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So someone on Twitter commented about Joe Biden being able to survive COVID-19, and I couldn’t help myself. I pointed out he was weak, frail, uncertain, and had no confidence. I pointed out that when you lack confidence that you can beat an illness, the likelihood is that the illness is going to kill you. It was fair commentary. I mentioned that I had clinical experience that bore out those observations in the tweet. There were no threats. It wasn’t targeted toward Joe Biden. It was a simple observation. But not to Twitter.
I was booted for 12 hours because of that tweet.
The censorship of conservative thought is real and ongoing, and it must be stopped.
I know that there are a lot of conservatives that believe that as a private business Twitter can throttle the opinions of whomever they like. Clearly that’s what they do. They even tried to stop Sean Spicer from sharing content by putting a “headlines don’t tell the whole story” label on it as he was attempting to retweet something from the Federalist. Now, obviously if the content had already been tweeted, it didn’t violate Twitter’s policies, so the slap-down was aimed solely at suppressing the free speech rights of conservative Sean Spicer. That’s evil. I would want the same rule to be applied to Sean as to Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t read Hillary’s post. I’d go right past it. But I think she should be able to say what she wants to say without editorial oversight.
I would like to offer another opinion with respect to whether Twitter and Facebook should be the arbiters of truth for the nation. The software running their services may be of their own creation, and certainly their administration of it is done by their own nipple-ring wearing, tattooed, pierced, purple-haired, multi-gendered employees. Those people have a right to their opinions and should be allowed to post anything they want under the original post. The freedom to disagree is universal. What they should not be able to do is throttle free speech. The remedy for bad speech is good speech, not no speech.
The question is how to get there, and President Obama gave us the answer. Do you remember the “you didn’t build that” line from Mr. Obama? He claimed that the country as a whole created the system that allows private business to thrive. The roads that allow good to move, the police that protect businesses, all of that must be accounted for. While Obama was imprecise in his rhetoric, I think most reasonable Americans would agree that everyone (not just businesses) benefit from the infrastructure created and paid for by tax dollars.
So remind me again…how did the internet come about? Oh, that’s right, Al Gore invented it. Well, not really. Government had already linked thousands of military, industrial, and university computers together through dedicated phone lines, but when it became possible to link every computer to every other computer in the early 1990s, the internet was born out of a taxpayer investment in infrastructure. Taxpayers own the internet. The internet has become, for all practical purpose, the public square. Speech should not be subject to commercially-driven censorship so long as those social media services are using the internet.
As this piece points out, social media companies are protected from regulation of their content by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Yet that statute, and the carte blanche it provides to people like Jack Dorsey and Twitter to decide what America needs to hear, is an abuse of the Constitutional protections afforded under the First Amendment. This is because while the public square tolerates even bad speech (which is why Nazis can march down Main Street), social media companies do not have to tolerate any speech. None. And yet, they would fail to exist tomorrow if the internet were shut down. Without that federally-provided (and yet commercially-accessed) internet, social media would suffer electronic anoxia almost immediately. That Twitter, Facebook, and others depend upon the internet for the source of both their funding and their product, should allow the government to mandate open and unfettered access to post even the vilest of speech on their platforms. Like I said: the internet has become the public square. If a citizen can reverse a public figure’s decision to block them on social media based on free speech rights and the First Amendment right to petition for redress of grievances, then the same courts should protect free speech on these platforms.
That doesn’t mean users have to listen to speech that is arguably hateful. The blocking features on Twitter and Facebook would make the kind of evil hate speech that attacks people on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin easy to avoid. And for those who draw comfort from being with likeminded idiots, these services would provide a useful outlet that might keep them out of the public square as well as serve as a bad example to hold up to the youth of the nation.
Twitter and Facebook allow rioters to conspire online, but they do not allow people to express opinions that are devoid of hate, but based on rational medical thought. The world is truly upside down.
In a perfect world, it would be the Twitters of the world that would get a strike whenever they throttled free speech. Regulation that permitted free speech would not make Twitter any more of a wasteland than it already is. There are ways to regulate these providers who use their market power to censor only conservative thought, and Congress needs to act to get that done.Published in