Lying in the Political Arena

It is both absurd and naive to think that politicians do not “lie” in the political arena. As Bob Garfield says, “Depriving a candidate of the lie is like depriving a butcher of his cleaver.” Us citizens of a democratic have noticed at numerous times that our political leaders do not always tell us the “truth.” The rate at which they lie increases especially during election times when in order to get more support they bend the truth. But it is not just the politicians who take refuge in lying, it is also their supporters and their opposition who use these tools to their advantage. The Ohio Revised Code 3517.21 B prohibits making or distributing “false” statements about candidate for political office. On surface the law seems un-harmful and moral. One could argue that such a law might be necessary in a democratic society. Staci Lieffring, author of “First Amendment and the Right to Lie”, writes, “Democracy is based upon an informed electorate” and false campaign “can reduce the integrity of the electoral process” (1064). False campaign can lead to uninformed voters which is a direct threat to democracy. However, reading the Ohio Code more carefully suggests that the code itself is detrimental to democracy for it has a chilling effect on free speech which is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The code is over-broad in nature. The Overbreadth Doctrine of the Court focuses on the “need for precision in drafting a statute that may affect First Amendment rights” (CRS/ LII). An overbroad statute “that sweeps under its coverage both protected and unprotected speech and conduct will normally be struck down as facially invalid” (CRS/LII). The overbreadthness of the Ohio Code casts a chilling effect on the free speech rights. As Adam Liptak mentions in the “One The Media” episode, the Ohio Code “allows anybody to bring an action against anybody else.” If I posted a comment on Facebook or any other social media that somebody didn’t like, I could be brought before the court or an election commission. The Ohio Law may be struck down by the court due to it’s overbreadthness.

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