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Free SpeechThis past weekend, on “deadline,” I wrote the latest installment of my twice-a-week blog that was published on Tuesday. In pertinent part, I was complaining about the increasing phenomena of . . . “fake news.” Not only amateurs republishing silly emails, but, worse still, the “pros,” out there doing it to make a buck. A lotta bucks, it seems. I offered up the following story about the professional fake journalists. http://bit.ly/2h3VYYh.

The very next day, I read arguably a different point of view in the following op-ed authored by Greta Van Susteren. http://bit.ly/2h81UvC. This was a problem because I have followed (no, not stalked, just followed) and admired Ms. Van Susteren’s points of view for a great number of years.

What was I to do? Pull my blog? Rewrite it?

No, I decided I couldn’t do that, primarily because I believe in it. So I decided to do this follow-up blog, surround Ms. Van Susteren from all sides, so to “speak.” And hope that maybe she’ll be kind enough to respond. That perhaps we might engage “further.” (Dare I refer to this piece as an extra–“free”–blog this week, on top of the customary Tuesday and Thursday editions?)

Wouldn’t that be nice? A discussion between one lawyer who became an accomplished journalist and commentator and another who became a wannabe novelist, and blogger, who would love to become a commentator too. 🙂

So, what’s in a . . . word? Commentator or blogger? No, commentator sounds great to me, a sign of respect, a blogger or a writer who has arrived. As certainly Ms. Van Susteren has. But the word, to which I refer is “Free, with a capital “F,” as in “Free Speech.”

There are no free lunches and . . . there is no such thing as “Free” speech. There is a price for everything.

Consummate “Free Speech” requires us to accept the “bad” with the “good,” to put up with the likes of today’s professional fake “newscasters.” The problem with that is then there is too much . . . noise, too much . . . interference. When people find it too difficult to separate the bad from the good, especially when in this politically dysfunctional day and age, the separation between good and bad is becoming harder and harder to distinguish, the “cost” is that more and more people just start tuning out. Everything. They start throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the good out with the bad. And that cannot be . . . good. For any of us.

Our Constitutional framers did not mean for the right to Free Speech to be unlimited. Walk into a dark movie theater and shout “Fire!” See where that gets you. Free speech is neither unlimited nor free. There are always consequences, always a price to be paid.

Since Ms. Van Susteren and I are both lawyers, we should be able to agree that little out there is black or white. Most of it is grey. (Otherwise, there would be fewer lawyers. Now, that would be good.) Perhaps Ms. Van Susteren and I might be able to find some grey common ground on this subject. Advance the ball, as it were. If together we dig a little deeper. If we . . . engage.

Seems like this is a good place to stop. For now?


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