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Tell Me Lies: The First Amendment & the Right to (Mis)inform

Ideas on Tap is a series of "pint-sized conversations about big ideas." Join us for drinks, appetizers, and conversation in a pub setting.

Why should misinformation be protected under the Constitution? Don't we need laws to ensure that citizens receive truthful information? If you are living in an authoritarian country, the answer is easy–the state determines what is true and what is false. But in our democracy, the burden for filtering out truth from falsehood falls on each of us. This discussion examines the 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan that protects newspapers from libel suits, even when they publish "erroneous statements," and its consequences. We’ll consider the reasoning behind the Sullivan ruling, how journalists depend on its protection, and what would happen should it be overturned. Rather than endorsing one side of the argument, can we work together to create animated yet productive public debates?

Cost is $15 per person and includes appetizers and one beverage (beer, wine, or non-alcoholic drink) in the relaxed atmosphere of the Stark Brewing Co. in downtown Manchester.


Anna Brown, Director of Research & Analysis, Citizens Count

Tim Kelly, Executive Editor, New Hampshire Union Leader

Will Stewart, Manchester Alderman, ward 2


Meg Mott, Ph.D.

Suggested reading:

The 1960 Advertisement in the New York Times that was provoked the lawsuit

The 1964 Supreme Court unanimous decision as it appeared in the New York Times

This series was made possible by the Mellon Foundation.

Trust Me! Civil Discussion and Information in a Polarized Age

In these hyper-polarized times, it is hard to find spaces where different political viewpoints co-exist. Fewer schools teach debate, which leaves the next generation of citizens unprepared for counterarguments and nuance. Changes in journalism and media consumption have enabled people to avoid, and sometimes discount, information that doesn’t align with their worldviews. This conversation considers the importance of holding competing arguments in a democracy. We'll hear from a professional journalist and Keene State students on how they make space for dissenting viewpoints. Together we can rediscover the quiet pleasure of understanding the best arguments of your political opponent.

Cost is $15 per person and includes appetizers and one beverage (beer, wine, or non-alcoholic drink) in the relaxed atmosphere of Modestman Brewing in downtown Keene.


Panelists: Cathleen Klem, Tom Ewing, Danielle Dexter, Paul Cuno-Booth

Moderator: Meg Mott, Ph.D.

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