By Thomas Mitchell
President Trump is expected to shortly sign an executive order intended to punish social media companies that fail to act in what the order describes as “good faith,” according to CNN, which reviewed a copy of the draft order.
Such action would fold, spindle and mutilate the First Amendment.
The order apparently is his tantrum response to Twitter attaching a fact check link to two of his Tweets railing against the use of absentee ballots in Nevada and other states.
CNN reports that the executive order reinterprets the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which provides immunity from litigation for websites that allow individuals to post commentary, unlike print publications that can be sued for whatever they choose to print, even though it may be from an outside source, such as a letter to the editor.
“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online,” CNN quotes from the draft order. “This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.”
The proper response to speak one does not like is more speak, not gags. Trump has a bully pulpit he can use. Use it, but stop trying to gag others.
The First Amendment prohibits government from abridging speech or press. Private parties can do what they wish. Trump is government.
Thomas Mitchell is a former newspaper editor who now writes conservative/libertarian columns for weekly papers in Nevada. You may email Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.