Sad to see journalists among those arguing to suppress free speech on social media platforms
By Gary Abernathy
Yes, free speech can be dangerous. But it’s worth the risk.
I’m truly saddened to have lived to see the day when journalists are among those who argue for more restrictions on free speech. Too often, those who have historically been on the frontlines of protecting the First Amendment and decrying any effort — by government or anyone else — to censor voices or suppress viewpoints are these days leading the cheers for social media platforms that take away voices of those with whom they disagree.
Oh sure, we all know that social media companies are not the government, that they are private companies that can make their own rules. It’s exhausting how often that tired old banality gets tossed around when it comes to defending Twitter, Facebook or any of the others that have been de-platforming people. It’s still jarring to read columnists argue for voices to be silenced, or defend the decisions to silence them.
But when a handful of privately-owned social media platforms become the primary source of communication and conversation in our world, and people with certain political views are systematically barred from expressing views unpopular with the philosophy of the controlling authorities, that’s a big problem. And despite liberal institutions producing “scientific studies” designed to show that our biggest tech giants aren’t really biased against conservatives, Americans know better, as the Pew Research Center and others have found.
It’s fascinating to watch the reaction to Elon Musk’s pending takeover of Twitter. The same politicians and pundits who were previously opposed to regulating social media are suddenly clamoring to do so.
People — especially journalists — at one time understood something they seem to have forgotten or prefer to ignore because their political ideology has superseded their dedication to journalistic principles. What they almost universally understood was that the dangers associated with free speech — lies, inciting harmful acts, disparaging people or institutions — paled in comparison to the long-term consequences of quashing free and open expression through censorship, bans or other oppressive actions designed to silence people.
Yes, publishing inciteful speech — from the left or right — can be dangerous, and we should not tolerate overt calls to violence. But routinely silencing voices just because someone can make the argument that their words might incite violence is more dangerous.
In 1906, English author Evelyn Beatrice Hall, paraphrasing Voltaire, wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Likewise, Elon Musk recently said, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”
A lot of people need reminded of the fact that the speech we most aggressively need to protect includes that with which we most passionately disagree, even when it’s considered by some as inflammatory or dangerous.
Biden administration worries we might enjoy our showers
President Biden recently said, "I'm going to start the process where every vehicle in the United States military is going to be climate-friendly. We'll spend billions of dollars to do it and it's going to matter. This crisis is a genuine opportunity to do things we wanted to do."
He ain’t lyin’. Biden is not only willing to spend billions we don’t have to make military vehicles “climate-friendly” - because that’s what wins wars, right? — but his administration is also declaring war on lightbulbs, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, furnaces, freezers… and shower head nozzles.
Yes. From the Washington Post:
Biden’s Energy Department has restored many of the original efficiency standards, reversing the Trump-era rules for dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers. The department also closed a loophole, created under Trump, that increased how much water could be used in a shower by allowing multiple nozzles to carry equal amounts of water at once. Administration officials aim to complete 100 energy-efficiency actions this year.
Want enough water to get your clothes clean in the washing machine — or at least rinse the soap out? Sorry. Want to have your clothes dry coming out of the dryer? Good luck. Prefer a nice, hot shower with enough water pressure to rinse the shampoo out of your hair? Uncle Joe says no.
These are the things our current government is concerned about.
Remember that Seinfeld episode where everyone’s upset about the low-flow shower heads installed in Jerry’s apartment building? Kramer comes up with a high-pressure shower head sold on the black market. That’s what we’re coming to — having to go to the black market for a decent shower head. Seriously.
Trump endorses the most blatantly pandering candidate
My latest Washington Post column examines former president Donald Trump’s endorsement of J.D. Vance in the Ohio GOP primary Senate race. Of all the pro-Trump candidates he could have endorsed — Josh Mandel, Jane Timken, Mike Gibbons — Trump chose the one who is most obviously a flip-flopping panderer. Apparently, billionaire Trump supporter Peter Thiel is pulling the strings here.
As this week wore on and the May 3 primary approached, anger was giving way to desperation among the other candidates. Mandel and Gibbons have been leading most polls, and the Club for Growth, a PAC supporting Mandel, was doubling down on ads reminding voters of Vance’s past disparagements of Trump.
Everyone has long known that Trump’s endorsement could make the difference, and watching such a late, important nod go to Vance angers the other campaigns more than if it had gone to a different competitor. Many Republicans don’t buy Vance’s claims to have had a change of heart about Trump. They see him as an opportunist pandering for votes, and Trump falling for it. They also see Ohio’s Senate seat being bought by Thiel, a California billionaire, with Trump’s help.
I speculate as to whether this out-of-step endorsement might be the start of separating Trump from his base. Probably not — if refusing to accept defeat, turning a hostile crowd against his own vice president and causing a constitutional crisis didn’t sway his followers, why would this?
Talking Kevin McCarthy with Hoppy Kercheval on ‘Talkline’
Enjoyed being on the air this morning with Hoppy Kercheval on “Talkline” on WVMetroNews to discuss House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s pretty sad efforts to explain away his lying about plans to ask President Trump to resign in the wake of Jan. 6. Here it is.
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