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Personal Responsibility for Lies: What a Concept!

Jeff Hall

Posted on August 12, 2021 16:38

4 users

A judge has ruled that Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell can be sued by Dominion, a vote-counting machine manufacturer. The three claimed, without evidence, Dominion rigged the election against Donald Trump. This lawsuit is, in my view, a really good thing.

There is a lot of talk about how awful social media platforms are for allowing themselves to be spreaders of misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, etc.  People act on this information and it's highly corrosive. 

In the case of vax deniers, acting on disinformation can prove lethal.

I agree, the platforms should do much more to clean up their acts. I've been told it's a relatively small number of identifiable bad actors who pollute the airwaves, often aided and abetted by bots. 

Shut down these guys and much of the problem goes away.

But I'm sympathetic to platforms who claim, in their defense, that it's impossible to police every post because users flood the zone at lightning speed all day long. 

If an army of thousands of editors had to approve each post in advance, I'm still not sure they could keep up with it -- and then there's the issue of potential censorship.

I think it's individuals who should be held responsible for what they say.  If the spreader of a falsehood engages in this practice knowingly and with bad intent, why shouldn't this person be held liable for spreading such toxicity? 

Does freedom of speech really give someone the right to spread falsehoods about our very democracy (resulting in much of the division we see today, including the January 6 uprising)? 

Should secretaries of state and other election officials feel threatened because they did their jobs and told the truth?

Should someone with no medical expertise really dispense medical advice? 

Should a company like Dominion have to live beneath a shadow of doubt because someone else doesn't like the election results and maliciously casts doubt on the efficacy of Dominion's voting machines?

That could be very economically damaging to Dominion -- and bad for our democracy. 

Should anyone have to endure a damaging falsehood in the name of free speech? What if YOU were the victim of an intentionally false attack? Wouldn't you want some recourse?

I think Dominion absolutely should be able to sue, and, if Dominion proves its case, I hope Giuliani, Powell and Lindell pay a very heavy price.

That would send an important and timely message to others: Think twice before intentionally smearing others when you know what you are about to say is false (or you don't have the facts to back up what you are about to say).

This "no more lying" philosophy should apply to members of the media -- and presidents and other politicians -- as well.

I wrote a column about this back in February of 2021, "What If Liars Had to Pay a Fine?

This column triggered an interesting conversation, both pro and con.  Scroll down below the article to see the comments from readers.

We haven't quite figured this out yet as a society, but it feels like, after many years of mind-boggling tech innovation, confusion and abuse, we are finally moving in the right direction. 




Jeff Hall

Posted on August 12, 2021 16:38


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