Commentary

Misinformation's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

As someone who has spent most of my life working under the protection of the First Amendment, I've never been more torn about the tension between the right to free speech and the need to curtail misinformation than I have over the past half-dozen years. The truth is, it's always …

2 comments about "Misinformation's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose".
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  1. Bob Guccione, Jr from WONDERLUST, January 15, 2022 at 1:51 p.m.

    This is a great piece Joe. And a perfect presentation of the dilemma.

    I think freedom of speech should be as almost absolute as it is (it's not absolute), and misinformation has to be better defined and identified, because there's a difference between out and out factually untrue and unsupportable information, and opinions and conclusions and extrapolations that one doesn't agree with. The latter, even if unpleasant and unpopular, should be heard, for us to have meaningful and constructive debate as a society.

    We mustn't be afraid of words. (And of course I'm not implying that you were saying that.)

    There are already 17 forms of unprotected speech, for which there is no First Amendment defense, so I'm not talking about inciting riots or panic in confined spaces, or threatening to kill, nor slander, libel, lying to Federal Law Enforcement, etc (which are specific and punishable forms of misinformation). And I think continued perpetuation of obvious lies, like about the 2020 election, which incite violence and intimidation (and pose as justification to pervert elections in the future) should also be prosecutable, in the way that slander is egregious and deliberate misinformation.

    But alternate opinions? They are the lifeblood of human evolution. Debate is good. We invariably learn from it, and we never learn from shutting it down.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, January 16, 2022 at 8:34 a.m.

    @Bob Guccione Jr.: Truth!

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