posted Oct 12, 2003
in Communication Ethics

Communication Ethics book part for Internal Issues. (This is an automatically generated summary to avoid having huge posts on this page. Click through to read this post.)

By this I mean things internal to the communcation itself. Is the content truthful? Is it slanderous? Is it covered one of the commonly-accepted exemptions to free speech, such directly threatening someone?

I mention this because up to this point we have not examined the content of the communication itself very much. I think this is because there's no need to do so. Except for some terminology issues (the slander vs. libel distinction isn't really terribly useful anymore), we know what to do with fraud. We know what to do with threats. Nothing is changed by having new media to make threats in, or spread lies in, or make fraudulent claims in. Thus, I am comfortable invoking existing ethics to cover "internal issues", and explicitly discarding them as an issue for this essay.

Many people try to muddy the issue to justify more strict laws but there is little need or call for new harsher laws. When it boils down to it, there's nothing you can say on the Internet that can't already be said through any number of conventional channels, and even the reach isn't different enough to justify any extensive new laws; more people have louder voices, but we have already extended these doctrines to distinguish between people based on their varying reach.

Thus, even though this is theoretically a degree of freedom, we have already decided as a society what our position on these internal issues are, and there's no need to reconsider it.

This is a "degree of freedom" because how we handle this does not directly impact the other two degrees; for instance, fraudulent messages are conceptually removed from discourse entirely so there is no ethical way for the fraudulent message to be sent to anyone anyhow.


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