Law: Keeping The Word

"Words are slippery," warned Historian Henry Adams. The word propaganda has slipped quite a bit. At one time it described any information, true or false, that was spread to promote a cause. But today nearly everyone understands it as referring to distortions of the truth. That did not sway the U.S. Supreme Court last week. It ruled 5 to 3 that the Justice Department could invoke a World War II-era law to label as "political propaganda" three Canadian documentaries on acid rain and nuclear war, including a 1983 Academy Award winner. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens pointed out...

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