Government Censorship Is the Worst Cancel Culture of All
Almost a year to the day that Louisville police officers killed Breonna Taylor during a no-knock raid, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill which makes it a crime to insult and taunt cops. If S.B. 211 becomes law, you could get up to three months in jail and a $250 fine if you flip off the fuzz in a way “that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.”
It’s just one example of a slew of proposed new laws that are chilling free speech. While freethinkers are rightly worried that private online platforms such as Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook are increasingly—and often arbitrarily—cracking down on speech for political reasons, the much graver threat comes from governments at all levels seeking to ban or compel speech.
If Amazon won’t stock your book, you can still hawk it at Barnes & Noble or on your own site, but when the government says no, there’s nowhere else to go.
Earlier this year, lawmakers in Kentucky also introduced legislation that “would make a user entitled to damages if a social media platform deletes or ‘censors’ religious or political posts.” Conservatives who rightly yelled bloody murder when Christian bakers were forced to make cakes for same-sex weddings are now trying to stop social media platforms from running their businesses the way they see fit.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed legislation that would ban Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms from suspending the accounts of political candidates. They would face fines of up to $100,000 a day and the new law would also allow regular users to sue platforms for damages if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly.
Similar legislation has been proposed in Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said, without citing actual evidence, that conservative viewpoints are being systematically silenced. “Pretty soon,” he promises, such supposed censorship is “going to be against the law in the state of Texas.” That law, S.B. 12, is poised to pass the state Senate.
Back in the pre-internet days, you could count on conservative Republicans to scream about the need to regulate sex and drugs on TV and in music but these days they seem to want social media companies to do no moderating of content. So maybe that
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