There are two recent examples of so-called “conservatives” suggesting that we grant power to the government to control speech. For the good of the people, you understand. We’re from the government and we’re here to help decide what you can and cannot say. Could any principle be more conservatismer?
Most obvious and perhaps more concerning is Ron DeSantis’s signing of a bill to regulate social media. I’ll hand the mic to Mike Masnick of TechDirt:
We’ve talked about a bunch of states pushing blatantly unconstitutional social media content moderation bills, with Florida leading the pack as the most eager to waste taxpayer money on something so obviously bogus. As you’ll recall, at the end of last month, Florida really added some unconstitutional icing on the unconstitutional cake by exempting Disney (and any other company that owned a theme park in Florida) from the bill’s social media requirements.
The bill has a few different unconstitutional provisions, but the one getting the most attention is that it bans non-theme park associated websites from removing content or accounts from people running for office. There are also the ridiculous transparency clauses that have become stupidly popular of late, and which really serve as a smokescreen to allow users to sue websites for being moderated.
And despite tons of experts explaining why this is unconstitutional, Governor Ron DeSantis — who made this bill a key plank in his “look at me, I’m a MAGA culture warrior” platform — has now signed the bill.
Absurd. You can recognize that many decisions made by Twitter and Facebook are stupid without reacting by wanting to put the censorious morons who run our government in charge of our speech.
Today we have Mr. Federalist, David “The President Of The United States Should Not Wear A Mask” Marcus, explaining why the government needs to be in charge of regulating fact-checkers:
The First Amendment rightly renders government powerless to regulate news outlets’ publishing content from their own in house fact checkers — they are protected by freedom of the press. But third party independent fact checkers are another story entirely. [Huh? WTF? — Ed.] These are entities such as Lead Stories, Politifact, and even the Associated Press that offer their fact checking expertise to social media platforms so the latter can claim they are not making editorial decisions. But that only works if third party fact checkers are operating objectively and without bias. It is quite obvious that this is not the case.
Um, everyone has freedom of speech, dude. It’s not just the press.
So what can be done about this dangerous situation? A new bill before the Michigan House of Representatives is a move in the right direction. The bill would require fact checkers to register with the government and carry insurance to cover payment to those who suffer financial damages as a result of a bogus fact check.
Laws like this can establish simple, uniform practices that fact checkers must abide by to provide fairness in the service they provide.
Regulating the fact checking industry would provide much needed accountability to the American people. Furthermore, regulations that insist uniform standards be applied by third party fact checkers should not be difficult to abide by. It is fact checking after all, not opinion checking, or tone checking, or social responsibility checking.
Facts are supposed to be stubborn. Either an article or post is factual or it isn’t. At the point at which fact checkers are citing lack of context, or concerns about methodology they are no longer fact checking and should not be allowed to claim the service they are selling is doing so.
Regulating the fact checking industry would not be any kind of government censorship of the media; it would not deprive any publishing entity from running a fact check. It would merely ensure that companies which sell their fact checking services are applying objective standards when evaluating material.
“Objective standards” . . . as determined by politicians who hate having their lies fact-checked. Yes, that sounds like such a great idea! And so conservative!
Once again, many of the complaints about fact-checkers are sound. I have made these complaints myself, and this is an excellent summary of the problem as it relates to the way fact-checkers have treated sites that have published about the lab leak theory for the coronavirus.
But the solution is not putting people like Donald Trump or Joe Biden in charge of what you can say.
An actual quote from this piece begins: “This may seem antithetical to traditional conservative values of small government, but …” LOL. Ya think?
A truthful end to that sentence would be: “… but let’s be honest: nobody gives a shit about that stuff anymore in the glorious Trump era.”