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Not all lies are created equal

April 24, 2014

Re "Lying is free speech too," Editorial, April 20

As a free-speech advocate, I would probably agree with your editorial opposing the criminalization of false political speech if politics was a level playing field. Unfortunately, it isn't.

Imagine if the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List — with millions of dollars contributed by corporate ideologues — was able to purchase massive amounts of television and newspaper advertising falsely accusing a candidate of voting for "taxpayer-funded abortions."

Yes, in an ideal world, the remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. But the speech that is true would be buried by an avalanche of corporate-funded lies.

As the saying goes, tell a lie often enough and people will begin to believe it. Do we really want a political system in which lies are on an equal footing with the truth, and liars can hide behind our Constitution?

Steve Mehlman


Not all speech — especially speech that can endanger someone — is protected by the Constitution.

Telling lies about a person can harm his reputation and perhaps even his mental health. It may be true that one could bring suit against the liar, but that is not always practical. Meanwhile, serious damage can be inflicted by a liar.

Usually I agree with your editorials; this time, I respectfully do not.

David Coulson

Huntington Beach


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