Nearly ten decades before the advent of Hitler, the German-Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, had declared: “Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too.”
We shudder at the thought of a society that would permit the burning of books that contain opinions or ideologies different from their own. Likewise, we cringe at the notion that hi-tech platforms can get away with blocking or suppressing material they disagree with.
Given the evident political bent of the major platform entities, their stated reasons for censoring the material (the article may be inaccurate or is a smear) rings hollow. They can’t have it both ways–supporting Biden and suppressing arguably pro-Trump articles. In political cases of this type, the accuracy of a story should be judged by the people–not the platform owner’s leanings.
Democrats have frequently sought to gut the first amendment to deny corporations and others’ protection but have failed to prevail in their stunningly bizarre anti-first-amendment rhetoric. Indeed, former President Obama’s inaccurate and biased criticism of the court’s ruling in the famous Citizens United case caused four Supreme Court Justices to skip his State of the Union address in 2013.
During the height of the Vietnam conflict, a man in California was charged criminally for wearing a tee-shirt that read “Fuck the draft.” He was convicted, but the Supreme Court reversed his conviction ruling that his message was protected under the first amendment. The court noted that “One man’s vulgarity is another’s’ lyric.”
The first-amendment protects offensive and unpopular speech. You can disagree with something that is said, but you must defend the right to say it—that is the essence of the liberties granted under the first amendment. Platform corporations, therefore, should not be permitted to do an end-around of these precious protections by blocking or suppressing articles the content of which they personally disagree.