“At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole. We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.” The First Amendment envisions that the sort of robust political debate that takes place in a democracy will occasionally yield speech critical of public figures who are “intimately involved in the resolution of important public questions or, by reason of their fame, shape events in areas of concern to society at large”. In New York Times, the Court held that the First Amendment gives speakers immunity from sanction with respect to their speech concerning public figures unless their speech is both false and made with “actual malice”, i.e., with knowledge of its falsehood or with reckless disregard for the truth of the statement. Although false statements lack inherent value, the “breathing space” that freedom of expression requires in order to flourish must tolerate occasional false statements, lest there be an intolerable chilling effect on speech that does have constitutional value.
This article above is a direct quote from Hustler v Jerry Falwell ( religious nut job who was probably a closet homosexual).