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Saturday, March 16, 2002
The Smoking Bear is calling the round of APPLE flyers 'unethical,' and that they 'employ campaign tactics that deprive voters of critical information and trivialize the election.'
Since I made those flyers, I may as well respond.
First off, his history is off. APPLE did this last year, and every party prior to APPLE has flyered. Not only that, but every political party since the dawn of time has sent out material trumpeting their accomplishments. But apparently doing this without including contextual information 'even in the fine print' constitutes gross corruption. Not only that, even if the accomplishments are true Smoking Bear feels every flyer needs a complete chronology of 'information indicating who "really did" these things or when they were "really done"' To do otherwise is 'deceptive advertising on the part of APPLE.'
Imagine SB's logic in practice:
'Clorox Bleach makes sheets cleaner! Note: this was accomplished by the Clorox corporation in Fall of 1998, under the team of Smith, Weinfield, and Ericcson. Their crucial discovery was the hydrocarbon controlling metafluoride production in textiles. Smith provided the crucial insights, and then passed them onto his team, which created the report for Product Manager Adil Hoxha. After testing, the new product was found to work. Once again: Clorox, Fall 1998, Smith, Weinfield, Ericcson.'
So what does SB want? A big block of text at the bottom with the text of Sunny Lu's 'Cal Song' bill? Details of how she ran the contest? All that's online at www.asuc.org for the interested.
Or how about we have the Attorney General verify that such claims are true, and if they are, leave well enough alone? Oh, sorry, that's what we already do. That's why Student Action got dinged for the Co-op funding claim last year. That's why students can generally trust that the claims are true: if they aren't, then parties get punished. What's left is a system whereby parties get to claim credit for their accomplishments on the year. It's called 'Accountability to Voters:' no accomplishments, no flyers, no votes.
Does chopping it down into one handy slogan 'trivialize the election?' Well, what's the alternative and who's getting hurt? The alternative is to have paragraphs explaining the details. What goes in that and what goes out? What's the purpose, to assure voters that the claims are true? To explain how they were accomplished? The first is already done by the Attorney General and the second is irrelevant. Who's getting hurt? Voters who now believe APPLE produced the first ever Campus Rave? That's a true claim. Voters misled by the claim that Student Action held a 'Historical Lobby Day?' They did hold a Lobby Day, and no students are stupid enough to think 'Historic' is anything but an opinionated adjective.
The important thing is that campaigners don't lie or hurt other campaigners. To try and destroy forms of campaigning based on the proposition that voters are too stupid to recognize advertising is to stifle free speech and part of what makes Democracy work.
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