Hamilton quickly focused on the last part of his opponent’s argument as support for his attempt to introduce evidence of the truthfulness of his client’s publications. Hamilton offered the following brilliantly ironic response:
Well, suppose it were so, and let us agree for once that truth is a greater sin than falsehood: Yet as the offenses are not equal, and as the punishment is arbitrary, that is, according as the judges in their discretion shall direct to be inflicted; is it not absolutely necessary that they should know whether the libel is true or false, that they may by that means be able to proportion the punishment? For would it not be a sad case if the judges, for want of a due information, should chance to give as severe a judgment against a man for writing or publishing a lie as for writing or publishing a truth? And yet this (with submission), as monstrous and ridiculous as it may seem to be, is the natural consequence of Mr. Attorney’s doctrine that truth makes a worse libel than falsehood, and must follow from his not proving our papers to be false, or not suffering us to prove them to be true.
I'm trying to apprehend why this rseponse is 'ironic' and confirm my reading comprehension.
I'd summarise this to have reversed the importance of truth and falsity, so is this swap the irony? Here, Alexander Hamilton first hypothesises (for the sake of this argument) that truth is worse than falsehood, then argues that it would be a 'sad case' if judges by chance punish a liar more severely than a truthteller? Finally, Hamilton submits that this is a monstrous counterargument, because he's trying to confute "Mr. Attorney's doctrine." Did I read this 100% rightly?
Source: P38, America on Trial by Alan Dershowitz