If you’ve said anything The State can’t abide on platforms like Facebook or Twitter they’ve been Johnny on the spot about letting you know. Even the UN is in on the game, telling hosting companies to shut down websites they have decided “promote” hate speech.
It’s an ironic term. Those who wield it pretend it has some extra-legal force, and it does, but not the way they claim. In truth, it is an admission. They hate speech that they cannot control. Words that challenge their agenda, positions, or power and they will do anything to silence it.
In America, that’s a problem. We have a Constitutional right to protected speech, association, expression, even a prohibition on compelled speech, all wrapped up in Amendment One. It is a barrier under constant attack, and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says he is dedicated to finding a way through.
When lobbed softballs on the subject of misinformation or disinformation (on election integrity and COVID, for example), Secretary Mayorkas said that addressing this was under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security. That they were working on it because “misinformation, uh, pointedly, disinformation have very serious and significant ramifications for homeland security. “
I had, uh, very robust discussions, uh, with individuals. You know, the how-to-accomplish-it is something that is not easily navigated. We recognize that. Uh, the First Amendment, uh, concerns are extraordinarily important. It’s a founding principle of our country. I think they’re very dedicated to doing so. And I think the how-to and how-we-can-work-together-with-them is not so facile, and I think we’re all working, uh, through it.”
The individuals are Big Tech and the problem is how to get around the first amendment. The UN’s idea – accusing those engaged in the unapproved speech of hate crimes or crimes against humanity- is probably the ticket they seek. But the US Supreme Court – if I remember correctly – has never recognized this as justification for infringing on First Amendment protections.
It’s a non-starter unless the thing you want to start is a lawsuit you’ll likely lose.
So how do they work through it?
So far, Big Tech has managed to navigate the problem without much resistance in the courts, and that no doubt pleases DHS and those currently holding their reins, and here’s where things get sticky.
The Left likes to do things under the assumption that they will be in control. They will decide who gets persecuted and to whom they grant dispensation.
In the 2020 legislative session, a handful of aggrieved legislators crafted a bill to silence speech of which they disapproved. HB1159. It created a carve-out for elected public officials and their families. They could file private lawsuits claiming they were cyberbullied. The goal was to silence unapproved speech under the threat of lawfare.
I am deeply honored to be the target of Democrat Sponsored speech suppressing legislation. The effort confirms what I have long claimed. A point that Noah Rothman just made in Commentary Magazine. Free Speech is a threat to the authoritarian tick.
That’s an amalgam of his thesis. He’s referring to a politician’s urge ” to criminalize the forms of expression [they] find distasteful.” What he calls “an old idea…that your freedom of expression is a threat to the public good.”
But HB1159 is more than that. It is a political test for speech defined by partisan lawmakers [and] while you feel like it may at this time serve some purpose that is, in reality, nothing more than personal interest (not for the good of the people), imagine that same power in the hands of your political opponents when you are the citizen and they are the public official.
The idiotic media, Big Tech, politicians, activists, and other water carriers (mainly on the Left) who want to remove written or spoken resistance to their agenda (any expression) suffer the same fatal flaw. They assume that once they have this power that they will control it. That it will never be used against them.
And history tells us this power will always be used against them, usually by the people to whom they gave it.
Secretary Mayorkas says it’s a matter of Homeland Security and that Biden’s DHS (which Republicans created 20 years ago) is working through it.
The people cheering this on are the bigger threat to us and each other.
By Steve MacDonald
Steve is a long-time New Hampshire resident, blogger, taxpayer advocate, and a member of the Board of directors of The 603 Alliance. He is the Editor at Large and a co-owner of GraniteGrok.com; a former board member of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire; and a past contributor to the Franklin Center for Public Policy.