Skip to main content

View Diary: US Pastor/Author of Ugandan 'Kill the Gays' Bill Charged with Crimes Against Humanity (174 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  You're confusing freedom of speech and defamation (0+ / 0-)


    The New York Times is still free to write whatever they want about whomever they want.  The government does not impose any limitations upon them.  However, should they write something false about someone and that person is thereby injured, THAT PERSON has a right to bring an action for libel.  Not the government.  The Court decided that freedom of the press (not freedom of speech) requires that newspapers and such be provided greater leeway for making false statements than the ordinary person has, and therefore it's much more difficult to obtain damages from them.  However, freedom of speech has nothing to do with that.

    You also seem to be confused about what "Constitutional" means.  The Constitutional aspect of it is that the Constitution is what guarantees our freedom of speech.  And it says that the government shall not abridge our right.   That is the be-all and end-all of freedom of speech.

    So civil actions for damages for someone lying about you has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

    •  ok, I will try here (0+ / 0-)
      So civil actions for damages for someone lying about you has nothing to do with freedom of speech
      That is not accurate.  The Supreme Court has provided a framework for how these civil actions can and cannot work (under state law) based upon the First Amendment.

      Let's say you write something about me that I consider libel.  I sue you for it.  The standard I have to show depends on how famous I am and/or the nature of the importance of the speech (is it of public interest).  Those factors impact whether I have to show you were negligent in your falsehood or reckless.  

      This is why we think of the press as having special protections, in reality the press just tends to talk about famous people or 'important' stuff.  If the New York Times printed an article (falsly)saying that I had syphilis, it would have no more protections against my lawsuit than you would if you wrote that, besides of course, probably having better lawyers.

      The entire famous/important and negligent/reckless framework is born out of the freedom of speech.  The Supreme Court found that in order to pretect freedom of speech there would be limitations on libel/slander laws.

      As I see it, if a government court orders you to me damages for something you wrote down, that's still the government constraining your speech.  The government is telling you "you can't libel people".  

      That is different from a contract context, and by extension the employment context we were discussing elsewhere in this thread.  Where if I hire you, we have a contract where we agree that I can fire you for any reason.  So if I fire you for telling people I have Syphilis, well, that's just part of the contract.  

      The government can't infringe on my constitutional rights, but neither can it empower others to do so without my consent (contract).  So your distinction between civil lawsuits and government enforcement doesn't really work.  Civil lawsuits are conducted with the power of the state at their back.  

      Imagine a law that said "any person who owns a rifle may be sued by any other person."  It would make no sense to suggest that this is not the government infringing on 2nd amendment rights, just because the enforcement mechanism is through civil actions.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site