One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it give a voice to a lot of people who haven’t had much of one before and generally enhances the dissemination of knowledge. Knowledge and Voice are an essential ingredient to a functioning democracy. However, the current election shows us that whenever the privileges of a free society are available, someone will abuse them.

Last night, a friend forwarded me one of the viral emails floating around about Senator Barack Obama, attributing a rediculous quote to him to challenge his patriotism. The quote was a complete fabrication. This morning, we received one containing a list of books that Governor Palin wanted banned. It was also a fabrication. The fabrication of so-called information does a disservice to the privilege of Free Speech.

The email about Obama built upon another viral email sent out earlier which took a picture of Obama without his hand over his heart while two of his opponents did and claimed that he refused to honor the Pledge of Allegiance. This also was not true. At the event in question, he DID put his hand over his heart during the Pledge. The picture was taken during the playing of the National Anthem. If someone wants to use that standard, then the question can be asked, though by that standard anyone who’s ever attended a ball game could have their patriotism questioned! Deliberately twisting it into something which it is not is an obscenity.

The Governor Palin thing takes a different kind of fact and twists it. She did, in fact, ask the city librarian a question about banning books. Personally, I think that even consideration of the banning of books is frightening enough. The email states that she also later tried to fire the librarian. This was also true. A quick Google search indicates that she did not think the librarian was supportive. Her reasoning is open to interpretation, and contrary to the Republican attack machine is certainly worthy of investigation and/or consideration. However, adding the claim that she actually followed through with an attempt to ban books, enhanced by a list of books that was completely fabricated, turns a valid set of concerns into an obscenity.

Spreading maliscious rumors is not new to politics. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson himself controlled some of the efforts to discredit Alexander Hamilton and the Whigs tried to do it by tying a Jackass to Andrew Jackson (which backfired, when the Democrats adopted it as a symbol of the working man as well as their party). But, I think the cynical use of this kind of disinformation has become revolting.

In the current election cycle, the “validation” of these attacks rose a notch when Hillary Clinton felt compelled to say that she didn’t know whether Obama was a Muslim which took things to the level of an official campaign comment (by the candidate, herself, no less) and was not acceptable.

Yesterday, the McCain campaign went a step further, releasing an ad which put up the headline “Obama on Palin” followed by a video of Obama using the expression, “Lipstick on a Pig.” Looking at the entire segment from which the expression was extracted shows that he wasn’t discussing anything about Governor Palin at the time, and was using the expression to describe some of the policies of John McCain. The McCain campaign trotted out its surrogates expressing outrage about the sexism of the remarks because the reference to lipstick had to have been a reference to the gender of his VP candidate, and completely ignoring the fact that the expression has been frequently used by McCain himself, including during a Town Hall type of event in which he gave an opinion on Hillary Clinton’s health plan.

The whole thing is an obscenity and should be considered an insult to the intelligence of the voters.

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