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The Bipartisan Attacks On The Internet Are Easily Understood If You Realize They Just Want To Control Speech Online

from the that's-all-it-is dept

Understanding the "bipartisan" approach to internet regulations over the last couple of years really boils down to "both parties want to control the internet" and twist it to their own advantage. Almost everything you hear about "harms" from the internet are disingenuous nonsense from grandstanding politicians. That's not to say there aren't real problems with things on the internet or how it's structured -- but there is almost no realistic exploration of those issues by those in various legislatures. It's all about grabbing control over the internet. Two recent articles highlight pretty clearly how both Republicans and Democrats are clearly salivating to control speech online for their own benefit -- and not for the actual good of society or the internet.

First up, we have The Spectator. To be honest, this publication has been a garbage publication recently, pushing out all sorts of nonsense, but apparently there are still a few people there who can publish something good. Taylor Millard has written a short and to the point article noting, accurately, that so much of the bipartisan attacks on the internet lately are really about one thing: how both parties want to control your speech online. We've discussed how the policy plans of Republicans and Democrats often feel at odds, with Republicans complaining about too much moderation, and Democrats complaining about too little, but the truth is slightly more nuanced, and both are really just looking to have control over speech online -- control that is simply not allowed under the 1st Amendment.

The Democrats' attacks on free speech are pretty straightforward:

Congressional Democrats are hoping to enact rules due to their concerns over so-called misinformation and “harmful content.” Their anger over the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the bogeyman of Russian interference fueled the original push for new regulations. The coronavirus pandemic and 2020 presidential election fallout poured rocket fuel on the ideological pyre, as did the QAnon conspiracy and discussions around alternate Covid treatments, masks and vaccine efficacy.

Vermont congressman Peter Welch promoted a new five-member commission with civil penalty power making sure Big Tech is “unbiased” and doesn’t promote harmful content. The Democrat used the infamous “for the children” crusade as reasoning. Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar desires Health and Human Services control over the internet where public health is involved. She believes more lives would be saved if Section 230 protections for Big Tech were removed. New Mexico senator Ben Ray Lujan took it a step further, saying that the spread of misinformation ended up “fueling distrust in public health officials, promoting conspiracy theories and putting lives at risk.” To paraphrase Frank Herbert: he who controls the information, controls the world.

The Republican side is just slightly more nefarious in that they falsely claim that their efforts are in support of free speech, though as rulings in Texas and Florida have shown, they're equally as problematic under the 1st Amendment.

Republicans are just as censorious — but they shroud their urge to regulate Big Tech under the guise of protecting free speech. The Florida and Texas legislatures passed rules requiring large social media companies not to remove users from their platforms if they express dissident viewpoints.

We see this elsewhere too -- not just in the states. Nearly all of Josh Hawley's policy proposals regarding the internet are about controlling how internet companies present speech. And Republicans are just as prone as Democrats to roll out "for the children!" legislation that is designed to simply give government more control over speech.

The second article is by Adam Thierer, and published over at The Hill and makes a very similar point:

The only thing unifying both sides is a desire for greater regulatory control of media. In today’s hyper-partisan world, tech platforms have become just another plaything to be dominated by politics and regulation. When the ends justify the means, principles that transcend the battles of the day – like property rights, free speech and editorial independence – become disposable. These are things we take for granted until they’ve been chipped away at and lost.

Is there any way to make both sides happy without undermining the digital economy, which has been dominated globally by American firms for over a quarter century? 

That’s unlikely, but it hasn’t stopped lawmakers from introducing a flurry of bills to weaken or eliminate protections afforded by Section 230, which limits liability for platforms that host user-generated content. Implemented in 1996, it has served as the cornerstone of America’s ascendancy in the digital world and helped spur an avalanche of innovation. Gutting it would put all that at risk. 

As Thierer rightly notes, this is entirely about attacking free speech and the 1st Amendment, by both parties, in order to control a medium they haven't been able to control for the past few decades:

Without admitting it, both sides are really at war against the First Amendment, which protects the editorial decisions made by private companies. To be sure, there is problematic content to be found on digital media platforms, and there are some legitimate complaints about overzealous takedown policies and lack of transparent standards. That does not mean there is an easy policy fix to those problems, however. But courts have held repeatedly that the First Amendment protects efforts by private media firms to devise their own approaches. Just last week, a Texas judge blocked a law that sought to limit social media platforms’ editorial freedoms. That followed a court in Florida enjoining a similar law this summer. 

Critics like to paint large tech companies as nefarious overlords out to destroy civilization. In reality, the problems we see and hear on modern platforms reflect deeper problems in our society. If these companies are to be blamed for anything, it’s making human communication so frictionless that every person now has a soapbox to speak to the world. That’s both a blessing and a curse. With unbounded speech comes many wonders but also many problems.

The battles here are not about making a better internet. Or "protecting children." It's very much about each of the political parties wanting control over the key tool that has enabled people to communicate with each other, without having that speech first filtered through an "official" source.

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Filed Under: controlling speech, democrats, free speech, republicans, section 230, social media, speech


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  • icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 13 Dec 2021 @ 9:27am

    If these companies are to be blamed for anything, it’s making human communication so frictionless that every person now has a soapbox to speak to the world.

    Id have liked to see a closer examination about how this factor influences the political attacks - both parties have been hit hard in the last decade by voters being able to communicate their displeasure and have it heard, and the ability of voters to keep a topic topical where in previous eras politicians could go silent for a week and let the news pass.

    Its a topic Techdirt has discussed regularly in the past - Politicians are being hit hard by the 2-way communication of the internet, just as much if not more than the media companies who are fighting to maintain relevance. Politicians have been seeing real mass feedback in a way that is getting worse for them and moving 'the web' back to the one-way broadcast-like medium of web 1.0 seems to be the move all the powerful want to make.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 9:58am

    In other words, do exactly the same as countries like China do and completely ignore how we keep condemning them for doing it! How hypocritical can you get? And we're supposed to be the most advanced of nations in 'the free world', where freedom of speech is sacred!

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 13 Dec 2021 @ 11:27am

    And the proof of the pudding

    Is how much the Internet corps will have to Pay to congress in SOME form of PAC. Just to make them leave it alone.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 12:05pm

    I have to agree with most of that. To be fair, I'm not cheering for the extent of control that corporations have over our speech, either, but government would be worse.

    One area that could maybe benefit from a bit of regulatory oversight would be infrastructure and financial companies using blackmail to dictate moderation policy for others.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 13 Dec 2021 @ 12:34pm

    The one word in your article title that is superfluous is the last one: "online."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 1:10pm

      Re:

      True, both sides want to control all speech not just online speech, they just want to take down their biggest problem first.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 1:15pm

    In the end they will not be able to control speech online.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Dec 2021 @ 3:57pm

    I wish signing unconstitutional things resulted in them giving up office.

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 13 Dec 2021 @ 6:03pm

      Re:

      THAT,
      is up to those they are SUPPOSED to represent.
      AND the knowledge for them to gather, IS mostly online.

      Ever watch CSPAN? beyond BORING and seems not to be doing much. Seems alot is backroom gambling.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 4:04pm

    I’m actually hyped for blue states like California and more passing legislation that lets people sue misinformation peddlers via a framework based on Texas’ SB8 bill. I’m glad that Newsom is going after guns, and I hope he goes after anti-vaxxers next. While red states continue to rot, blue states could shield their citizens from the worst of it all.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 5:23pm

      Re:

      Be careful what you wish for, as the red team would drive sites they dislike into bankruptcy by bringing case after case after case. There does not need any merit in the cases, but enough flea bites will drain the money out of any company.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 5:39pm

        Re: Re:

        I don’t really care. If you haven’t noticed, gestures to everything nothing matters anymore. The red team could just be told to fuck off since most of the sites have their HQ located states majority-owned by the blue team. The blue team could use state power to force the sites to ban high-profile antivaxxers and spreaders of medical misinfo or they’ll raid the offices and take over themselves. Actually, the Dems in California ‘nationalizing’ Facebook and more sounds like a good idea…

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 4:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You would reduce the Internet o a corporate controlled content delivery network, and remove the means by which many self publishers make a living, and on which many small business owners have built up a support network. What you would unleash is more like columns of army ants, which would destroy all in their path.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 14 Dec 2021 @ 7:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, the Dems in California ‘nationalizing’ Facebook and more sounds like a good idea…

          Hey conservatives, this is what an actual communist proposal looks like.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 8:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Because free-market capitalism has done such a good job at keeping corps like FB in check, amirite?

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Dec 2021 @ 6:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Because free-market capitalism has done such a good job at keeping corps like FB in check..."

              By the rules of the free market what would keep FB in check would be the citizenry. Vox Populi, Vox Dei as it were.

              FB is still occupying a vastly larger market share than most of its competitors - like Parler, for instance. The system obviously works as intended even if the majority of the market segment just flows towards what most consider the least revolting alternative.

              In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, goes the saying, and in the land where the options are between the shady self-serving platform using its clientele as product or the deranged cheerleading lobby for the people who shat on the rotunda floor while practicing insurrection I guess FB still comes out the winner every day of the week.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2021 @ 7:23am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I feel like your comment implies what I’m about to say, but: The system working as intended meaning that we have to accept platforms like Facebook as a lesser evil is a massive indictment of free-market capitalism.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2021 @ 8:27pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  So you consider people having rights to be a massive indictment of a system?

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

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Dec 2021 @ 7:25am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "The system working as intended meaning that we have to accept platforms like Facebook as a lesser evil is a massive indictment of free-market capitalism."

                  That is how it works.

                  Communism doesn't work because it assumes humans are part of a computer with a central motherboard impartially assigning resources from each according to ability, to each according to need.

                  Capitalism does work because it leverages as drivers those same human failings which make communism fail. Greed, ambition, narcissism, envy, etc. With the predictable result that the market unfettered consists entirely of Michael Shkreli clones.

                  Imho the most optimal fiscal policy you can sustainably aim for will be social democracy where you mix enough of column A with enough of column B to make for a society where ambition and skill is rewarded but there's a soft cap and point of diminishing returns regarding how much it pays to claw yourself all the way to the top by any means and some form of idealism remains to guide a framework of ethics in which society and corporations can function.

                  Though of late a far more concerning issue is the shift on the liberal-authoritarian axis where no matter which part of the fiscal slider a nation stands on, authoritarianism seems to be gaining headway.

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 13 Dec 2021 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      The biggest problem is those you are Suing.
      Will contend ITS AN OPINION, and thats 1st amendment.
      And what would happen next is a TON of data gathering that would take YEARS on both sides. Probably including 4 years of immunology teaching.
      Then would come the fact that it takes years to release a Drug for anything, except this last one.
      Then would come the info about how Pharma tends to Cherry pick Data to prove something works. WHEN it dont do much of anything, and why there are 10+ court cases NOW about pharma and fake/over priced drugs.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2021 @ 6:33pm

        Re: Re:

        That’s cute, the thing called ECA thinks that its rambling is an intelligent rebuttal. Whenever you talk about how members of Congress cheated or bribed their way through college, do you ever look at what you type? Do you ever look at how you type? Because for someone who writes like they’re still in grade school, your belief that you’re more intelligent than them is hilarious.

        But that’s besides the point, of course. I’d love to see a law styled after Texas SB8 where you can sue someone who says the vaccines are fake and don’t work, or tries to peddle miracle cures, and get a resolution the same day. Someone lies, someone takes them to court for lying, the liar loses and has to pay restitution, and the world gets just a little bit better for it.

        Science and the facts are on the plaintiff’s side. No hand-wringing over “What is true, really?”, just an open-and-shut case where lying grifter shitheads pay consequences for being lying grifter shitheads.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 5:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I’d love to see a law styled after Texas SB8 where you can sue someone who ......

          And clog up the court with claims and counter claims,creating an ever increasing backlog. Also, even loser pays would not be enough for a web site owner to be able to stay in business. Hint, if the loser has no money, the winner is out of pocket.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 6:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Let’s I’m an individual suing another individual under an SB8-styled law because the other individual posted lies about vaccines. Where does the site come into this aside from deleting or banning the user that I sued, dumbass?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 10:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              How do you find out who to sue, and how does the site handle requests for details? What happens when a site hands over details to a stalker or violent ex-partner?

              Also the huge flaw in your proposed law, who decides what is reasonable,what is misinformation, and what are lies. How many time could you win in court before the effort cost you your job, or you go bankrupt waiting for your costs to be actually paid.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 12:07pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                what is reasonable

                The evidence that shows that the vaccines have been effective at combating COVID-19.

                what is misinformation

                That the vaccines don’t work.

                what are lies

                The same shit as above, lies about how the vaccine doesn’t work.

                Endless “What is truth, really?” handwringing is so fucking stupid. We have mountains of evidence of vaccine efficacy. Turning basic facts and/or hard science pointing that someone’s right and someone’s wrong into years-long court cases (which can be made even longer through appeal) has devolved the legal system and our democracy into a shit-show.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 14 Dec 2021 @ 7:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Someone lies, someone takes them to court for lying, the liar loses and has to pay restitution, and the world gets just a little bit better for it.

          You would need a constitutional amendment first, because lies are protected by the first amendment unless they fall under specific defamation or fraud categories, which medical misinformation generally doesn't.

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

        • icon
          ECA (profile), 15 Dec 2021 @ 3:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          intelligence is relative to life experience.
          And expecting Much from persons that have been in the business of politics Since their 20's, and probably most are in the same families that were in office in the past.
          Most would seem to be isolated Monks, compared to RL experience. Find a few that spent a few years on the streets. Find a few that lived on drugs, and Gave them up. Find me a few that have had to Find work at the bottom that dont pay enough for rent, let alone food, unless you want to work 80+ hours per week.
          Your expression of opinion to my Comment or myself, shows More about you, then it tells you about me. Open mouth, eat the green slime between the toes. You would never put your foot in your mouth, you would lick the slime off and enjoy it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 5:15am

    When will Americans wake up and realise their en facto two-parties state is not much better than the one-party states, and finally push for multi-parties state?

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 16 Dec 2021 @ 3:29pm

      Re:

      Problem with that.
      WHO has the money and contacts?
      Who is doing the Rich the most favors?

      Those other parties found something out. THEY could join the big guys, as Each side needs more people then the other.
      So, along with all the groups are ALSO, the idiocy and screwballs.

      AND as with any current Church, they will not excommunicate(kick out) ANYONE, because then they would not have enough people to fight the other party, to see who gets the corp money.

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

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 14 Dec 2021 @ 10:25am

    “Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

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

  • icon
    pigpenpal (profile), 14 Dec 2021 @ 11:17am

    We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

    More and more I’m struck by the thought that we must come to a new understanding of the first amendment. We can no longer tolerate the willful spread of harmful lies. The intentional spread of malign, dangerous disinformation has to be dealt with.

    It took years for Sandy Hooke parents to bring Alex Jones into a court and answer for the incredible lies he told, and profited from. Years he was able to spread those lies and to paint himself as a victim of a conspiracy to silence the “truth.” Years of continued damage before he was forced to pay a price for it. A small price, a shadow of the damage and pain he caused, and the cult of conspiracy that he enflamed.

    We can no longer abide a system that makes it so difficult, most often impossible, to correct the record and to punish, aggressively and meaningfully, those who profit from fabrication, fear mongering and malign deceit.

    Don’t say it’s dangerous to liberty. The status quo is far, far more dangerous.

    Don’t say it can’t be done. Trump and the GOP tried to push their enormous lie and get the 2016 election overturned in a bunch of states with conservative election commissions, sympathetic to his continued presidency. They refused to do it because the penalties for that kind of perjury are serious and the truth was right there for everyone to see.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 14 Dec 2021 @ 11:46am

      Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

      The problem is, nobody has come up with a way to outlaw dangerous lies that doesn't involve giving a corrupt government (and maybe much worse than corrupt) the power to define what is a dangerous lie, and thus control who is allowed to speak and what they are allowed to say. At least not that I've heard of.

      Don’t say it’s dangerous to liberty. The status quo is far, far more dangerous.

      Until you can solve the above mentioned problem, I disagree. The situation we're in now is a serious threat to both democracy and public health, but your proposal puts us on the road to 1984.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

        The situation we're in now is a serious threat to both democracy and public health

        I’m pretty sure that the goings-on in the Supreme Court, voter suppression in Georgia, rollbacks of reproductive rights and more point to democracy being dead. And the endless hospitalizations of anti-vaxxers and those who they infect burning out our health-care workers and stretching our systems to the brink show that public health is getting pretty damned close to 0.

        “But this could be abused by someone in the future!” is an excuse to do nothing, watch poll numbers for progressives shit themselves, and then the corrupt/fascist government takes the reigns and does all the abuse anyway, because they don’t need someone to do it first for them to do it.

        This is the biggest thing you don’t understand, or refuse to understand. The corrupt assholes do it anyway. They do it anyway. THEY FUCKING DO IT ANYWAY.

        So you can either continue to cling to your bygone ideals, the idea that we can still save this thing by “countering speech with more speech” and the “marketplace of ideas”, or you can help progressives and more push back against the tide of fascism that doesn’t care about your ideals.

        Is it also that hard to believe that if progressive governments outlaw dangerous lies and punish people for spreading them, that the chance of a corrupt/fascist regime taking power would diminish?

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 14 Dec 2021 @ 1:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

          “But this could be abused by someone in the future!” is an excuse to do nothing

          No, it's a reason to not do that thing. Suggesting "do nothing" and "burn down our civil liberties" are the only options is a false dichotomy fallacy of grand proportions.

          They do it anyway.

          Do what? I'm not aware of any laws giving the government control over private citizens' speech. So what is the "it" that they do anyway?

          you can help progressives and more push back against the tide of fascism that doesn’t care about your ideals.

          Well if you're right then we're truly screwed. The fascists certainly don't care about the ideals of democracy, and if the progressives don't either then America is done. Might as well just have a king at that point because the rest will be window dressing. I can't figure out why that is what you want though.

          Is it also that hard to believe that if progressive governments outlaw dangerous lies and punish people for spreading them, that the chance of a corrupt/fascist regime taking power would diminish?

          Diminish somewhat? Sure that's easy to believe. Diminish to zero? Not buying it. So how much of a chance of a permanent fascist government are you willing to accept (because once they get the kind of power you want to give them they're not giving it back) in exchange for temporarily reducing the number of lies? And make no mistake, it will temporary. Once President Marjorie Taylor-Greene is in office (or someone like her), her lies will be declared truth, and your truth will be declared dangerous lies. And then maybe you'll think back on how we got into that situation and whether it was worth it.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 2:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

            So what is the "it" that they do anyway?

            Run roughshod over norms and standards and established law and precedent. Look at the Trump Administration and how much havoc he and his cronies wreaked over these last handful of years without Democrats having done any of it first. Did the Democrats ever try to lead an armed insurrection on the Capitol building?

            No, it's a reason to not do that thing. Suggesting "do nothing" and "burn down our civil liberties" are the only options is a false dichotomy fallacy of grand proportions.

            First, the Trump Supreme Court is already doing a fine fucking job of burning down our civil liberties. This is about pushing back and saving what’s left so we can try to rebuild our civil liberties after we beat back the rising tide of ignorance and fascism.

            Second, what the fuck are the other options? Vote early, vote often, pray that some gun nut doesn’t shoot up the polling place that I go to because mail-in voting was banned in my state, clap my hands and believe in the power of Free Speech and hope that the Repubs don’t go “Nah, this election was fake news” and overturn it if they don’t like the results?

            Well if you're right then we're truly screwed. The fascists certainly don't care about the ideals of democracy, and if the progressives don't either then America is done.

            What reason would progressives have to believe that the system still works after these last couple years? Go read some HappyRoadkill comics. It’ll do you some good to see what progressives think about the current system and how it’s utterly fucking broken.

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

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 15 Dec 2021 @ 7:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendm

              Run roughshod over norms and standards and established law and precedent.

              And if you think it can't get any worse next time, you're in for a surprise.

              This is about pushing back and saving what’s left so we can try to rebuild our civil liberties after we beat back the rising tide of ignorance and fascism.

              Saving what we have left by preemptively destroying it?

              Second, what the f*** are the other options?

              Honestly, I'm not sure. But I don't have to know what the right solution is to recognize problems with another.

              So on a practical level, has your proposal ever been tried anywhere and turned out well?

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Dec 2021 @ 7:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendm

              "First, the Trump Supreme Court is already doing a fine fucking job of burning down our civil liberties. This is about pushing back and saving what’s left so we can try to rebuild our civil liberties after we beat back the rising tide of ignorance and fascism. "

              That ship sailed a long time back, when Reagan made compassion and reason an unamerican act and took out of government and citizenry alike any motivation or reason to assign any credibility to common decency, dignity or humanitarian values.

              Compounded when GWB became president. Progressives and Liberals alike melted like candles under a blowtorch after 9/11 when the neocons successfully gutted every principle of decency and proportion you guys had in law.

              Finally, during all this time, never did democratic voters bother to scour their own party and toss out the bought-and-paid-for sandal bearers and water carriers for the industrial, banking and entertainment lobbies. The reps meanwhile sure did put in the prep work for decades.

              Most americans have spent their lives not caring about politics all that much. Never auditing their chosen party or roasting their candidates. You want to push back? Fine. All you need is to get 90% to vote in the upcoming midterms. The house will be left with hardly a single republican. Which will similarly leave Trump - or whatever wannabe Hitler manages to finagle the candidacy from him - steamrolled in 2024.

              But it's not going to happen. 2020, when the stakes were as high as they could ever be this side of bloody wartime you could barely muster 67% of eligible voters. Trump may be an inept and unlikable narcissist in way over his ability but if Hitler could swing Germany in 1932 with a mere 12% of the people on his side Trump has a real shot at getting it done 2024 with his 25% of the people.

              Yeah, the system is broken...and progressives were sitting on their asses being comfy while it was being taken apart, for decades.

              Call me a cynic but until the average american has suffered through some good old honest-to-Cthulhu fascism with one foot in '1984' and the other in 'A Handmaid's Tale' for a few years they aren't going to realize that sitting on their asses thinking it's someone else's problem has very personal consequences.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2021 @ 8:41pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Am

                You are a fucking moron with a childish and petty nihilistic tantrum over things not going your way is justice. You somehow think decades of normalization of fascist rule would improve things? The US is a nuclear power - there isn't any other great power to force them to their senses.

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

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Dec 2021 @ 8:30am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the Firs

                  "You are a fucking moron with a childish and petty nihilistic tantrum over things not going your way is justice..."

                  Says the guy who started with the childish temper tantrum.

                  I'm more read up on the US developments than a great many americans can boast by now and what I'm seeing is a nation collapsing. That nation is one bad recession away from going full Last Days of the Weimar.
                  Where some triviality like going to a war of aggression under false pretenses, actually breaking the economy or exculpating war crimes over political convenience will hardly shake an incumbent administration but gas prices or living expenses rising by 10% means whatever monster is tossed into the ring by the opposition will win the next election.

                  Face facts, child. Americans have let the abhorrent asshats grow into a full quarter of their population. Watched without a comment as they whipped themselves into a state of belief where they are the chosen few and the remaining 75% a mixed bag of cannibal cultists on the paycheck of the NWO, infidels, or "race traitors" eager to replace what they see as the "natural" state of the USA.

                  They want a strongman leading a white, all-christian US and have already shown willing to achieve that goal with force of arms and violence.

                  History is pretty clear about the possible options when things have come to a point like this; The choice being to declare civil war on them before they do it unto you - or keep trying to apply the rules and trappings if civilization in dealing with the people who long discarded all of those by the roadside.

                  In that latter option, liberals eventually lose. If the republicans take the house in 2022 Trump wins in 2024 almost no matter what the actual vote says. If they don't manage to take the house in '22 they keep attacking and undermining. And they'll keep right on doing that until at some point they've dismantled the system of government enough for it to completely collapse.

                  Any good options liberals had to stop this without horrible consequences...those died after liberals and democrats let 9/11 change the US as a whole. When fearful progressives simply sat down and let GWB and his neocons own the show. No one, metaphorically, stood to ask McCarthy if he had any decency that time around.

                  And by now if someone stands up to ask that it's too damn late - because shame is something all of those have left behind. Just another "baseless attack" by the baby-eating liberals to be used as more fodder to inflame a base by now so addicted to hatred they're no longer interested in anything other than feeding their grievance addiction.

                  Democracy is failing in the US and it certainly isn't because the fascists started out strong. It's because their opposition stopped trying.

                  "...You somehow think decades of normalization of fascist rule would improve things?"

                  No, I'm just thinking that the US is at the point where the normalization of american fascist rule is what it gets. The GOP has made it abundantly clear that they treat rules and debate the same way the early nazis treated them in 1930 - like irrelevant jokes. That there is no bottom line they won't cross.

                  Democrats and liberals still think this is a war of words. The alt-right, meanwhile, is building militias and recruiting among the armed forces because they think it's just war, period. And are chomping at the bit for the shooting to start. Eventually they'll get their wish. And they'll win, because nine out of ten liberals will either pull a Niemöller or decide it isn't bad enough - yet - to risk their lives for.

                  Historically the violent savages always eventually win over those so civilized they've forgotten to fight for the liberty they want to keep. Which is ironically what Jeffersson kept warning people about in his day.

                  I'm thinking that at the rate the US is going, fascist rule or civil war are the two choices left on the table.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 11:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

          Are you mad? Are you missing the point of the First Amendment? It is about preventing abuse by the government. Because you can only trust the government that much. Giving the government too much power over speech is only going to backfire and bring us closer to an Orwellian society. How much more power do you think is safe to give to the government without eroding democracy? We do not need more power for the government, we need more power for the people. The founders understand checks and balance of power. Do you? I think it is madness to weaken the First Amendment.

          Maybe there is another way for the government to combat harmful misinformation is to seek legal remedy for those legitimately harmed by misinformation by suing the sources of misinformation? Surely there is no need for the government to tamper with First Amendment for that.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Dec 2021 @ 7:11am

          Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

          "“But this could be abused by someone in the future!” is an excuse to do nothing, watch poll numbers for progressives shit themselves, and then the corrupt/fascist government takes the reigns and does all the abuse anyway, because they don’t need someone to do it first for them to do it."

          It's somehow really disheartening to re-read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for the umpteenth time in a row and yet again be struck by the similarities between contemporary US and the last throes of the Weimar republic.

          History is pretty clear though. It's too late to do anything. Liberals and progressives have suffered the alt-right to grow into the monster it currently is by simply not giving enough of a shit to stop them. Now it's too late. The crazy racist uncle should have been banished from the thanksgiving table ten years ago. The deplorable bigoted spouse divorced and cast aside. The swastika and odal-wearing patrons told to leave the premises and never come back years back. The authoritarian old granpa believing blindly in the righteousness of uniforms and symbols tossed into a home and left to rot.
          The time to cast these monsters into the wilderness was decades ago.

          Instead they've been encouraged and incentivized. Never told where the line in sand was drawn. Always invited back to the table to talk - which they no doubt found briefly amusing before they shat on said table and ran off to light a cross on someones lawn again.

          An ounce of prevention being absent now you need a crapton of cure instead. And the only cure possible at this point is to keep playing within the rules until the fascists overreach and spark another civil war. Because that's where you're at right now.

          "This is the biggest thing you don’t understand, or refuse to understand. The corrupt assholes do it anyway. They do it anyway. THEY FUCKING DO IT ANYWAY."

          I think most of us do understand. What we also understand but you missed is that it's far too late to get to a point where they don't do it anyway. It's just that in one case you'll still have the moral ground to claim you're on the right side in the civil war or unending skirmish about to start among the fractured ruins of the union.

          "Is it also that hard to believe that if progressive governments outlaw dangerous lies and punish people for spreading them, that the chance of a corrupt/fascist regime taking power would diminish?"

          Well, Europe has managed to ban hate speech and we are notably still a lot more democratic than the US. But then again, we have another platform than the US does and fewer risks associated with introducing such a ban. Within the US...I doubt you have the social responsibility to survive such a breach of your own constitutional principles. You might have, in the times of FDR or Kennedy. But not today. Today, much thanks to Reagan, your nation revolves around Fuck You, Got Mine and All for One and More For Me. The concept that every individual must put in the work and pay the way for everyone else so all may prosper...is dead.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2021 @ 3:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

            "not giving enough of a shit to stop them."

            We understand how you want to "stop" them (the people with whom you disagree politically). Gulags.

            We get it, Scary Devil. You want people who don't vote the way you do imprisoned, re-educated, or in mass graves.

            When the people whose ancestors built Europe and the US take back what is theirs, they will remember when people like you wanted their children raped, jailed, and killed. And they will realize the danger of showing you any mercy whatever, and you will receive none - and it will be YOUR OWN FAULT.

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

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 24 Dec 2021 @ 5:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendm

              When the people whose ancestors built Europe and the US take back what is theirs

              restlessNazi, did you forget to log in?

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Dec 2021 @ 12:22pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the First Am

                nasch, do you call Black people "nggers"? Do you calll Jews "kkes"?

                Because "Nzi" and "rcist" is the same thing, but for White people.

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

                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 25 Dec 2021 @ 2:36pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: We need to have a talk with the Firs

                  Because "Nzi" and "rcist" is the same thing, but for White people.

                  I would say I'm sorry that an accurate description of your ideology offends you, but I'm really not.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2021 @ 8:36pm

      Re: We need to have a talk with the First Amendment

      That is the same sort of crap about democracy from authoritarians post World War I. That makes your statements even stupider.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2021 @ 11:09pm

    Of course they're taking notes from China, Singapore and countries where authcap totalitarianism works.

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


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