Our print, radio, TV, internet and social media have become advocates for their favorite causes. When they ceased investigating and reporting verified facts, they lost their moral compass and justification for protection under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Propaganda is not newsworthy. It is the tool of anarchy.

Hate speech should not be protected free speech if it is intended to harm others or overthrow our elected government officials. Under some circumstances, it can become criminal. Unfortunately, it becomes free speech when the media covers it, even if they spin it to promote dissent and spike their ratings. This is not right and we must see and hear it for what it is.

Put a microphone and camera on some fool attacking our culture or leadership and he or she becomes an instant celebrity for that moment when those images and their uncivil rhetoric hit the news cycle. It is intoxicating for the fool and breeds dissent. This is not newsworthy material. It is pure unadulterated hate speak intended to create a sense of relevance when in fact it is too often sponsored by an insignificant number of irresponsible fringe elements of our society. The lure of free publicity provokes such abhorrent speech and our media willingly oblige.

Throw in some violence and such discordant conduct goes viral in this age of the internet. Give us the true facts without the spin in favor of the author’s political or cultural bias. Anything less is just propaganda-and should be labeled as such. Then give us all sides of the story and without spin.

Where are the editors? The owners? Sensationalizing the trivial in order to appeal to the hostile interests of their readers, be they right or left leaning in their political or cultural ideologies, is merely marketing. They are pandering to their consumer base for circulation and ratings – the life blood of their advertising revenue. Professional ethics seems to have become a lost art in this profession.

We have laws and regulations to deal with false advertising, libel, slander and seditious conduct. The First Amendment should not protect the authorship of hate speech that is calculated to sustain and hopefully increase the audience of the sponsor. There should be good faith and due diligence requirements in reporting accurately and truthfully on all manner of speech. Where harm or personal gain are the motivating forces, there should be consequences for the speakers, authors and their advocates in the media. One consequence has already surfaced. Readership of our print media and audiences for radio and TV are melting away. Sadly, we are creating a generational epidemic of uninformed citizens in the process.

Even more sadly, these people still get to vote based on sound bites and posters flashed in the media. This is especially true of the internet, a medium totally unregulated and divorced from the moral standards that made the USA the world’s leading superpower. Absent a Judeo-Christian ethic, we are just another third world noise maker.

Shame on those editors and their owners who ignore their obligations to the sanctity of our First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We deserve better if we are to give them “free speech” exemptions from civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

Harold E. Collins
Lawyer, Author and Journalist Provocateur

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Harold E. Collins
Lawyer, Author and Journalist Provocateur