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About This Freedom of Speech Thing

About this Freedom of Speech thing: The First Amendment is supposed to protect the press and private citizens from government sanctions against freedom of speech. The guys who wrote the document were dealing with stiff regulations from a king – remember?

But the law is not simple — and it is more complicated than ever, given the ever-changing media landscape. I only studied media law for four months, so my grasp is only a smidgen of what the experts have. HOWEVER, I do know that the First Amendment does not protect people who print or broadcast lies. You cannot publish falsehoods and seek asylum within the confines of the First Amendment. If you anoint yourself a journalist, then you better brush up on the do’s and don’ts of putting the written or spoken work out there. Now that social media has given everyone a platform, everyone has a voice — which is fine. BUT, you best know what you are doing: folks don’t take too kindly to “experts” spreading lies and rumors.

In addition, when folks open their mouths and insert their feet, it does not protect them from the court of public opinion. If you live and work in the public eye, make money off that same public, or are elected by that public, what you say can bite you in the ass faster than a mad dog on steroids. So, go out there and spill your guts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or anywhere else — but don’t hide behind your freedom of speech flag when the “fit hits the shan.”

And P.S.: if you are a gentleman or gentlewoman with a young playmate who keeps his or her Smartphone attached to the wrist, you best ask him or her to check it at the hotel door.


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