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Sunday, 03 April 2011

Comments

Would this mean, hypothetically, that somebody couldn't, say, spend money to run ads to inform Florida voters that, in your words, State Senator Jim Norman is a "an absolute nincompoop of a capitalist-fascist tool" for his plans to criminalize farm photography?

I apologize if this is too partisan to post, and I write the above without intent to say anything about my own position on Jim Norman. I only cite this as an example as a case where somebody (one Mike Johnston) seems to have reasons for wanting to say negative things about a politician rather than positive things about that politician's opponent(s), and for wanting the public to hear these things.

Unfortunately, negatives ads often win elections. So blame the voters for we get what we deserve. Its also the fault of journalists who have bought into the argument of balance to the point that they don't call a crook what he/she really is.

The only comment that springs to mind is, good luck. It does, however, come in two, equally applicable flavours - the sarcastic and the sincere.

Well said! I'll vote for your amendment.

Well Mike, I have to say. The only way to do this is with a constitutional amendment. Anything less would be trumped by the First Amendment.

Plus, I don't see how this would really work. In an election, you have to not only say why you're the right person for the job, but more importantly, you're better than the other guy.

Too bad you have an election where judges are screaming at each other about who likes child molesters better. At least you're not at the epic level of the Iowa Supreme Court recall/impeachment debacle.

Judges really should just have life tenure. Or at the very least, they can only be elected or appointed once, for a longish term (say, 10 years, 12, 17), and not allowed to stand for reelection so there aren't these sorts of political fights about judgeships.

Wow, a can of worms indeed - you can probably only get away with this on a moderated blog.

Anyway, I completely agree. Politics has become far too personal. I mean - who cares if so and so is an alcoholic, or in the US an atheist!

What should matter is the policies. People should explain why their policies are better, and what the consequences of their policies will be.

Not sure what this meant: "This is happening now in Canada, the U.K., Europe, China, and North Korea."

Freedom is only freedom when you don't limit the freedom of others. You can only enjoy the light when there are shadows. Unlimited freedom is not freedom. It's anarchy to me and maybe even war.

Kind of off topic, but in an old episopde of "The Simpsons," space aliens took over the bodies of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole during the presidential election campaign. Somehow, Homer stumbled on their plan to enslave the human race and declared that he just might vote for the third party candidate. Responded one of the aliens: "What, and throw away your vote!"

"Free speech" is a convenient but inaccurate term, much like "the sun rose this morning".

"Free speech" in in fact a matter of property rights and personal rights, i.e. the right to use your property and your body to say whatever you like. Therefore government control of campaign finance is government restriction of free speech.

Government control of campaign finance is also paternalistic tyranny, based on the assumption that you are too dumb to figure out which statements in advertising are true and which are false. Do you want to have the government treating you like you treat your two-year-old?

First off, I just noticed for the first time, that you spell 'Open Mic', 'Open Mike' :-) Clever.

Second, read your, much agreed upon entry, then down to the comments that you featured, both revolving around free speech... What the heck does that have to do with anything?!

How I read your entry, was just, a seemingly ridiculous thing to have to be suggested in the first place - that grown adults freakin' act like mature freakin' grown adults! That we lived in a world where the people who proffer themselves to represent, serve, work for their fellow man, actually possess attributes befitting such a calling, those of character, leadership, respect.

Of course, I am an idealist who lives in the ever-so-great US of A, where Public Service, or those who serve in the upper echelons of it, they've made it to the point where Public Service no longer applies, they are not in it to serve the public, just themselves and their cronies... scratching of each other's backs, lining of each other's pockets. The National Flag turns from being the Stars and Stripes, to a dollar bill.

Instead of great leaders, visionaries, who are persons to be admired, we instead have people who have no discernible qualities befitting their stature, who have nothing of worth to offer, and so have to resort to just making their opponent hopefully look worse than they themselves are.

First sign of vitriol from a candidate, the instant they lose my vote.

I mean, how about an exchange and dialogue of ideas?! Views?! Perspectives?! Not just - "I right, you wrong", caveman politics.

Okay, waste of my time and breath to get all worked up over something, and people that are not worth getting worked up over... or, maybe it is, because it is sadly the commonplace mainstay in this society, and it is just sad, and embarrassing... Just people throwing up free speech, like that is what it boils down to... for god's sake dig a little deeper, huh?!

I wish I wasn't so cynical and negative in thoughts and feelings , but such is reaped in what has been sown in our lives.

blah, blah, blah, blah

I hit the mute button a lot this time of year, the rare times I'm watching television. My latest notion is that the only allowable form of election campaign speech should be web pages and hand-addressed, hand-signed letters.

It seems to me that 'twas ever thus. If you can't elevate your position through the impact of your thoughts, words and deeds then resort to get above the opponent by putting him down. Does all this adversarial jousting ever get us the best man for the job, or just the best mediæval thumper who can best bludgeon his opponents. Is that really the sort of character that best fits with a high office for which the ability for rational and reasoned, unbiased thinking is the major prerequisite?

Walter

Hmm... To those citing free speech, I say bollocks. To those telling me that the only way to win is to prove you're better than your opponent, I say bollocks. What we see in politics is nothing more than sanctioned libel (or is it slander? I never could remember the difference). Proving you're better need not and should involve calling the other person names and generally behaving like a kid in a school yard. Words are cheap, actions speak - it's high time that pollies (an appropriate word, given that they usually act like parrots) from all over remembered that they are paid to serve us and the state, not their own selfish interests. for me, I'd be happy to vote for the first one who stood up oh his own hind legs and showed me what he was made of, rather than slinging mud at the opposition.

I'm surprised to find in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, a partisan review of the people coming up for elections this Tuesday, not because it was partisan, but because papers around here rarely do anything like this before election day anymore.

I lament the fact that most papers do not have an election day non-partisan review of all people running for office anymore. This seemed like standard practice when I was a paperboy! I would love to go back to the day when all candidates were listed with their platforms in one section, and a copy of the ballot. Guess that all went out the window when 50% of the people decided not to vote and 80% of them decided not to get the paper!

In order to adhere to Mikes non-partisan rules of this particular blog, let me just say that the unfortunate thing in Wisconsin (and other states) is that, through sloth, malfeasance, or just plain disinterest, everybody eventually gets the government they deserve.

The only other thing I realize, when I listen to large groups of people arguing over politics, especially those getting their political stances from inaccurate reporting on cable TV stations, less than complete reporting from broadcast TV stations, and partisan radio info-tainers; is that the critics have certainly been totally correct about one thing over the last twenty years: America has the worst educational system of any industrialized nation in the world, and the constituency proves it every time they open their mouths!

Proposal: Each candidate must appear in their own ad and say the things within. Free speech that you have to "own" yourself.

It's not the can of worms that is the problem.

The problem is returning all the worms
to the can and sealing the lid.

Mind you, should not all politicians be
placed in a can after their election and
sealed there for the duration of their term and then some?

I have always wondered why we are "electing" judges anyway? How can an electorate, inundated with the type of crap you mention, make a wise decision about an prospective officeholder? Many voters are unqualified to make the best judgment about who would be a good judge anyway. Better to have the "Advise and Consent process that is set out in the U.S. Constitution in my book. At least then there are many more eyes on the candidate and a longer and more "civil" vetting. I know, I know..

Oh and I agree, somehow, someway we must get the money out of our elections...

Whenever I get in the "Election Blues" like that I go back and read some of the campaign ads and commentary from the nation's earliest days. Those guys really had a corner on the vitriol and bile. Comparatively, today's politicians can seem almost polite.

All those people defending freedom of speech should remember that with freedoms comes an implicit responsibility to use those freedoms wisely.

Could such (presumably unfounded) allegations be made in the press? No, because of the law of libel. So why should this sort of slander be justifiable when libel clearly isn't?

Mike
The bottom line is illustrated by your comment "Still, I can wish I lived in a free, polite society, can't I?"
That wish is what motivates our best efforts, and
until such happens, all the examples of political behavior will be inferior to it.
We need more light!

First Amendment, freedom of speech are fine points. But aren't there laws against calumny?

One thing worth noting is that the really egregious ads are not coming from the campaigns themselves, but from outside funders. And they seems worse than they have in the past, because they are - thanks to Citizens United allowing unlimited, anonymous outside money to flow in.

For the candidates themselves to field these ads would lead to backlash - thus Prosser's call for Kloppenburg to disavow the negative ads against him... a call that has become much quieter now that there are deeply misleading ads coming out on his side.

Kloppenburg is on public funding and so has little ability to go on the air with her own ads, but the money is flowing like water on both sides.

Without true campaign reform, this is not and will not be a true democracy. Voters may be free to vote, but their best interests are rarely represented.

Restricting the playing field is not the same as restricting free speech when done right.

A politician or party is free to speak his or her mind in any debate, speech or similar arena, as it should be. But advertising?

Any independent citizen should always be free to speak his/her mind in any form or medium, yet arenas that politicians (and businesses) use can be restricted without adverse effects as it is done in many european countries where political advertising is banned, yet societies are democtratic and transparent.

I learned a good lesson yesterday, which is "never presume that a benevolent host will always indulge a quickfire remark, even if couched in neutral and inclusive language". Quite correct, as well.

Today's lesson is that I get to make the rules only in my own house. And that is entirely understandable as well.

You went too far very quickly - you should have stopped after "banning any political ad".

It might not be so bad if people were not so quick to believe all of the bs. I think what bothers me more than seeing something ludicrous on television or hearing something crazy on the radio, is when I hear someone parrot the insanity without really questioning it.

Maybe, someday, people will pull their collective heads out of their asses and vote for some politicians that actually want to do their job, instead of just doing what it takes to get elected. Of course that assumes their might be politicians that want to do their job...

More than forty years ago I stood around inside the state capitol building with a bunch of anti war protesters and a Catholic priest. We expressed our grievances directly to the symbols of power. I was for free speech than and I'm free speech now. Let the pols whine moan and attack each other then let the people decide who will represent them. Money does affect political races but giving up rights is not the answer. Just my opinion.

I have to agree with most of the comments. The only conceivable way this stops is for negative ads to become ineffective, or better yet become a liability. In other words, it's up to us the electorate.

I haven't been following this contest, but if Evan is correct about the source of the ads, this campaign is merely a harbinger, in particular for judicial elections. On the other hand, ugliness such as this may convince more people that partisan elections don't make sense for judicial seats.

In the UK one of our MPs (representatives) was removed from office when it was proved that he had made an untrue allegation about an opponent during the General Election campaign last May.

As state and federal government oversight continues to progress into every and all aspects of everyday life, it should not surprise that passions flare and political campaign adds increase in number and severity. A similar thing happened in an Illinois Supreme Court election 6 or 7 years ago.

Passion must have an outlet.


I, too, am dismayed about attack ads, especially ones that are misleading or contain outright lies. I have an idea that might help to counter this problem without violating First Amendment rights.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center has a web site, factcheck.org, that researches and addresses statements made about political issues. Even Richard Cheney referenced it during a debate. How about a similar organization, endorsed by but totally independent of both political parties, that reviews and researches political ads that are voluntarily submitted. If the ad is truthful, its gets an endorsement. If the ad is not truthful, the organization can point out the incorrect statements, allowing the ad to be corrected, giving it a second chance for endorsement. The ads that are truthful would then get the organization's endorsement. First Amendment rights would not be violated, as participation would be voluntary, and any ad could still be aired. However, ads that do not get endorsed would have less value, as people would question the veracity of the ad if it did not have the endorsement.
To make the organization legitimate in the minds of the voters, the leaders of both political parties should be consulted when the structure of the organization is developed to ensure that it is fair and nonpartisan, and to get their blessings. The organization would have to agree not to disclose the content of the ads before they were released. The organization would be privately funded to avoid any one entity from influencing it, and to be free of partisan retaliatory budget cutting. The organization can extend and be funded from the national to the state and even county levels. Not only races for elected offices could be covered, but also state propositions.
I think that reasonable people on all sides of the political spectrum would welcome information that has been checked to be factual by an independent organization. We voters would get relief from the propaganda spewed before the elections. And perhaps the politicians could get some relief from the pressure of collecting huge amounts of money from special interests. I think that we need something like this, because campaign finance reform unfortunately seems to be a lost cause.

Some disclosure: Most of my family lives in Wisconsin, and I have a house there, though I'm not a voting resident; my sister is active in Democratic political campaigns. I've always thought that Wisconsin had a fairly thoughtful political culture, but something cracked this year. It was like a long, pent-up urge to war. I'm a Democrat, and give money to Democratic candidates, but I was appalled when the Democratic members of the House fled to Illinois and shut down the House of Representatives. I mean, if an election is fair, I thought it was sort of bedrock American tradition to abide by the election. And now this Supreme Court race: it seems to me that both candidates have more-or-less agreed to sell their decision, in a particular case, in return for the job. There have been no proceedings in the case before the Supreme Court, no arguments...but the campaign, which had been somnolent, is now on fire, and everybody knows why: their decision is for sale, and there are interested buyers on both sides. It really is appalling.

Perhaps we should try removing the money from campaigns on the other end. Instead of saying you can't buy air time, or whatever, we have a rule that the you can't sell political ads for transmission over publicly regulated airwaves (radio, television, cable.) In other words, you can spend all you want, but you can't buy air time, because the airwaves are public property. That would eliminate the need for a very large amount of money, and would might require a return to physical campaigning, leafletting, newspaper ads, and so on, all of which have a kind of built-in regulator...there's no point in buying five full-page ads in the Times on the same day and even if you did, they'd be cheap compared to five TV ads) because people would just turn past them after they'd seen the first one.

I dunno. The whole thing bums me out.

OTOH,

I have seen and been amongst Packer fans as they shout obscenities while slurping up beer and stuffing their faces with brats, I am not a bit surprised by this behavior in Wisconsin. Have another brat,watch your DVD of the Superbowl, and settle down Mike.

Go Bears!

I agree Mike. The problem is that the candidates avoid stating their own positions clearly, instead redirecting all questions to what they see wrong with their opponent. Another constitutional amendment I'd like to see is one that prohibits not only corporate and special interest group campaign donations but any donations from outside the district you will serve if elected. Then maybe we could get back to officials representing the people that elected them instead of corporate, union or other interests.

Voting for judiciary is hazardous to social freedom. To most of the rest of the world it is at best an oddity. It undermines the fundamental basis of the separation of powers because it conflates policy with enforcement.

Voltz

I don't think that imposing controls on "free speech" are going to fly in the USA with it's love of the First Amendment but I would point out that whilst we do have "free speech" here we also have much stronger defamation laws as well which means you can speak as freely as you like but you'd better be prepared to prove in court that what you said about somebody is true, does not slander them, has not caused personal or professional damage to their reputation and is within the realm of "fair comment".
Else you lose and pay them damages big time.
The laws in the USA regarding defamation are pretty weak, I think, so you can pretty much carry on as Mike has described.

Hate them or not, those annoying negative ads work. Otherwise, why would we see so damn many of them?

Personally, I'm not sure the average voter is smart enough to elect judges, but then again, places where judges are appointed seem to have a fair amount of political hacks, even when appointed by professionals rather than voters.

Leave the TV and radio off until AFTER you vote on Tuesday, and get out there and vote...

… there is a difference, sadly a poorly understood difference, between freedom and license, there is that matter of personal and civic responsibility and accountability that seems to go missing. I tend to agree with Mike on this if for no other reason that license is usually trumpeted as 'freedom' at the cost of civil and contructive debate.

Ah, the wonders of Zymurgy's First Law of Evolving System Dynamics!

I think we need to get corporate money out of politics. Corporations are not persons, and should not have free speech rights. It may take a constitutional amendment to really settle it, but that's one I could get behind.

Restricting groups of people with issues from combining to push their views seems wrong to me (whether those people be the NAACP, ACLU, or NRA; or even KKK, I think the answer to offensive speech is more speech). But restricting corporations from spending money in politics is fine, even admirable. I see a clear line there.

Either ban big money campaigns, or ban political advertising on radio and TV. After all, TV ads are what they need 75% or more of the big money for. By the way, you'll never hear this discussed on commercial television or radio...and rarely, if ever, on PBS/NPR.

Mike I despise negative political ads. Tell me where you stand, what you want to improve and why you think I should vote for you. That's it. Let your opponent tell me the same. The hate, bitterness and war-like tactics between one candidate and another are counter productive to society as a whole.

(Right or left there are very few politicians that I trust.) Most are in the bag one way or another)

There is a federal election campaign going on in Canada right now. My local radio station will make long interviews with all the candidates, under one simple condition : they cannot talk about something else than their ideas and their past achievements. If they mention their opponents, the interview is over.

I don't mind negative electoral ads : I do not watch t.v :)

We are having a federal election up here in Canada (for reasons too stupid to explain) The trouble is most people are not voting "for" someone, they are voting "against" their opponent. And we wonder why we can't get good people in office...

Mike,

I recently catalogued the papers of a distinguished local family here in Northamptonshire, among which were election speeches delivered by a member of the family (he served in Parliament for 50 years) during the first of two great reform elections in the UK (1831 & 1832). The language deployed against individual opponents would have made Caribou Barbie blush. 'A dirty, whining, methodistical, lying cant' was one of his sweeter blasts. And he got as good as he gave. So don't feel that your chaps are letting the side down; it's just that the miracle of modern communications allows the slurry to be spread more efficiently.

My long standing policy is to never trust what a politician says about his opposition. The only words a politician are truly accountable are the ones that they say about themselves.

Maybe candidates would be less inclined to use this campaign tactic if there was a more active media. If a candidate believes it important that the public be aware of some facet of the opponent so they can make a more informed decision, but also believes that these facts will never be ferreted out by the media in any way, then the candidate may have no other option. The only problem with this is that the public will consider this information, when coming from a candidate, as less worthy of consideration than if it came from an independent source. We have freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They have to work together.

Do you really want to have so-called hate speech laws which mean that the police can arrest you when you express an opinion? This is happening now in Canada, the U.K., Europe, China, and North Korea.

Which 'hate speech laws' am I subject to in the UK which you don't have in the US?

For what it's worth, here in Australia judges are just appointed, for life.
Once appointed, nobody has any hold over them, and they tend to focus on professionalism rather than self-interest or politics.
As for political bias, because they're appointed by successive governments, and then kept on indefinitely, it all evens out.

Yes it might be hard for you to implement it with legal weight without conflict with the First Amendment; however, that does not mean people or politicians have no responsibility.

We had the same thing here on the right side of the Pond; I voted in the General Election based on party policies and got royally screwed when the little-guys I'd voted for sidled up too close the black-hole of an evil coalition party; I'm *more* interested in the forthcoming referendum where we change the way votes are counted, as the first step on the road to changing politics into a more ethical sport.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't there a law forbidding advertising where the competition is portrayed in negative light? As I understood, that's why you have all those "better than the competing brands" ads. If there is, why isn't that applied to politics?

Mandeno, the "hate speech laws" are a very fine thing. You can't have freedom of speech if that speech of yours advocates taking away freedom of others or calls for violence. There is a good reason why Europe has the laws. Of course, as any law, they can be perverted, but that doesn't mean there is no need for them.

BTW, if I remember correctly, slander is spoken and libel is written.

One possible route to less of a slanging match might be to automatically disbar, disqualify or unseat any candidate or member found to be telling lies in election material about an opponent. This happened recently to a (now former) member of the UK Parliament.

Do you really want to have so-called hate speech laws which mean that the police can arrest you when you express an opinion? This is happening now in Canada, the U.K., Europe, China, and North Korea.

Really? Lumping together Canada and Europe (of which the UK is a part, by the way) with China and North Korea? Are you serious?

I have expressed my opinions all my life; not once has the police come to arrest me. European legal tradition does seem to have, however, a different concept of freedom than the US.
In Europe, as a rule of thumb, any individual's freedom (including freedom of speech) only extends to the point where its exercise infringes upon the freedom of another individual. Thus, e.g. slander and libel are not allowed. But isn't that the same in the US?

This kind of discussion always reminds me of this quote:

"The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

-Douglas Adams

On the topic of free speech, I watched a couple of years ago a BBC documentary made by Louis Theroux on the Westboro Baptist Church (I think the programme was called "America's Most Hated Family"). These are the people who picket the funerals of dead US soldiers with some astonishingly insulting messages - I am not going to repeat them on Mike's blog. There's a follow up programme which I have not seen yet.

I'm all in favour of free speech, but in my own opinion the Westboro Baptist Church have illustrated that there must be limits in a civilised society, and they are well beyond the limits.

Mandeno Musings is wrong, there is no case of "the police can arrest you when you express an opinion", anyone can express any opinion. But there's a proper way to do this.

Hey, get used to it. In the history of America, there is a long tradition of politics descending to the loweest common denominator. Check out the story surrounding James G Blaine's run for the Presidency in 1884.

And I remember reading the story somewhere of a political campaign on the Old West, in which one candidate charged the other with being unfit for office because, among other things, he had been "suckled at the breast of a n----r woman."

Hunter Thompson once made the observation, writing about Latin America, that no election was ever won there "except on the basis of pure emotion." But I'm not so sure that isn't true of elections in the United States, either.

Of course, what this country DOES need is public campaign financing. That way, our elections could be something more than allowing our politicians to be bought by the highest bidder...which will get worse after the "United Citizens" decision. But of course, public financing will never happen...

How about a personal life amendment: "BAN ALL ADVERTISING FROM MY LIFE"? I've implemented that one, and I LOVE IT!

I DVR all television that I care to watch using a high end customized DVR that *automatically* removes all commercial breaks. Really.

I listen to Slacker Radio in the car, not FM.

I use ad-block pro in Firefox to remove nearly all advertisements from my web browser, and RSS feeds to COMPLETELY remove the extra BS from sites I read regularly.

The content I consume is the content I want, without the barrage of BS from me-too me-too marketers.

In Holland at the moment there is a lawsuit under way whether a politician is allowed to say that all members of a certain belief are dangerous/undemocratic/ terrorists. The politician pleads "not guilty" based on freedom of speech, saying in the same breath that, if the judges don't agree, he loses all confidence in the judicial system.I think that this kind of "free speech" is counterproductive to a true, responsible, democratic society. However, the aforesaid politician would of course raise a lot of hullabaloo if HIS constitutional right of free speech was infringed upon; what his concerns are on the rights of others I don't know. But isn't that what freedom is about??

Update In Wisconsin...

...the local paper today published the ballot for the elections tomorrow, something they haven't done in some time. I was told by a person at the paper, that the reason it hadn't been done in a while is that the county government (then headed by Wisconsin's now current governor, Scott Walker), would not pay to do it, and the paper won't do it for free.

Another example of how elected officials can work to keep people uninformed under the guise of saving money. Sad...

"There oughta be a law with no bail.
Smash a guitar and you go to jail.
With no chance for early parole.
You don't get out until you get some soul."
-- John Hiatt

How about a law that requires any candidate for public office to have spent a year shooting with a Leica and a single lens?

-Z-

First Amendment's been nullified by media concentration. Get back to the concept of PUBLIC airwaves and the Fairness Doctrine, as in Canada, and all of this crap stops now.

Mike,
Things in the UK are nowhere near as bad as the US - but we normally follow in a few years. Currently one of the bigger debates in UK politics is the future of the National Health Service and this is one of the more amusing interjections in the debate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl1jPqqTdNo&feature=player_detailpage

The subject of this rap, Mr Lansley had the good humour to congratulate the MC on condensing his policies into a rap. I hope this is as nasty as it gets

Good luck sorting your Judges out

Gavin

You show me better citizens, I'll show you better candidates!

I'm afraid that I must sadly disagree with you that 'we' are above this. Most people who vote are not above this. That's why slanderous campaigning works, and that's why it happens.

(A side note: I would object to the notion that 'negative' campaigning is the issue. What you're talking about is pure slander.)

Mike, what you're really saying is that normal people are too stupid to think for themselves so we have to shield them. Why shouldn't anyone or any group get to say what they want (short of shouting fire in a theater) or spend all the money they want? If they want to use up their air and their money, let 'em. It doesn't mean I have to listen or pay attention. The responsibility for action rests with the listener, not the speaker. The problem is that too many people, in too many situations, think they can make other people's decisions better than the people themselves.

I'm with RobG on this one.
Besides, these people want to get elected - ergo they're simply selling themselves and the speeches are their advertising. Good advertising practice is to commend the other product and then go on to elaborate on why yours is better. In the commercial sector consumers prefer this line and tend to not buy products from those who advertise their product by knocking the other.
Whatismore, in this case those individuals supposedly are at the forefront of example-setting and voters tend to look up at them. The slandering then snowballs into general society and we get where we are now.
Legislate their speech? No need, they're grown men. Real men can come to an understanding beforehand and abide by it.
They're obviously just children with long trousers ...

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