Illegal to Lie in Ohio

We’ve lost track of proceedings in some important court cases – maybe you can help us out with an update? We apologize, but we have an excuse from our mother country, whose Supreme Court has five conservative justices who have lost track of the entire Constitution.

But back to specifics:

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Tommy the chimpanzee and three other primates have filed for writs of habeas corpus to gain their freedom so they can retire to sanctuaries.

Tommy’s lawsuit was scheduled for filing in December in a New York county court, and other cases for Kiko, Hercules, and Leo were headed for Niagara Falls and Suffolk County jurisdictions.

Acting for the chimps is The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), which reputedly enjoys the support of Jane Goodall. The group’s president, Steven Wise, says these actions will later be followed by more chimpanzee suits in other states and by petitions on behalf of whales, dolphins, elephants, and great apes.

The chimpanzees were rescued from miserable conditions in the entertainment industry and given homes by several good samaritans who now find themselves being sued as if they were kidnappers.

We at The Horse have conflicted feelings about these cases, but we can’t wait to hear the Supreme Court explain how a corporation is a person, but a chimpanzee – which shares 97% of the same genes as the chief justice – doesn’t get a black robe and doesn’t even qualify as a person.

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Elsewhere in Criminal Justice, Ohio’s legendary legislature has passed a law making it a crime – punishable by jail time and a $5,000 fine – to lie about a candidate running for office.

The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments in late April. A brief filed by satirist P.J. O’Rourke (author of Don’t Vote – It Just Encourages the Bastards) and the Koch-funded, right wing/libertarian Cato Institute (which lies beyond the boundaries of satire) claims the law is a blatant violation of the First Amendment.

As The Economist notes: “Mudslingers are outraged.”

O’Rourke’s argument: “Disparaging statements about one’s opponent (whether true, mostly true, mostly not true, or entirely fantastic) are cornerstones of American democracy.”

After all, he asks, “Where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag burners who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America …… while Republicans are assault weapon-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation?”

Though not party to the filing, The Economist offered its judgment from across the pond: “Government is ill-suited to deciding when a statement crosses the line into falsehood. Forbidding “lies” will not produce political discourse filled with accuracy and brilliance; it will produce silence.”

Well, what’s wrong with that?

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About Al

Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.