PROBLEMS WITH A CODE

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Reality check on Ketchum's Paul Alvarez and his hopes to craft a code of ethics for political advertising (AA, Dec. 5).

First: Such a code of ethics is only as good as its enforcement committee. And that committee's resolutions will only mirror its own political makeup-is the majority Republican or Democrat? Who picks that committee? And because of our two-party system there are no neutrals or middle-of-the-roaders.

Second: Lawsuits brought against misusers of commercial speech are usually decided, in part, by asking, "How believable and trustworthy is the source?" The public, for example, does not believe advertisements from used-car dealers. Therefore, it is difficult to prove damages when their promises are less than truthful. Does the public really believe political advertisements that are written and paid for by a candidate? Not really!

C. Bruce Bartels

Principal

Good Thinking, Unlimited

Chilmark, Mass.

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