Their view: First amendment doesn’t protect defamation

We often refer to our First Amendment to protect our speech and symbolic actions.

Freedom of speech is freedom from prosecution for voicing our opinions and beliefs or for support of our position in civil cases.

However it does not by default limit us to exposure, risk or liability.

The First Amendment does not protect us from defaming words (libel or slander) or allow us to shout "Fire!" in a crowd of people.

It does not allow us to obstruct justice, harass, lie under oath or encourage unlawful conduct. Semi-protected are hate words, character attacks and deceptive or false advertising.

The First Amendment does not protect us from an explicit or implied duty or obligation to those we represent.

Recently two public figures were fired for words that breached organization policies — Rick Sanchez from CNN and Hank Williams Jr. from ESPN.

While Hank's rowdy friends may still come over for football Monday nights, they are singing a different tune before the game.

Tracy Belcher DaBell


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