Posted by: tazlmo | October 31, 2008

Elizabeth Dole’s Godless American Ad

Godless Americans are in the news again, but this time it’s not even our fault.  It seems that US Senator Elizabeth Dole, running for re-election against Democratic contender Kay Hagen, became somewhat desperate over polls showing her falling behind and decided to pull a trick from fellow North Carolina Republican, Jesse Helms’ goody bag.  Helms is remembered for running racist and inflammatory ads during his NC senate race.

 

 

 

 

 

In Dole’s 30 second ad that is very appropriately scary for Halloween, a female voice says “A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan’s honor,” as ominous music provides a suitably eerie back drop. Snippets of interviews with several well known atheists are played before the announcer continues: “Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras, took godless money. What did Hagan promise in return?” The tape ends with a shadowy grimacing photo of Hagan and an off-camera female voice saying, “There is no God.”  Viewers are meant to believe the voice is Hagan’s, but it is actually the voice of the PAC’s executive director, Ellen Johnson.

 

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Right after Dole created her 30 second ad the RNC created a longer version for You Tube 

 

 

Now I see several major problems with these ads, the first of which is facts.  The ads are rife with innuendo and outright lies.  Hagan did attend a Sept. 15 political fundraiser in Boston, which was hosted by Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry and about three dozen others. It was held at the home of Woody Kaplan, a Godless Americans PAC advisory board member. The event was not sponsored by the PAC, nor was it secret.

 

Both ads feature shadowy photographs of Ms. Hagan standing next to a nameless gray-haired man who is supposedly one of those darned atheists to whom Hagan is allegedly indebted. He is, in reality, Charles Frederick (Rick) Stone III, who is a devout Episcopalian currently studying theology at the Harvard Divinity School.

 

Before 2007 Stone lived in Greensboro and taught Biblical studies at Greensboro College, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Stone knew Hagen from his time in Greensboro where he taught Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church, and where Hagan was an elder. Imagine Stone’s dismay to find himself classified a godless American on national TV.

 

Kay Hagan has filed a libel suit against Dole claiming defamation of character over the false claims presented in the videos. Defamation claims, for average people, are hard to defend against because, for instance, if you call someone a bitch in public, and they sue you for defamation, you then have to prove they are a bitch or they win.  Public Figures have the added requirement to show malice if they are to prove Defamation claims.  So far the Dole campaign continues to run the ads and defend their content.  Though I wonder, if calling someone an atheist is defamation, can calling someone a Christian be defamation if they are Jewish, or Islamic, or atheist?

 

Ok so big deal if this non secret fundraising event attended by Christians was organized by atheists?  Aren’t atheists citizens, too, and don’t we have just as much need for political action committees and lobbyists as anyone else?  Aren’t elected officials meant to govern for the good of all the nation’s citizens? I mean I can only think of one group that is more marginalized in modern society than godless Americans and that is LGBT Americans.

 

The one silver lining one might find from this disgusting episode is that more people across the nation now know that the Godless Americans PAC exists. Maybe we should capitalize on the prevailing political environment and get HRC or some other LGBT political action group to invite Elizabeth Dole for a fundraiser.  I hear she is really hurting for money so the timing might just be right. Then the opposition could run ads alleging Dole is indebted to the “gay” community and we could get some national media attention for that group when she sues for defamation. 

 

I wouldn’t complain about national attention for either group, since I belong to both the godless Americans and the LGBT community, I win either way.

 

 

 

Sources: IndyWeek.com, Dole ad: “Godless American” actually a retired Bible teacher, Barry Yeoman, October, 30, 2008. ABC News, Dole Sued for ‘Godless’ Attack Ad, Teddy Davis, October, 30, 2008. CNN, Dole’s ‘Godless’ ad causes stir, Alexander Mooney, October 29, 2008 Expert Law, Defamation, Libel and Slander Law, Aaron Larson, August, 2003.HRC Fox News, North Carolina Senate Candidates Battle Over ‘Godless’ Ad, Oct, 29,2008

 

 

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Responses

  1. […] Elizabeth Dole’s Godless American Ad …desperate over polls showing her falling behind and decided to pull a trick from fellow North Carolina Republican, Jesse Helms’ goody bag. […]


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