Subtitle: Machiavelli on the Greatest Sedition – Whisper Campaigns
As opposed to formal charges from a prosecutor, in which the accused has constitutional protections at his disposal, the accused in whisper campaigns typically finds little relief. High school girls are notorious for their vicious whisper campaigns against other girls. Long before social media, these mean girls, terribilis mulieres, made life so awful for their victims that even in old age, few forget the misery.
What about charges brought about in media and endlessly repeated against people just going about their lives and businesses? What about falsehoods published for the purpose of conviction in the court of public opinion?
In 2010, a newspaper in Panama City FL occasionally published disturbing rumors surrounding the construction of a new airport, the largest local public works project ever in that county. The airport developers requested a grand jury investigation to fight the innuendos, implied corruption, skimming of funds, and excessive attorney’s fees. After several months, an exhausted grand jury cleared everyone.
All well and good, right? Well, not exactly. The developers and grand jurors devoted enormous time and resources to refute falsehoods casually asserted in the local media. The unidentified accusers damaged reputations at no cost to themselves.
Niccolo’ Machiavelli, in his Discourses on Livy, believed the Roman grand jury, with its power to indict and to clear names and reputations, regularly saved the republic.1 There were few better guardians of liberty than the magisterial authority to indict citizens when “they commit any kind of offense against free government.” The benefits are two-fold. First, citizens were careful to avoid false accusations against government for fear of their own punishment. Second, the grand jury offered public release for what he called, “humors that arise within cities in one way or another against” fellow citizens.” When awful and widespread rumors fill the people with rage, and they find no form of satisfaction, the people resort to mobs that threaten the republic.
Machiavelli observed that “false accusations are most often employed where there are few public indictments and wherever cities are less well organized to receive them.” Constitutions of government must allow public charges against any citizen, done without fear, and without respect to the accused’s rank or position. Alternatively, false accusers must suffer because great disorders follow unanswered whisper campaigns.
He blamed the absence of standing grand juries in his home city, Florence, of the late 15th century for bringing the republic to the brink of ruin. Rampant rumors involving bribes, stolen funds and other improprieties in government over time fomented ruinous factions among the people. These unanswered charges allowed opportunistic demagogues to make the people their friends and incite them to violence and overthrow.
On September 11th 2001, Muslims on Delta Flight 93 intended to wipe out Congress, an entire branch of our government. What if anonymous sources also intend, through innuendo and lies in the media, to take out, through a soft kill, an entire branch of government, say the President of the United States? Should whisperers find protection from the government they hope to overthrow? When allowed to fester, whisper campaigns against the President can be as effective as an assassin’s bullet. They are assaults and high crimes on free government, our Constitution. Should the 1st Amendment protect these people?
The 1st Amendment secures freedom of the press. It does not secure the identity of their sources. There is no reason why these domestic saboteurs find safety behind the Constitutional order they conspire to destroy. Whisper campaign victims should find relief in state or federal grand juries. Subpoena the media to identify their source; question the source. If they back up their accusations with evidence, send everyone home. Should the accusations have no basis, then prosecute, prosecute, prosecute .
The cowardly and seditious within our government work to destroy great men of high public virtue. Judge Brett Kavanaugh and President Donald Trump contend with continual whispered hearsay charges from unknown accusers. Not only does this affect the performance of their duties and their public standing, who would want to work for these men, knowing that they themselves are only one newspaper column away from political, financial, and perhaps family annihilation? Why encourage baseless Whisper campaigns to divide the nation and enrage the populace to violence?2
Imagine the calming effect on public discourse if a simple courtesy, that of the Ninth Commandment not to bear false witness, extended to one and all, and had the force of law behind it. The Deep State is in open revolt against you and me and our Constitution. They’re doing it under the color and protection of the law. This isn’t free government; this is national suicide.
1. Machiavelli, N. (2008). Discourses on Livy, Translated by Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 43.
2. SNL recently encouraged the assassination of President Trump because “impeachment takes too long.”