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The Republicans make character assassination an art form.
October 16, 2000 8:22 AM   Subscribe

The Republicans make character assassination an art form. Several people have linked to this already on their sites and I haven't had a chance to update my own yet, but Phil Agre's latest piece about Republican dirty tricks is a must-read. "The past ten days will go down as a turning point in American history. This is what it's like when the far right is taking over your country: the people support Al Gore's policies, but the polls are shifting toward George W. Bush because the media is filled with false attacks on Al Gore's character."
posted by Medley (73 comments total)

 
Oh, please. The media has been just as critical of Bush's supposed lack of intelligence. Are you seriously suggesting that the mainstream media has a conservative bias?
posted by dandot at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2000


I don't think this is exactly the fault of the media, Phil is just pointing out what the republican party spin doctors are doing.

The dems are certainly guilty of giving W the "he's an idiot" spin, but there isn't a clear way to either refute that or back it up. But if the republicans want to say gore's a liar, then they have to show evidence of that, and Phil Agre is showing that they're loose and sloopy with their facts pertaining to gore's "lies".
posted by mathowie at 9:02 AM on October 16, 2000


"What's new is that the press constantly repeats the lies. Not just once or twice, not just the occasional slip, but over and over and over."

Sounds like he's blaming the media to me.

And yes, many of the statements Gore has made have been taken out of context. The same could be said of Bush. What Phil fails to address, and what bothers me the most, are the inconsequential lies Gore continues to make. The elderly woman who collects aluminum cans to pay for her perscription medication, the school girl who was forced to stand for lack of a desk... these are serious issues whose importance is undermined by Gore's need to lie.
posted by dandot at 9:32 AM on October 16, 2000


thanks dandot, you took the words right out of my mouth.

This is the first time I've ever heard "the republican party spin doctors".
posted by jamescblack at 9:35 AM on October 16, 2000


thank you very much for posting this informative article. i have found it very interesting over the past few months as to why the media has been so overly harsh on a few little slip-ups by gore, but has been letting bush have almost a free ride.
if in the weeks to come the media continues to play down some very important issues about bush, such as the downright scary and racist texas death row system and focus on silly, unimportant things such as if gore "sighs" during a debate, just to name one example, i have lost any faith that the media is a "watchdog of society".
posted by saralovering at 9:41 AM on October 16, 2000


Obviously Phil Agre always was on that far left over there. Sure he refuted a few of the lies, but what about the oher 60-70% of what he said? It's like reading the Communist Manifesto and outlining the parts where they talk about creating a world utopia, then, completely ignoring the history. Gore lies, he lies a lot, and he's more concerned with personal attacks, even if they are attacks on supposed attacks. That whole 'Bush doesn't support hate-crime laws', he's a big racist and hates everyone. Dems always play this race card, I guess if a few more white people got the death penalty, some would be more happy, is that is? Fact - Texas is a safer place to live: violent crime has decreased 20 percent and violent juvenile crime has decreased 38 percent under Governor Bush. And, if you really suggest all of this is Repubs' doing, then they have a pretty weak case, don't you think?
posted by smackdown at 9:47 AM on October 16, 2000


The girl was forced to stand for lack of a desk. Gore was basing his claim on a newspaper article he had been given by the girl's father. I'll refer you to the in-depth Salon piece on the topic; local newspaper coverage indicates that students are still going without desks. I'm not a fan of Gore's -- nor the remarkably softball coverage Salon gives him -- but the man was right about overcrowding in the Sarasota school system.
posted by snarkout at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2000


Vote Nader, btw.
posted by smackdown at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2000


Fine. The girl was forced to stand because there wasn't room for a desk. Why? Because it was the first day of school, and the teacher didn't have the opportunity to unpack the $100,000 of new lab equipment in the back of the classroom. Are we really going to get into whether this was "technically" a lie?
posted by dandot at 10:16 AM on October 16, 2000


Thanks smackdown. If you're tired of these two-party political games and think we deserve better, vote for a serious candidate, not a corporate puppet. Nader cares about people, not profits. He's honest and intelligent, imagine one person possessing those two qualities and running for President. I must be dreaming . . .
posted by Outlawyr at 10:21 AM on October 16, 2000


>Are you seriously suggesting that the mainstream media has a conservative bias?

Yes.

(Yes, I used this link elsewhere at MeFi, but it was on my clipboard and I went with it.)

I disagree with the label of "liberal mainstream media". Apply this please, with a straight face, to the Chicago Tribune.

And the Dallas Morning News.
posted by ethmar at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2000


That whole 'Bush doesn't support hate-crime laws', he's a big racist and hates everyone. Dems always play this race card, I guess if a few more white people got the death penalty, some would be more happy, is that is?

whoa, that is so offensive, i don't even know where to start. first of all, bush DOES NOT SUPPORT HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION. he claimed that byrd's three murders are all going to be executed, so hate crimes legislation doesn't matter -- well, only two are, and there IS a difference. secondly, is it "playing the race card" to bring to light gov bush's racist policies? is there any way to do this without, in your mind, "playing the race card"? ugh.

bush doesn't hate anyone, he obviously loves his bush-family connections that got him where he is today, and almost everywhere else he's ever been.
posted by palegirl at 10:29 AM on October 16, 2000


Yup. Democrats always "playing that race card"... because it's an ISSUE! Personally, I think there's something wrong with racial profiling. Am I in the minority here? Is anyone surprised that Texas' dealth penalty is racist?

From the link: ..."Prosecutors were far more likely to pursue the death penalty when the victim was white as opposed to black. Blacks and Hispanics often are likely to be excluded from capital juries. The result, the report said, is that black Texans are "least likely to serve on capital juries, but the most likely to be condemned to die." " And we want the guy that runs that state to be President?

posted by gramcracker at 10:47 AM on October 16, 2000


Quote:
"Because it was the first day of school, and the teacher didn't have the opportunity to unpack the $100,000 of new lab equipment in the back of the classroom. "

Dandot, you have been hoodwinked.

The principal went around to talk shows attempting to spin the story (because he looked bad) and misled at least one reporter (the picture was taken during the third week of school, actually, and the student only stood for one day, yes, but that's because another student gave up his desk for her - and he stood for another week).

Read the Salon piece.
posted by acridrabbit at 10:48 AM on October 16, 2000


As where Al Gore was born to a poor family of farmers and raised 10,000 chickens, throughout most of his life, he raised tobacco, he put it in the plant beds and transferred it, he' hoed it, he' dug in it, he' sprayed it, he' chopped it, he' shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn and stripped it and sold it, so he can buy a home over at Love Canal, when he defeated the evil corportations, he had enough money to persue politics, some where putt off by his middle class aproach on issues, his view of the small man, the average citizen. This is where he cought the eye of then little known Bill Clinton, they ran for presidency and made the world safe. Durring this time, Al Gore, invented the internet, was a base character in a best selling novel, Co-Sponsored McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform and even served in NAM.

Bush didn't act on one of the things that were being passed, a lot of people didn't, because maybe they had other things to do? Bush doesn't have racist policies! There is a hate crime law allready in place, the men responsible, that you all hate so much are being put to death, and I guess, you're all against the chair too? So, which is it?
posted by smackdown at 11:01 AM on October 16, 2000


>There is a hate crime law allready in place, the men responsible, that you all hate so much are being put to death, and I guess, you're all against the chair too?

Um, reality check. If James Byrd was white, and killed by white men, would there have been no trial since the crime wasn't a "hate crime"?

And people who are "against the chair" can too have it both ways. Or in your view, can hate crimes (or any crime for that matter) only be punished with the death penalty?
posted by ethmar at 11:06 AM on October 16, 2000


>invented the internet

BTW, that line is tired.

How does "leading the initiative in creating the internet" equal "I invented the internet"?

How many office managers asked their companies to allow web access for their employees? By promoting its use, this is in my estimation "taking the initiative", as opposed to disallowing a new technology that (theoretically) would make the company more productive.
posted by ethmar at 11:10 AM on October 16, 2000


so is the reference to love canal.
posted by palegirl at 11:19 AM on October 16, 2000


The thing about Bush not supporting the latest hate crimes law in Texas is this: should he support anything that proponents choose to call a "hate crimes" law? Maybe the law went too far, maybe it would have created more problems than it solved. Just because someone vetoed a "hate crimes" law doesn't mean he's against the concept.

Or maybe he is against the concept, after all, as he pointed out, the three men in the Byrd case are all being punished. What more would a "hate crimes" law have helped matters? What if those three men had done the same thing to a white man? Would it be less important?

Of course, Bush didn't explain himself very well, and in last week's debate he seemed to be at a loss for what bill Gore was talking about, so he gets no points for being typically dimwitted instead of doing a good job of defending himself.

The fact is, there's lots of stuff about it that we don't know, and unless we have all the facts, we aren't going to be able to intelligently discuss it!
posted by daveadams at 11:23 AM on October 16, 2000


acidrabbit: i hadn't seen this piece before. I'll concede that this issue seems to have been misrepresented by the mainstream media.

Have there been any explainations for the Winnebago-driving, poodle-owning woman who was forced to collect cans to pay for her drugs? How about the arthretis medication his mother pays twice as much for as the family dog's? Or how he enlisted in the military because he knew if he didn't, someone else from Tennessee would have to serve in his place?

The hate crimes issue seems to be a bit off topic, but since it was brought up, I may as well weigh in: you cannot legislate tolerance, it must be tought. Punishing someone differently for what they thought when they were committing their crime is a slippery slope, and in my mind only serves to add fuel to the fire of intolerance.

ethmar: The exact quote is, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet." This is a tough call. I'll give him his credit for the role he played in fostering the growth of the internet, but it sure does sound like he's taking sole credit for creating it, and I don't think that's an accident.
posted by dandot at 11:24 AM on October 16, 2000


dandot: Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty embarrassed that Gore has engaged in as much pandering as he has done.

But at least hit the guy where it counts, and this ain't it.
posted by ethmar at 11:31 AM on October 16, 2000


Of the Republican and Democratic candidates for President, only one of them has lied about having been on active duty in Vietnam, and it wasn't Al Gore. Maybe George W. got confused about the difference between the Air National Guard and the Air Force when he ran for Congress; it was, from all accounts, a mixed-up time in his life.

Gore was in the Army; he was writing for Stars and Stripes; he went to Vietnam. Maybe someone can fabricate a quote where he claims he was the basis for Joker in Full Metal Jacket.

This kind of thing is simply a distraction from anyone -- be it reporters or the general populace -- asking candidates real questions: What's your position on reforming American healthcare? What would you do as President to help end violence in Israel? What would you do as President to help African nations deal with their AIDS epidemics?

Choose the questions you want answered. I, for one, don't think that asking, "Mr. Bush, are you a gibbering idiot?" and "Mr. Gore, are you a grasping liar?" is particularly fruitful any more.
posted by snarkout at 11:37 AM on October 16, 2000


We're about due for Bush to be given this meatball of a question:

"Governor Bush, Councilman Les Weinan says that you don't have what it takes to be the President. How do you respond to that?"

Be first on your block to berate me for using this reference in this context.
posted by ethmar at 11:39 AM on October 16, 2000


One question I have is this: Many of you will be quick to point out that Al Gore never claimed to invent the Internet, and that he was in fact instrumental in fostering its growth, but how many of you are happy about the way it has grown? I for one prefer the "pre-corporate" internet of 1994.
posted by donkeymon at 11:47 AM on October 16, 2000


>how many of you are happy about the way it has grown?

We all share some responsibility for how the internet develops. Even though the internet backbones are privatized, that does not mean that none of us have a say in what content may be found online.

And without linking to a certain site whose initials are FC, the wheat is indeed being separated from the chaff.
posted by ethmar at 11:58 AM on October 16, 2000


The fact is, there's lots of stuff about it that we don't know, and unless we have all the facts, we aren't going to be able to intelligently discuss it!

Does this include repeating the "Al Gore is a liar" line without thinking about it?
posted by solistrato at 12:04 PM on October 16, 2000


i think that the topic of internet growth and in what ways it has changed Really deserves its own topic...but the fact is that there is a hell of a lot more good brain food on the internet now than back in '94, regardless of how nostalgic the thought of surfing using Lynx makes me....And ethmar is absolutely correct...the web is what we make of it...corporate-funded backbones or not.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:07 PM on October 16, 2000


>how many of you are happy about the way it has grown?

Uh, considering if the internet continued as is, in 1994-era glory, I would not be happy at all with how it would have grown, because I wouldn't have a *job* doing internet things, and instead by using the net at night, on a crappy dialup, after coming home from a job I hate.
posted by mathowie at 12:14 PM on October 16, 2000


I think that the big loser in this presidential election year is not Gore or Bush. It's the media. They have smeared Gore as a liar based almost entirely on false reporting, and have not done much better covering Bush, fixating on the notion that he's a stupid bumbler. The way they are covering the race, focusing entirely on polls and on style over substance, is a real disgrace to the profession.
posted by rcade at 12:15 PM on October 16, 2000


rcade-- couldn't agree more. I think the past year has been one in which the mainstream media has been part of the problem time and time again, and never part of the solution.
posted by s10pen at 12:18 PM on October 16, 2000


Bush misstatements include and are not limited to stories about his own personal drug use, his financial history as a private business man. his sporadic service career, and his lack of memory when it comes to the infamous Byrd case.

Gore misstatements include and are not limited to stories about his college friend Erich Segal's book, did he invent or re-invent the internet, the story of a student standing in a classroom, and the current price of a medication that is prescribed for humans and animals.

They are both guilty of inaccuracy, but can you honestly identify the difference in how and why?

For that matter, what is with expecting flawless statements from any politician?

I don't care so much that they lie, but the context of why and for what reason. I see a world of difference between the fuzzy shading of a story about a smarmy romance novel and conveniently forgetting an entire missing year of military service.
posted by Sqwerty at 12:23 PM on October 16, 2000


You know, there is an upside to having all this mudslinging going on. Without it, we wouldn't be able to tell Al Jr. and George Jr. apart at all.

See, now, they've become pro wrestling characters: The Lying Nerd vs. The Drunken Fratboy! Cheer or boo as you see fit! Underneath the tights and the glitter, they're the same steroided freaks, believing the same things, supporting the same policies... Next week the babyface'll turn heel and the good guy will put on the black cape, but let's pretend they're different and genuinely hate each other!

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. The media may look terrible through all this, but the media can take care of itself. 51% of the American public, however, remain ignorant and apathetic. They lose.
posted by chicobangs at 12:56 PM on October 16, 2000


for another take on the press's coverage of gore, here's the columbia journalism review.

"Gore's motives are frequently questioned, frequently framed in the most negative light -- even in the lead of straight-news stories from some of the most respected and influential news organizations....In contrast, Bush's proposals are not only treated straight, as they should be, in straight-news stories: he's often been given the benefit of the doubt on subjects where he could be vulnerable."

the reporter goes on to suggest that bush's "buddy-buddy" relations with the press--slapping them on the back, pinching their cheek, and the like--have made his reporters feel they have a personal relationship with him, while gore's less effusive style is the cause of the common characterization of "distant" and may be affecting the way in which they frame the facts.

it's an interesting read.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:18 PM on October 16, 2000


i really don't understand people that say that the two candidates are the same. this toally baffles me that people actually make this statement, and i have to just assume they are either misinformed or too lazy to care. granted there are some issues they have similar views on (as evident in all the "yes, i agree" heard at last week's debate).
But anyone who spends more then 5 seconds learning about the candidates will see many differences, as different as night an day.
For example abortion rights and affirmative action. These are two issues, imho, of great importance in this years election.
Anyone who is saying the two candidates are the same, is saying these issues aren't important.


posted by saralovering at 1:38 PM on October 16, 2000


a republican president isn't going to outlaw abortion, and under a democratic administration support for protecting a womans right to choose hasn't exactly blossomed.
more eloquent than i:
a michael moore article

i'm not saying to accept the word of michael moore as gospel, read it with your bullshit detector on...My opinion is that the issues of abortion rights and affirmative action are very important...and that neither Al or George is ever going to Really take a stand that matters.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:52 PM on October 16, 2000


What if those three men had done the same thing to a white man? Would it be less important?

this argument is so flawed! this crime COULD NEVER be perpetrated against a white. it WOULD NOT BE THE SAME CRIME.

I think that the big loser in this presidential election year is not Gore or Bush. It's the media. They have smeared Gore as a liar based almost entirely on false reporting, and have not done much better covering Bush, fixating on the notion that he's a stupid bumbler. The way they are covering the race, focusing entirely on polls and on style over substance, is a real disgrace to the profession.

yes! i couldn't agree more. thank you!

Underneath the tights and the glitter, they're the same steroided freaks, believing the same things, supporting the same policies

this is an idiotic arguement that must stop now, because all you have to do to disprove it is envision what each of their presidential administrations would be like and what effect they would have as leader of the free world and it's easy to differentiate. so stop it already. [saralovering, i think your post is great.]

and people, stop linking to michael moore -- he's an IDIOT.
posted by palegirl at 2:08 PM on October 16, 2000


Texas is a safer place to live: violent crime has decreased 20 percent and violent juvenile crime has decreased 38 percent under Governor Bush. And, if you really suggest all of this is Repubs' doing, then they have a pretty weak case, don't you think?


Right, sure. What about the crime drop in Boston? New York? Seattle? Des Moines? Who's responsible for all the crime disappearing? Governor Bush?

Fact is, Bush is no more reponsible for crime dropping in Texas than he is for his father's oil money. It happened all over the country and would have with or without him.

posted by Mo Nickels at 2:18 PM on October 16, 2000



I must say, there are differences between Al Gore and George Bush, but that is like saying that there are differences between, say, a goblin and a hobgoblin; that is to say, there are some fundamental and important differences between them, but they are not so diametrically opposed as they would have you believe.
posted by donkeymon at 2:26 PM on October 16, 2000


>read it with your bullshit detector on...

Good save. :-)

Not that he doesn't have any good ideas ever, however I think he has saddled himself with the yoke of being the defender of the working man and tends to take himself a bit too seriously.
posted by ethmar at 2:27 PM on October 16, 2000


I think I am actually cured from having any interet in politics. Thanks guys!
I am also somewhat relieved to find out I am impervious to truck dragging. Go Browne.
posted by thirteen at 2:33 PM on October 16, 2000


Bush doesn't have racist policies!

bush has policies which put a disproportionate number of people of color to death and which expose a disproportionate number of people of color to environmental toxins, to give a couple of examples. this stuff is exceedingly well documented.
posted by sudama at 2:51 PM on October 16, 2000


palegirl, what do you mean by "it would not be the same crime"? I don't understand. If the same violence was perpetrated on a white man, it would not be the same crime? This implies that race affects the nature of the crime. Race has a quality that makes it worse for white men to kill black men than for white men to kill white men? (or interpolate your favorite ethnic group into the killer or victim slot)
I had been thinking we were all equal.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:08 PM on October 16, 2000


Speaking as a Democrat, I can't say I really blame the media for making "false character attacks" on Gore. Perhaps the occasional remark can be explained away (as in the "took the initiative in creating the Internet" remark,) but it seems self evident to me that Gore lies and exaggerates like nobody's business. And, worse, he often does it for no explicable purpose.

It was Bill Bradley - not the media - who noted in the Democratic Primary (paraphrase), "How can we trust as you as a President if we can't trust you as a candidate?" It was lefty Ralph Nader - not the media - who draws attention to Gore's every exaggeration and pander, such as his calculating hesitation before declaring his favorite flavor of ice cream. It was James Fallows - who is the media, but one of its most fair-minded practitioners - who noted in The Atlantic Monthly that "Gore is manifestly willing to lie for political convenience."

And they're right. If we (the Dems) lose this Presidential election - which given the issues and the state of the economy we have every advantage to win - it's because we picked damaged goods in the primary. When we had the chance to put our best foot forward and pick Bradley, we instead chose the arrogant, condescending, pandering, politically tone-deaf, and character-compromised candidate that is Al Gore instead. Indeed, the only reason this race is close is because the GOP party machinery made the same mistake and picked Bush over McCain.

You can blame the media, or you can blame the man, or you can blame the party for putting up such a fool in the first place. If Gore loses and Bush wins due to the exaggeration issue, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves. It's not like we didn't see this coming in the primary.
posted by kevincmurphy at 3:13 PM on October 16, 2000


race was the motivation for the crime. if white men had done the same to another white, there would have been some other motivation. just like if matthew sheppard had been straight, the jerks who killed him would have had some other motivation. both of these crimes are crimes of prejudice and, dare i say, hate. and although most crime is intolerable, hate crimes are especially so.
posted by palegirl at 3:17 PM on October 16, 2000


I am also somewhat relieved to find out I am impervious to truck dragging. Go Browne.

Ah yes, someone who is against and is planning on eliminated federal money for abortion clinics and getting rid of social security and being vehemently against universal healthcare is surely the man that will drag us out this slump we've been in.

Then we can finally live our dreams of shooting our pistols and Uzis out of our 8mpg super-SUVs in celebration of "Personal freedom and responsibility."
posted by skallas at 3:20 PM on October 16, 2000


Why is it a worse motivation to kill someone coz he's gay than coz he's got a lisp (or whatever)? Who decides what crimes are "hate crimes"? Killing some guy coz he has green eyes... coz he's wearing Nikes... it doesn't matter, coz the poor guy's dead no matter what.

By assigning special distinctions to race or sexual orientation, we imply that they are 'different' (read: abnormal). They are different from you. This is a very bad and dangerous idea. Hate crimes laws reinforce racism.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:24 PM on October 16, 2000


Skallas, since I am completely unable to understand sarcasm I am glad you agree with me.
SKALLAS and THIRTEEN FOR BROWNE 2000!
On the less cheeky side, I did not know the man opposed abortion, it is a lapse in ideology. I think abortions are fine, but they should not be paid for by the government. I think social security sucks, and would not mind seeing it die. Universal Health care, let me opt out, and not have to pay for it and you can set up any collective monstrosity that you want.
Then we can finally live our dreams of shooting our pistols and Uzis out of our 8mpg super-SUVs in celebration of "Personal freedom and responsibility."
Are you talking about Rogers Park again?
And for the hell of it, hate crimes are thought crimes, and by opposing them I become the hero of any number of distopian novellas Yay for me.
posted by thirteen at 4:32 PM on October 16, 2000


thirteen:
>And for the hell of it, hate crimes are thought crimes, and by opposing them I become the hero of any number of distopian novellas Yay for me.<

hate crimes are hate *actions*. that's why they are a crime.

fred phelps' crimes are thought crimes. that's why he continues unhindered.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 4:48 PM on October 16, 2000


sonofsamiam, the men who dragged James Byrd to his death chose to leave the remains of his dismembered body in front of a church with a predominantly black congregation.

That decision is why it is remembered as a hate crime in addition to being a murder. Hate crime legislation acknowledges that some crimes are aimed at entire groups of people in addition to the specific victims or property harmed. James Byrd's body was left as a message for an entire community to see and fear, much as Matthew Shepard's was.

Hate crime statutes do not reinforce racism, they acknowledge the effect of criminal bias upon entire communities instead of allowing the defendants to plea to lesser charges.
posted by Sqwerty at 4:50 PM on October 16, 2000


I meant that anything that can be considered a thought crime, is already a crime without considering why the person did it. Hate crimes are all about thought.
posted by thirteen at 4:52 PM on October 16, 2000


I meant that anything that can be considered a thought crime...
I meant that anything that can be considered a hate crime. Oops.
posted by thirteen at 4:59 PM on October 16, 2000


No, hate crime statutes are sentencing guidelines that address the intent of criminals who target their chosen victim (or property) because they perceive them to be a member of a group they hate.

Hatred in of itself is not illegal. Hatred to a degree that motivates you to commit a crime should be considered as part of the sentencing process.
posted by Sqwerty at 5:03 PM on October 16, 2000



And for the hell of it, hate crimes are thought crimes, and by opposing them I become the hero of any number of distopian novellas Yay for me.

I wasn't advocating hate crime legislation, I also think its wrong to add sentancing or any form of mandatory sentancing because of race. My point was that the naive Libertarian ideals of removing programs people depend on instead of improving on them and their complete denial that no nation has ever provided healthcare for all its citizens through private means.

His extreme-right wing thought is very evident in his abortion policy and its sad to hear his abuse terms like "personal freedom and responsibility" while completely going against women's reproductive rights. His gun policy would only increase the gun market by allowing different types of assault weapons marketed to Americans and having the old obselete kind sold off, some illegally to potential criminals.

I'm surprised you didn't know his stance on abortion (well not really a lot of his nuttiness is played down by supporters), I suggest you read everything you can at www.harrybrowne2000.com before pulling that lever on the 7th. You might find enough information to choose a different candidate.



posted by skallas at 5:19 PM on October 16, 2000


People, people! Get away from your teevee sets for a few hours!

You can’t believe any single media source without cross-referencing facts to the source. Some media sources are liberal (NY Times), some are conservative (any FOX outlet), some do better jobs of not being biased (Globe & Mail) while other’s are biased to the point where you can’t call what they serve up news (most any progressive journal).

It’s simple, we know Gore said he lead the initiative in creating the Internet. Do you believe him or not? And you can’t just say yes or no to the question, you have to go get the information. Then you can answer the question. Never take anybody’s word for anything. This is from a journalist damnit!

How’d hate crimes get involved in this discussion?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 5:24 PM on October 16, 2000


>How’d hate crimes get involved in this discussion?<

both candidates support them, but only in order to save the life of the mother or a retired person.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 5:57 PM on October 16, 2000


"Hatred in of itself is not illegal. Hatred to a degree that motivates you to commit a crime should be considered as part of the sentencing process."
1. Why? 2. Explain how this is constitutional.
posted by thirteen at 9:13 PM on October 16, 2000


Why? Because the law evolves to address societal concerns.

This is not an issue of constitutionality because sentencing guidelines are not addressed within the constitution, so that question was a bit murky. If you meant to ask about federal sentencing guidelines, they are not a set of static documents, and are updated on a fairly regular basis to reflect what are termed congressional interest issues. In the past year those issues have been as diverse as methamphetamine, sexual predators, and even identity theft.
posted by Sqwerty at 10:52 PM on October 16, 2000


>Hatred to a degree that motivates you to commit a crime should be considered as part of the sentencing process.

Maybe, but I don't follow why. Is it worse to hate someone and kill them or to kill them for their wallet?
What I don't like is that it legally makes it worse to kill one person than another. If a member of the KKK kills a white guy because he hates his guts, he gets less sentencing than if the guy was black?
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:59 AM on October 17, 2000


First off, I want to ask is it appropriate to continue this tangential thread here? I am more than glad to answer, but I am aware that this has little to do with the original posting, so I will probably defer to the wishes of those who care to respond. But until people make their wishes known I will post one last answer.

Obviously both forms of killing are bad. The difference with a hate crime is that the intended effect was aimed at an entire group instead of the lone victim. The killing of James Byrd would have been ugly and brutal if they had simply left the remains in the middle of the road. But by making the decision to leave it as a calling card at the community church it turned the murder into a brutal political act that infringed on the sense of security for that entire community.

Hate crime statutes are about noting the effect on the targeted community as a whole at sentencing time.
posted by Sqwerty at 7:13 AM on October 17, 2000


hate crime laws are a red herring. (or whatever)

the real issue, which can't be redressed by punishing crimes according to motivation, is that our society places a much greater value on the life of a white person than that of anyone else. folks here are vocally opposed to institutionalizing the notion that it's worse for a white to kill a black than for a black to kill a white, when in fact the reverse of that notion is deeply institutionalized in the form of mandatory minimum drug laws, patterns of racial profiling and police brutality, patterns of sentencing for violent offenders, and patterns of capital executions.. to mention just a few problems.

which is not to say that hate crime laws are a good or bad way to rectify this institutionalized racism -- simply to suggest that that's where people of conscience should focus their attention, as opposed to defending some idealized notions of freedoms (which really only belong to a privileged few.)
posted by sudama at 8:16 AM on October 17, 2000


Why? Because the law evolves to address societal concerns.
Can the law evolve to allow the police to enter my home without a warrant. Can society enforce.. a dress code? Make flag burning illegal? All society needs to be concerned with is WHAT we do, not why we do it. I know people want these laws because they are nice people, and it makes them feel good, but it lets lost of scary snakes out of the bag. The families of people who are murdered for greed do not deserve less justice, than those who are murdered because of hatred. All crimes are hate crimes, as all crime affects the community. I have a friend whose neighbor was raped and murdered. She had to move, because she did not feel comfortable in her own home. They did not catch criminal, but it is insulting that his color could get him a different sentence. Justice should be cause and effect, not an buffet.
posted by thirteen at 8:49 AM on October 17, 2000


"Is it worse to hate someone and kill them or to kill them for their wallet?" (Sorry, I don't know how to do that fancy quoting in italics thing y'all do.)

Another thing that makes hate crimes a red herring is that all they are is amendments to the existing practice of taking motive into account when delivering sentences.

Routinely, judges make decisions about sentencing that make judgments about whether killing someone to steal a wallet is worse than killing someone because he slept with your wife or because he called you an idiot. All "hate crimes" legislation does is say that killing someone because of his race is an abominable reason for murder and deserves a harsh sentence.

After all, who is more likely to kill again--who has more potential victims--the man who kills a black man because he hates all black people, or the man who kills his wife because she cheated on him?
posted by straight at 8:57 AM on October 17, 2000


[skallas re Harry Browne] His extreme-right wing thought is very evident in his abortion policy and its sad to hear his abuse terms like "personal freedom and responsibility" while completely going against women's reproductive rights

But abortion is a tricky issue because it's not necessarily about "women's reproductive rights." Those opposed to abortion generally believe that the fetus is an individual, separate human being and therefore it isn't a matter of the woman's rights--it's a matter of that fetus's rights. What I'm trying to say is that your argument won't get you anywhere because you aren't arguing the same point as the anti-abortion people are.

Personally, I don't see an inherent contradiction between believing in libertarianism and being anti-abortion. Yes, libertarianism is about personal liberty. But the pro-life position is that fetuses are individuals with their own rights. That's the point that needs to be argued in the abortion debate, and I don't see how a libertarian government philosophy has anything to do with the abortion debate.

Just trying my best to get this thread further off topic. :)
posted by daveadams at 9:04 AM on October 17, 2000


I think the contradiction here is that Libertarians, as a generalization, believe that very few things should be mandated or controlled by the government.

If a libertarian candidate rides the pro-life ticket to office, and is planning on instituting that as policy rather than as a character trait, then they're adding to the government's responsibilities.

If, however, the pro-life stance is just a character trait (My name's Harry, and I'm pro-life, but really it's up to you, and we'll keep it that way) then it shouldn't really matter to the Libertarian public.

OT: straight, to italicize a block of text, just wrap it in <i> and </i> tags. Use b instead of i for bold.
posted by cCranium at 11:23 AM on October 17, 2000


"more potential victims"-- this is something I had not thought of. But you shouldn't be jailed for something you might do. Only for what you have done.
These laws are putting parsley on the wound. Or worse, they're putting parsely on the arm, when you got shot in the leg.
And any premeditated murder is abominable. I don't think racism is any worse a motive than money. They're both pretty damn sick.
I'm not trying to out-argue you or anything, Sqwerty, I'm very concerned about this issue, & I'm interested to hear your view. I don't think any legislation they could pass would help stop racism. You can't force people to change their attitudes, which is the main issue here, I'd think.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2000


But you shouldn't be jailed for something you might do.

that's nonsense -- jailing people who might do something is fundamental to our justice system... fear of future transgressions is why judges get such discretion in setting bail, for example.

I don't think any legislation they could pass would help stop racism.

at the risk of sounding like a broken record, consider both the staggering amount of legislation on the books and the less-codified but no less entrenched policies and practices of government which support racism -- i think i mentioned a few earlier in this thread.

if hate crime legislation isn't an answer, what is? or is it inconceivable that it might be appropriate to remedy some of this stuff legislatively?
posted by sudama at 11:44 AM on October 17, 2000


First of all, skallas has completely misrepresented Harry Browne's position on abortion. If you care about such things, go read it for yourself.

Secondly, I'd like to point out that the government making special laws that involve "sentencing guidelines" has been a complete disaster for minorities in general. I'd like to cite the war-on-some-drugs as a case in point.

The Judicial branch is separate from the Legislative branch for a reason. If you're concerned about unfair sentencing, get involved and vote for people in whom you believe. They are the ones that appoint and confirm federal judges.

Please, don't throw away your vote on a compromise. The records of the various Supreme Court judges have been a surprise even to those who chose them. Michael Moore may be a nut, but he does have a point on that matter.
posted by astrogirl at 11:56 AM on October 17, 2000


Sudama: We could start arresting people before they even commit a single crime, that would certainly protect innocent citizenery. I don't think that is a good idea. Judges already have some control in sentencing, The judge should give the maximum sentence to those who commit what are being called hate crimes.We need a single standard. Attempting to legislate morality hopeless, you might as well pass a law making cancer illegal.
posted by thirteen at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2000


[cCranium] I think the contradiction here is that Libertarians, as a generalization, believe that very few things should be mandated or controlled by the government. If a libertarian candidate rides the pro-life ticket to office, and is planning on instituting that as policy rather than as a character trait, then they're adding to the government's responsibilities.

Yeah, but the key thing is that even libertarians believe there should be laws against certain things. I'm sure nearly every libertarian would believe that the murder of another human being should be illegal. What I'm saying is that if Harry Browne or anyone thinks that an unborn fetus is a human being who has the right not to be murdered, then that isn't inconsistent with the libertarian point of view.

[cCranium] If, however, the pro-life stance is just a character trait (My name's Harry, and I'm pro-life, but really it's up to you, and we'll keep it that way) then it shouldn't really matter to the Libertarian public.

I'll reiterate that if a person believes that an unborn fetus is a distinct human life, then it is reasonable that they would be anti-abortion. It's not a matter of, "It's up to you," if you believe that abortion is murder.

To be clear, I'm not claiming that abortion is or isn't murder, but if someone believes that it is, it isn't a case of them trying to impede a woman's right to control her own body. Does that make any sense? And from that point of view, a pro-life position isn't necessarily inconsistent with the libertarian philosophy.
posted by daveadams at 12:18 PM on October 17, 2000


The judge should give the maximum sentence to those who commit what are being called hate crimes.

i agree, this is probably the best thing to do about hate crimes. and i agree as well that you can not legislate morality -- but you can certainly try, and vast realms of law exist to that end.

my main point of contention was with the assertion that NO legislation could help stop racism. much legislation is demonstrably racist in effect. these are the laws/policies we should concern ourselves with. these are areas which require a legislative solution, such as repealing mandatory minimum laws, and halting executions until the criminalization (racial profiling, war on drugs, inadequate public defenders, etc) of people of color ends.
posted by sudama at 12:57 PM on October 17, 2000


Does that make any sense?

Yes, definetely, and I for one don't think you're making any claims about abortion. You're being quite clear about that, so I don't think that's something you have to worry about.

What I'm saying is that if Harry Browne or anyone thinks that an unborn fetus is a human being who has the right not to be murdered, then that isn't inconsistent with the libertarian point of view.

Hrm. That's a very good point, and within that context I can see how the supposed contradiction isn't one.

That still doesn't quite jive with my impression of the Libertarian viewpoint (one I tend to align myself with for easy introductions into my political views) though. I can't quite figure out why, either, so I'm going to fumble for a bit, and try to stumble on my answers.

Hopefully you'll be kind when pointing out the numerous logic errors that are bound to come up. :-)

Whether or not a fetus is a human being is largely a belief system construct. That's not to say it's solely religion-based; a person's religion is a subset of their belief sytem.

Libertarians tend to be open about other peoples' belief systems, and one of the major tenants of Libertarianism is "don't impose your belief system on me, and I won't impose my belief system on you." It's a live and let live political philosophy, in my experience.

Since the "when a fetus becomes a human" debate is still a debate - any lines drawn before actual birth are pretty blurry and open to discussion - no one person, or one group of people can be guaranteed their absolutely correct about it. They can firmly believe they're right, to the very core of their being, but it's still largely just a belief.

Instituting the pro-life belief as law is taking a belief system and forcing it upon someone else. I think that's where it, as part of a Libertarian's platform, rubs me the wrong way.

(I'm trying to think up a counter to the "but murder being bad is only a belief system too!" argument, but am just going to ignore it, for now. :-)
posted by cCranium at 1:03 PM on October 17, 2000


[cCranium] Whether or not a fetus is a human being is largely a belief system construct. That's not to say it's solely religion-based; a person's religion is a subset of their belief sytem.

Ah, now I think we're getting somewhere! :)

Since the "when a fetus becomes a human" debate is still a debate - any lines drawn before actual birth are pretty blurry and open to discussion - no one person, or one group of people can be guaranteed their absolutely correct about it. They can firmly believe they're right, to the very core of their being, but it's still largely just a belief.

"Since it's still a debate" is the key point I think. Since when a fetus becomes a human is so contentious and paradoxical, then a good libertarian philosophy would be to leave it up to the individuals to decide. Okay, I agree with that.

I guess the hard part about being a pro-life libertarian is that even if you admit there's a lot of contention over the status of a fetus, but you personally have decided that fetuses are full-fledged humans, it's got to be hard to support a pro-choice platform. Just from a personal point of view.

As you mentioned, there's a problem in that murder itself being bad is based on a belief system as well. But perhaps there has to be some hugely overpowering consensus that something is "wrong" before a libertarian government should do something about it. That line is probably the point at which your actions infringe on other person's liberty. The question is who or what has the right to liberty? So we're back to that.

posted by daveadams at 2:11 PM on October 17, 2000


but you personally have decided that fetuses are full-fledged humans, it's got to be hard to support a pro-choice platform.

Undoubtedly! It'd be a massive moral dilemma, but I think - especially in the case of third-party candidates - being frank with your party members, saying "I think it's abhorrent, but this isn't a stance that we as a party take. I strongly, strongly encourage you to reconsider your opinion for reasons 1, 2, ..., n" is the only real way to go.

As the figurehead of a party, your personal politics certainly come into play, and are most definetely something the voters have to consider. Thing is, you're responsible for forwarding the party's goals, not just your own. Hopefully, for the politician and for the party members, those two paths are very similar.

'Course, that's mostly just my personal view on the way politics should be. I really don't know enough 'bout American politics to say otherwise, but I know it's not quite that way here in the Great White North. Probably not down below the 49th, either.

(yes, yes, I live below the 49th degree, in Canada. Jeepers people, all these technicalities! :-)

So we're back to that.

Which is, pretty much, always the case. It's also the reason I greatly prefer discussing abstract political theory, as opposed to, you know, actual political realities. :-)
posted by cCranium at 4:03 PM on October 17, 2000


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