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Obama campaign ignores Petition of Right achieved in 1628

One of the rights that Americans fought to defend during their Revolution was the right not to be imprisoned because the government disliked their ideas.

Brits had achieved this right in 1628 with the Petition of Right. It is fundamental to a free people and a free country that political ideas are discussed, not criminalized.

Brits learned in the 17th century, and Americans learned in the 18th century that they would have to keep defending their rights or they would lose them.

In a move that is regarded as troubling, the Obama campaign has filed a criminal complaint against the people behind a television advertisement that links Obama to avowed terrorist William Ayers. The blog the Virginian comments on this news and displays the ad in question.

In the past the Obama campaign apparently filed criminal charges against both the Edwards and Clinton campaigns.

This is not the way that campaigners in a free country ought to respond to political advertisements they don't like. Brits learned that in 1628, and Americans in 1776.

Via Instapundit.

Comments (2)

greg steinbruner:

Intapundit: your argument is that anyone who challenges the veracity of TV ads is anti-libertarian?

Slander is not free speech. Slander is offensive to free people everywhere. If a man does not have the right to protect his good name in a court of law, how does that make our society better? If the advertisers who make these assertions can prove them, so be it. If they can't, they should not be allowed to prejudice the electorate. We do not let drug companies, or food manufacturers lie in advertisements. Freedom of speech does not imply letting all opinions go unchallenged. Obama's challenge to slander has nothing to do with an American's right to speak their minds. Stop crying wolf. For one thing, the Obama campaign is not the government so your evocation of this Brit precedent is inaccurate. He is a citizen defending his reputation. As a libertarian you should respect that.


Just wanted to note that the story came to us via Instapundit, a University of Tennessee law professor's blog. I'm the one who wrote the post. I suggested that the appropriate response to a political ad in a democracy - even an ad that appears to be slanderous - would be to step back into the public arena with your disagreement via political ads or a speech, a blog or radio or television interview. A national campaign such as Senator Obama's has plenty of ways to fire back.

Filing a criminal complaint is not typical of the democratic political process - whether it comes from the government or a senator hoping to become the head of government.

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