Lindsey Graham Says We Need To Get Rid Of Section 230 To Sue 'Batshit Crazy' QAnon. That's Not How Any Of This Works.

from the no,-just-no dept

As various Republicans in Congress have tried to tap dance around the fact that they're the political party of the batshit crazy QAnon conspiracy theory cult, it's actually nice to see Senator Lindsey Graham -- who had become a consistent Trump kissass over the past few years -- speak up in a Vanity Fair interview and call out QAnon for actually being "batshit crazy." He didn't tiptoe around it like some others:

On the topic of QAnon, This is a group that the FBI has classified as a domestic terror threat. They’ve been involved in kidnappings and killings. Do you think tech platforms in this country should monitor, track, and censor QAnon in the same way they do radical Islamic terrorist groups?

Can you say batshit crazy on your show?

You just did.

Well, QAnon is batshit crazy. Crazy stuff. Inspiring people to violence. I think it is a platform that plays off people’s fears, that compels them to do things they normally wouldn’t do. And it’s very much a threat.

So that's all good. Kudos to you, Senator Graham for saying what needs to be said. But... then he immediately goes off the rails and seems to... blame Section 230 for QAnon. And he seems to think QAnon is... a website? And that we need to get rid of Section 230... to sue QAnon?

But there are a lot of websites out there. How do you live in this world? So under Section 230 of our law [the Communications Decency Act], a social media company can’t be sued for the content that they carry. I get slandered all the time on Twitter and other outlets. If the New York Times printed an article, I could sue them. If CNN said something about me that wasn’t true, I could sue them. But Twitter and all these other sites can pass on the most scandalous information, you have no recourse. So how to fix this? I would like to remove Section 230 liability. That if you’re going to have a social media site like QAnon or anything else, you spread this stuff at your own peril. So when this guy went into the pizza restaurant in Washington, because they alleged that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of a pizza place in Washington. This guy took it seriously, went in with an AR-15 and started shooting up place. Thank God nobody got killed. But the pizza owner under my theory, could sue QAnon for passing along garbage. That’s a pretty dramatic step. But the only way I know to make people more responsible who run these websites is allow lawsuits when they go too far.

So... what? How is this a person in charge of writing laws when he seems so totally confused about 230 and intermediary liability? The whole point of intermediary liability protections like Section 230 is that it protects the conduits from being sued for the statements of users. So, yes, he can sue the NY Times or CNN for something that they said because they said it. And he can already sue whoever was saying defamatory stuff (if it's actually defamatory) even if it was posted on Twitter. He just can't sue Twitter -- because that's not who said it. But in this rambling answer, Graham seems to shift back and forth between QAnon and Twitter as if they're the same thing... and they're not.

QAnon is not "a social media site" and it's also not a company or a person. I mean, there's some asshole (or multiple assholes behind it -- with the latest rumors being that it's actually the dude behind 8chan/8kun), but if any Q believer says something that violates a law, there is nothing in Section 230 that stops that person from being sued. Nothing at all. So I have no idea what the fuck Lindsey Graham thinks is going on, and why getting rid of Section 230 would change anything regarding QAnon. Getting rid of 230 might mean that... people could sue Twitter about the bullshit QAnon believers say, but even that would likely fail because of the 1st Amendment that Lindsey Graham swore an oath to protect and uphold.

So, kudos to Graham for calling out QAnon, but it's only a very minor kudos because he seems so confused about QAnon (it's not a social media site) and how Section 230 works.

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Filed Under: cda 230, intermediary liability, lindsey graham, qanon, section 230


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 10:55am

    'Have I attacked 230 yet? No? Here's why 230 is terrible then.'

    Given he went from 'they're crazy' straight to 'therefore we need to kill 230' I can't help but wonder if the only reason he said the first is because he wanted to use it for the second rather than because he actually believes it. Claim that they're crazy, claim that they're based upon a single site, and then use that as yet another example of how horrible 230 is because it 'protects' them.

    I mean, it's either that or he has 230 tourettes syndrome, where he literally can't go five minutes without mentioning and attacking 230.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:29am

      I can't help but wonder if the only reason he said the first is because he wanted to use it for the second rather than because he actually believes it.

      I feel confident in saying “that’s exactly why he said it” because I doubt he’d give a fuck about QAnon otherwise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:08am

    Is this even an organized group?

    Is it even accurate to call QAnon a group? Or is it more like "Anonymous", where individual people do some shit and claim affiliation?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:14am

    "kudos to Graham for calling out QAnon"

    Do not give him or those like him too much credit for their sudden clarity as they do this song and dance every election cycle, it is a dog and pony show and they are very disingenuous.

    Graham will hopefully lose his re election bid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:31pm

    I think that there is something Killing INTELLEGENCE(?) in DC.

    "I get slandered all the time on Twitter and other outlets. If the New York Times printed an article, I could sue them. If CNN said something about me that wasn’t true, I could sue them. But Twitter and all these other sites can pass on the most scandalous information, you have no recourse."

    Umm,
    A news paper or TV/Cbale is generally EDITED but the company. Also, Just as the Politicians tend to DO...Make it an OPINION, rather then anything related to facts. And you killed truth in advert YEARS ago. NOW anyone can advert, and make it into a IDIOTIC rhetoric of BS, and call it OPINION, by saying things in certain ways.
    THANKS POLITICS..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:34pm

    Batshit crazy my ass

    Come on, now. QAnon isn't crazy. It's the ultimate trolling of conservatives.

    Hear me out...

    What's not funny where you have hoards of them wearing shirts saying "I am Q", as in LGBTQ...

    Couple that with the slogan "Where We Go One, We Go All!" and their use of the term "sheep" to describe people who don't believe them? Dunning-Kruger at its finest!

    They're being trolled to the point where the hardcore stupids among them go out and act on the more ridiculous items they tend to believe, getting arrested and jailed spectacularly in the process.

    I say just start asking them "Are you questioning your sexuality or just queer?" (with all due respect to Techdirt's LGBTQ readers) You'll see that craze just disappear inside of a week.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:47pm

      QAnon is a massive troll, yes. But it’s grown well past the stage where revealing the troll will do anything to stop those who’ve taken to the QAnon conspiracy theory as if it were a religion. Even if whoever initially started all this bullshit came out with convincing and unfalsifiable evidence that they made the original QAnon post(s) and all they wanted to do was troll gullible conservatives (whoops, tautology!), QAnon adherents wouldn’t care. They’d see it as an attempt by “the Deep State” to stop the “actual” QAnon by “poisoning the well” of information. The reveal wouldn’t shake their faith. If anything, it would only strengthen their beliefs.

      As for your “use queerness to attack QAnons” thing: I can’t begin to tell you all the ways that’s fucked up. But let’s start with “invoking the idea of ‘gay panic’ as a psychological weapon against people you dislike is a particularly shitty form of homophobia that relies on making someone being gay seem like an inherently bad thing” and see what shakes loose from there, hmm?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:03pm

        Re:

        The reveal wouldn’t shake their faith. If anything, it would only strengthen their beliefs.

        Well, that's likely in part due to a portion of them being evangelicals. Not for nothing, but their pastors can be total pieces of shit and it doesn't shake their faith. They were preyed upon exactly for that reason. But there's no reason why that tiny seed of doubt should be sown anyways.

        As for your “use queerness to attack QAnons” thing

        I find it peculiar that you think it's an attack. It certainly is a legitimate question since any other explanation around "Q" goes absolutely nowhere, other than in a circle. Frankly, they have "gay panic" and homophobia with or without me asking them.

        Why let them hijack Q from people who are legitimately Q? Why should people who are Q in terms of their sexuality be forced to be lumped in with those people?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:11pm

          I find it peculiar that you think it's an attack.

          But that’s exactly what it is. You would implicitly position “being gay” as something inherently shameful and use that implication to shame people into silence by asking them “are you gay” and hoping the mere thought that they might be gay will shut them up. I can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t let that go unnoticed.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:17pm

            Re:

            You would implicitly position “being gay” as something inherently shameful and use that implication to shame people into silence by asking them “are you gay” and hoping the mere thought that they might be gay will shut them up.

            That's you reading too much into it. I don't find being gay (or whatever variant of that) to be shameful. I'm just asking for clarification based on something they're wearing that suggests they are. They're obviously wearing it to get noticed.

            If they think being gay is shameful, then that's on them, and certainly their right. But that's not my fault.

            Is it an attack to question someone wearing a swastika shirt if they're a Nazi?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:54pm

              If they think being gay is shameful, then that's on them, and certainly their right. But that's not my fault.

              It is your fault if you use what you believe is their perception of homosexuality against them in a way that tries to shame them into silence.

              Is it an attack to question someone wearing a swastika shirt if they're a Nazi?

              I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of anyone confusing a QAnon shirt for a “questioning” or “queer” shirt, and you’re the first person I’ve seen suggesting that it be done specifically as an attempt to silence QAnon believers, so please feel free to toss out that bad faith argument with the rest of your garbage.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 2:05pm

                Re:

                I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of anyone confusing a QAnon shirt for a “questioning” or “queer” shirt, and you’re the first person I’ve seen suggesting that it be done specifically as an attempt to silence QAnon believers, so please feel free to toss out that bad faith argument with the rest of your garbage.

                Really? So I guess they must not exist.

                I had an uncle over who isn't really tuned into the news all that much and asked "What's the Q stuff? Are they gay or something?" Try to look at things outside of your own myopic view for just a little bit. Just because no one like that crossed your path, doesn't mean those people don't exist. And before you go into calling this "my uncle's bad faith argument" consider the fact that he's 72, and online to him is AOL.

                And you glossed over whether or not it's an attack to question someone wearing a swastika shirt. Was that on purpose, or is your righteous indignation only limited to things "gay" or "ableist?"

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 2:28pm

                  So

                  I don’t respond to otherwording.

                  Just because no one like that crossed your path, doesn't mean those people don't exist.

                  But if this were a more widespread phenomenon than the anomalous experience you had with your uncle, I’d like to think I would’ve heard about it. (Anecdotal experience is not empirical evidence, after all.)

                  you glossed over whether or not it's an attack to question someone wearing a swastika shirt

                  I did so for good reason: The swastika has been exclusively associated with Nazis and Nazism since…oh, let’s say 1945. If someone is wearing a shirt that has only the swastika on it and they’re not filming a movie in which they play a Nazi/White supremacist character, wondering if they’re a Nazi/an adherent to Nazism is denying the obvious fact that is sieg heil–ing you in the face.

                  is your righteous indignation only limited to things "gay" or "ableist?"

                  Is yours limited to people calling you on your bullshit?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 4:44pm

                    Re:

                    Anecdotal experience is not empirical evidence,

                    You would do well to heed your own advice. Consider that your own evidence, from which you draw your conclusions on which your arguments here are based, is itself anecdotal. Unless you've an exhaustive scientific study on how many people believe as the previous poster's uncle you'd like to share?

                    You high horse isn't nearly as tall as you believe it is.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 12:20am

                      Consider that your own evidence, from which you draw your conclusions on which your arguments here are based, is itself anecdotal.

                      Except I didn’t offer evidence of a belief or proposition. I offered the fact that I haven’t personally heard of people mistaking QAnon shirts for queer-centric shirts. If it’s happened, fine, great, awesome possum — but I doubt it’s happened in statistically significant numbers. One person saying they know someone who did it doesn’t equal empirical evidence that it happens at a significant rate any more than my saying “no one does it” proves that true. But when I say “no one does it”, it’s tempered with the admission that I haven’t heard about anyone doing it. What I said could be proven wrong, and I’ll admit that I was wrong — but a single case doesn’t make a trend.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2020 @ 5:39am

                    Re:

                    Is yours limited to people calling you on your bullshit?

                    Is it bullshit though?

                    Did you forget all of the fuckery on 4chan where the Q shit started?

                    Did you forget how the Tea Party were "Tea baggers" - a reference to someone getting balls on their face? The conservative movement in the last decade or so has been ripe with references to homosexual culture.

                    And somehow, this idea is far fetched and ridiculous?

                    Yeah, it must be bullshit. Because otherwise, you - the barometer for republican homosexual innuendos - would've heard about it.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Aug 2020 @ 11:29am

                      somehow, this idea is far fetched and ridiculous?

                      QAnon being bullshit is irrelevant to whether using queerness as an attack on people who are more likely than not to view being queer as inherently bad (and act accordingly) is bullshit.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 30 Aug 2020 @ 12:50pm

              Re: Re:

              I'm just asking for clarification based on something they're wearing that suggests they are.

              Except you already know that it's referring to QAnon, not queerness. You don't need any clarification, so what are you really trying to accomplish?

              You'll see that craze just disappear inside of a week.

              You're hoping the question will cause them to abandon the movement. No reason for that springs to mind other than them being ashamed to be associated with LGBTQ. What is the mechanism you think will silence them, if not shaming them for being gay?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:54pm

    Can I sue Twitter and all the other websites because of Children's Health Defense?

    "Well, CHUD is batshit crazy. Crazy stuff. Inspiring people to violence. I think it is a platform that plays off people’s fears, that compels them to do things they normally wouldn’t do. And it’s very much a threat."

    CHUD has killed more people--children, even!--than, say, quackOn...and Facebook remains unsued! How is this OK?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    freakanatcha (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 2:35pm

    Miss Lindsey gets the blues

    Does Sen. Graham have any thoughts about his party's candidates spreading QAnon nonsense and his mancrush Trump impliciting endorsing QAnon?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 2:44pm

    Q anon is a series of weird conspiracy theory's maybe invented by trolls but some people will go out and uses those beliefs to spread doubt and cause real harm to people like saying vaccines are bad and should not be given to children.
    And some politicians are happy to support q anon if it gets them more votes.
    It's sad that some politicians are too lazy to study section 230 and understand its a law to support free speech on the Internet and to protect websites from
    being sued for comments made by users.
    The problem with various conspiracy theory's is its
    impossible to prove them wrong.
    and they can be used as an excuse to attack minority
    groups.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 5:22am

    Create a problem, use said problem you created to attack an unrelated enemy. It's the song of the right, the words change but the tune is always the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    restless94110 (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 9:00am

    Q

    QAnon is not a conspiracy theory, and is no threat to anyone anywhere. Both you and Graham are spreading poisonous nonsense.

    The thought that someone inside the government somewhere is putting out cryptic messages is a big "Who Cares?" for everyone or should be.

    Maybe QAnon is real; maybe it's all made up. But so what? it's just speech. There's no hate there (whatever that even is), and there is certainly no threat or danger.

    Lindsey Graham needs to be voted out. He's a warmonger and talks big about crooked FBI techniques then does nothing. Now with this QAnon lunacy he's just diverting his energy away from the work he should have been doing starting 4 years ago.

    Similarly, your article reminds me of the old cartoon where the lady of the house sees a mouse and jumps onto a chair screaming.
    Puleez. Calm down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 7:58pm

      QAnon is not a conspiracy theory

      Yes, it is. And if you believe it’s not, you can prove it’s not by answering these questions:

      1. How large is the supposed conspiracy that QAnon says they have exposed?
      2. How many people are part of this conspiracy?
      3. Are there enough of them to carry out the plan?
      4. What infrastructure and resources does it need?
      5. How much time and money did it take and where did this money come from?
      6. If there are many thousands of conspirators, how are they organized?
      7. Where are the secret conferences held?
      8. How do they keep track of membership?
      9. If they are organised through known channels or entities, how do they keep non-members who work there from uncovering the conspiracy?
      10. Who gains what from the conspiracy and for what price?
      11. Is this the easiest way of gaining it? If not, why was it chosen over the easiest way?
      12. If it is an old conspiracy—who gains what from maintaining it?
      13. How likely is it to remain covered up if it has gone on for a long time?
      14. If there are thousands of conspirators, and the conspiracy has gone on for decades, why have none of them defected?
      15. Why have none of them leaked the story?
      16. If many conspirators are dead, why have none of them told the truth on their deathbeds, or in their wills?
      17. There are many intelligence agencies associated with rival nations, with the ability to expose secrets. If, say, the United States government is running a global conspiracy, why have the French, Russian, or Chinese intelligence agencies never revealed it, to cause a major scandal in the United States (if all intelligence agencies are involved, see #2)? If they have, when and where did they do so?
      18. Does belief in this theory require accepting inherently contradictory premises that say the conspiring entities are simultaneously hyper competent, bone stupid, organized, clever, and hopelessly incompetent?

      The thought that someone inside the government somewhere is putting out cryptic messages is a big "Who Cares?" for everyone or should be.

      And yet, here we are. Blame the dopes who bought into the bullshit. Speaking of which…

      Maybe QAnon is real; maybe it's all made up.

      …QAnon is bullshit. Like, one bit here and there might have some small nugget of truth to it, but by and large, it’s bullshit all the way down.

      There's no hate there (whatever that even is)

      Except for the hate spewed at the people supposedly in the satanic pedophile ring that QAnon is trying to expose (and, if you believe that bullshit, Donald Trump is fighting to destroy).

      and there is certainly no threat or danger.

      The FBI has declared the practically religious adherents of QAnon to be a potential domestic terror threat. If you think the FBI is full of shit, you’re discrediting them on any similar declarations about “Antifa”, too. Are you willing to do that?

      Lindsey Graham needs to be voted out.

      No argument here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2020 @ 6:28pm

        Re:

        1. How much MMS have they been drinking?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Tanner Andrews (profile), 31 Aug 2020 @ 7:36pm

        Re:

        If you think the FBI is full of shit

        Then you have been paying attention.

        No, it is nothing new, the ``black bag'' jobs on MLK date back to the Hoover era. And the lying to the FISA court does not speak well of their reliability. Nor can we really praise them highly for creating and framing up their own ``terrorists'', such as Sami Osmakac.

        Sensible people, informed that the FBI said that the sun rose in the east this moring, should seek additional evidence to rule out the possibility of a kid with a very tall pole and a flaming torch.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Sep 2020 @ 3:44am

          Re: Re:

          But, and I say this clutching my pearls and heading for the fainting couch, "surely anyone who was Being Bad under that rascally Mr. Hoover was sorted out by the Church Commission?"

          /s in case Bill Barr or restless94110 show up to Poe the debate...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 30 Aug 2020 @ 12:55pm

      Re: Q

      there is certainly no threat or danger.

      This very story mentioned the QAnon supporter who took a rifle and shot up a pizza parlor. You don't consider high velocity rounds dangerous?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2020 @ 6:23pm

    But there are a lot of websites out there. How do you live in this world?

    Wut

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 29 Aug 2020 @ 6:34pm

    Considering the bullshit conspiracy theories Graham himself pushes ("No Collusion!" for one), perhaps he just doesn't like having competition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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