So, I recently wrote an article that apparently got the attention of the dissident voice box curiously dubbed Ripoff Report because I got a very special response in my name! Although I do appreciate being a superstar, I’m going to turn the attention to what issues rogue warriors and myself stand miles apart on – the topic of free speech that closely touches the lines of defamation where certain websites (as the aforementioned) are concerned.
In order to assuage further argument, let’s clarify what James Madison had in mind when Freedom of Expression through press and speech were added under the First Amendment (courtesy of FindLaw):
”The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”
Madison clearly establishes individuals should be endowed with an unbridled tongue, both in spoken and written form, which previously could’ve gotten themselves killed. However, what proponents of websites that allow untruths to be written about businesses, innocent women and even the deceased fail to realize is deliberate character assassination is a litigable offense in many countries (the United States being one). The definition:
Defamation – the action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel.
So here we’re presented with an interesting challenge (for some): should we write defamation into the First Amendment to create a safe haven (and financial resource) for individuals to unfairly adjudicate each other anonymously, or should sites that promote verbal warfare be allowed to fornicate with the First Amendment? That’s been a quandary for lawmakers, vloggers, bloggers, moms and parents for quite some time – unfortunately, the only way to respond to sites that promote such duplicity is to stop visiting these sites and participating in their directives.
Sites like Ripoff Report offer a two-prong approach to remedying untruths: tell the world your side of the story (kind of hard when you’re in a wheelchair, dead, or have a similar name) or pay a nominal fee of up to $2000 (a correction from my previously stated amount of $2500) to remove a report that had nothing to do with you in the first place. Yes, we again see how “free speech” has provided a steady income for some while robbing others of their rights to feel safe online, an ideology which far exceeds the actual focus of a nation striving to improve.
As I discussed before, the Communications Decency Act (Section 230) provides the bridge between free speech and willful negligence of another’s digital presence and dignity. It offers a method for some weasel who didn’t like his competition getting too far ahead of him to post slanderous bigotries, misogynist litany or whatever is deemed appropriate at the time. Freedom of speech was designed to promote the feelings, fears and thoughts of those who were formerly oppressed – defamation and the sites promoting such take the First Amendment into whatever context will pad their bank account the quickest, which is evident when anyone accepts payments to arbitrate a point that was moot in the first place.
Think about it again (or reread the first linked article above): how would you feel if your sister – a wonderful mother, wholesome human being and devoted Christian – was called “a woman of easy virtue” online, or was accused of ripping someone off when she’s never transacted one day online? Should she be forced to spend $2000 to defend herself?
We’ve been endowed with free speech for quite some time now – there’s no reason to defend this portion of the First Amendment. Not threatening government officials, suggesting you’ll take someone’s life or slandering named (or nameless) individuals is not an unreasonable request and should not be included in any debate regarding what rights you do or do not have.
To close, I leave you with this thought: your rights to speak (tactfully) in press about matters of the heart, the ideas you want to share and your ability to freely practice whatever religion you want is fully yours in America. The right to talk about others with an unbridled tongue or openly defame individuals of good character is not. Knowing the difference is what proponents of verbal filth sites cannot seem to grasp, and your role as an upstanding citizen is simple: teach them.