Friday, October 31, 2008

Why is Sarah Palin Infallible?

In a recent interview, Gov. Sarah Palin claimed that her first amendment rights are in jeopardy by the mainstream media's portrayal of her attacks on Barack Obama's "associations." Palin told Chris Plante, a host on WMAL-AM: "If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

I think that in order to put this in context we need to look at the first amendment and what it means: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Just at first glance, it is obvious that it is impossible for the media to, by definition, limit someone's first amendment rights because the first amendment prohibits congress from doing so, not the media. In practice, the first amendment can be extended to all federal and state government offices.

In this context, the only person who is jeopardizing first amendment rights is Palin, a government official attempting to supress the media. The only protection (this is a scary thought) that we have from the lies of politicians is the media. If a politician incorrectly labels another politician (like, say, calling Sen. Obama a Marxist), while credible evidence to the contrary exists in abundance, the media has the right (and the moral obligation) to discredit the claim.

Contrary to Palin's statement, I don't know what would happen to first amendment rights in this country if candidates didn't have to worry about attacks by the mainstream media. I find it hard to believe that Palin hasn't read the first amendment. She has to read it to get to her favorite ammendment, the second, which she believes gives her the right to shoot wolves from a hellicopter (Maybe constitutional law professors would disagree with that interpretation, but hell, it looks way too fun to pass up because of some legal mumbo jumbo).

It goes without saying that Palin's labeling of Barack Obama as a Marxist, terrorist, political operative etc. lacks evidence (to put it lightly, others would call it a lie and they wouldn't be wrong). Imagine what would happen if Sen. Obama said at a rally: "John McCain is an alien sent from Mars to infiltrate the highest level of U.S. government so he can send information back to his home planet about the space program to help them plan an invasion of Earth. Additionally, Cindy McCain is actually Ursula from The Little Mermaid."

Surely, every single journalist in the world would disprove it in a matter of seconds. The front page of every newspaper would be "Barack Obama Lies at Rally." This would then be followed by 24 hour news anchors bringing on UFO experts (if there is such a thing), NASA officials, scientists, historians, and a plethera of other experts onto their shows saying the words: "Barack Obama lied (accept about Mrs. McCain, the jury is still out on that one)."

However, Palin is doing essentially the same thing. She is making false claims about Barack Obama without held accountable for her lies. After getting an immunity card from the media (or whatever they gave her that has made her infallible), she had the nerve to claim that the media is being too critical of her.

The way I look at it, Sarah Palin is one of two things: dumb enough to not understand the first amendment of the constitution (which is really easy to find, its at the top of this list!), or smart enough to know that most of her supporters are too dumb to even spell constitution. In my oh so very humble opinion, its probably the first. (that is not to say, however, that the second half of the second possibility is false.)

Read the amendments of the constitution here; I think we could all use a refresher course.


Snazel said...

Sarah's point was, if the media attack her comments in a way that suggests any challenge to Obama is racist, that this would stifle criticism because people would be afraid to be tagged as racist.

It is a weak argument however, because her comments have largely been critisized for being inaccurate, exaggerated, and not racist.

It was also hypocritical. Her refusal to do a single press conference, her "blame-mongering" of mainstream media when she stumbled over obvious questions, her ridiculous accusation that the question "what newspapers do you read" was somehow "gotcha journalism", took away any credibility from her argument.

What is promising about the current election (if the polls turn out to be right), is the electorate are demanding more from politicians than distraction, division and patriotic fervor.

The lesson of 2008 just might be: You have to deliver substance, not style or the people won't vote you in.

If that turns out to be the lesson of this election, then it might be the start of some genuine progress in this country.

Anonymous said...

Its great to see some well reasoned commentary on this topic by a humble college science student. But its too bad the topic of this serious critique is such an unserious, uninformed, incurious person.

An interesting - even shocking - related issue is why this ethically challenged governor became such an overnight celebrity beloved apparently by millions of Americans. It is enough to call into question the electorates understanding of what it takes to be an effective President.