Yet Another Senator Bungles the First Amendment To Justify Censorship
While misconceptions about free speech run rampant, it’s always surprising when the person spouting falsehoods about what the First Amendment protects is someone with real political power. Earlier this week, Sen. Ben Cardin (D–Md.) made such an error, asserting during a Senate hearing that the First Amendment doesn’t protect those who espouse “hate” or “violence.” Not only is this claim brazenly wrong, but the fact that Cardin was using this misconception to justify online censorship makes it particularly frustrating.
On Wednesday, Cardin posted a clip to Twitter from a closing statement he made during a December 13 Senate hearing on antisemitism. In the clip, Cardin states that “if you espouse hate, if you espouse violence, you’re not protected under the First Amendment. So I think we can be more aggressive in the way that we handle that type of use of the internet. We know that Europe has done things, and I think we have to learn from each other.” The tweet accompanying the clip reads “Our first amendment is one of the defining jewels of this country. It is NOT a free pass to spew violent rhetoric.”
The clip was also posted by The Hill, whose tweet eventually gained over 600 quote tweets and 1.7 million views. The backlash to the senator’s comments was swift, with hundreds of replies jumping to correct Cardin.
“Hate speech is absolutely protected by the First Amendment—explicitly so, according to the Supreme Court,” Reason‘s Robby Soave tweeted about the incident. “Embarrassing when people don’t know this, moreso when it’s a U.S. senator.”
On Thursday, Cardin appeared to backtrack, tweeting an extended clip
Article from Latest