What does the First Amendment mean in the age of “fake news”?
I’ve been asking that question ever since the election, but Nat Hentoff’s death on Saturday really made me grapple with its substance. The legendary writer and jazz critic, who worked with me at the Village Voice in the mid-1990s, was the fiercest free speech warrior I’ve ever known. Whether Hentoff was defending the right of the Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, or condemning political correctness on college campuses, or tangling with feminists over proposals to ban hate speech, he stood firm in his commitment to the First Amendment. For him, except for the “yelling fire in a movie theater” hypothetical, free speech was absolute. There were no exceptions.