British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby elasto » Fri May 31, 2019 11:11 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:ETA: The whole "we can't politicize judges!" argument is particularly infuriating, here. Being impartial and unbiased is a judge's fundamental job.

If that's true, why is one of the biggest reasons to try to get your guy elected as president the fact that he gets to appoint his choice of judge to SCOTUS? Why is there genuine fear now that Roe vs Wade could get overturned etc. due to Republican appointed judges? I mean, surely the top judges in the land are chosen because they are the most impartial and unbiased - right..?

That's a HUGE difference between you and us: Our judges genuinely are apolitical - sometimes ruling in the government's favour and sometimes against, with no decisions 'split along party lines'.

And that's what we risk if we start putting politicians in the dock over everything they say - not because judges are incapable of ruling on such cases impartially, but because the media and politicians are incapable of standing four-square behind them no matter which way they rule...

'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!' the media screamed when the judges made a legal ruling on whether parliament was sovereign over Brexit.

'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!' the media will scream again if they make a ruling against Boris.

Before too long you'll have politicians appointing judges over here too on the grounds of 'UNELECTED JUDGES ARE UNACCOUNTABLE! WE MUST REIN IN THEIR ABUSES!' - and the road to politicisation will be irreversible.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby LaserGuy » Fri May 31, 2019 11:20 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Well, I have an American perspective on this, not a British one. In the US, commercial speech is held to different standards than political speech. That is, political speech is governed mostly by the freedom to speak - the answer to bad speech is more speech. Politics is what freedom of speech is all about. It's why it exists in the first place. Commercial speech is held to stricter standards (of "truth") - that is, lower standards for censorship (which is where we're going).


Why does it make sense to have it that speech with much greater consequence is subject to lower scrutiny? Corporate malfeasance is unlikely to lead to millions of deaths. Political malfeasance certainly can.

LaserGuy wrote:A simple solution to this would be for democracies to band together and adjudicate such matters outside the national boundaries, by people who don't actually care about the local politics. Have a triumvirate of judges from Canada, Korea, and Switzerland try the case or something.
All of a sudden you'll find that this triumvirate cares a lot about local politics. The politicians will make sure of it.


The triumvirate would only be assembled when a case is actually brought forward, and the judges chosen randomly from a pool of a mixture of countries. Regardless, such a system would still be a vast improvement over having the investigation carried out by the politician's own party (or their political opponents, for that matter).

LaserGuy wrote:There's nothing to say that we can't make [democracy] better
Agreed. But it's not a simple fix. If somebody proposes a simple fix, it will almost certainly not work. People (and politics) is too fraught, and too easily bent.


The point is not that there is one simple fix that will make the system perfect, but rather that there are a variety of incremental improvements that we can make that will ultimately make things better overall. Big changes have already been made in the past--allowing women to vote, for example--so there's no reason to believe that it is impossible to make changes of similar magnitude in the future.

For illustration, consider getting rid of organized superstition. We'd all be better off, but see how far that gets.


Compare the power of the church now to 100 years ago, or 500 years ago. Progress is being made.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri May 31, 2019 11:21 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Well, I have an American perspective on this, not a British one. In the US, commercial speech is held to different standards than political speech. That is, political speech is governed mostly by the freedom to speak - the answer to bad speech is more speech. Politics is what freedom of speech is all about. It's why it exists in the first place. Commercial speech is held to stricter standards (of "truth") - that is, lower standards for censorship (which is where we're going).
Why should we hold political speech to a looser standard than commercial speech? Political speech can literally start wars. Seems like we ought to at least hold it to the same standard we hold whether or not a brick of chocolate contains peanuts.

Fraud is fraud. Whether you're lying to get my money or lying to get my vote, you're still defrauding me.
elasto wrote:'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!' the media screamed, when the judges made a legal ruling on whether parliament was sovereign over Brexit.

'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!' the media will scream again if they make a ruling against Boris.

Before too long you'll have politicians appointing judges over here too on the grounds of 'UNELECTED JUDGES ARE UNACCOUNTABLE! WE MUST REIGN IN THEIR ABUSES!' - and the road to politicisation will be irreversible.
So you're arguing that the reason you can't have judges hold politicians accountable for fraud is because the politicians will overthrow the judicial system to prevent them from holding them accountable for fraud?

Sounds like your system is already far down the road of irreversible politicization.

ETA: Sorry if that comes off as hostile -- I'm not trying to sound like a dick. But what I'm trying to get at here is that "this will politicize judges" is really just another way of saying "politicians will use their power to prevent you from holding them accountable". IE, the problem isn't that judges will be politicized, but that politicians absolutely refuse to let you hold them accountable for their lies. They'd rather burn the judicial system down than let themselves be subject to the judicial system's authority.

Which, I mean, that's a reasonable argument! If doing this would result in politicians abusing their authority to make things worse, then yeah -- that's a concern. But that's the argument you should make. Not "this politicizes judges", but "politicians won't allow it". Because it places the blame squarely where it belongs: On the politicians who refuse to be held accountable for their lies.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby elasto » Fri May 31, 2019 11:31 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:So you're arguing that the reason you can't have judges hold politicians accountable for fraud is because the politicians will overthrow the judicial system to prevent them from holding them accountable for fraud?

Huh?

When your president appoints a judge to SCOTUS, do you regard that as 'a politician overthrowing the judicial system', or do you regard it as 'the president carrying out the will of the people'?

Most people in the US are in favour of more democracy - whether it's electing judges, sheriffs, school boards or whatnot - and that's not painted as overthrow, it's painted as accountability.

The problem is that you can either have accountability or you can have impartiality, you can't have both. Once people are elected or appointed, they are ultimately beholden to whoever elects or appoints them.

Right now in the UK, judges are appointed by their superiors and their peers, which makes them impartial in political terms. That's what is risked when they begin getting ripped apart by the media, with the politicians then stepping in to stop the 'abuses'.

In simplistic terms, I am actually in favour of much less democracy in many arenas; I think populism often gets in the way of experts taking difficult choices. I prefer to see experts self-policing wherever possible, and the UK judiciary is one of the finest examples of that working well.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri May 31, 2019 11:34 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Right now in the UK, judges are appointed by their superiors and their peers, which makes them impartial in political terms. That's what is risked when they begin getting ripped apart by the media, with the politicians then stepping in to stop the 'abuses'.
Right, so the problem is that if you try to hold politicians accountable, they'll go and break your judicial system.

IE, the problem is your system is already irreversibly politicized. It's too late.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby elasto » Fri May 31, 2019 11:39 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:IE, the problem is your system is already irreversibly politicized. It's too late.

Yes, the political system is irreversibly politicised. I'm trying to avoid the judiciary getting dragged down too. I can see how that works out in the US and it's awful.

The answer to politics is more politics. Always was, always will be.

Democracy is the worst system apart from all the others. Avoid it wherever possible.

Edit: Just to be clear:

Right, so the problem is that if you try to hold politicians accountable, they'll go and break your judicial system.

No, we will go and break the judicial system. We will demand the politicians hold those 'enemies of the people' to account for ruling against our chosen champion. How dare they! The politicians will gladly carry out our bidding...

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri May 31, 2019 11:46 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Yes, the political system is irreversibly politicised. I'm trying to avoid the judiciary getting dragged down too. I can see how that works out in the US and it's awful.
If your judicial system's position is so frail that it cannot oversee political fraud without politicians overthrowing it, then it's irreversibly politicized, too. The politicians just haven't gotten 'round to exerting their authority over it, yet.

You can't argue "our judges are impartial and free from politics", then argue "but if they had to preside over cases of politicians doing political fraud, politics would overthrow them". That means they aren't actually free from politics.
elasto wrote:No, we will go and break the judicial system. We will demand the politicians hold those 'enemies of the people' to account for ruling against our chosen champion. How dare they! The politicians will gladly carry out our bidding...
RIght. So the people can't be trusted, because the politicians will manipulate them (with lies) to overthrow the judicial system.

So we should solve this problem (politicians lying) via the people, not the judges. The same people you don't even trust to maintain a judicial system the instant politicians start lying to them about it. Those people.

What you're describing is a problem that's irreversibly broken. Can't be solved legislatively, judicially, or democratically.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:15 am UTC

It is kind of the fundamental problem of all politics. Governments are made by people and OF people, even nominally non-democratic ones, so a people will get a government of quality proportional to their own, because it is made of them, by them.

That said a people and therefore a government who hold their politicians accountable for lying is better than one that doesn’t, and if attempts to do that will be circumvented by other parts of the government and the people it is made of and by, then that’s a sign of a people who collectively want a government that doesn’t hold its politicians accountable for lying. Of course you have to fix that much bigger problem to succeed at the attempt, but you also have to give the attempt a try in the first place, and failure to try is just one facet of a people not really wanting that.
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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Sableagle » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:56 am UTC

All those bombs dropped on England, France, Germany, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, Russia and everywhere else and nobody managed to hit the Daily Heil? Here I thought we won that war.
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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby arbiteroftruth » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:58 am UTC

However one slices it, as soon as your politicians are held accountable to some body that isn't ultimately accountable to the people, you no longer have a democracy. You have a system of government defined by that body that rules the politicians. If that ruling body is genuinely more impartial and focused on genuine justice, then they're apparently determined by a system superior to democracy, and we should just cut out the middle man and use that system to select our politicians.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:12 am UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:However one slices it, as soon as your politicians are held accountable to some body that isn't ultimately accountable to the people, you no longer have a democracy. You have a system of government defined by that body that rules the politicians. If that ruling body is genuinely more impartial and focused on genuine justice, then they're apparently determined by a system superior to democracy, and we should just cut out the middle man and use that system to select our politicians.
C'mon. This is silly and reductionist.

Obviously, Britain's judges hold politicians accountable in bribery cases, right? Does the fact that these judges are not beholden to popular sentiment therefore invalidate any claim Britain might have to being a democracy? Does the fact that a non-partisan British judge may preside over a case where a politician has used their office to commit a crime mean that we ought to do away with politicians altogether? Does this mean Britain ought to go with the far simpler "Judge Dredd" style of governance, now?

Power and accountability are not scalar values; government isn't some sort of hierarchal tree that collapses down to a single point corresponding to the one guy who doesn't care what the people think. It is way, way more complicated than that.

Allowing us to charge politicians with lying -- and allowing judges to preside over those cases -- isn't undermining the fabric of democracy. It's just treating politicians the same way we treat every other person with power and authority: You're not allowed to use your platform to defraud people.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:18 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Thesh » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:16 am UTC

However one slices it, as soon as your politicians are held accountable to some body that isn't ultimately accountable to the people, you no longer have a democracy.


That's how it is in every democracy in the world today; the higher up you are in the hierarchy, the less likely you are to be punished and the less of an impact the sentence has on your life if you are punished. How is a law that holds them more accountable going to make things worse?

If you are simply advocating for an overthrow of the system, I'm on board.

arbiteroftruth wrote:f that ruling body is genuinely more impartial and focused on genuine justice, then they're apparently determined by a system superior to democracy, and we should just cut out the middle man and use that system to select our politicians.


The only proposal here is to determine whether or not a politician is misleading or neglectful. Things like law, priorities and philosophies are still very much up for debate.
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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Sableagle » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:20 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Britain's judges hold politicians accountable in bribery cases, right?
I have bad news about that.
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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby arbiteroftruth » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:25 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
arbiteroftruth wrote:However one slices it, as soon as your politicians are held accountable to some body that isn't ultimately accountable to the people, you no longer have a democracy. You have a system of government defined by that body that rules the politicians. If that ruling body is genuinely more impartial and focused on genuine justice, then they're apparently determined by a system superior to democracy, and we should just cut out the middle man and use that system to select our politicians.
C'mon. This is silly and reductionist.

Obviously, Britain's judges hold politicians accountable in bribery cases, right? Does the fact that these judges are not beholden to popular sentiment therefore invalidate any claim Britain might have to being a democracy?


To refine my statement: when politicians *in their primary role of advocating a point of view* are held accountable to someone other than the people...

The heart of politics is arguing about things that are complicated, or controversial, or contested. Politics is *the* large-scale arena of free speech. You make *that* aspect accountable to someone other than the people, and you no longer have a democracy.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:34 am UTC

Sableagle wrote:I have bad news about that.
Well, okay -- in theory, judges are supposed to be able to preside over bribery cases.

More to the point: You can't legitimately argue that giving judges the responsibility of presiding over cases of political fraud would render Britain an authoritarian state ruled by judges -- because if your metric for authoritarianism is the presence of government officers who can hold politicians accountable without concern for the will of the people, Britain already qualifies. Judges can (and, hopefully, do) preside over cases where politicians use their platform to do crimes. They're already holding politicians accountable, and they aren't (from what I'm hearing, anyway) accountable to the will of the people.

All that's being argued here is that maybe we ought to treat politicians like we treat everybody else with power and authority.
arbiteroftruth wrote:To refine my statement: when politicians *in their primary role of advocating a point of view* are held accountable to someone other than the people...

The heart of politics is arguing about things that are complicated, or controversial, or contested. Politics is *the* large-scale arena of free speech. You make *that* aspect accountable to someone other than the people, and you no longer have a democracy.
Most things are complicated, and controversial, and contested! But we're not talking about 'most things'. We're talking about statements that are, again -- demonstrably false.

Why is it controversial to say that a politician shouldn't be allowed to flat-out lie? If the worry is that people will overstep their bounds and try to prosecute politicians for statements that are controversial (rather than flat-out fraudulent), then why shouldn't we expect the judges to do their job and throw these cases out? And if the worry is that politicians will manipulate the people into overthrowing Britain's judicial system to protect themselves, then why aren't we talking about the fact that apparently, politicians in Britain are so good at this whole lying thing that they'll overthrow the entire judicial system just to keep doing it?!

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby arbiteroftruth » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:00 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Why is it controversial to say that a politician shouldn't be allowed to flat-out lie? If the worry is that people will overstep their bounds and try to prosecute politicians for statements that are controversial (rather than flat-out fraudulent), then why shouldn't we expect the judges to do their job and throw these cases out?


"Expect", maybe. "Trust", no, and for the same reason we don't just trust politicians not to lie in the first place.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:06 am UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:"Expect", maybe. "Trust", no, and for the same reason we don't just trust politicians not to lie in the first place.
If you cannot even trust a judge to preside over a case, then you might as well be opposed to the notion of any form of arbitration at all.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby arbiteroftruth » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:12 am UTC

"A" judge, sure. An entire judicial system lasting several generations: only if it's either limited in scope (such as not presiding over political truth), or ultimately accountable to the people (such as appointed by elected politicians).

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:34 am UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:"A" judge, sure. An entire judicial system lasting several generations: only if it's either limited in scope (such as not presiding over political truth), or ultimately accountable to the people (such as appointed by elected politicians).
Saying "Vaccines have been shown to cause autism" isn't a political truth. Neither is "climate change is a hoax". Neither is "0 is a prime number". These are all demonstrably false statements.

This sort of weasel-language is the problem: People keep insisting on "political truths" rather than recognizing that there are things that are actually true. We've permitted simple truths to become "matters of perspective". This stuff isn't a matter of perspective; it's a matter of fact. Disagreeing makes you wrong. And the more we insist that these facts are up for debate, the more wrong we all become.

Making it illegal for politicians to claim global warming is a hoax isn't infringing on free speech. If you want to say global warming is a hoax, go say it -- but don't say it with the government's bullhorn. Similarly, if you want to say "Cigarettes don't cause cancer", go say it -- but don't say it on a carton of cigarettes.

"Political truth" is just another way of saying "That's Just, Like, Your Point Of View, Man!". Sometimes, it is! But sometimes? It isn't. Sometimes, a fact is just a fact. And treating these facts like they're just political debates is literally killing us.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:13 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Why should we hold political speech to a looser standard than commercial speech?
LaserGuy wrote:Why does it make sense to have it that speech with much greater consequence is subject to lower scrutiny?
Because "scrutiny" is code for "censorship". We must be very careful on that front, because the censor becomes the gatekeeper, and that is the opposite of democracy and self-determination. Do not abdicate the responsibility for your actions, which include evaluating what you read, to others.

LaserGuy wrote:The triumvirate would only be assembled when a case is actually brought forward...
Ok, your favorite politician says that Huawai is a clear and present danger due to its embedded spying. She gets elected and hits Huawai hard. Verizon sues because Verizon wants to offer and use Huawai's 5G network. Verizon claims that it's a lie that Huawai is a clear and present danger, and that it has embedded spying. The triumverate is assembled; it is South Korea, Germany, and Chile.

Nobody has any vested interest?

Some of the details of why the politician said what she said are classified. They would show that the politican was (or was not) either lying, bending the truth, extrapolating, or telling the flat truth.

Still nobody has any interest?

This is a simple fix for a complicated issue. I doubt it would have the intended result, and am certain it would have many unintended results.

Politicians should definitely be held accountable for lying. The question is "by whom?". My answer is "by the people they govern and represent".

LaserGuy wrote:Compare the power of the church now to 100 years ago, or 500 years ago. Progress is being made.
Many people won't agree with your assessment. Is it they that are wrong, or you? How can you be sure?

The Great Hippo wrote:Saying "Vaccines have been shown to cause autism" isn't a political truth. Neither is "climate change is a hoax". Neither is "0 is a prime number". These are all demonstrably false statements.
I see where you're coming from, but that's not how science works. And in any case, the third statement (a mathematical one) is just a matter of definition, and it only works within whatever mathematical system is in question.

Science doesn't work by proving things. It doesn't even work by disproving things. It works by building a consensus based on repeated and varied experiments focused on the thing in question. For any given thing, I'm pretty sure that "studies have shown that {thing is true}" is true, and "studies have shown that {thing is false}" is also true. Studies have also shown that the world is flat, for chrissakes. It's just that those studies are poorly done (for whatever reason) and the conclusion is not supported by the many more other studies. So most people have come to the conclusion that the world is banana shaped roughly spherical.

Is cholesterol bad for you? "Studies have shown"...many things. Actual science being done is quite different from the filtered reporting you see in the Daily Mail.

Questions of science (which you have put forth as a proxy for "verifiable truth") are best dealt with by having a populace that is sophisticated enough to understand how science is done, and who is willing to seek advice from others who do know when they themselves do not. And this goes for all areas of knowledge. When you have an educated populace, and one that won't tolerate being lied to, politicians who lie won't get elected.

Lately (at least in the US) politicians who lie get elected because the lies don't matter to the people any more. That is the thing that needs fixing.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:12 am UTC

ucim wrote:I see where you're coming from, but that's not how science works. And in any case, the third statement (a mathematical one) is just a matter of definition, and it only works within whatever mathematical system is in question.

Science doesn't work by proving things. It doesn't even work by disproving things. It works by building a consensus based on repeated and varied experiments focused on the thing in question. For any given thing, I'm pretty sure that "studies have shown that {thing is true}" is true, and "studies have shown that {thing is false}" is also true. Studies have also shown that the world is flat, for chrissakes. It's just that those studies are poorly done (for whatever reason) and the conclusion is not supported by the many more other studies. So most people have come to the conclusion that the world is banana shaped roughly spherical.
"Your Honor, I understand that my client's fingerprints are on the murder weapon, the victim's blood is all over him, and this footage shows him murdering the victim. However, may I remind you that science is only a consensus; therefore, this court cannot come to any concrete conclusions based merely on the evidence. In fact, as you cannot conclusively prove that you aren't a hologram, I move that we declare this a mistrial and all go home."

Yes, science is consensus. And courts are where science presents evidence, and a judge makes a conclusion based on that evidence. If you seriously think it's impossible for judges to come to concrete conclusions about what is and isn't true, then you might as well toss out the notion of arbitration in its entirety.
ucim wrote:Questions of science (which you have put forth as a proxy for "verifiable truth") are best dealt with by having a populace that is sophisticated enough to understand how science is done, and who is willing to seek advice from others who do know when they themselves do not. And this goes for all areas of knowledge. When you have an educated populace, and one that won't tolerate being lied to, politicians who lie won't get elected.

Lately (at least in the US) politicians who lie get elected because the lies don't matter to the people any more. That is the thing that needs fixing.
"We need to just convince everyone to care more about the truth!" doesn't mean anything; it just feels good to say. Besides, there's no reason we can't do both: We can "educate" people and we can hold politicians (legally) accountable for intentionally misinforming the public (in a way, may I remind you, that literally kills people). Because it's really hard to inform your electorate when politicians are working to misinform them.

Or, y'know. We can just keep going with this whole oblivious-march-into-catastrophe thing. I mean, sure, our children might all end up dying from diseases that haven't killed anyone since Presidents wore powdered wigs -- but at least we'll have respected everyone's "opinion" on global warming, right?

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Mutex » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:21 am UTC

I've thought for a long time that politicians should face penalties of some sort for lying. Preferably a ban from working in politics.

The sticking point for me is the difficulty of proving they knew that what they said was untrue. I don't think politicians should face penalties just for being mistaken about something. Proving what they said was untrue is a lot easier than proving their intent.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Angua » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:50 am UTC

Mutex wrote:I've thought for a long time that politicians should face penalties of some sort for lying. Preferably a ban from working in politics.

The sticking point for me is the difficulty of proving they knew that what they said was untrue. I don't think politicians should face penalties just for being mistaken about something. Proving what they said was untrue is a lot easier than proving their intent.
With Boris I believe he was corrected a few times by the Statistics Authority and didn't change or retract the claim.

Holding politicians to not using untrue facts should not be a bad thing.
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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Mutex » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:07 am UTC

Angua wrote:
Mutex wrote:I've thought for a long time that politicians should face penalties of some sort for lying. Preferably a ban from working in politics.

The sticking point for me is the difficulty of proving they knew that what they said was untrue. I don't think politicians should face penalties just for being mistaken about something. Proving what they said was untrue is a lot easier than proving their intent.
With Boris I believe he was corrected a few times by the Statistics Authority and didn't change or retract the claim.

Holding politicians to not using untrue facts should not be a bad thing.

Yes, in his case it's definitely clear cut. And yes, if they're corrected and still continue to repeat the untrue fact, that's probably good enough to prove their intent to deceive. Of course, politicians will then try to find ways of misleading people without crossing the line, much like advertisers do, but it would be much better than the current situation.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:18 pm UTC

It's the malfeasance that is bad, not the lying. You can lie for corrupt purposes, but you can tell the truth for corrupt purposes too. It's the corrupt purposes that should be punished.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby commodorejohn » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:59 pm UTC

Yes, making true statements has corrupt as well as uncorrupt applications. But (at least in the context of a public-office-holder) it's a lot harder to make the case that lying has any uncorrupt applications.
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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:26 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:But (at least in the context of a public-office-holder) it's a lot harder to make the case that lying has any uncorrupt applications.
Is it lying to tell an incomplete truth? Sometimes, but sometimes not. Depends why it's done.

Making "lying" itself a crime is very parallel to bringing back punishment for heresy. Do you really want to go there?

Focus on what's relevant (malfeasance itself), not what's easy to drum up support for (lying as a crime). Lying is good evidence of malfeasance, but shouldn't itself be a crime (outside of sworn testimony).

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Mutex » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:22 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Making "lying" itself a crime is very parallel to bringing back punishment for heresy.

So when a company is brought to task for lying in advertising material, that's morally equivalent to accusing them of heresy?

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:52 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:So when a company is brought to task for lying in advertising material, that's morally equivalent to accusing them of heresy?
No. As I said earlier, commercial speech is qualitatively different from political speech. Political speech is what democracy is based on, and the consequences of having an arbiter of truth is much greater. Prosecuting "lying" in a political sphere skates very close to accusing them of heresy.

And no, lying does not get a complete pass just because it's political. However, we must be very careful to not have a catechism.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Thesh » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:03 pm UTC

Why should we make a distinction? Power is power and lying is lying.
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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:06 pm UTC

ucim wrote:No. As I said earlier, commercial speech is qualitatively different from political speech. Political speech is what democracy is based on, and the consequences of having an arbiter of truth is much greater. Prosecuting "lying" in a political sphere skates very close to accusing them of heresy.
No, it doesn't.

This is just more fuzzy, meaningless, 'feel-good' dreck. You're not actually saying anything; you're just throwing out vague, nebulous statements that "sound" wise but don't actually contain points. You keep mentioning how we need to address "malfeasance" despite the fact that that the lies are the malfeasance; you keep saying we need a better informed public, but you insist that we can't stop politicians from misinforming the public. Even when that misinformation kills people. Why? Because "something something remember that time the Church murdered the Jews?".

Holding politicians legally accountable for telling lies isn't even in the same ball-park as killing people for heresy. Heresy has nothing to do with the distinction between political and commercial speech; bringing it up is just another one of those things that "feels" intelligent while still managing to say nothing at all.

Save the meaningless platitudes and catechisms for your side-job at the fortune cookie factory.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:13 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Mutex » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:08 pm UTC

(To ucim) No, do you know what's qualitatively different? Objectively, demonstrably lying, and heresy.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:41 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:No, do you know what's qualitatively different? Objectively, demonstrably lying, and heresy.
No, that is not the case. When I say the world is flat, I'm lying. I'm also being incredibly stupid. But to make it on its face criminal would require some Council that would determine what is acceptable to say - an Arbiter of Truth. That would be a Bad Thing. That would be creating the crime of heresy.

Further, if the lie is so easily demonstrable, demonstrating it is all that should be necessary. (If that doesn't work, then people don't care about the truth and you have a different problem). And yes, I do think that's the problem. People don't care about the truth.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:54 pm UTC

ucim wrote:No, that is not the case. When I say the world is flat, I'm lying. I'm also being incredibly stupid. But to make it on its face criminal would require some Council that would determine what is acceptable to say - an Arbiter of Truth. That would be a Bad Thing. That would be creating the crime of heresy.
This is such a childish description of what we're talking about that it hardly merits addressing -- beyond noting it's not at all what we're talking about, and acting like it is indicates you aren't even putting the bare minimum effort required to discuss an issue seriously.

No, we're not talking about a "Council of Truth", and we're not talking about "heresy". Unless you think a judge determining that a politician isn't allowed to tell emergency workers that "there is no asbestos in this building" when the building is full of asbestos is somehow the moral equivalent of the Salem Witch Trials.

Which, I mean. It sounds like you do. So, yeah.
ucim wrote:And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Thank goodness.

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Re: British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby commodorejohn » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:53 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Making "lying" itself a crime is very parallel to bringing back punishment for heresy. Do you really want to go there?

This is a pretty facetious argument, really, but for the sake of it: no, I don't think that lying in general should be a crime, because it would not be worth it to enforce such a law for a wide variety of reasons. However, you yourself note that there are already circumstances (i.e. sworn testimony) where, no matter the complications, it's still worth the trouble to penalize it, because the damage to the integrity of the system is far greater if it's allowed to go unchecked. And I would argue that, in the case of persons holding a position of public trust who deliberately make clearly false claims in order to mislead the public, this would be another example of a situation where the cumulative damage to the integrity of the system (i.e. people's trust in their government) is severe if that kind of thing is allowed to go on essentially unchecked for a long period of time.

If you need an example, just look at the U.S. - public trust in the government has been steadily eroding at least since the Nixon era as one administration after another fudges facts, spins narratives, or straight-up makes shit up in order to justify or cover for their various abuses of power. This has been a major factor in reducing American democracy to a critically non-functional state of blinkered tribalism, and it's only getting worse. And no, prohibiting public servants from outright lying to their constituents by threat of legal penalties would not be a perfect or comprehensive solution to that problem, but it'd sure be a start.
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