Monday, March 28, 2005

Elliott bill targets political slander

A South Carolina politician is introducing legislation to impose criminal penalties on those who maliciously slander political candidates. Democrat Bill Elliott says, "something needs to be done to end over-the-top campaign tactics."

"Lawsuits are an option for people who feel slandered or libeled, but the standards for proving that are higher for public officials. But, Elliott said, if the person making the false charges has no assets, the slandered candidate would get nothing. His proposed criminal penalty would target those offenders.

He said people who demonstrate actual malice, knowing a statement is false or having reckless disregard for it being false, would face a criminal charge that could bring a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. A candidate still could pursue a civil lawsuit."
Now, who determines if malice is involved? The courts? We all know how subjective they courts can be. What if the person accused is found innocent? Will there be provisions in this law to punish the accuser? After all, if Elliott is so worried about slander, isn't bringing charges on this the same thing if the accused is not guilty?
""I understand his frustration, but it's a slippery slope you're starting down here," said Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association.

Courts have always protected political speech, he said. A criminal penalty could discourage people from raising issues that are true."
So it would be okay acording to what Elliott is proposing for the media to slander candidates. This is just another load of nonsense. Elliott needs to get a does of reality. - Sailor

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