formally known as the Affordable Care Act  – does not include state funded abortion, but, hey, this is America and this is politics so who cares whether it’s true?

The Ohio legislature, that’s who.

In a fit of decency, those naïve Ohio legislators had adopted a False Statement Law that makes it a criminal offense to knowingly or recklessly make false statements about a political candidate. The maximum penalty for telling such lies in an Ohio electoral campaign is a fine of $5,000 and six months in prison.

The Susan B. Anthony folks think the law is downright unconstitutional. They filed a lawsuit to quash it.

A federal judge dismissed the case. And that decision was upheld by the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court and the Justices have ruled unanimously that the lawsuit may proceed.

In the land of the free, bearing false witness might be one of those God given rights, I guess.

Click for more about the case.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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