The Importance of Protecting False Speech Under the First Amendment

Over the past decade, no legal scholar has pushed arguments for free speech as far or as influentially as today’s guest: Jeff Kosseff, a former journalist who now teaches cybersecurity law at the U.S. Naval Academy. In previous books, he defended Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet and stood up for anonymous speech in The United States of Anonymous: How the First Amendment Shaped Online Speech.

His new book is his boldest yet. It’s called Liar in a Crowded Theater: Freedom of Speech in a World of Misinformation and I liked it so much that I blurbed it, calling it “a smart, wry, deeply researched and utterly convincing defense of legal protections for ‘misinformation’ in an age when we are less likely to agree on basic facts than ever before.”

We talk about why “misinformation”—however defined—should be legally protected, how the boundaries between private companies and government are getting blurrier and blurrier, and why so many journalists are calling for limits on the First Amendment.

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  • The Reason Speakeasy. The Reason Speakeasy is a monthly, unscripted conversation in New York City with outspoken defenders of free thinking and heterodoxy that doubles as a live taping of The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie. Go here to listen to past Speakeasy events and go here to learn about upcoming ones, including one on Tuesday, December 12 with Stanford historian Jennifer Burns, whose new book is The Last Conservative, a highly praised biography of Milton Friedman.