For years I have criticized those who have called for increased censorship on the Internet, including the regulation of political speech by companies like Facebook and Twitter. There is legitimate debate about the continued application of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by these companies when they are involved in such censorship (and alleged bias). However, President Donald Trump's request on Twitter to put down a parody of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is wrong in many ways. This would only fuel the erosion of free speech on the Internet and limit political commentary.
Yesterday, President Trump posted the picture of McConnell in a Russian military uniform:
The tweet says:
Why does Twitter leave such fake images open, but Republican / Conservative images and statements that are true? Mitch has to fight back and overturn Section 230. Stop Biased Big Tech Before It Can Stop You!
It is a particularly strange objection from a politician who regularly parodies his political opponents with insulting names and descriptions. Parody is one of the oldest forms of political discourse. Since the hegemon of Thasos, parody has been a literary medium and an important form of political speech. Parody and satire have long been used to emphasize (and often exaggerate) political objections to our leaders.
In white v. Samsung Elec. Am., Inc., 989 F.2d 1512, 1519 (9th Cir. 1993), then the Chief Justice Alex Kozinski wrote differently: “The First modification It's not just about religion or politics, but also about protecting the free development of our national culture. parody, Humor and disrespect are important components of the marketplace of ideas. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the importance of parody and satire as protected speech. In Campbell v Acuff-Music, Inc., 510, US 569, 579 (1994). Justice David Souter noted that "parody has an obvious claim to transformative value. "
Even vulgar parodies were protected, such as the fake advertisement with Evangelical Minister Jerry Falwell: “In the heart of the First modification is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on issues of public interest and concern. "(D) The freedom to express one's opinion is not only an aspect of individual freedom – and thus a good for oneself – but also essential for the common pursuit of truth and the vitality of society as a whole." Hustler Magazine, Inc. v Falwell, 485, US 46, 50-51 (1987) (quoting Bose Corp. v Consumers Union of US, Inc., 466, US 485, 503-04 (1984)).
This parody of McConnell as "Moscow Mitch" may be unfair and offensive, but it is the epitome of political speech and should be protected. There has been legitimate criticism of companies like Twitter and Facebook for biased policies, but that should be part of a call for less, not more, censorship.
It's not just Trump calling for increased censorship. I have criticized democratic leaders for making such restriction and regulation of freedom of expression a central concern of their party.
Hillary Clinton has called for political speech to be regulated to avoid "information manipulation" and stated that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg should "pay a price for what he does to our democracy" by refusing To reduce opposition postings. Freedom of expression rights are in free fall in Europe, and countries like France and Germany are imposing legal sanctions to censor free speech worldwide. Joe Biden has urged these companies to remove criticism of mail-in votes.
Many of us in the free speech have warned of the growing insatiable appetite for censorship in the West. We lost the battle and those who oppose freedom of speech are now seizing the opportunity offered by the pandemic. Representative Adam Schiff sent a message to the heads of Google, Twitter and YouTube calling for the censorship of what is considered to be "misinformation" and "false information". Schiff told companies that they "need to remove or restrict content" and that "removing harmful misinformation is a critical step", but that they also need to educate "the users who accessed it" by providing the real facts put.
All of these calls from left and right are efforts to control the speech of political critics and dissidents. These companies should be criticized for the bias shown in previous actions that I referred to earlier. However, do not be misled by the fact that these voices come from opposite sides of our political debate. They all agree on a desire to curtail the most powerful forum for free speech in human history: the Internet. It is the bane of the existence of politicians around the world and they want to control it. To do this, they have to get free citizens to demand their own censorship. Many have given in to this siren's call for the threat of free speech.
This is too high a price to pay to protect Senator McConnell from the insults of political parody.