FreeSpeech and Censorship: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at
Tue Nov 1 23:36:54 PDT 2022

> FCC Boss Says US Should Ban TikTok

US Democrats clamor for Foreign Govs to
Force Twitter to censor for the US Democrats...

How Elon Musk Should Shape Twitter

Below is my column in the New York Post on the media meltdown over the
Musk takeover at Twitter. The column again suggests a way for Musk to
make a clean break from the censorship culture and apparatchiks at
Twitter: the First Amendment Option.

Musk has already made great progress toward restoring free speech on
the platform with the firing of the two chief censors at the company,
but the deconstruction of one of the world’s largest censorship
systems will be a challenge in the weeks and months ahead.

Here is the column:

News reports last week seemed to start out like a bar joke: The
richest man in the world walks in carrying a sink . . .

Of course, it was a joke — a colossal joke. The question is whom the joke is on.

For Elon Musk, the punch line was appropriately delivered on Twitter,
the company he took over Friday at an inflated price. Calling himself
“Chief Twit,” Musk posted the video with the caption “Entering Twitter
HQ — let that sink in!”

For the Musk-phobic, it was as funny as a drive-by shooting. CNN
analyst Juliette Kayyem denounced Musk’s taunt as “fundamentally
cruel.” After all, when Musk was first reported to be buying the
company, employees were so traumatized that leadership had to offer
emotional support just to “get through the week.”

The reason is less the fear of Musk bringing bathroom fixture than
free speech into San Francisco headquarters.

Twitter has created one of the largest censorship systems in world
history — a system widely condemned for a pattern of political bias
and viewpoint intolerance.

Outgoing CEO Parag Agrawal is unabashedly hostile to traditional views
of free speech. Soon after he took over, he pledged to regulate
content and said the company would “focus less on thinking about free
speech” because “speech is easy on the Internet. Most people can
speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.”

For employees who are true believers of this censorship scheme, the
joke no doubt feels like it’s on them. The censorship skill set may
not be quite as much in demand in a Musk-owned firm. While Facebook,
Google and other companies are still committed to corporate
censorship, Musk has pledged to restore free speech principles to

But the joke may still be on Musk if he yields to Twitter’s corporate
culture or the mainstream media’s unrelenting pressure. Democratic
leaders like Hillary Clinton have turned from private censorship to
good old-fashioned state censorship.

Clinton has called on foreign governments to step in and pass laws
that would force Twitter to continue to censor opposing views. New
Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently repeated this call for
global censorship at the United Nations to the applause of diplomats
and media alike.

Musk may have to yield to such domestic laws, but he can use his
platform to inform citizens of those countries they are being censored
and controlled in what they are allowed to read.

The most important thing in America is for Musk to hit the ground
running at Twitter.

First, he needs to order the preservation of all records. There are
well-supported examples of biased censorship, including the burying of
The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story before the election. There are
also allegations of back-channel communications from the government to
manage a type of censorship-by-surrogate system to evade the First

Second, Musk should focus on the First Amendment as a model for
Twitter’s content-management policy.

It has become a mantra on the left that free-speech objections to
social-media censorship are meritless because the First Amendment does
not apply to private corporations.

This is a knowingly cynical and senseless argument. The First
Amendment has never been the sole and exclusive measure of free
speech. It concerns the greatest threat to free speech at the time of
the founding. But corporate censorship on communication platforms is
an equal, if not greater, threat today to free-speech values.

Musk could call these anti-free-speech advocates’ bluff. Former
President Barack Obama flogged this false line at Stanford in April.
He started by declaring himself “pretty close to a First Amendment
absolutist.” He then called for the censorship of anything he
considered “disinformation,” including “lies, conspiracy theories,
junk science, quackery, racist tracts and misogynist screeds.”

Like many others on the left, Obama claims to be a free-speech
champion but narrowly confines such fealty to government censorship.
He emphasized, “The First Amendment is a check on the power of the
state. It doesn’t apply to private companies like Facebook or

While the First Amendment does not bind private corporations, there is
nothing preventing one — like Twitter — voluntarily assuming such
protections for free speech. Even with some adjustments for a private
forum, what I call the First Amendment Option would create a default
in favor of free speech that doesn’t exist on these platforms.

There’d be narrow exceptions for threatening, unlawful and a few other
proscribed categories of speech. Twitter can tap into a long line of
First Amendment jurisprudence limiting the scope of such speech
regulations. Even with a private company’s greater flexibility, a
First Amendment-based policy would establish much better protections
for free speech.

In other words, Musk could show up at Twitter with precisely the
standard long dismissed by censorship advocates — and then let that
sink in.

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