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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

The right to lie

Thank God for the South Bend City Council president, who is trying to make the world better for politicians and editorial page editors everywhere. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, he is suing other council members who approved a social media policy stating that members should post only items that are "informative," ''consider and verify all sources before posting" and post information that is "accurate." That nonsense is unconstitutional, he says:

 The lawsuit states council President Oliver Davis reserves the right to display opinions and other matters and also wants to "express and allow opinions that are not necessarily factually accurate."

I mean, jeez, if we have to suck to opinions that are "factually accurate," that pretty much puts a stake through the heart of the whole political process doesn't it? I mean, how far would they go? Would candidates have to make only promises they actually intend to keep? Are they going to start holding me to the standard of having to be right? Perish the thought. If factual accuracy is the standard, what are they gonna fill all those cable TV pontification shows with?

In all seriousness, though, the council president is right about the Constitution. The idea behind the First Amendment and freedom of the press is "from many voices, truth." We are able to study all the competing claims and decide which of them are more likely to be accurate. Good arguments are supposed to drive out the bad. That theory is really getting tested now, though. With the explosion of social media, there are just so many bad arguments.