Some thoughts about the (likely) purposeful misuse of the the 1st Amendment freedom of speech in the wake of events like Simon & Shuster canceling their contract to publish Josh Hawley’s book, Twitter banning 45, and Amazon web-hosting terminating its services to Parler:
A quick review of what the 1st Amendment does and doesn’t do:
It prohibits the government from preventing exercise of free speech except under specific circumstances (notably, speech inciting violence). It does not prohibit private persons or entities from restricting the free speech of other private persons or entities.
So, the city of Skokie, Illinois was not allowed to deny a permit to Neo-Nazis wanting to hold a parade through their community full of Jewish people (particularly a lot of Holocaust survivors). If a Neo-Nazi started posting epithets on my FB page, I’d have every right to delete that mofo.
The baker/gay couple/wedding cake analogy
There is a meme going around that suggests that aggrieved right- wing folks upset about Twitter banning 45 should compare this situation to the homophobic baker refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. This is a flawed and dangerous analogy. The baker in that case was making a “religious freedom” argument that making the cake for a gay couple’s wedding was not an infringement of the couple’s civil rights (bakeries are public accommodations much in the way that grocery stores are), but that it infringed on his civil rights to practice his faith freely. I believe that the Supreme Court wrongly “punted” on issuing a decision explicitly on the religious freedom issue, but regardless, that’s not what’s at issue here.
Pretend you’re a bar owner
A more apt analogy would be to imagine if you owned a bar. There’s a guy sitting at the end of the bar verbally harassing other customers. You might just let him finish his beer and hope he’ll leave quickly. Let’s say that his harassment starts going beyond commenting on women’s figures and he starts saying stuff like, “Hey, bro, that turban dude over there said you’re a dumbass.” and “Hey man, that guy says your mom’s only a 4 but he banged her anyway.” Fights break out.
You’d have your bouncers throw the guys fighting out on their asses. You would likely also throw out the guy egging them on from the end of the bar even if he never threw a punch. In fact, the rest of your patrons would probably expect you to do it, especially if you didn’t throw him out when he was “just” harassing the women in the bar.
The 1st Amendment doesn’t prevent private entities from throwing obnoxious, belligerent assholes out of their bars. Neither Cheers nor Twitter are required by the 1st Amendment to allow people to say whatever the heck they want, especially when they are INCITING PEOPLE TO RIOT AND VIOLENT INSURRECTION.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.