Rand Paul asked a great question.
The answer is simple: For the same reason many on the Right are now abandoning free speech.
A few months ago conservatives were denouncing cancel culture and censorship by the Left. After the terrorist attacks on Israel in October and the following war in Gaza, some Republicans can’t wait to trample the First Amendment.
Just ask Ron DeSantis who order a public university to “deactivate” the campus group Students for Justice for Palestine.
Think what you want about this group, but DeSant’s is illegally infringing on their free speech. You can’t just ban disfavored views.
Nikki Haley is just as bad. She wants to force all social media users to have to get verified.
Like it or not, Nikki, anonymity is part of free speech if that’s what people want. In fact, it was an essential component necessary in establishing our very foundations – ever heard of the Federalist Papers?
Why are DeSantis and Haley coming out so strongly against free speech? They’ve determined that the threats to the US and her ally Israel are so great that Americans can’t exercise the First Amendment in the way that we used to.
They would never frame it that way, but it’s exactly what they’re doing.
The Left uses similar logic. There was a time in the United States where free speech was central to being an American liberal. Those on the Left would even brag about being a ‘card carrying member of the ACLU,’ with the defense of free and open speech being the heart of that comment.
But around 2015 with the rise of Donald Trump, many on the Left slowly but surely seemed to develop the notion that Trump was such a threat to democracy and normalcy, that maybe censorship wasn’t so bad? Maybe there were reasonable limits on the First Amendment?
When the blockbuster Twitter Files report was published in March showing that the federal government had pressured social media companies to censor, the establishment (both politicians and the media) mostly mocked it or attacked the reporters.
Why? Because between Trump and the COVID pandemic, a majority of American liberals didn’t really have a problem with such censorship, reframing it to declare they were merely stopping misinformation.
By the way, it is your First Amendment right to lie.
On Thursday, Twitter Files reporter Michael Shellenberger testified before a House committee about a ‘Censorship Industrial Complex,’ in which he claims to have even more damning evidence that the government has actively worked to censor citizens’ speech.
Shellenberger testified, “Nine months ago, I testified and provided evidence to the subcommittee about the existence of a “Censorship Industrial Complex,” a network of government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, government contractors, and Big Tech media platform that conspired to censor ordinary Americans and elected officials alike for holding disfavored views. I regret to inform the subcommittee today that the scope, power, and lawbreaking of the Censorship Industrial Complex are even worse than we had realized back in March.”
Government censorship of our speech is even worse than we realized? This is big news, right?
If this report was published in 1985 or 1995, this would likely be a top headline everywhere and a cause of major concern for liberals.
I took the liberty of Googling “Shellenberger,” “censorship,” and “testimony.” See for yourself.
How many headlines by major publications – mainstream establishment media – do you see about Thursday’s new revelations?
There are one or two. They really don’t care. Censorship is cool now. It’s even a progressive value at this point.
Shellenberger reminds us of the serious threat to our most basic liberty this censorship poses, “But the First Amendment prohibits the government from abridging freedom of speech, the Supreme Court has ruled the government may not ‘induce, encourage, or promote private persons to accomplish what is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.’ And there is now a large body of evidence proving that the government did precisely that.”
They even censored Congressman Thomas Massie, something he was not to happy about on Thursday:
“If they can do this to a member of Congress they can do this to anybody,” Massie said of his official congressional account being censored.
They can not only do it to anybody, they now apparently have the ability to do it to everybody.
To answer Rand Paul’s question, the Left simply doesn’t care about free speech anymore. That’s where we’re at. Progressives have decided there are threats so great that the First Amendment must suffer.
They’re no different from Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley or the authoritarian countries that don’t have free speech – and that Americans used to pride themselves as being better than.
Because without free speech, we’re not.