Congress Just Showed Free Speech Isn't Bipartisan Any More
Well that's worrisome
The most audacious admissions about censorship came, surprisingly, from the Democrats’ own witness, former employee Anika Collier Navaroli, a member of the Twitter US Safety Policy team. In response to a question from Democratic Representative Melanie Ann Stansbury, she expressed the new Democratic standard on free speech limitations quite well: words are violence.
“Instead of asking just free speech versus safety, to say free speech for whom and public safety for whom,” Navaroli said. “So whose free expression are we protecting at the expense of whose safety and whose safety are we willing to allow to go the winds so that people can speak freely.”
As attorney Jonathan Turley noted in response:
According to Navaroli, she and her staff would not allow the “safety [of others] to go the winds so that people can speak freely.” It is the classic defense of censorship in history and the touchstone of every authoritarian regime today. Today’s hearing will address the question of when corporate censorship programs become an extension of the government. However, while it is unclear how Twitter’s censorship made us more safe, Twitter’s “nuanced” standard certainly allowed free speech “go to the winds” of censorship.
There are certain foundational aspects of the United States that are supposedly shared by both parties. First Amendment values like religious liberty, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech are among them, having historically not been considered monopartisan. Yet we now inhabit a new era in American life, where one party is consistently demanding more censorship, more silencing, more deplatforming, and more shutting down of speech they find troublesome, rebranding it as “dangerous disinformation.”
These politicians speak not with the humility of those who want to guard against extremes — think of the Democrats and Republicans who voted for the Patriot Act because they thought it was necessary but expressed worries it could go too far — but with the fervor of belief that they are on a holy mission, making the moral case for the greater good. If you believe the American people don’t know what’s good for them, any tool must be made use of in the fight to silence. They don’t just believe this anti-speech fervor, and the violence it does to our principles, is necessary. They believe it is good.