The topic of “freedom of speech” is always one that’s very interesting to discuss. If you ask most people, they’ll proudly proclaim that they “love” free speech and view it as one of the cornerstones of any free society. And they’re right. A nation can’t truly call itself a “free society” if its citizens aren’t allowed to express themselves openly and freely without fear of legal prosecution.
That being said, there’s also a tendency for many of the same people who claim to love free speech to want to silence those who say things with which they disagree. And that’s where the gray area comes in. Can someone really claim to “love” free speech when they’re actively out to try to put a muzzle on those who say things they don’t like? But then there’s the other side of that argument as well. Isn’t one person speaking out against someone they disagree with just another form of freedom of speech?
Because while our freedom of speech gives us the legal protection to say pretty much whatever we want without fear of prosecution for what we say, our First Amendment does not protect us from facing repercussions in the private sector for the words that come out of our mouths.
You’re absolutely free to tell your boss to go to hell without fear of legal ramifications. However, that doesn’t mean your boss can’t hold you accountable (most likely with a swift write-up or termination) for doing so.
And our First Amendment doesn’t protect people or businesses that knowingly and willfully lie to degrade or defame another person or business, which is what the city of Paris is suing Fox News over. When the conservative entertainment network willfully allowed “experts” to spread numerous lies about Paris’ mythical “no-go” zones, then pushed these lies as “fact” either maliciously or irresponsibly, then their “speech” became liable.
Rush Limbaugh apparently doesn’t seem to understand this fact.
“Here’s Fox News, First Amendment, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and CNN is ecstatic and happy that Fox News is going to be sued for referring to the no-go zones in Paris,” Limbaugh said. “They’re very happy about it. You know the old saying, you believe in something, you watch somebody else lose it and you do nothing to defend it, you’ve got no excuse when they come for you.”
This isn’t about free speech. Fox News is fully within their right to make factually based statements against the city of Paris. But what they can’t do is fabricate lies and push blatant misinformation to try to degrade a city. For example, as a writer I can mock Sarah Palin about almost anything she does as a public figure. But what I cannot do is make up lies about her and push those lies as “fact” in an attempt to slander her.
Oh, and for the record, France is not governed under our Constitution so our First Amendment really has nothing to do with the city of Paris. Besides, willful defamation and slander are not protected under the any sensible notion of “free speech.”
Ironically, just a couple of months ago, Limbaugh threatened to sue the DCCC claiming that they took comments he made out of context in an attempt to slander him. Funny, he didn’t seem to be such a fan of “free speech” back then, now did he? And all the DCCC did was use his exact words – and he still threatened to sue.
What an absolute hypocrite.
It’s no wonder Rush Limbaugh is considered the least trusted member of the national media.