Zeldman’s “Modest Proposal”

Jeffrey Zeldman, designer, blogger and web standards advocate, has some very salient things to say on the topic of political advertising. His idea is one that holds political advertisers—and by extension television networks—accountable for the “truthiness” of the ads they run. Impose steep fines for ads that contain false statements, in other words, lies. He makes his moral comparison thusly:

If networks refuse to accept cigarette advertising, how can they readily approve dishonest political advertising? Cigarettes kill individuals, but lying political ads hurt the whole country. No democracy can afford this, let alone when the country is at war, and under existential threat from terrorists, and in economic free fall.

Unless someone stands up to sleazy, misleading, mudslinging advertisements and instead of saying “That’s just politics” declares, “That’s enough” our political discourse will continue to put slander and cult of personality above the issues.

If we can’t count on the networks (or other neutral parties) to keep the political exaggerations in check the voting public is going to have to keep looking out for ourselves.

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