Defamation and the Truth

Another matter of “free speech” which has perverted the social fabric is the issue of irresponsible public defamation – commonly known as slanderous (spoken) or libelous (written) comments about another person which are unsubstantiated and, therefore, unjustified and for which the injured party has no equal opportunity for a defense or rebuttal. These are discussed under the general heading of defamation.

“Defamation is a catch-all term for any statement that hurts someone’s reputation. Defamation is not a crime, but it is a “tort” (a civil wrong, rather than a criminal wrong). A person who has been defamed can sue the person who did the defaming. Defamation law tries to balance competing interests: On the one hand, people should not ruin others’ lives by telling lies about them; but on the other hand, people should be able to speak freely without fear of litigation over every insult, disagreement, or mistake.”

 Political and social disagreement is important in a free society, and we obviously don’t all share the same opinions or beliefs. For instance, political opponents often reach opposite conclusions from the same facts [could these be the infamous “alternative” facts slandered by the PLDC when they are introduced by Republicans?], and editorial cartoonists often exaggerate facts to make their point.

 The First Amendment rights of free speech and free press often clash with the interests served by defamation law. The press exists in large part to report on issues of public concern. However, individuals possess a right not to be subjected to falsehoods that impugn their character. The clash between the two rights can lead to expensive litigation, million-dollar jury verdicts and negative public views of the press.

 Paul McMasters, the First Amendment Center ombudsman, wrote about the clash between the First Amendment and defamation: “There is much unsettled and unsettling about an area of the law that so profoundly affects how journalists do their job and how people get their news. On the one hand, libel suits are a necessary recourse for those who believe that they have been wronged by the press. On the other hand, even the threat of a libel suit can serve as a subtle censor of the press.”

“Generally, speech from the broadcast medium that is part of a script is termed libel. Defamatory comments might include false comments that a person committed a particular crime or engaged in certain sexual activities. The hallmark of a defamation claim is reputational harm. Former United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in Rosenblatt v. Baer (1966) that the essence of a defamation claim is the right to protect one’s good name. According to Stewart, this tort “reflects no more than our basic concept of the essential dignity and worth of every human being — a concept at the root of any decent system of ordered liberty.”

However, defamation suits can threaten and test the vitality of First Amendment rights. Former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote passionately, also in Rosenblatt v. Baer, that no law meant no law and that, as such, all libel laws violate the First Amendment: ‘The only sure way to protect speech and press against these threats is to recognize that libel laws are abridgments of speech and press and therefore are barred in both federal and state courts by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. I repeat what I said in the New York Times case that ‘An unconditional right to say what one pleases about public affairs is what I consider to be the minimum guarantee of the First Amendment.’”

[It is interesting that, apparently, according to Mr. Justice Black, no does not mean no when applied to another right mentioned in the same 1st Amendment, specifically, religion or in the 2nd Amendment, the right to “…keep and bear arms.”]

“The majority of the Supreme Court did not go as far as Justice Black would have liked. Instead, the Court staked out a middle ground and ruled that there must be a proper accommodation between protecting reputations and ensuring “breathing space” for First Amendment freedoms. If the press could be punished for every error, a chilling effect would freeze publications on any controversial subject.

Defamation, like many other torts, [naturally] varies from State to State. For example, States recognize different privileges and apply different standards with respect to private-person plaintiffs. Interested parties or practitioners must carefully check the case law of their respective state.

Defamation suits can further important interests of those who have been victimized by malicious falsehoods. However, defamation suits can also threaten 1st Amendment values by chilling the free flow of information. At the time of New York Times v. Sullivan, the federal courts apparently thought that State libel suits threatened to wipe out press coverage of one of the most important issues of the 20th Century — the civil rights movement.

Furthermore, defamation suits can be abused. Sometimes, individuals who speak out against abuses are tagged with large defamation suits that are often meritless. During the past decade, commentators coined the term Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suits, to describe these suits.

The threat of libel suits can cause individuals to keep quiet about issues of public concern. Very few people have the economic resources to defend themselves after being hauled into court for defamation. But the First Amendment protects everyone, and it is important to maintain a proper balance between libel law and the 1st Amendment.”

There is also a concept called “Protected Opinion”. If the defendant can prove the statement he or she made was true, the defamation lawsuit ends there. People cannot be punished for speaking the truth, no matter how ugly it may be. Truth is always a defense to a claim of defamation. Opinions, however, are murkier territory. Statements of opinion generally receive protection under the 1st Amendment. The question then becomes, what is an opinion?  Is it usually sufficient for a speaker to preface a statement (one that might otherwise be considered defamatory) with the words “I think” or “In my opinion”?

 But, people cannot say whatever they want and get protection for their comments by tacking on a couple of qualifying words. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that a statement is an opinion that merits protection when it is (1) about a matter of public concern, (2) expressed in a way that makes it hard to prove whether it is true or false, and (3) can’t be reasonably interpreted to be a factual statement about someone. (Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1990).)

 To apply this test, courts usually consider several factors, such as the manner in which the statement was made.

 ·         Did the speaker use figurative or hyperbolic language, making it hard to view the            statement as an expression of fact?

·         If the statement is in a written piece or article, what was its overall context?

·         Would the context make it hard for a reader to think the writer was conveying a fact?

 Consider political cartoons. These appear in newspapers all the time and are often highly critical of the subjects they depict. But they are also opinions that are intended to be humorous, and anyone reading a political cartoon is probably going to know that the writer/artist did not mean to express a fact.

Finally, courts will look at whether the statement is factual enough that it can be proven true or false. If it cannot be proven either true or false, it probably will be deemed an opinion and will not be actionable via a defamation claim. However, laws vary from one jurisdiction to another, and there are some jurisdictions that don’t draw a real distinction between fact and opinion in these kinds of cases.

 If you make a statement about a matter of public interest, i.e., a local political scandal, it probably will not be considered defamatory. For example, if you tell people that you think it is true that a local politician took a bribe, when such allegations are all over the local headlines, that is probably protected speech. This is not only an opinion, which is typically protected, but it is also about a matter of public concern – allegations of corruption from community officials.

 A similar example would be criticizing the actions of school board members when it comes to protecting students. Because free speech – and even critical speech – is encouraged, especially when it comes to issues that are significant to the community, such statements are not typically considered defamatory.

As we have seen, public officials and public figures have placed themselves in the public eye and, therefore, it is more difficult for them to be successful in a defamation claim. In addition to the things private individuals must prove, public officials and figures must prove that a statement was made with actual malice – meaning that the speaker either knew the statement was false or acted with reckless disregard for whether it was true or false.

This is because the law encourages free speech, especially when it comes to politicians or prominent local figures or celebrities who have placed themselves in the public eye and can expect more public scrutiny than the average person faces. Sometimes, people end up becoming public figures without intending to. An example is someone who has been accused [not convicted] of committing a major crime. So, it is important to remember that not everyone chooses to be in the limelight, but nevertheless, those people still may face additional hurdles when it comes to proving they have been defamed.”

So, there is legal precedent for the courts to require the press to act responsibly. Because it is assumed that the press is reporting the truth, any attempts to circumvent the truth in reporting must be viewed as an abrogation of that responsibility and as such, is deserving of sanction for violating the trust, demanded of a free press by the People, as granted in the 1st Amendment. [What that particular sanction might be must be up to the People to decide.]

One other issue about a free press has surfaced in the last several years. It is what I call a “coordinated press” that appears to show various independent news sources collaborating on certain stories where a free press should, many would argue – must –  act independently. Such collaborations smack of propaganda – much like the intelligentsia collaborating nationwide on indoctrinating journalism students in the fundamentals of the PLDC and then making such indoctrination a condition for employment in the nations’ news industry – resulting in the proliferation of PLDC propaganda throughout the infotainment universe. Consider this from’s Adam Shaw:

“Newspaper op-ed sections across the country have in late 2016 carried impassioned columns opposing a controversial law allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government. The articles, however, are strikingly similar. Several use near-identical passages to make their case against the law – raising questions about whether the Saudi government or its allies are helping circulate a cookie-cutter column [apparently in collusion with the nation’s editors and publishers].

 The Daily Caller first reported that a number of opinion pieces by at least five authors [journalistic fraud, perhaps plagiarism – neither very good], and published in five newspapers in October and November 2016, strongly resemble one another and appear to originate from the same source. All speak out against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which was enacted in September after Congress overrode a veto by President Obama. It allows American citizens to file claims against foreign governments related to terrorist attacks if those governments helped finance the attacks – and is intended to allow 9/11 families to sue the government of Saudi Arabia over claims the Kingdom helped finance the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which it denies.

 Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow and activist, told she was surprised to see the similarities in the anti-JASTA columns. “To learn about what may have been an underhanded effort to use the military against 9/11 families, it shocks the conscience,” she said.

 For instance, in a Nov. 4 piece in The Tennessean [a USA Today newspaper], retired Air Force Major Gen. William Russell Cotney warned that the law will undermine sovereign immunity and hurt U.S. soldiers and diplomats abroad:

 “The principle known as sovereign immunity has governed relations between states for centuries. It holds that governments cannot be sued for civil wrongs without their consent. In international relations, it preserves the right and responsibility of governments to settle disputes with other governments on behalf of their citizens.”

 The piece echoes a similar piece by Angela Sinkovits – a U.S. veteran writing for The Denver Post– on Oct. 5, where she uses almost exactly the same language.

 “The principle of sovereign immunity has governed relations between states for centuries. It holds that governments cannot be sued for civil wrongs without their consent. In international relations, it preserves the right and responsibility of governments to settle disputes with other governments on behalf of their citizens.”

 Similar language also appears in a guest column by Don Pugsley – a former special forces Green Beret officer — in the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Nov, 28. The Daily Caller also located a letter to the editor in the Concord Monitor on Nov. 20 by a Ken Georgevits, who uses a similar chunk of text. Among other similarities, both Pugsley and Cotney use this paragraph in their pieces:

 “No nation wants this. In fact, several countries have raised their deep concerns about JASTA with the United States government, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, the European Union, the Netherlands, Turkey and Pakistan — countries where many thousands of U.S. servicemen and women are or have been present.”

 While the similarities point to a level of coordination, it isn’t clear who is behind it. The Caller noted the Saudis have employed a number of lobbyist firms since the law was passed as a way to push back. The Hill reported in November that the Saudis have employed 14 lobbying firms in order to seek an overhaul to the law on Capitol Hill. Kristen Breitweiser noted:

 “It’s not pleasant for 9/11 families to have our biggest sources of opposition to come from our White House and our State Department but, adding to that, a lot of the lobbying firms the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has hired are run by well-entrenched former elected officials, or by those from the Armed Services or other leadership positions, and frankly it’s bipartisan and a big problem.”

 Nevertheless, lobbyists don’t approve and publish text. Newspaper employees in the nation’s newsrooms do.

 The fight over JASTA is far from finished. [Heavily lobbied] Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced a bill to narrow the scope of the law, so that governments could only be held liable “if they knowingly engage with a terrorist organization directly or indirectly, including financing.” The senators both say the fix is designed to make it less likely the law would affect the United States, while opponents say it is designed to weaken the law.

This kind of collusion does nothing to restore the People’s faith in the press/media. There is however, a template that would restore the People’s faith in journalism and make the myriad of questionable sources virtually disappear like the dinosaurs. That template’s name is Paul Harvey.

Paul Harvey, was an American radio broadcaster for the ABC Radio Networks. He broadcast News and Comment on weekday mornings and mid-days, and at noon on Saturdays, as well as his famous The Rest of the Story segments. From the 1950s through the 1990s, Harvey’s programs reached as many as 24 million people a week. Paul Harvey News was carried on 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and 300 newspapers. [No other newsman has ever spent more time per week with more of the People for as many years as Paul Harvey. No one is even close.]

Harvey was elected to the National Association of Broadcasters National Radio Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and appeared on the Gallup Poll list of America’s most admired men. In addition he received 11 Freedom Foundation Awards as well as the Horatio Alger Award. Harvey was named to the DeMolay Hall of Fame, a Masonic youth organization, on June 25, 1993. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ most prestigious civilian award, by President George W. Bush. Bush’s remarks summarized Harvey’s career:

“He first went on the air in 1933, and he’s been heard nationwide for 54 years. Americans like the sound of his voice…over the decades we have come to recognize in that voice some of the finest qualities of our country: patriotism, the good humor, the kindness, and common sense of Americans.”

On May 18, 2007, he received an honorary degree from Washington University in St. Louis. In 1992 he received the Paul White Award of the Radio & Television Digital News Association. Paul Harvey was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinoisand awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 1987 in the area of Communication.

Harvey died on February 28, 2009, at the age of 90 at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by family and friends.

Why did the People trust him – until the very end of his life? In short: he told them the truth. Read his own words to understand.

Good morning, Americans. Dateline Manhattan, Kansas, Sept. 19, 2003: 1,700 concerned Americans have converged on Kansas State University to evaluate the challenges and the prospects for our country in this new century to ascertain whether the republic once worth dying for is now worth working for, and if so, how best to proceed.

That should have been today’s Page one headline. Instead these were: Isabel wallops East Coast; Fed does something here; Stock Exchange is leaderless; post office crisis in Land O’Lakes — a post office crisis-oh, a post office crisis in Land 0′ Lakes, Fla. The postmaster is refusing to allow mail deliveries to the Paradise Lakes Resort. That’s the area nudist colony. Postmaster Henry Thompson says he will not compel his letter carriers to expose themselves. That is, he says, to expose themselves to possible embarrassment.

Why don’t you newsmen report more good news instead of all of that tragedy and destruction and discord and disaster and dissent. Well, now wait a minute. My own network, ABC, once tried broadcasting a program of just good news. You know how long that lasted? Thirteen weeks. Not enough listeners wanted just good news.

In Sacramento, Calif., a little tabloid called itself The Good Newspaper, printed just good news, lasted 36 months before it went bankrupt. As far as I have been able to ascertain, there’s only one newspaper in the USA today printing just good news. It’s a little tabloid, comes out once a week in Indiana and they have to give it away, because that good news that you all keep saying you want just won’t sell. And that’s why you can listen to any broadcast, and records are crashing and it’s the worst wind and the worst flood or fire or earthquake or whatever, because noise-news makes news, and sex and noise and sin make news, and one gunshot makes more noise than a thousand prayers. It doesn’t mean it’s more important, just that it sells more newspapers.

Weather forecasting. That ought to be the easiest job in the world. All you have to say is 50 percent chance of rain, then whether it rains or not you’re right. I guess I must have had in deference to our Chicago forecasters, that they did predict 11 of last winter’s two snowstorms.

We never did have such uncomfortable winters before somebody invented that chill factor, and with increasing competition for your attention from a multiplicity of media the situation is worsening.

Birth control pills are good for you. Birth control pills are bad for you. Take your choice. Oh, in Jackson, Miss., last April the IRS office got a phone call from a fellow who wanted to know, “Are birth control pills deductible?” And the alert IRS agent on the other end of the phone said, “Only if they don’t work.”

And news isn’t just news anymore, it’s around the clock warning. You know, one issue says aspirin’s good for you and aspirin’s bad for you. And now the Food and Drug Administration wants to declare mother — the FDA wants to declare mother’s milk unsafe? The Food and Drug Administration suspects that mother’s milk may be unsafe, but so far nobody has been able to ascertain where to put the warning label.

Let me see if I can help you better understand today’s headlines. For one thing, bad news pays. I’m on a foundation board, the McArthur Foundation, which dispenses large sums for research, and I can tell you that a lot of institutions secure money for research by producing bad news about population, about resources, about environment. For another thing, there’s a demonstrable fascination with, there’s a proved public preference for bad news, because what’s bad news to somebody is good news to many. the listener or the reader of bad news can say to himself, “Well, at least I’m not as bad or as bad off as those fellows,” and then the printer whose printing machine broke down, or the builder who bid too low, or the salesman who lost a sale, or the farmer who lost a crop, or the wildcatter who drilled a duster, he can see his problem is not so bad after all. After all, bad news is good news.

The reader does not want to read about some rich man who’s healthy and happily married. But if the rich man is divorced or diseased or loses his money, that’s more interesting reading, because then the reader can feel himself to be better off. There’s always somebody in any hospital ward just enough worse off to help us feel comparatively fortunate, and noisy news serves that purpose. And thus the plane crash which does not involve you, the billionaire in bankruptcy, the charity boss caught stealing, the movie actor charged with murder, these will continue on Page One as long as the fire which burns them warms the rest of us.

If Page One cannot be trusted for perspective, does that mean that things are not really so bad after all? Well, now there is one substantive if in our outlook, and we’re going to get to that. But measured in dollars and sense, Americans, the best of times is right now. Productivity in the United States is expanding this year by a healthy substantial three percent with near zero inflation. The income of Americans is up. The stock market has restored an appropriate equilibrium. More Americans own their own homes than any time in history.

The headline says employment, or — no, no, the headline will never say that. The headline says unemployment 6.1 percent. Have you ever wondered why they headline unemployment? They do. Why doesn’t the headline say employment, 93.9 percent? Well, new claims for unemployment – new claims were down last week to the lowest level in a month. Fewer than 400,000 new claims. The International Monetary Fund reported yesterday morning that our nation’s economy is growing faster than expected, and the recovery should continue for as far ahead as we can see into 2004, with a healthy improvement of 3 percent or 3 percent plus in 2004.

You do realize we can have unemployment and more employment at the same time, if only because of the increasing population, home grown and other. For employment, credit our economy. For unemployment, credit our generosity. Nonetheless, with most every newspaper advertising for willing workers we have almost 4 million Americans receiving unemployment pay. All of those Help Wanted signs everywhere and 3.8 million plus Americans are collecting unemployment pay, but then as Cowboy Perk Carlson always used to say, “If life were logical, it’s men who would ride side saddle.”

So our nation continues to slow grow and one who has ridden this roller coaster through nine boom and bust cycles, thusly prefers slow grow. With you holding the whip and Allen Greenspan holding the reins, things are getting better all of the time. And tomorrow’s going to be better than today. You know what, history says it always was. But I suggested earlier that there’s one if in our outlook and we’re going to get to that now.

Self-government won’t work without self-discipline. Self-government without self-discipline is everywhere falling apart. It’s been what, a dozen years since communism collapsed in Eastern Europe? Those nations are free at last. But freedom implies responsibilityand most were not prepared for that. So what, Yugoslavia is in chaos. Bosnia is on life support. Albania is mired in economic chaos. Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania found freedom too difficult, they’ve already reverted to caretaker communist governments. The Russian people, free, free at last, out from under communism and free, but freedom implies responsibility and the Russians were certainly not ready for that. So crime in Moscow is pandemic, the economy is struggling and the Kremlin’s up for grabs.

Well, self-government won’t work here either without self-discipline. The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, a native of Ghana, Africa, yet recently he looked at the tribal wars going on out in the Sierra Leone and the Congo, the Central African Republic, Angola, Ethiopia, and he said, and this is a quote, “I don’t think we have a chance of moving on to economic and social development.”

Self-government won’t work without self-discipline. However, if there is one irrefutable lesson to be learned from history, it is that excesses ultimately, inevitably, eventually are their own undoing. We will behave or we will be forced to behave.

Landon Parvin says that you can tell a lot about people from the papers that they read. People who read the Washington Post think they own the country. People who read The New York Times know that they run the country. People who read the Washington Timesthink the Washington Post runs the country. People who read the Wall Street Journal think they own the country. People who readUSA Today couldn’t care less who runs the country as long as the weather map is in color.

[By the way, USA Today wants the PLDC to run the country. Nary a kind word – ever – for the Republicans. Now back to the rest of the story.]

Advertisers in the United States are going to spend $249.3 billion this year — and, by the way, that’s 5 percent more than last year — telling us all of the good things, real and imagined, about their respective products. Isn’t it a rotten shame that with noisy, distressing, depressing news hour after hour, day in and day out, by our own emphasis on all of the bad things, crime and inflation and pollution and floods and fires and discords and disaster and discontent, by our persistent preoccupation with negatives, we tend to unsell ourselves and our impressionable offspring on a way of life, which is the envy of the rest of the world. And repetition is effective. Repetition is effective. Repetition is effective.

Self-government requires self-discipline all the way to top, and all the way down to us, then – then we may lead the world as we once did. For our nation’s first 150 years we led the world, not with guns, not with butter, not with money, but by example. The French threw off the yoke of their dissolute aristocracy. England initiated sweeping democratic reforms. Mexico, Central America, South America freed themselves from Spain just watching our example.

So Americans, I’m not ignoring the ferment in the Middle East and the clouds that hang heavy over the Far East, but it’s testing time again and every generation has had to be tested on this rebellious planet. Storms are a part of the normal year-in and year-out climate of life. We earn the sweet by-and-by by how we deal with the messy here-and-now. Sometimes the storm takes the shape of an economic holocaust or a prolonged drought. Sometimes internal civil strife, sometimes a military confrontation. You know, Churchill said that the war years were Britain’s finest hour, and we face a new testing time every lifetime.

Times don’t change. Time goes in circles. The atom bomb altered the potential strategy of war, but we are never without war for very long. In the 3 1/2 thousand years of recorded history, fewer than 8 percent of those years have been warless ones. It’s been barely – my goodness, it’s been barely 138 years since we were at war with ourselves. So times are part of the planet’s normal climate. An eternity is being prepared somewhere, a perfect place, and we have to demonstrate here whether we deserve to be there. And if there were perpetual sunshine there would be no victory. So it’s testing time again. From everything I have seen, man alive, we’re passing this test again and with our colors flying.

Members of Congress huff and puff and hold hearings and strike poses. In between the Teapot Dome and Enron, we have endured two big wars and assorted lesser ones. During each a frightened segment of Americans were convinced that our country was going to hell. It never did. Many times it went through a little hell but it always came out on the other side of the crucible heat tempered and better and strong and more prosperous than before.

I discover in my travels that America is falling in love again with America. If the future appears darker than it is, it’s because of the slimy bugs on the windshield of the world. The social misfits that we used to dispose of quietly are in the courts longer and in the news longer, but Americans are pledging allegiance again, and soldiers are saluted again, and college-agers are taking baths again, and the kids are coming home.

Young Americans after a generation of rebellion against the establishment are the establishment. More of them going to college, more of them interested in military careers, more filiality, expressing unabashed love for their families. One of the reasons so many of us sometimes yearn for the past is that we were all younger back then, but Robert Orbin says Americans should look forward to the golden years, enjoy them. Orbin says we should not dread the prime-time years, we should anticipate them with enthusiasm. He suggests that one thing that might help is to raise the drinking age to 65.

And, you know, we can live even longer if we would behave ourselves, if we just practice self-discipline, because most of what ails us is self-inflicted, resulting from smoking and misuse of drugs and venereal disease and overdrinking, overeating. With nothing more than self-discipline, the New England Journal is convinced this generation could expect to enjoy an average active hundred years. Life expectancy of a girl baby born today is already 100 years.

I want you to think on something, if you forget everything else I’ve had to say today. If by the dawn’s early light tomorrow the American flag were flying over every minaret in the Middle East, if all of that were under our command, oil as fuel would still be doomed.

The tomorrows are eight months pregnant. With wind power and assorted alternate energies, who else in the world is growingenough fuel for most of us and growing enough bread for all of us. In this new century, in this middle most of [America’s]Middle West [we are].”

Why did the people trust Paul Harvey? Because he told them the truth and they recognized the truth when they heard it. We still would but, that doesn’t happen much any more. Few heeded these words and Paul Harvey is no longer able to talk truth to power (a much overused phrase). So, what happened in the eight years since his death? Self-discipline went out the window and we doubled the national debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion!

So, how do we fix the problem with the press and the media and the Internet and social-media and their passing acquaintance with the truth? APPLY SELF-DISCIPLINE AND TELL THE DAMN TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH ALL THE TIME!

How can we do that? That is what this entire treatise is all about. It won’t be easy because we cannot sanction speech, thank God.

Again, the Founders’ purpose for the free press and free speech clauses in the 1st Amendment was to ensure an informed electorate – informed with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Violating that trust, placed in a free press, for personal or political gain, is subverting the spirit and intent of the constitutional purpose of the Amendment. Stretching the truth in opinion is another matter, so opinion must be segregated from factual reporting and unmistakably labeled as the personal view of the author – along with his or her bona fides – with all of the inherent biases and prejudices attached – or it, too, is deserving of sanction by the People. Next time: Art to Artiface.

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