LET Eroding civility in politics
Thomas Jefferson said it is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.
The action of purchasing the domain names of legislators who represent opposing political positions is such a canker. The manners and spirit of such people erodes civility in politics. Their lack of ethics eats to the heart of our democratic process as more and more citizens turn away from participation.
The person who purchased three domain names containing the name of Senator Sheila Kiscaden did so to try to manipulate your vote away from her. Should such tactics be legal? I don't know.
But I do know that we don't have to rely on the legal system to right this wrong. Ordinary people can make the scheme backfire.
It is downright un-American
Our response is a loud and profound "No, of course not!"
This is a free country and individuals like Andrew Jaspers should have the opportunity to express their views in open forum, but not in an attempt to deceive, as this clearly is. Andrew Jaspers should be ashamed of himself. His purchase of domain names of candidates with opposing political views is clear deception. It is dishonest and corrupt, and it is the kind of behavior that turns decent people off politics.
I encourage Mr. Jaspers to attempt to motivate people to participate in our democracy in a straightforward fashion, but not by limiting Sen. Kiscaden's ability to get her own message out. Mr. Jaspers may think this is a "new form of political activism," but it is frankly a dirty trick that is reminiscent of another shameful era of American politics that occurred almost 30 years ago. This is not political activism, it is not cute. It is downright un-American!
Gary C. Sieck and Joanne P. Sieck
What makes a Web site 'fake'?
The P-B's pro-Kiscaden editor refers to "fake Web sites," and "anti-abortion propaganda" instead of "pro-life information," and claims that they "at first glance -- seem to be expressing the views of the candidates."
1.) The Web sites look real to me. What makes a Web site "fake"?
2.) Why are positions aligned with this editor's opinions never referred to as "propaganda"?
3.) These Web sites are specifically meant to support the pro-life position, and point out Sheila Kiscaden's opposition to it. No one with a third-grade education could read these and walk away believing that Sheila Kiscaden is pro-life.
Since these sites don't claim to be sponsored by the candidate, and they do exist for the sole purpose of informing voters about said candidates, there is no fraud. The Internet is full of sites sharing people's and corporations' names that weren't necessarily authorized by other persons or corporations with those same names. How would you enforce that uniformly?
If I want to know a candidate's position on issues, I go to a site about that candidate. These sites clearly are about Sheila Kiscaden. If Sheila doesn't want people to know she's pro-abortion, maybe she should reconsider her position? If she's proud of her position, she should appreciate someone helping get the word out.
It was used against Bush
I am amazed that the P-B is raising such a stir over the spoofing of a political Web site. This same sort of campaign "trick" was rampant during the presidential campaign, practiced primarily against George W. Bush. I did not hear the P-B complain then. That was for much higher stakes than this election.
Politicians misrepresent their opponents' positions all the time. Fortunately, that is not criminal either. If the Kiscaden campaign had been on the ball, it would have obtained these domain names long ago. As a form of protest, this act was questionable. Linking Kiscaden to anti-abortion sites might actually gain her votes.
What is more disturbing is the P-B's blatant attempts to use this story, along with its editorial page, to openly campaign for Kiscaden.
This shameless promotion sheds a lot of doubt on the objectivity of the news staff. Kiscaden was endorsed by the P-B, re-endorsed when she became independent, and now presented as a "victim" of "dirty tricks" by extremists. Her opponents are all but ignored, except for negative aspersions. It would take a very astute reader to know the names of the DFL or GOP candidates in this race. The shabby, biased coverage of Kiscaden's opponents up to now is the true "scandal."
Fraud is fraud and lies are lies
The Post-Bulletin said it best, "Fraud is fraud and lies are lies, whether they are introduced by the way of the Internet or by some other means."
Stealing an individual's name in cyberspace to promote your own agenda is no different than stealing their identity in the financial world to fund your own purchases. At the moment, Andrew Jaspers and his Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life agenda are hiding behind freedom of speech.
Jaspers apparently has no qualms about misrepresenting himself or others. In fact, since the story broke, he has morphed into a company called "Saint Gerard Productions." His stated mission includes, "To this end, we will purchase Internet real estate that will most effectively bring the message of these politicians' records to light. Sites for two other Minnesota senators, Twyla Ring and Deanna Wiener, are currently in development."
According to the P-B, each site features a picture of a Norm Coleman campaign button and links to his site, the targeted legislator's Republican opponent's Web site and Tim Pawlenty's site.
If ANY candidate supports this kind of blatant deception, we are in big trouble. None of us will be immune from having our names sold out from under us at the whim of some crackpot or extremist organization.
I suppose after this letter I ought to keep an eye on www.cherylwinters.com.
I believe it is called free speech
Of course, people should be allowed to create Web sites of their choosing.
If pro-life advocates attack those candidates opposed to abortion, the pro-choice proponents can reciprocate by attacking those who favor abortion. I believe it is called free speech, the primary bastion of the press.