Social Question

augustlan's avatar

Should lying in politics be illegal?

Asked by augustlan (47720points) August 30th, 2012

Politicians have probably lied to us from the very beginning, but lately it seems to be an epidemic. You know it’s bad when Fox News calls out Ryan for lying. From the article:

” anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.”

I’m sure there are some Democrats lying, too.

I understand that prohibiting lying in a speech would probably run afoul of the first amendment, but how about in political ads? No other advertisers are permitted to outright lie, so why are politicians exempt from that standard? Should/could the ads be vetted by independent fact checkers before being aired or printed?

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93 Answers

phaedryx's avatar

I think the problem would be pinning down what exactly a lie is and holding a politician to it.

When pressed most politicians will just claim they accidentally misspoke or were misinformed. They don’t mean to intentionally lie to people, and they are very sorry. Those ads were by a PAC that they don’t control.~

zenvelo's avatar

The problem is nuance. Politicians are excellent in altering the intensity of a statement to make what they are saying minimally accurate but sure to win supporters.

woodcutter's avatar

Sure and while we are at it make lying in advertising a felony too, which is pretty much the same thing. It’s hard to prove a lie in politics because they are the best in the business. The truth is, liars win big in pretty much any situation you want look at. Same thing as stealing. Stealing peoples trust that was undeserved. So we have to do counter BS reasoning which is trial and error sometimes and then it gets easier to not trust any of them, which is the situation we find ourselves in.

sinscriven's avatar

It should be illegal, but sadly Akre v. WTVT gave Fox the legal protection to lie to the public.

There’s factchecking going on like crazy, but when Republicans are not willing to listen just so they can spite Obama, it’s all for naught.

This one guy counted how many times Romney has lied in the past 30 weeks: 533 times.

cheebdragon's avatar

There are always ways around the truth…

DigitalBlue's avatar

It would be nice, but I don’t think it is possible. I am so jaded about politics, anymore, I really think that everything they say (all of them) is complete garbage. It’s a circus.

abundantlife's avatar

Apparently its not. I think if someone speak the truth then it should be banned.

bookish1's avatar

Wow, GQ, @augustlan… I had no idea that Fox news called him out O_O
But politicians never lie… they just “misspeak.”

Cruiser's avatar

Newt Gingrich summed this up the other day when he said…“the Democrats are much better at lying than we are at telling the truth”.

What I would LIKE to see done is some sort of penalty levied to news and media outlets who reprint or broadcast misinformation. Stop this crap at the source!

zenvelo's avatar

The classic denial of telling a lie was Gingrich last winter:

“The Georgia Republican is worried that opponents might use those words against him or the Republican Party.

“Any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood,” he told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Tuesday.

josie's avatar

Politicians lie because there are just enough morons who believe them. Rather than apply one more regulation and incur the bureaucratic expense, why not just get smart as a voter?

glacial's avatar

I wish it were possible to make lying illegal for politicians, but I wish even more that the public could be counted on to punish the liars by not voting for them. We need a populace that is better informed and more engaged with the process – that would have the added benefit of taking power away from all that money spent on ad campaigns.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Just make it legal to kill whoever is in charge. If you don’t like the lies, shoot the prick and provoke a new election.

bkcunningham's avatar

Sally Kohn’s piece isn’t a news article. It is an opinion piece. I can find another “opinion” piece that will tout everything Ryan said as fact. You can form your own educated opinions by researching and studying the facts.

tom_g's avatar

If we had a functioning media, this wouldn’t be an issue. What value does the major media provide that individual candidates’ blogs can’t? In my opinion, if journalism has any business existing, it should serve as the adversarial, fact-checking body that does not just quote politicians.

glacial's avatar

@bkcunningham Did you actually read the article? Kohn backs up everything she says with embedded links to Politifact or relevant news articles.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham why don’t you tell us exactly what “facts” you think the article misses.

@tom_g, I don’t htink you should paint “the media” with such a broad brush. A lot of news outlets have been calling bullshit this election, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien has been surprisingly adversarial. And then there are numerous fact-checking organizations like Politifact. They aren’t perfect, they’re often inconsistent, but they provide a huge public service and they keep track of a lot of data.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Illegal, probably not, statistics are too easily manipulated and “plausible deniability” too readily invoked and accepted. However live, professionally led, mandatory public inquisitions backed by transparent fact checking would be nice.

It’s always bothered me that politicians (and supreme court justices) get a free pass on so many questions (yeah, if you press the politicians they won’t come back to your show, excuse me for thinking clear knowledge of political leaders is more important than your ratings). Statements such as “those are the numbers my staff gave me” or “I misspoke” are so consistently used and easily accepted. If you can’t rely on the people you’ve surrounded yourself with and can’t communicate clearly about critical subjects without being misunderstood at every turn what does that say about you and your capacity to be effective in office?

elbanditoroso's avatar

It’s a non-arrestable offense. If we didn’t have lying, we wouldn’t have politics. In fact we would barely have government at all. Politicians are born with the lying gene in their veins.

But there’s a more practical question: Who would decide what is a “lie”? Are those people to be trusted?

ucme's avatar

Same as it ever was…....watching the days go by.
Well, they’re just talking heads anyway.

Cruiser's avatar

@Mama_Cakes PERFECT example of how blogs and the media only exacerbate this problem by attacking supposed falsehoods with more half truths of their own and attempting to sell it as gospel.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Did you check out the links to other sites? They weren’t all blogs.

Cruiser's avatar

@Mama_Cakes Yes I did hence my comment. IMO their half truth retorts were worse than what they accused Mit of lying about. I got bored real quick and only made it to VII.

ninja_man's avatar

Here I thought politics was a contest to see who can lie the best!

Qingu's avatar

Part of the problem is that it’s sometimes hard to tell if someone is “lying” as opposed to just saying something that isn’t true.

We all say things that aren’t true. Every day, probably. We report facts we think are true but aren’t. We misstate figures. We come to the wrong conclusions from available data. In the heat of an argument, we may ignore counterevidence, or state something too strongly or without proper caveats. There’s nothing morally wrong with doing this—humans, including politicians, are fallible.

Lying, on the other hand, is when you say something that you know is false, as if it were true. And I think it’s rather obvious that Romney and Republicans do this a lot. Romney is not an idiot. He knows that Obama is not dropping the work requirement for welfare—and yet he repeatedly says this in attack ads and through spokespeople. Romney knows that Obama never went on an “apology tour,” but it’s part of many of his speeches. Romney knows Obama is not “ending Medicare,” that the $700 billion in question involves lowering payments over 10 years rather than actually changing benefits—yet he deliberately portrays it as something it is not. Romney knows Obamacare is not a “government takeover” of health care, since it’s identical to his own damn health program in Massachusetts, and yet he said it was.

And both sides are not equal. Republicans lie much more than Democrats.

Qingu's avatar

And I have to say, to all the people who are patting themselves on the back for pointing out the great insight that “politicians lie all the time lol” — stop being lazy. Spend some time and effort figuring out which politicians are more trustworthy, and which politicians are more dishonest.

Any idiot can make a generalization about a profession. “All businessmen are greedy!” “All lawyers are liars!” In real life, however, these professions are very important to our society, for better or worse. So it seems worth our time to figure out which people in these professions are actually trying to make them better.

gailcalled's avatar

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Pandora's avatar

If only. I just wish that, liar, liar pants on fire would truly happen. Unfortunately, lying seems to be a skill that is needed in politics to get what you want. Just imagine how that would work out with foreign politics. We would be so screwed. LOL
But out of respect for voters and the nation one represents, you would hope that they were not so easy to lie to us all. If they truly wanted the best for this country than they should first start with being the best person they could be. For me personally, I could never do it. I could never lie to a whole nation and win because of my lies. I wouldn’t feel like a won a thing. Except the title of best liar. I wish I could see future historian views of our politicians today. I hope time improves future officials.

glacial's avatar

@Pandora This is what I find so incredible… the Republican Party of the past few years seems very determined to run on specific ideals that they have no intention of upholding. A perfect example of this is their insistence that they will “keep Medicare safe”, when their plans are to dismantle/deregulate/privatize Medicare and Social Security, which is exactly what voters do not want. If Republicans were perfectly honest about their intentions towards these programs, Americans could make informed choices based on policy.

What is the point of seeking such a high office if they don’t plan to represent the wishes of the voters? It seems to me that the job is too much hard work for it to be entirely for financial gain. I feel that rather, it must be that they think voters don’t know what’s good for them – but if they lie to get elected, they can promote their own agenda, to the betterment of the American people. Perhaps in some twisted way this is noble, but it is not democracy.

Qingu's avatar

@glacial, I think the answer has to do with how cults function. The Republican party is basically a cult. It’s an insular fact-free world that demands allegiance from its members and adherence to a bizarre worldview.

And just like religious cults, some Republican leaders must know what they’re peddling is bullshit, and some have bought their own bullshit. I think the interesting cases are the people where both things happen at once. Cognitive dissonance and compartamentalization is very common, especially among religious people (I am reminded of something I read once about Saudi Arabian fanatics, how they’d sit at home and surf pro-al-Qaeda sites for one hour and then look at porn for the next hour).

I actually think, on a psychological level, this is why Republicans tend to be so invested in the idea of “faith” and opposed to scientific, evidence-based inquiry. If it’s okay to believe things for no reason, and if scientific evidence and facts can safely be ignored, then it suddenly becomes easier to believe your own bullshit that you’re trying to sell—so you don’t have to feel like a dirty liar all the time. Full-on corruption doesn’t even have to enter into it necessarily. It’s just a psychological need. Though I’m sure a lot of Republicans just are corrupt bastards.

augustlan's avatar

@bkcunningham Yes, I’m aware that it’s an opinion piece, but Fox has a history of quashing opinions that they don’t approve of. Just the fact that they let it stand is impressive.

@all I know we’ll never stop people from lying, but hey, a girl can dream! Mostly what interests me is that a company can be nailed for false advertising (fined, I think?), but political campaigns get away with a huge amount of lying in their advertising. I just don’t see why we couldn’t hold them to the same standards as a commercial venture. Especially since ‘corporations are people’ these days.

sinscriven's avatar

@augustlan : Foxnews has a history of hiring liberal commentators to appear on the network. To falsify the sense of neutrality; However, they’re often lesser known people who are weak at writing and/or arguing positions and their prime purpose is to be the punching bag that gets steamrolled by the conservatives.

Kohn’s opinion piece is not strongly written because it doesn’t sound convincing. it sounds like whining and lashing. That’s why it’s published. “LOL look at this liberal idiot.”

Pazza's avatar

Yes. But only if it is the public’s interest.
And if its a big whoppa.
Not like a little white one, like, oh, my birth certificate, yes, well, erm, you see, I miss placed it!?!
(can I say little white lie? or is that racist?)

glacial's avatar

@Pazza Ummm… you get that he has produced the birth certificate repeatedly, right?

Pazza's avatar

Doesn’t lying in politics come under some sort of ‘false advertising’ legislation?
@glacial – Which fake birth certificate are we talking about?

glacial's avatar

Oh right – I forgot that being from Hawaii made someone foreign. My bad. Continue with your clearly well-founded suspicions.

Of course, Mitt’s great-grandfather moved to Mexico so that he could keep multiple wives. Nothing suspicious about Mitt’s citizenship then. Nope, nothing at all. And of course, Mitt was famously caught lying about where he lived so he could run for governor… no reason for suspicion there, either.

But the black guy… yeah, he must not be an American. We need proof. And we won’t believe it when we see it, either.

Pazza's avatar

@glacial – Actually, I think that the birther issue is a bit redundant. Please see Vid below.
Bummer… I can’t find it now. Anyhoo, I saw a video where this guy stated that in the US land, the constitution states that to be a legitimate president, both parents need to be us citizens, or the candidate must be a natural born citizen. Obama’s farther was Kenyan, thus, only one of his parents was a US citizen at the time of his birth (or something along those lines)

Also –
Also – ever heard the expression, 2 wrongs don’t make a right?
Also – You haven’t addressed my previous sarcasm about the fake birth certificate.
Also – I think a sheriff’s posse sent to investigate the matter that came to the conclusion that the birth certificate was most likely fate should be investigated further (even if the sheriff in question did it out of political gains) or did you miss that episode?

wundayatta's avatar

I do not think it is unfair to say that politicians are slanting their descriptions and omitting mitigating facts quite deliberately to make their arguments have a greater impact. Is this lying? Well, perhaps in normal conversation, but this is politics. This is what is done.

We all know it. We all know the politicians are “lying.” And they know we know. So if we all know, is it really lying?

I say caveat emptor. Are you stupid enough to believe a politician of this ilk or that? Are you stupid enough to believe their lies? If you are, then vote for the asshole. That’s how Bush II and Reagan and so many others got elected.

It is our job, as concerned citizens, to educate people so they are not taken in by the lies. If we can’t keep people from believing Romney’s lies, and he gets elected, then clearly the people wanted to be fooled and wanted to give away more of their income to the rich, and wanted to economy to founder even more than it already is. If there are enough people foolish enough to believe Romney’s pretty words, then I’m sorry, but we as a society deserve what happens. And believe you me, it will not be pretty. You thought Bush II was bad, but Romney will make him look like a child playing in a sandbox in terms of the damage he will do to this country.

The problem is, the real discussions about why Romney is so bad take a long time to spell out. More than most people have to spend. Indeed, the real discussions don’t matter, because most of us have already made up our minds. It is only the few, truly undecided, who might change their points of view, and it’s not clear what they are looking at.

What I fear is that since they are still undecided, it must mean that they haven’t been paying attention, or they don’t understand. So all they may want is the slogans and the lies. They won’t listen to a serious discussion. They are getting desperate for answers, but they want simple ones, and those really don’t exist.

So the politicians craft their words in terms of catch phrases that make emotional appeals instead of substantive appeals. Apparently, this works. It is human nature.

If we outlawed lies, we’d be outlawing humanity, and that is plain silly. It can’t be done. People “lie” because that is how information is transferred these days. That is how we argue. And, believe it or not, that is what is persuasive. We respond to these cries from the heart. Like it or not. That’s human nature. That’s why “lies” work, and that’s why we can’t outlaw them.

Pazza's avatar

If its not lying, could it be considered propaganda?
Propaganda definition:
Information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

Pazza's avatar

@glacial – Interesting video: – The natural born clause
(probably nullifies the first part of my last post to you.)

But the birth certificate is still fake lol.
(I laugh out loud…. but its not really funny…. Its DAMB SCARY!)

glacial's avatar

@Pazza I am going to take your avatar at face value, and assume you are kidding. This isn’t a topic that I think warrants serious discussion.

wundayatta's avatar

Oh yes. @Pazza. Very much propaganda.

Pazza's avatar

@wundayatta – And that’s exactly why your country is in the state it is right now.
Because a presidential run is perceived as a game where 1 team must win over the other, and making sure you pick the winning team is paramount.

But hey-ho, most of the people in England where I live are also ignorant apathetic sheeple too.

So if you can’t laugh about it….. what can you do?.

wundayatta's avatar

@Pazza I don’t want to pick the winning team. I want the winning team to be my team. I’m not a passive bystander in all this. It matters very much that my team wins the election because if it doesn’t, my country will be in for four years of rapidly sinking prospects, likely wars, and an idiot in office who has no real clue (Romney).

GracieT's avatar

@wundayatta, the US with a Romney in the WhiteHouse is a horror I’m terrified to see!

Cruiser's avatar

@GracieT Cam you articulate just how and why Romney will be any worse and “horrifying” than what Obama has done to our country the last almost 4 years?? Really, how can it get any worse? Please do tell.

GracieT's avatar

One of my first reasons is our reputation in the world. We were a laughingstock when GWB was president, and it would be worse with Romney. We would lose the cooperation and respect of most of the rest of the world, and at a time when the world is becoming smaller and more connected that wouldn’t work. He wouldn’t push for any environmental issues, arguing instead that we can’t prove any of them, so why should we care. I know that Obama hasn’t done much environmentally, but at least he doesn’t argue that we don’t have any effect on the environment. Things such as the auto bailout wouldn’t have happened, lets face it- I don’t think he has any idea how to improve our situation. We aren’t all born with silver spoons in our mouth and so we don’t all have Bain Capitol on our sides. And worse of all, with Paul Ryan as VP, chances are good we would have a repeat of Dick Cheney, a back seat driver.

Cruiser's avatar

@GracieT You pretty much did a nice summary of the last 3.5 years of Obama’s international efforts and no way anyone could muck up our international relationships more than Obama. Ever think of why we don’t see much of Hilary?? She is so busy overseas trying to repair all the F-ups Barack makes. BTW Internationally we had great street cred with GWB not sure where you got your intel.

wundayatta's avatar

I’d be interested in hearing what you think are fuck-ups, @Cruiser. To me, we have had the most successful foreign policy under Obama compared to any in the last fifty years. This team knows how to avoid war, and is extracting us from the stupid wars that Bush II got us into. But I truly admire the way they have handled everything else in the world, so far. They know how to talk and use sanctions instead of going to war.

glacial's avatar

@Cruiser You can’t be serious! There’s a reason Obama got a Nobel peace prize as soon as he took office – it was basically the rest of the planet thanking the US for not electing another Bush.

augustlan's avatar

@Cruiser Romney would push human rights issues back decades. Outlaw abortion in all cases, outlaw gay marriage. Those two things alone are enough to make me afraid of a Romney presidency. Not to mention his economic policies.

Cruiser's avatar

@wundayatta Merely avoiding war is a pacifist approach to world peace and in no way a measurement of success. Last time I checked Iran is still producing high-grade enriched uranium and our diplomats under the direction of Obama are doing SQUAT to stop it. Obama has our American tails between our legs because he doesn’t have the balls to stand up to Russia and China by validating our support to Israel who is key to keeping Iran in check. Iran is thumbing their noses at us because they know Obama is a pacifist and won’t risk his re-election hopes by taking a stand militarily.

Cruiser's avatar

@augustlan That is a knee jerk reaction to a man who possesses Mormon mores and principals. I have yet to see a President who has not adapted to the moral demands of his county and would be genuinely surprised if Romney would not ultimately embrace the necessity of abortion and gay rights as President of this great nation.

augustlan's avatar

@Cruiser Honestly, it has nothing to do with his Mormon faith, and everything to do with far right Republican ideals.

“Republicans emphatically approved a toughly worded party platform at their national convention Tuesday that would ban all abortions and gay marriages, reshape Medicare into a voucher-like program and cut taxes to energize the economy and create jobs.”


glacial's avatar

John Oliver was brilliant on this topic on The Daily Show a few nights ago, explaining the true meaning of We can change it. Oliver’s piece starts at 7:15.

Cruiser's avatar

@augustlan I really thought you were smarter than that! Please show me where he is demanding this ban all abortions?? I just scanned his entire website and no where does he say he wants to do this. He does say he wants to stop all Federal Funding of abortions and Planned Parentlhood…that is not banning abortion it is simply a desire to stop putting the Federal Government in the role of playing God over life or death and putting this back firmly in the hands of the States. IMHO I think he has this one right. Abortion is a personal decision and one the Federal Government should have no business in what so ever.
Did you even read your source??? It doesn’t use the word ban…

“The party states that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” It opposes using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or to fund organizations that perform or advocate abortions. It says the party will not fund or subsidize health care that includes abortion coverage.”

And further Mits site says this…

“Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view. But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.”

It’s all about funding and the use of Federal Tax Dollars and is preserving both topics to be up to the states to decide yay or nay.

SaveTheRhinos's avatar

What did he specifically lie about? The inaccuracies in so many statements above is astounding. A lot of you guys needs to do some fact checking. Obama lies all the time, is never called on it. lol

augustlan's avatar

@Cruiser Have you read the platform? I have.

@SaveTheRhinos Care to site some?

Cruiser's avatar

Yes @augustlan I cut pasted my quote from Mits website that lists said platform concerning abortion and marriage and no where does it say he favors a ban on abortion and again neither did your link. His platform is crystal clear that he supports ending Federal funding of abortions. In case you don’t know, Planned Parenthood only gets 35% of their funding from the Government and it should be no problem for them to fill in the funding gap from people who favor the programs of Planned Parenthood. PLUS we now have health care for all that should pay for these procedures as it is. Why should tax payers be on the hook twice to pay for abortions?

woodcutter's avatar

@Cruiser because deep down inside they really don’t have much faith in O C to help much with any guarantees. I don’t

Cruiser's avatar

@woodcutter No the reality is using insurance requires claims and paperwork to get an abortion. Many woman using PP actually have health insurance but using Planned Parenthood service is much more discreet.

Qingu's avatar


“Last time I checked Iran is still producing high-grade enriched uranium and our diplomats under the direction of Obama are doing SQUAT to stop it.”

Right, squat. Except for the Flame virus, Stuxnet, which knocked off the centrifuges and delayed the program for a year or more. He’s assembled by far the most effective sanctions ever imposed on Iran. And he has succeeded in marginalizing the Iranian regime politically through deftly navigating the Arab Spring.

Why don’t you tell us what you’d do in his place, genius. Airstrikes on Iran? Come out and say it if you want it to happen.

wundayatta's avatar

@Qingu I don’t think @Cruiser has been paying attention. The Obama administration, as you have pointed out (thank you for that), has been far more creative and effective than any previous administration in this area. Yet folks like @Cruiser probably don’t even know these actions have occurred.

Like you say, they want air strikes or else they think nothing is happening. I say we look at what is happening. Are we at war? No. Then this is the sign of successful foreign policy. But so many Republicans seem to think only violence counts as good foreign policy, and that is why we can’t afford to elect them.

Mitt is a saber rattler. It’s a moronic approach to foreign policy. Walk softly and carry a big stick. Don’t be warning people all the time about what you have, in terms of power. Talk to them. Lull them. COnvince them they are safe. And if they still behave badly, and it is time to hid them, then hit them hard, fast, and unexpectedly and make sure they can’t hit back.

But if you do your job well, you never have to hit at all.

Qingu's avatar

@wundayatta, if Republicans just wanted airstrikes against Iran, that would be one thing. That’s a concrete policy proposal. You don’t think Iran should have nukes, you don’t see any other option, so you say we should blow up the centrifuges—fine. We can have that debate.

But that’s not even what Republicans are saying. They’re not proposing airstrikes. They’re not proposing anything. We’ve heard Mitt Romney say repeatedly that if he is president, Iran won’t get a nuke. How, you ask? Well who fucking knows.

It’s the same shit with the economy. Republicans point to the terrible economy and then point at Obama. Romney promises that things will get better if he’s president. How? Who fucking knows! They’ll do the same things Bush did and somehow that will make things better. They’ll do something about the US debt, too—the numbers on their plans don’t add up of course, but trust us, they’ll have more details when they get elected. And they’ll improve health care and save Medicare… somehow.

“Look at all of these problems Americans face! Obama hasn’t magically solved them all. Isn’t that disappointing? So vote for us… we will use magic to solve them all!”

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu and @wundayatta FYI the last thing I want is more bloodshed, but I do not want to see our country abandon the one strategy that has worked to keep the bloodlust in check in the middle east and that is to support Israel and put the heat on a clearly brazen and arrogant Iran who is essentially telling our President who would rather bow to our enemies than do what a real President with balls would do to press sanctions despite Russian and Chinese pressures to leave Iran to process uranium at will.

What Obama is clearly missing is you can’t play nice with everyone and you HAVE to take a stand for the principals of freedom and Democracy that we stand for.

Qingu's avatar

@Cruiser, so your plan for Iran is:

1. Support Israel
2. Put the heat on Iran
3. Press sanctions
4. Have “balls” and “stand up for freedom.”

Wow, what a great and specific plan! Sounds like it could work! Except I’m confused because I’m pretty sure we’ve been doing this exact plan for four years. I mean Obama’s admin jointly developed cyberweapons with Israel that took out Iran’s nuclear reactors and has expressed unconditional support for Israel in statements to Iran. Obama has marginlized Iran in the middle east; Iran’s leaders only ally in the region now is the failing regime of Syria. Obama has, as I pointed out, assembled the worst sanctions in history against Iran—despite pressure from Russia and China.

And I’m not sure what you mean by “standing up for freedom” but I seem to recall Obama giving a speech in Cairo after his inauguration where he urged Arab people to turn a new page and seek out freedoms… and then a few months later the Green Revolution in Iran happened.

Maybe you wanted Obama to “have balls” and “stand up for freedom” by bombing Iran during the Green Revolution? Oh, but you just said you didn’t want bloodshed. Not to mention it would be completely counterproductive in various ways since Mousavi’s supporters (1) explicitly didn’t want America to get involved and (2) want nukes more than Ahmadinejad’s. Are you saying that Obama should not only team up with Israel on cyberwarfare, but also team up on Israel’s (apparently unilateral) assassination campaign against Iranian nuclear scientists? But you said you didn’t want bloodshed. Now I’m just confused!

In any case I’m sure you’ll enlighten us with further details about how Obama should have solved the troublesome Iranian problem. Or, alternatively, and this is just a suggestion, maybe you should just admit you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about and you have no credible alternative to Obama’s Iran policy?

augustlan's avatar

@Cruiser The source I posted specifically does say “ban”, since I copy/pasted what I posted in quotes, above. What the platform says on abortion is about more than just funding. The part that sure as hell looks like they’d aim for a ban (to me and many, many news sources) is this: “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

Cruiser's avatar

Come on @augustlan Your source is the Huff Post who is beholden to advertisers and Obama’s liberal agenda and the fact they use the word ban does not make it so. I quoted TWO legitimate sources one being Romeny’s official platform and again there is no ban word used or even implied. Ban and outlaw are your words and you are free to say what you please but again just will not make it fact or true. So have at it you are free to promulgate more misinformation and lies, I won’t get in you way on this issue after this.

I wholeheartedly agree that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” and that flies to the heart of this debate in that no where in the constitution does it say that the Federal Government should play God by funding abortions. That is an individual decision that is protected by our Constitution but no where does it say that tax payers need to pay for it. That is what health insurance is for that we are now providing to everyone. So honestly where is the problem @augustlan??

Qingu's avatar

@Cruiser I wholeheartedly agree that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

So it follows that if someone kills an unborn child, they should be charged with murder. Right? Or am I missing something here?

Pazza's avatar

Mitt Romney Blatantly Lies About Olympics Funding
Do I think you should vote Obama…........ errrrrrrr, nooooo.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu Let’s a more intelligent question….Why is infanticide morally wrong (if you believe that to be the case) and abortion not immoral?

GracieT's avatar

I am not @Qingu, but I do have a feeling about this. Infanticide is morally wrong because it is talking a life. Abortion is not something I believe is immorally wrong if it is done early simply because unlike with infanticide, it is not a person. I wouldn’t choose to have an abortion myself, and I wish it never happened, but I respect the right of other women to choose. If we ever went back to abortion being illegal it would not stop abortions, it would simply lead to more women dying from “back alley” abortions. Even worse would be the abuse and neglect of the kids that women would be forced to have.

Pazza's avatar

@GracieT Agree with you about back street abortions, but not when you look at the numbers. I’m pretty sure the number of legal abortions makes back street ones, well it would probably be the same as comparing a mountain to a mole hill (purely an uneducated guess mind).

As for supporting women’s right to choose, I just wondered where this right came from?
It must be a legislated one, because it definitely wouldn’t be covered under natural law?
And I’m pretty sure its not a God given one.

Having said that, I’m not stupid, it’s a really complicated issue, and I also agree that there is a high probability that a child is not conscious until a particular stage of gestation, so, just my opinion, medical science should agree a stage and draw a line that says abortion up to this point, then I’m afraid your going to have to keep the child, or put them up for adoption.

Now of course your saying to yourself, well that’s the case now, and in the UK 2 doctors have to approve the abortion, but in the UK you can have one up to 24 weeks, and the baby in this link was born and survived, and was clearly conscious and sentient at 23 weeks. So again, just my opinion, but I think the point that you can have an abortion needs to be seriously looked at.

I have a friend who works in pediatrics who told me a story of a works colleague that used to work in an abortion clinic, who told my friend that aborted babies were routinely left in trays etc. until they passed away before being discarded.

I also think that a farther has just as much right to a child, for instance, governments are quite happy to force fathers to pay for a child they don’t want anything to do with, or do, but just don’t live with but still have to pay, but when a woman says I don’t want the child the father has no say? Double standards me thinks.

As for abuse and neglect, if we didn’t have a government that borrowed money from evil banksters using a fractional reserve fiat monetary system, there would be a shit load more money to look after these children, plus the people of a country would be far better off financially and would probably think very long and hard as to whether they could justify abortion.

So that would just leave severely disabled children, which, with a wealthy economy, I’m pretty sure before long, there could be a national screening program for all expectant mothers to utilise to screen for wonky genes and or abnormalities.

Anyway, that’s my 2 pennies worth on abortion.

Cruiser's avatar

@Pazza We have a highly contested Supreme Court Ruling called Roe V Wade that decision defined “viable” as being “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid”, adding that viability “is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”[2]

Pazza's avatar

Holy shit….. am I reading that right?
Are you saying that the court ruling argued that if a child was born and couldn’t survive outside the womb without the aid of say an incubator, that that child would not be considered viable, and therefore abortions up to 28 weeks should be permitted?

Cruiser's avatar

@Pazza They broke out certain aspects of types of abortions based on trimesters. I am pretty burnt out on this one….you can read the wiki version here

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Response moderated (Personal Attack)
GracieT's avatar

@Pazza, the father does have rights, but it is the mother whom is stuck with
a. carrying the baby within their body for 9 months,
B. providing for the child if the father does choose to deny parentage.

The father does get the “short end of the stick” who it comes to having a child, but the mother cannot walk away. The father is the only one who has this right. I do agree with the push for adoption, but I refuse to badger the women who is pregnant. I don’t know the amount , but the number of women who use abortion as a form of birth control must be small. It has to be a decision that cannot be easy to make.

Pazza's avatar

My personal opinion:
The farther should have the same rights as the mother.
The mother can walk away:
A – from being pregnant via abortion
B – by giving the child away

Individuals come in two main brands:
A – the female brand (capable of incubating a child and giving birth)
B – the male brand (not capable of incubating a child and giving birth)

The individuals who are in the male category do tend to see sex as an enjoyable pastime, 1 because these particular individuals can’t get pregnant (thus don’t have to worry about it) and 2, because they are genetically programmed (on average) to be horny a LOT MORE FREQUENTLY than the individuals who happen to be in the female category.

I abandoned a long time ago the dichotomous notion of male and female, there are no men and no women, there are only sentient beings who happen to be born either male gendered or female gendered.

I also feel as an individual who cannot incubate a child and give birth, that being able to do so is the highest privilege nature ever bestowed on humanity. Individuals who can have children get to feel a life growing inside them, get to nurture the child via breastfeeding, and gain a bond with the child that the male gendered individuals will never be able to understand. So I’m very envious of my wife because she is able to feel something that I never will.

And I agree whole heartedly that pregnant individuals should not be badgered, they should be supported by their families and their friends and their peers so that any decision they came to would be for the right reasons, and not through fear of abandonment or financial hardship or stigmatization.

If communities were wholely supportive of people bearing children then abortion would never have arisen. But unfortunately society as a whole is generally separatist in attitude. Most of the time ‘it’s just not my problem’.

Pazza's avatar

Just had another thought.
At the very least, before any termination takes place, the unborn child should be an anaesthetised.

Pazza's avatar

Where possible that is…....

Qingu's avatar

@Pazza, why would you anaesthize something without a brain?

Pazza's avatar

I should have expanded on my last comment…..
“Where possible that is, and after the CNS has formed…...” ;0)

Where possible meaning, when the unborn child is large enough to be viewed by ultrasound and an artery can be injected, also suggesting that a heart beat is required.

At the end of the day, like I previously posted, a point of development where consious awareness is established, and pain is assumed to be felt needs to be agreed, 24 weeks is clearly to late to be giving abortions if you have empathy for an unborn child that is to be terminated (I mean come on, they call it a TERMINATION for fucks sake!..... As requested madam, your child has been terminated!).

Also, I’m assuming a lot of the people who agree with abortion have probably cried over a pet that they had put down. I bet they never hacked it up with a machete and hovered it into a plastic bag?

So again, at the very least I personally feel (just my opinion mind) as an empathetic sentient farther of 4 children, that at the very least, pending a change in legislation, that any child targeted for termination should have the most humain death that medical science can provide.


wundayatta's avatar

Conscious awareness? What’s that? When does it happen?

Seems to me that consciousness requires memory, and most people don’t seem to be able to form long term memories until they are at 4 years old. Three years old at the very least.

augustlan's avatar

Here’s a petition you can sign calling for political ads to be fact checked!

Qingu's avatar

@Pazza, I’m fine with limiting abortions in the third trimester, when the central nervous system actually starts developing in earnest. Not banning abortions, but there should be more stringent limits.

But there are very few abortions in the third trimester. Most people have abortions early in the pregnancy. When the fetus has no brain. And I find it incredibly stupid and sickening that so many people attach moral significance to the termination of a thing without a brain. Would you agree with this sentiment?

Pazza's avatar

@Qingu – without a brain – yes.
Extreme retardation or severely disabled – yes.
I can’t afford one – no.
I’m too young – no.
I already have 5 – no.
I left it three months because I was too scared to tell anyone – no.
Well, its the fetus or the dog! – no.
My husband just left me – no.
I’ll loose my job – no.
I don’t want stretch marks – no.
I’ll be stigmatized by my peers – no.
I’m white, and its going to come out black – no.
I’m black and…. well, you get the picture.
I already have 2 boys, and I really wanted a girl – no
I already have 2 girls and…. well you get the picture.

I’m just weighing up the pro’s & con’s here…......

Like I said, I’m not naive, I know it can be a really complicated issue, I just feel the boundaries are way too wide.

Rightly or wrongly, I stand by my view.

I’ve been in the position myself, I already had 3 children, I was scared shitless, and I’m so-so glad I didn’t push the issue with my wife.

My daughter Jessica is 4 on the 10th of October and life without her would mean the end of my happiness.

I lost my eldest brother just over a year ago, he was born spina-bifida, he died of septicemia aged 40 years. My mum spent 40 years looking after him as did my dad, I cannot imagine how its feels as a parent to loose a child, parents should never outlive their children.

I’m not having a go at you, but I feel the term ‘thing’ reflects on your persona, you could argue that all fetuses should be given the title ‘parasite’ as modern society rears children to act as parasites to their parents until late adulthood, yet I do not consider any of my children parasites, unconditional love prevents me from seeing them as such, maybe that’s a electro-chemical thing due to the wiring in my head fed by evolution and the survival of the species, or maybe (perish the thought) a spiritual thing.

I’m waffling on now.
Did I answer your question?

Pazza's avatar

“Seems to me that consciousness requires memory, and most people don’t seem to be able to form long term memories until they are at 4 years old. Three years old at the very least.”

If I took that view, then I would have to consider aborting adults with dementia aswel.

Also I don’t agree that conscious awareness requires memory since some people don’t have the capacity to form and retain new memories after a particular head injury, unless your suggesting that their conscious awareness is the accumulation of the memories they have already acquired? That sounds like a eugenicists first argument for euthanasia -

‘well doctor, the child was born without the capacity to form memories and was severely retarded and required 24 hour care, unfortunately the mother passed away and none of the family members want to take on the responsibility of the child, and with the current economic down-turn, the sate simply doesn’t have the funds to look after the child, therefore it is with regret that I would ask your to sign the appropriate forms so that we can move forward and euthanize the child in question…...’

(still can’t figure out whether you were advocating abortion up to and including 4 years, or if you were pointing out the absurdity of using a memory argument?)

Qingu's avatar

@Pazza, I think you may have unwittingly agreed with my argument.

You are okay with aborting fetuses that do not have brains, yes? Well no first or second trimester fetus has a brain. This is when the vast majority of abortions take place.

So, would you be okay with a woman having an abortion in her second trimester because (insert trivial reason here)? I would.

As for killing comatose people with no hope of recovery, they are wards of their relatives or loved ones. That decision should be left up to them; it should be left up to the comatose person if they have made a living will. As for killing mentally retarded people, retarded people still have brains and can think and feel, so I find the comparison nonsensical; of course not.


I think a fundamental problem that many people have, when approaching the issue of abortion, is that the concept of emergence is difficult to comprehend intuitively. Consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. It comes into existence little by little, as the brain develops. And ultimately, our laws and morals are dependent on the idea that we are dealing with conscious entities; we can do whatever we want to trees and rocks and computers (for now).

It’s much easier if we pretend that something magical happens when sperm hits egg and a “soul” is implanted from above onto the blastula. But that’s simply not what happens. Reality is messier, and our morals should accomodate reality.

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