I write to participate in the “EPA for the Internet” debate (“We need something like the EPA to curb the lies that pollute social media,” Letters, Oct. 12; “Restrict ‘so-called’ free speech? Consider who’ll be making those calls,” Letters, Oct. 14).
Because we live in an interdependent society, we must start with the premise that no individual right is absolute. We know, for instance, that the right of free speech does not permit falsely crying “Fire!” in a crowded venue. It seems fair to infer that Tom Pawlina, in his Oct. 12 letter, does not propose the regulation of legitimate political discourse. Instead, he suggests that blatant falsehoods or hateful or needlessly inflammatory statements be barred from a medium that can amplify villainy without consequence.
We know that unfettered social media can and has been used to harm our national interests. It is the legitimate role of this government to take reasonable steps to shield its citizens from the broadcast infamy of the wicked, political, or otherwise, just as the Environmental Protection Agency has shielded us from polluters.
Daniel F. McCarthy