American Tort Laws of Defamation & Privacy: Constitutional?
A tort is a "damage, injury, or a wrongful act done willfully, negligently, or in circumstances involving strict liability, but not involving breach of contract, for which a civil suit can be brought" (2). Throughout many years, the American people have come to rely on torts, especially the tort law of defamation and privacy. Naturally, the American government conjured these personal defenses so as to provide the people with some type of protection against defamation. If these tort laws did not exist, the people would be left powerless unto the media. In today's day and age the media is constantly bombarded with lawsuits concerning defamation and privacy. Imagine what it would be like if the media were free to publish whatever they wanted about whomever they wanted. If these torts did not exist, it would prove to be utter chaos and would resemble an unstoppable media dictatorship. American citizens are granted a 1st amendment right, which provides them with freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, among other things. These rights are relied upon heavily in order for there to be a free flowing communication between the government and the people. This is undoubtedly essential for a healthy democracy, yet everything has its limits. Journalists should not be impeded from doing their job as the watchdogs of our country, but when they begin to knowingly publish falsities as facts, and by doing so harm the reputation of an average citizen, this citizen should not be left defenseless. It is one thing to publish information that is crucial to public knowledge, but to harm an innocent citizen just for publicity reasons does not fall under the category of freedom of the press. If the tort laws of defamation and privacy were to be declared unconstitutional, there would be very little or no positive consequences. On the contrary, there would only be negative consequences because it is very difficult to...
Cited: 1. Hopkins, W. Wat. Communication and the Law. 2005 ed. Northport: Vision Press, 2005.
2. "Top Web Results for "Tort"." Dictionary.com. 12 Dec. 2005 .
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