We know what you don’t want. Now what DO you want?

Ming: The unacceptable face of British politics?

Ming: The unacceptable face of British politics? (pic: Click for Flickr attribution).

The Guardian’s Catherine Bennett is right to be worried about the impact that a climate of hypercommentary on personal tics will have on politics:

“With the internet demanding ever-improving performance skills from its principal actors, Westminster can only become less hospitable to people who look more like Menzies Campbell than Ant and Dec. Unless, that is, they can produce an official ugliness pardon from Simon Cowell and his authentic, travelling freakshow.”

But, if this is the case, what kind of elected representitives are we going to be prepared to tolerate in the future?

Over on the Personal Democracy Forum (which proudly declares that ‘technology is changing politics’), we see Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill explaining how Twitter helps her to keep it real:

“That’s really why I do it. I think it keeps me in the discipline of not being afraid to say things that may not be perfect, that may actually offend, that may actually truly reflect what I’m thinking and why.”

Senator McCaskill’s example strikes me as being very close to being a priestly ambition – someone who is constantly begging the civil variation on the question ‘What would Jesus do?’ Continue reading

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Lying to the public: It’s wrong – but is it a crime?

Here’s a really good post by Peter Levine. Commenting on the idea that public officials should be prosecuted if they can be shown to have lied:

“In favor of this reform: Lying is wrong. It can cause serious harm to other people. Lying by public officials can undermine the public’s sovereignty by giving citizens false information to use in making judgments. Although it can be challenging to prove intent, that is certainly possible in some circumstances, as we know from perjury trials.

Against: There could be a chilling effect on free speech, because people who participate in heated debates do occasionally stray from the truth. It would be bad to suppress such debates altogether. Also, criminalizing lying would shift power from the legislative and executive branches to the judiciary, which might therefore become even more “political.” The reform might reduce the public’s sense that we are responsible for scrutinizing our government’s statements and actions and punishing bad behavior at the ballot box.”

Do read the whole thing if you have a few minutes.