The Layers Behind Free Speech

I personally believe that the First Amendment should shield journalists and reporters no different than all of us. Despite wanting to of course go into the reporting field, I don’t see many reasons why journalists should have extra freedoms when it comes to speech. I feel as though journalists are already able to push their limits sometimes when it comes to the questions they ask or their proximity to places and situations that normal civilians are not allowed to be in. However, extra freedoms and protection can lead to too much power and comfortability where reporters can cross lines with topics or people of prominence and not face the same consequences as someone like I would face. While of course there will always be great journalists who are accurate and unbiased, there is bound to be times where a story comes out too quick and is wrong, or someone is being slandered and it could lead to even bigger problems with the law and reporting. Plus, the First Amendment should already be a big enough shield for everyone because there is not a whole lot that is punishable besides direct threats at someone or in a situation that can cause panic.

I would argue that the weaponized defamation lawsuit against the media can be very concerning. However, there is likely many times in which it is necessary. I feel like this is a necessary right for people and especially those in the public eye, in order to have the opportunity and ability to defend their name. The only issue is that it is very difficult to win against the media in these situations. This is due to the protections that are granted in the media that include: The Substantial Truth Doctrine, Fair Report Privilege, Statute of Limitations Defense, Wire Service Defense, Opinion and Fair Comment Privilege, Newsworthiness Defense to Invasion of Privacy Claims, and finally Arrests and Criminal Charges. However, it is not impossible to do so as there have been multiple examples of people successfully suing the media for defamation. For one of course, the plaintiff has to be able to prove that what was said is false. This already can be difficult enough to do with things like The Substantial Truth Doctrine, which means if the truth does not change public opinion/reaction as much as the false statement does, it is said to be “substantially true”. The plaintiff would also want to try and prove that there was actual harm caused. For example, celebrities in Hollywood might be able to win a case in this situation if they can prove they were removed from a movie role due to false claims that were released.

Anti-SLAPP statutes most definitely help us out. Without these, it is very likely that we would have seen many more cases of journalists being arrested, fired, or sued by these figures. This is an easy conclusion to come up with especially after reading through many cases that involved Anti-SLAPP laws protecting people. All the way from journalist Nancy Chapman being sued after writing a story on Marc D’Amelio who was running for Senate in Connecticut, to a family being sued for $1 million for just leaving a negative Yelp review. Surprisingly, only 31 out of the 50 states have Anti-SLAPP laws with Colorado becoming the latest. But there are talks of a federal Anti-SLAPP law in the works which may be able to provide help to those in the 19 remaining states or perhaps just influence these states to finally create their own.

Overall, there are lots of complications and grey areas when it comes to The First Amendment and reporters/media. However, with the protections in place and the ones that are soon to be developed, hopefully there will be a more clear-cut set of regulations and understandings amongst what is and is not fully protected by The First Amendment.


The Value of Free Expression

The value that free expression holds in our society is a huge one. It’s really a part of our everyday lives in so many ways that I feel we don’t really realize. Whether it’s as simple as commenting on a YouTube video or publicly stating a disagreement with authority like the government, it is one of the most important rights we have. When we consider how unfortunate some people’s situations are in other countries like North Korea, we are extremely lucky to have this freedom. Especially when you think about how we are allowed to voice our own opinions whether they are positive or negative towards people like the president, the police, or other positions of power which is definitely more censored in other countries.

I feel like overall freedom of expression is more of a public issue just due to first amendment. There is some personal value to it because of course it is our right, and so we have our own thoughts and opinions protected under free speech. However, that wouldn’t be possible without it being a publicly known matter and law. Of course, this isn’t just free speech that is being granted there is also freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly/protest, and of course the right to petition the government. This all tells me that it’s a much more public value because a lot of these would contain or require groups of people.

Freedom of expression contributes to our identity because it’s a large part of what makes us, us. Without this we’d be a censored version of ourselves and there’d be a lack of uniqueness in our identities. I feel as though freedom of expression has also paved the way and allowed for a more progressive society. Although there is still more work to do, we wouldn’t be this far without this freedom. It contributes to our personal identities by allowing people to be themselves in their authentic, true form. It then contributes to our public identity because all of these individuals collide to make up our current society.

Freedom of expression is 100% worth protecting. I think without it, we’d quickly realize how important it is in our daily lives and realize how much protection it provides us. With how technologically driven our society is and with things like social media I feel like that’d be the quickest realization for everyone. Imagine if your posts, comments, likes, texts, calls, or even Google searches were all monitored and censored, or even reported. It would give us all such an unsettling feeling almost as if our thoughts were being controlled and manipulated in order to fall in line with what those above us want us to think. It’s a scary thought considering that there are still places in the world who do not have this freedom and it’s something we really never think about in terms of how fortunate we truly are.


Debunking Misinformation

The popular online myth I’d like to debunk for this final blog post is one about vaccines. I’d like to make it as clear as possible that the Covid 19 vaccine does not contain microchips that track us, listen to us, or contain 5G radiation. They are just vaccines to help protect against the virus.

First and foremost, the various Covid vaccines were worked on and created by some of the most advanced companies and scientists all across the world. Ranging from Moderna, to BioNTech-Pfizer, Sputnik V, and of course Johnson & Johnson. It amazes me that people would believe in a conspiracy so large that it would entail some of the best companies across the world working together to inject the entire world with microchips, but here we are. What’s even worse about this theory is that it seems as though those who believe in it, feel as though it only involves us here in the United States. Why would they only do this to us? The logic is very flawed in this entire thing. In a poll created by, 28% of Americans believe in the theory, and amongst Republicans, that number is 44%. These numbers are shockingly high, and it appears the main culprits in question are Bill and Melinda Gates.

What sparked this whole controversy was Bill Gates talking about the potential for digital certificates that could show who has been tested, recovered from Covid, or is vaccinated. However, this got spun into, Bill Gates is creating microchips to put in the vaccine. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones stated that Gates admitted that the vaccine will result in 700,000 deaths worldwide, which was of course proven false. People like Alex Jones spreading harmful information like that is how theories like this blow up. Former politician Simon Parkes has recently been saying some outlandish things. Things such as his mother is an alien, he stopped scientists at the Large Hadron Collider from opening a portal that would have ended mankind, and that the illuminati are behind the microchips in the vaccines with many of them fleeing the planet after failing to open the portal due to Parkes’ heroics, leaving only 200 “evil beings” on Earth. For starters, Parkes’ claims are ridiculous, but this information also comes from which is a known site full of disinformation, misinformation, and false news so it’s not surprising that they would speak with Simon Parkes.

NBC had a great article on debunking this conspiracy with real reasoning from Dr. Matt Laurens. Laurens stated that the size required for this microchip is actually impossible for one. Second, these chips would have to have an associated power source that every single one is connected to, and lastly, this power source would have to be able to transmit a signal through at minimum one inch of muscle, fat, and skin. These simple facts alone easily show why it’s scientifically impossible to achieve this. Just as it took collaboration from the world’s best scientists in order to create formulas for these vaccines, it’d likely take the same if not more work to even think of a possibility where a small enough chip could be invented. Forget even having a central power source and getting a signal through a human body. Their own study they conducted back in July of 2021, showed that 5% of Americans thought this theory was “definitely true”. While 15% thought it was “probably true”. Another fact to disprove this theory is the actual injection of the vaccine. Covid 19 vaccines are injected at least an inch into dense muscle, if a chip were to be inserted this far into our body, not even a phone would be able to communicate with it.

Another layer to this theory besides tracking, is that the microchips contain 5G technology. The main place in which this theory took off was through a social media post from user Mario Fusco. The kick in all of this is that this is one of the few places that this image and theory can be found, besides of course r/guitarpedals. Many thought Fusco was joking as the image is literally of a guitar pedal circuit. It contains words such as treble, bass, and volume, which should have been a dead giveaway. However, it still led to thousands of people online running with this and trying to create a theory that this was the technology within the microchip.

The last aspect of this theory is that the Covid vaccine is “the mark of the beast”. Now this one is probably the most unbelievable for me, in terms of people actually truly feeling this way. I am not a religious person and do not judge anyone for their beliefs. However, this was pretty insane to me. The most extreme aspect of this conspiracy is that the vaccine is some sort of ritual, or sacrifice. Now it was difficult to find true sources on this topic and not religious blogs and sites. Whether or not these sites had truth behind them with bible evidence and other sources, it is hard to not see this as bias no matter their stance whether the vaccine does or does not have to do with “the beast”. However, USA today did acknowledge this theory and it was one of the few nationally reliable sources that did so. However, it was mostly about the different opinions amongst healthcare workers, religious leaders, and some background as to where this idea even came from.

While there are many different theories about Covid and masks and politics behind all of this, I felt like this specific topic was a clear one to choose and pick apart because of how blatantly wrong it is. It is scientific fact that it’s simply impossible to microchip the world’s population through Covid vaccines. Unfortunately, this pandemic has divided the world and our country rather than bringing us together in an effort to end it, and it’s odd to think about how much of an issue masks and this vaccine has become when there’s never been a second thought about other vaccines like the flu or chickenpox.