The missing question

It is unfortunate that Elaine McArdle, in her cover article entitled “Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave,” failed to ask the crucial question, “How do we determine what is ‘disinformation’?”

As a 1979 HLS graduate privileged to have learned constitutional law from Laurence Tribe ’66, alongside (now Chief Justice) John Roberts ’79, I cherish the First Amendment and its underlying premise that truth is to be discerned from a free and open exchange of ideas in the public forum. Not long ago, when the FDA did not consider cigarettes to be harmful and physicians were advertising cigarettes, anyone claiming they were dangerous to your health would have been deemed a spreader of “disinformation.” If unpopular viewpoints had been censored because they were “disinformation,” thalidomide, DDT, saccharine, and thimerosal in children’s vaccines would have injured and killed millions more than they did. Our fundamental principles are violated when unpopular views are suppressed because they are considered “wrong” by some physicians or the heads of social media companies.

Andrew R. Kislik ’79
Menlo Park, California