A Quick Note: Freedom of Speech

And just one more thing…

Actually, it occurs to me that there’s one other quirk worth mentioning.

Their version of freedom of speech doesn’t cover fraud.

Now, ours doesn’t either, to an extent – at least when it’s monetary fraud, and when it’s addressed to some distinct identifiable subset of individuals. But if you’re deceiving everyone, or doing so in a blatantly non-commercial manner, it’s pretty much fair game.

The Empire’s version, on the other hand, while wide-ranging in many ways, maintains as a fundamental legal principle that the freedom to speak is not the freedom to deceive. So you can talk as much as you want about what you believe, as a matter of faith; you can have whatever opinions you like, no matter how bizarre, unpopular, repulsive, hateful, or vile, and publish them to your heart’s content; you can take provisional positions on the unknown; and you can be mistaken, provided that you’re willing to accept and acknowledge correction.

But the moment you appear to be deliberately lying about, misrepresenting, or otherwise playing silly buggers with a matter of fact, the Curial courts will nail your ass to the wall on criminal “Intentionally Wrong Calculation/Falsification of Information” charges, and those charges will stick. That you’re defrauding millions of people instead of thousands isn’t an ameliorating factor, it’s an aggravating one.

(That strict application of this would result in maybe 99% of most polities’ political, lobbying, and activist establishments and maybe two-thirds of their journalists being immediately condemned to vigorous and stringent meme rehab and recon is something the average Imperial finds funny as hell. And kind of depressing, but mostly funny.)