Sunday, May 08, 2005

Jolly Old Laura, and England!

Ah to be in England now that spring is here. Laura Billings may want to rethink her "Unlike the U.S., Jolly Old England gives voters a reason to be happy" column of last week's Pioneer Press.

"While both American and British law preclude liability if the statement is true, American law places the burden of proof on the plaintiff to show the statement is false. By contrast, British law imposes the burden on defendant to prove truth or "justification" and permits aggravated damages if defendant tries but fails."
Thank you Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP.

Of course she's not said she wanted to move there. It would be easier for the rest of us though if she did. Importing their election practices might be as memorable as the doings of New York's Shakespeare Society. In the mid 1880's, with the stated intention of bringing all the birds from the Bard's plays to the New World, European Starlings were released, with great fanfare, into Central Park. Their posterity quickly flew into pest status. Now they, along with the English Sparrow, (freed by the same outfit), are the only U.S. birds with unprotected status. No songbirds these, they can be killed without penalty, slaughtered indiscriminately I imagine. ( If hard times come again, I will eat them. When I was very small, I rose before 7AM, on Saturdays, to watch Richard Greene play Robin Hood on television. Not bad for age five. I also read several complilations of tales. He and his Merry Men ate sparrows, I think.)

As "...each candidate in England (is) limited to just five ads, 2 1/2 minutes each, ...aired just once before...election. Since they don't have to break the bank on TV buys, each candidate is limited to spending just $38 million throughout the campaign." (Interesting phrasing, break the bank. Isn't that a gambling term...roulette at Monte Carlo, a diamond on Audrey Hepburn's fourth finger...the bacarrat shoe...200 foot yachts...Lamborghinis? Chateaus in France, $3000 mountain bikes, wealthy heiresses...but I wander. )

Cause for some to celebrate the import, others to wail. Lacking ability to stop of his own accord, under these rules The Frenchdressing CatholicMan from Mass might be King today. Spared his stentorian drone, the populace might have voted him in with great fanfare, the Next Shakespeare... until November 3rd. No comfort then. His vocal gloom, spread wide across the country like flocks of marauding starlings, would make Canada very attractive.Even tropical. The plains of Saskatchewan a glittering upland. Hudson's Bay a surf town. Canadian medicine the greatest thing since clumping cat litter.

Five ads...two and one-half minutes. When that two minute warning came at 15 seconds, would John Forbes even have reached the "before I voted against it" theme?
A close thing. Read up some more on those libel laws Laura. We see how the sparrows and starlings worked out.

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