After reading the chapters New York Times v. Sullivan, Near v. Minnesota and Hustler Magazine v. Falwell in Freedom of the Press, I felt conflicted. On a side note these cases have do with freedom of press. I like being informed what is happening in the news. I like the freedom I could write an opinion piece in a newspaper, a blog or a post on social media without the fear of being jailed or sued. However, after I read the case Near v. Minnesota and what written in The Saturday Press, I immediately thought of Alex Jones and his show Infowars. Jones, a media personality, continuously makes the most outlandish statements not only about public figures and politicians about also current events. For example, he has said many times that the Sandy Hook massacre did not take place. Mind you, reporters were at the school when the shooting incident occurred. Jones has a following of loyal listeners and they eat the words and repeat the words that come out of his mouth. Imagine the emotional state the parents and families of the children who died at Sandy Hook, hearing Jones give his opinion of what occurred. But this is what the First Amendment stands for not for the lies but for the freedom of speech.
It is a tug-a-war of wanting to say and hear what you want but not appreciating comments made by those who do not wish you well. If we were to censor what people say because we did not like what was being said it would lead us right back to the seditious libel. A world where Comedy Central, The Daily Show, Late night shows and online satire magazines would not exist. A few weeks ago an Op-ed was written about President Trump. This week the news cycle is on Brett Kavanaugh. New Information about Kavanaugh keeps popping up. Those who knew him feel confident to come forward without the fear of any repercussions. This week the New York Times did an investigative report on the Trump’s family’s finances. There is no way this article could have been printed in the past when free speech and the media was censored. I guess It is a price we have to pay for staying informed of what is happening around us and of those who govern us.
I completely agree with you when it comes to the First Amendment. Alex Jone’s show is disgusting to me. The things he says and actually gets people to believe is really disappointing and makes me sad sometimes that people have that much hate inside them that they have to write about how Sandy Hook wasn’t real. Like you, I imagine the parents having to hear this over and over again about how their young children didn’t die or get hate mail saying they are part of the “conspiracy”. At the same time the First Amendment is why I love America as well. Having the ability to write what I feel at all times without censorship or fear is a special privilege not everyone has. Lastly, I LOVE your this line that you wrote, it really resonates with me, “I guess It is a price we have to pay for staying informed of what is happening around us and of those who govern us.” Great job!
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Great commentary! Definitely agree with everything you’re saying here. As much as I think that Alex Jones and people like him cause public harm, it would be even more harmful to our society to censor him and strip him of his First Amendment rights. Justice Hughes said something to these ends in the Near v. Minnesota opinion: “Charges of reprehensible conduct, and in particular of official malfeasance, unquestionably create a public scandal, but the theory of the constitutional guaranty is that even a more serious public evil would be caused by authority to prevent publication.” If there’s one thing that the Near v. Minnesota case communicates, it’s that either all of us have the right to free speech or none of us do.