The littlest state in the Union might be onto something here, as reported by the Associated Press:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. –A new law on televised campaign ads is designed to help the deaf and other people who are hard of hearing.
The law requires that candidates who use matching public funds provide captioning for their TV ads, and a written or text format for radio ads — if requested by the listener.
Representative Art Handy, who sponsored the bill in the House, says people who are deaf and hard of hearing should be able to participate fully in the political process. [full text]
I could not agree more. A person’s disabilities or limitations should not obstruct them from participating fully and knowledgeably in the political process. Indeed, given that a good many citizens lack sufficient savvy and discernment to deconstruct the spin of political ads, I believe that the law should be further amended to mandate the inclusion of the following warning at the end of each ad:
WARNING: This ad may present the candidate in a superficial or misleading light and cannot be expected to provide an accurate or complete measure of their suitability for elected office. Other potential candidates may have been deterred from running due to the significant expense of ads such as this, which generally limits competition to wealthy individuals or those with ties to the wealthy. Side effects of viewing this ad may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, dyspepsia, confusion, rage, despair, and an uncontrollable urge to toss the television out the window.