Fascinating points John — thank you. Heres my take. FIRST we must assume we are discussing matters relative to a true republic.
In a court of law speaking untruths or even being careless with ones words is costly. There are systems in place to deal with it.
Thats the main point — the reason that you generally can’t play with words in a court of law is that people are observing and checking. They are in effect providing as it were an external fact checking machine. You are free to say anything you like in a court provided it is ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but’. The court is a microcosm of the wider society. Speech has consequence. So as I assert in a true republic nobody is above the law and the law requires that you use your powers wisely in relation to how those powers might harm or threaten to harm. Thats a rock solid principle WHEN its enforced equally for all and at all times. It applies to all the possible ways in which we may have agency or power or freedoms.
The ‘law’ gets to decide if you have indeed caused harm or threat. It would then act on your behalf to limit that damage and re-assert the ground rules through force of law (consequences for the person/s who had harmed or threatened you with speech).
EVERY alternative in which you can temporarily suspend the ground rules of ‘don’t harm’ and ‘don’t threaten’ results almost immediately in the citizenry taking descending back to a law of the wild type scenario (barbarism). What we have right now in the media sphere is effectively anarchy. Free speech misses the essential principles of don’t harm and don’t threaten.