Viagra for Sex Offenders

I enjoyed this piece on NPR today.  It’s a little story on the many cookie-cutter ads being run by both parties in competitive races.  They’re using the term ‘cookie-cutter’ to refer to ads that repeat the same lines and tropes and just re-package them for each different race.

Anyway, they ran through some of the whoppers now being trotted out for voters’ delectation around the country.  One Democratic ad claims that Republican opponents are trying to privatize social security.  This is true because the Republican has argued that we have to find a way to reduce social security.  Another Republican ad says that the Democratic candidate supported millions of dollars of funding for research on exotic ants.  This is true because the Democrat voted for a funding bill, and a tiny fraction of the funding amount was given to a research institution that then decided to use it to research ants.

But the best one by far is the Republican claim that Harry Reid supports providing government funded Viagra to sex offenders and child molesters!  Did you know that?  Harry Reid wants sex offenders to have unlimited government-provided Viagra!  WHAT A MONSTER!  What!  Well, he supported government funding healthcare, which appears to include Viagra, and it’s theoretically possible that a sex offender could apply for these benefits.  So it’s totally true.  He should not only lose his seat, but should be ridden out of town on a rail.

Anyway, that’s just a little sampling for what passes for ‘truth’ these days.  The bigger question is why anyone would ever believe this stuff.  I’m imagining some guy listening to these ads and then conjuring an image of Harry Reid arguing passionately on the Senate floor for why our country’s working rapists desperately need the government to provide erectile dysfunction drugs for them.  Please, Harry, we need to resolve this country’s real issues before you go providing potency drugs to rapists.  Like, for one, let’s first figure out what effect Viagra would have on exotic ants.

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10 Responses to Viagra for Sex Offenders

  1. craftyashley says:

    Try living here in NV where every ad on TV, in the mail, and on the phone are just as crazy and ridiculous as the next. And then having to listen to all the conservative Mormons that are hell bent on getting Harry Reid out- no matter the expense. (ahem- Sharon Angle!) When asked what, exactly, is wrong with Harry Reid- they can’t give you anything solid or definitive. Frustrating!

  2. Ryan says:

    Uh, Ashley, did you not read the post? The man wants rapists to get free potency pills!!!! Nevadans are so weird.

  3. InkMom says:

    We’ve got our own hotly-contested political races on this side of the Mississippi, too, and I have a question for you, Mr. Legal Mind.

    At what point does a handful of misconstrued “facts” turn into outright libel, and has a political candidate ever been sued for defamation or . . . you know what I’m asking. I mean, “My name is Heath Shuler and I approve this message” should have something to do with responsible campaigning, but I guess it’s all just a means to an end. Is anyone ever held responsible for fabricating and/or perpetuating the subsequent spread of a juicy morsel of political heresy? Just curious, because if there were actual consequences besides getting elected (or not) we probably wouldn’t be seeing ads like this at all.

  4. Ryan says:

    I was thinking about the same thing on my morning drive today, InkMom. Unfortunately, there’s just plain not much of a remedy to stop this kind of thing. The most likely would be a defamation suit, when the untruth is told about a specific candidate. The problem is that courts consider freedom of speech to be most important when in the political arena, so a candidate who is defamed by another candidate has a much, much higher burden of proof than just a guy on the street that someone is telling lies about. The other problem is proving that the lie is a lie. Because these types of lines usually contain tiny nuggets of truth, it’s difficult to show that this truly was a defamatory statement.

    I was pondering about having some public entity that would regulate such speech, but that is definitely a horrible idea. Anything that would chill political speech is a slippery slope, and is almost always unconstitutional anyway. So the best we can is do organizations like Politifact (discussed in the NPR piece), which check facts and tell us who’s lying. And which no one, besides NPR, ever ever listens to. Great system.

  5. Jaron says:

    If I were running for office, I would make it a point to basically say the exact opposite of what I believe in the most outlandish and ridiculous wording possible any time I had to speak. I would then rely on my opponent to unwittingly use their party’s cable network to misconstrue and change my words around, ultimately arriving at a logical, well thought out statement of what my true intentions being broadcast in their adds for the “analytical” public to listen to… Or I would just hire Jack Black to make fun of the entire thing all together, as seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj4uBwpimjg, and also here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3C0S7yiv8&feature=related. Seems like a functional strategy…?

  6. Ryan says:

    Wow. Awesome links. Well done, Nathan Spewman.

  7. jo says:

    You all need to check this out. One of the more extreme examples I’ve ever seen.
    http://hotair.com/archives/2010/09/28/video-the-context-behind-graysons-despicable-taliban-dan-ad/

  8. Anna says:

    And this is why, though I majored in political science, I hate politics. Well US electoral politics. The fact that it’s all a big misinformation…lets see what stupid half truth people will believe fest….I choose apathy when it comes to elections. It’s the only way I can not be enraged constantly about it all.

  9. Christian says:

    Wow.

    I remember hearing the accusation that some Dem supported giving Viagra to pervs. I actually believed it. If the Saudis can plant a sleeper in the White House, anything’s possible.

    Jo, I can’t believe that. Unbelievable.

    You know the problem? We’re the problem. I have some populist in me, but the other part of me thinks we masses can be pretty ignorant and emotional. Part of that is that we can’t get unbiased, reliable journalism anywhere anymore, so it’s hard TO be informed. Still, we’ll believe anything. I don’t know where to find hard facts anymore. Sincerely I don’t.

  10. Mollie says:

    I think the derivation of the “viagra for sex offenders” thing is a little more direct (but not less dishonest). After the health-care-reform bill had been passed in both the Senate and the House and was in reconciliation, some Republicans proposed amendments to it, knowing Democrats would vote against them (because if they changed the bill it would have to get voted on again, and the Democrats wanted to finish it off already). So: somebody — wait, I looked it up; it was Tom Coburn — came up with the idea to add an amendment specifying that sex offenders would not be able to get prescriptions for ED drugs on the new health-care exchanges, knowing that Dems would vote it down, and their opponents would later be able to use the no vote to make the claim that “so-and-so supports giving Viagra to rapists.”

    So, that one was a premeditated distortion. I think I’d prefer a desperate, wild fabrication. And I’d also prefer to think that nobody would fall for it!

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