Should people caught lying go to jail? Vindictive spouses would have a field day with that one, wouldn’t they?
Lying is objectionable, of course. But only certain kinds of lies — perjury, or lies used to steal from someone — should be punished by force of law.
Some people, however, are forever seeking new ways to harass other people. Especially, it seems, when it comes to perfectly legal activities that these busybodies happen to dislike. For example, petitioning to post a question on an election ballot. A process already suffering a multitude of burdensome restrictions in many states.
Arizona has just passed a law to penalize petition circulators who deliberately misrepresent the content of a petition they’re passing around. Anyone who does lie about a petition is behaving badly. But how can this law be enforced without sending intimidating “truth squads” to follow petitioners around, making their job even tougher? And how does one distinguish between “lies” and the often very sharply different understanding of issues that we always observe in political debate?
What a country this would become if all political “lies” could be punished by six months in jail. All politics would have to take place in a courtroom. And sadly, it’s not only the liars who would be rounded up. It would be those causing the most trouble for those with the most power.
There is, of course, a very easy way to be sure what a petition says. Read it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.