Liberals are becoming just about as bad as China for censorship speech they don’t like.
That’s the message Wednesday from famed liberal lawyer and commentator Jonathan Turley.
He cited Twitter’s decision to attack President Trump’s social-media statement, made Tuesday, that, “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”
That was unacceptable to the speech censors at Twitter, who immediately attached a warning to it about disinformation.
Turley found the situation unacceptable.
“I have previously objected to such regulation of speech. What is most disturbing is how liberals have embraced censorship and even declared that ‘China was right’ on internet controls,” he wrote. “Many Democrats have fallen back on the false narrative that the First Amendment does not regulate private companies so this is not an attack on free speech. Free speech is a human right that is not solely based or exclusively defined by the First Amendment. Censorship by internet companies is a ‘Little Brother’ threat long discussed by free speech advocates. Some may willingly embrace corporate speech controls but it is still a denial of free speech,” he explained.
He explained he’s been critical of the president’s rhetoric.
“However, that is hyperbolic political speech. Biden supporters, including leaders like House Whip James Clyburn, have been saying that Trump was stealing the election through voter suppression. They have not been hit with Twitter warnings. Yet, Trump was immediately hit when he sent a Twitter post that Democrats were trying to ‘steal’ the election,” he wrote.
“The actions by Twitter and Facebook on Election Day were reprehensible and wrong. What is so disturbing is that so many Democrats have come enablers of such corporate speech controls by the giant tech companies,” he said.
There actually were two Twitter attacks on Trump on Election Day.
He had criticized a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision he said would open the door to vote fraud and provoke violence in the streets. The decision was to allow state election officials to get ballots up to three days after Election Day.
“The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one. It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws,” the president wrote. “It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!”
Twitter, which censored New York Post stories presenting evidence of Biden-family influence peddling, then put a message in front of Trump’s tweet saying, “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
Another warning, below the text, countered Trump’s message, inviting Twitter users to “[l]earn how voting by mail is safe and secure.”
Turley had warned just days ago that Twitter’s decision to censor the New York Post’s stories on Biden-family influence peddling bore a striking resemblance to the far left’s view of the Constitution.
In a Senate hearing last week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said his company’s policies are “living documents,” subject to continual change.
Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said that sounds like an internet version of the “living Constitution.”
He explained that a “living internet” is dangerous, urging social media companies to return to their original role as utilities for free speech, not publishers that vet it.
“These companies are driven by profits and politics, not principle,” he said. “If Democrats take control of Congress and the White House, these companies will face growing demands for increased censorship. That is when ‘living policies’ change ‘to update and adjust them when we encounter new scenarios or receive important feedback.'”
Turley said the alternative is “internet originalism,” with no censorship.
“If social media companies returned to their original roles, there would be no slippery slope of political bias or opportunism; they would assume the same status as telephone companies,” he argued. “We do not need companies to protect us from harmful or ‘misleading’ thoughts. The solution to bad speech is more speech, not approved speech.”
Turley argued that if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded that Verizon or Sprint interrupt calls to stop people saying false or misleading things, the public would be outraged.
“Twitter serves the same communicative function between consenting parties; it simply allows thousands of people to participate in such digital exchanges,” he noted. “Those people do not sign up to exchange thoughts only to have Dorsey or some other internet overlord monitor their conversations and ‘protect’ them from errant or harmful thoughts.”
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