Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Punishing Wrongful Accusers

There's a bill floating around the Chamber of Deputies that would make slander in political campaigns publishable by jail. That's an overreaction, but the idea that baseless accusations, especially regarding candidates' connections to organized crime, made during election seasons should be discouraged is a valid one. Too often in the past, allegations that are supported by no evidence have become indistinguishable from those that should keep someone out of public office (i.e. Jorge Hank Rhon), and neither are taken particularly seriously once the campaign ends. Such accusations, it seems, are chalked up to political game-playing, even when they have substance. The overall effect --hurling accusations is incentivized and guilty politicians receive cover from all the allegations-- is unfortunate. Ideally, instead of jail, I'd prefer scorn for the accuser, and, if that isn't a strong enough deterrent, then fines against the parties.

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