Anglo-American defamation law started with a simple condemnation of the sin of evil speaking. Eventually, this value condemning harmful speech was accommodated to the value of speaking the truth, even hurtful truth. A third value of fostering responsible self-government was injected into American defamation law at and around the time of the American Revolution. This value makes it especially important for citizens to freely speak even hurtful truth about their government.
Louis W. Hensler III,
Warren/Burger Courts Exalted “Free” Expression Over Other American Values,
106 Marq. L. Rev. 645
Available at: https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol106/iss3/6