Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Book Publishing and the First Amendment

The editors and writers of Make Magazine (of which I am one) had a lively conversation regarding what news is fit to print. Specifically, the question debated regards the limits on which stories are too dangerous to print. Here's a link to the discussion.

I'm thinking about this because I purchase liability insurance to help protect me from lawsuits. I think it's unfortunate that I need to do this. If information is written and published in good faith, and the writers carefully vet the facts, and let people know the risks, then the writers job is done. What people do with it is up to them. That's what the first amendment protects and it's what makes America great.
The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Writers should not have to worry that somebody will misconstrue information or use information unwisely and wind up suing them. The only thing that does is stem the flow of ideas. It stifles creativity and ultimately makes the world less interesting.

On the other hand, anybody can sue anybody for anything. Seemingly, there's always a lawyer willing to take specious cases and I hear of a lot of crazy cases. I do think that responsible writers won't provide information that's crazy or wrong, but doesn't the first amendment protect crazy or wrong speech as long as it's not hate speech?

1 comment:

Archangel31 said...

Hi, Bill. I'm working on my own tech blog, and I came across yours. Would you be willing to link to my blog? (http://archangel31.blogspot.com/)

I've already linked to you.

Michael Swengel