Fake News, Hate Websites, and the Law

Fake News, Hate Websites, and the Law

by Gordon Jeremiah Berry

What is truth? One of life’s ultimate questions that has passed on for generations. Legal issues that often must be persistent is how to effectively go about in dealing with these many new forms of “expressions”. breaking news

First and foremost is the immediate obstacle of the law itself. What is regularly referred to and specifically written inside of the United States Constitution is the direct statement that states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abrading the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the governance for a redress of grievances.”

This well know Constitutional Amendment known as the 1st Amendment thus prohibits congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. This would include made up fake news websites and hate speech found on websites.

Exceptions to the Law 

Situations that would not be covered under the 1st Amendment under legal terms would be found by one of the following: libel, slander, defamation, fighting words, obscenity, and what is referred to in legal circles as the Brandenburg test.

Case law regarding “fighting words” is a case law that is still used in court today from a case back in 1942; the case was known as Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942).

Obscenity case law is sometimes called the Miller Test, known as Miller v. California 413 U.S. 15 (1973).

The Brandenburg test, known as Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). This case law is referred to when determining when inflammatory speech is intended to advocate illegal action and it is ruled that such action should have been restricted. This occurs under two conditions. First, the advocacy is “directed to inciting” or producing imminent lawless action. Second, the advocacy is also “likely” to incite or produce such action. In plain terms, this is why it’s considered unlawful to scream “fire” in a crowded movie theater that is not actually on fire.

History and Critical Thinking, past and present

In 1775, during a time when the foundation of a truly democratic system was debated within the United States, Patrick Henry gave a famous speech by saying “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

Fast forwarding to modern times most people are realizing that technological advances is beginning to dilute deeper more critical forms of thinking and reasoning. The very way we process information is changing, this shifts focus to a more informational retrieval function, then a learned function, thus, and as a result we are retraining our brains synapse.

In a recent study by Stanford’s graduate school, more than a year was spent on evaluating how well students in the United States evaluate online sources of information. This study involved more than 7,800 students.

The study revealed more than 80 percent of middle schoolers believed that ‘sponsored content’ was a real news story. Most high school students accepted photographs as presented, without verifying them. Most college students didn’t suspect potential bias in a tweet from an activist group, and also most college students couldn’t identify the difference between a mainstream and a fringe source.

The students displayed a “stunning and dismaying consistency” in their responses, the researchers wrote, they were getting duped again and again. They weren’t looking for high-level analysis of data but just a “reasonable bar” of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles. The concluding words use to describe the results of the study stated that the results of the test could only be described as “dismaying,” “bleak” and a “threat to democracy.”

Understanding Truth   

When the question of the source or sources is invalid, the determination of truthfulness becomes irrelevant. Narcissism is then the norm that is compounded with the internal desire only of financial gain and purpose, the result, an intensive self-absorb society that is often more concerned with image than logic. Compassion fades in the distance and politics becomes all about the economic class you belong to, with a very feeble attempt of a few leaders to become slightly more nationalistic in a last effort push to re-connect a society that has experienced stagnate wages and life that is slowly deteriorating.


A world that is always pretending to move forward, yet endlessly remaining within a stationary setting is beginning to reflect our internal and external realities.

Today, the state of daily affairs will more consist of the saying, “let me have sanity over the acceptance of this new normal sense of conformity”.

About the Author

Gordon Jeremiah Berry, is an avid reader and intense researcher. Mr. Berry looks for the deeper meaning behind all things. His favorite saying is “Love must always win out!”

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