Tag Archives: lies

Smearing 101

It seems that there are a few folks who need clarification as to what a “smear campaign” actually is. Let’s start by defining the term itself:

A smear campaign is an intentional, premeditated effort to undermine an individual’s or group’s reputation, credibility, and character. “Mud slinging”, like negative campaigning, most often targets government officials, politicians, political candidates, and other public figures. However, private persons or groups may also become targets of smear campaigns perpetrated in schools, companies, institutions, families, and other social groups.

Smear tactics differ from normal discourse or debate in that they do not bear upon the issues or arguments in question. A smear is a simple attempt to malign a group or an individual and to attempt to undermine their credibility.

Smears often consist of ad hominem attacks in the form of unverifiable rumors and are often distortions, half-truths, or even outright lies; smear campaigns are often propagated by gossip spreading.

Wikipedia

So, making factually-based criticisms of a (Vice) Presidential candidate’s knowledge on foreign policy or economics, for instance, is not smearing. These are legitimate issues relevant to the position s/he is running for.

On the other hand, it is smearing to repeatedly claim or insinuate that a particular candidate is a terrorist, a foreign national or a sexist, for example, when there is no evidence to support the claims or the claims have been proven false.

In short, all smears are criticisms, but not all criticisms are smears.

There’s really not a lot more to say on the subject; it’s really quite that simple. So that’s our lesson for today. Class dismissed.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Lies We Teach Teenagers, by Julie Sternberg

Julie Sternberg is senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

If you’re like the majority of Americans, 75 percent to be exact, by the age of 20 you’ve had sex without being married to your partner. By the age of 44 that percentage rises to 95 percent. These figures, from a recent study published in Public Health Reports, make clear that engaging in sex before marriage is the cultural norm in the United States and has been for decades.

Yet our government is downright obsessed with abstinence until marriage. In fact, since 1996, the federal government has poured more than a billion dollars into programs that are required to promote abstinence until marriage, and forbidden from teaching about contraception, unless it is to emphasize failure rates.

[…]

Of course, the million-dollar question (or should I say, billion-dollar question) is: Do these programs work? The answer: No. Research shows that while some abstinence-only-until-marriage programs may delay sex for a bit, most teens who participate go on to have sex before marriage and when they do start having sex are less likely to use condoms and get tested for STDs.

In contrast, evidence shows that programs that promote abstinence and provide teens with information on how contraception protects against unintended pregnancy and STDs actually result in teens delaying sex and increased contraceptive use. Yet there is no federal funding for such reality- and truth-based programs.

Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are clearly not about science, nor are they about promoting public health. Rather they are about pushing a particular agenda.

Lies We Teach Teenagers, by Julie Sternberg