Congressman Smith Capitol Report: The Cancel Culture of Free Speech
In recent weeks, big tech companies have intensified their attacks on conservatives’ free speech. These massive corporations can do this because they have built considerable control over all of the information Americans view online. The vast majority of internet searches in the United States, over 88%, begin on Goggle’s website. Millions of us wake up and check our social media platforms, like Twitter or Facebook, to see what happened while we were sleeping. One of the reasons these companies have been able to rise to their meteoric heights is because of protections extended through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The section essentially states that these companies cannot be held responsible for the content of others on their platforms. It was intended to keep the internet free and open, but it is being abused by these companies to limit free speech and control what we do and don’t see on the internet.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Google planned to ban The Federalist, a conservative publication, over readers’ comments left on their website. Google said it would no longer run ads on their website. This decision shows not only the sheer power Google wields online, but also the raw hypocrisy that exists in Silicon Valley. Apparently, Google is not okay with websites like The Federalist and their conservative readers sharing their perspectives, but their left-leaning employees have no problem protecting free speech they agree with. Sadly, this selective enforcement is not limited to just Google. Twitter has, on several occasions, hid or flagged tweets made by President Trump for rhetoric they simply don’t agree with. However, those regulating free speech at Twitter have made no effort to silence any other world leader on its platform, like Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran. These tech companies are widely inconsistent about how and when they enforce their policies. They must be held accountable for consistently taken disproportionate action to silence conservative voices they disagree with.
In Missouri, we know that these massive companies cannot continue to violate our Constitutional rights. To ensure they don’t, Senator Josh Hawley recently introduced the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act. This bill prevents the Section 230 protections from being provided to online companies unless they clearly detail their content moderation policies and pledge to enforce them in good faith. Under this legislation, when Americans feel these companies are not living up to their end of the deal, they can sue for $5,000 and attorney’s fees. Silencing free speech is illegal in the United States, and it is something the American people will never accept. Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others, must understand that they are not too big to be held accountable.
The past few weeks have shown just how powerful these massive tech companies have become. Yet, the threat towards the free speech of conservative voices is not only a fight playing out online but also in newsrooms at some of the largest and oldest publications in this country. After having published an op-ed written by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, The New York Times faced a firestorm of liberal criticism. The paper’s own staff were not prepared to read a viewpoint with which they did not agree. So, rather than engage in debate on the ideas, they complained that the opinions expressed by Senator Cotton amounted to violence. Words are not violence, and the views expressed by Senator Cotton on the looting and rioting are held by many Americans. Yet after initially supporting the piece’s publication, the publisher of the New York Times later bowed down before the mob and fired the Head of the Opinion desk who allowed the opinion piece to be published.
We are entering a dangerous time in America. We used to believe that the best medicine for bad free speech was more free speech. Yet today, it seems that the liberal mob wants to burn books and silence voices. The day our voices become silenced; is the day we stop being Americans.