Roque: Even a false statement may be valuable to public debate


Posted at Mar 15 2018 11:11 AM

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday assailed a proposed law seeking to penalize "fake news", saying this will take away the public's right to judge for themselves the veracity of any information. 

"If you make it criminal, then certainly a judge would have to sit in judgement and decide what is true and what is false, arrogating therefore unto itself and into the institution a matter that is better left to the public to judge for themselves," Roque said. 

"We can only hope that because people were given by God the ability to discern what is true and what is false, it is ultimately the public and the free marketplace of ideas that should judge what the truth is and that should put ultimately the penalty on purveyors of fake news," he added

Roque made the statement during a Senate hearing on the bill.

Citing a US Supreme Court decision, the President's spokesman also argued that fake news is "not necessarily antithetical to freedom of expression." 

"Even a false statement may be deemed to make a valuable contribution to public debate since it brings about a clearer perception and livelier impression of the truth produced by its collision with error," he said. 

ANC, 15 March 2018 

Watch a livestreaming of the hearing here