from the shakes-head dept
Let me introduce you to Alaska state Senator Lori Reinbold, who insists in her profile that she believes “in smaller government, and an economy based on free market principles.” She also says that she takes her oath to defend the Constitution “seriously and will fight to protect our inalienable rights.” And apparently, the way she does that is by outlawing fact checking. Senator Reinbold recently introduced a bill in the Alaska Senate that is such a batshit crazy attack on free speech as to be almost a parody. Now, I know, I know that it’s become fashionable among Trumpist legislators to pretend that “free speech” means forcing private companies to host speech that violates their own policies (which seems pretty anti-free market and anti-private property).
Bills of this nature have already been deemed unconstitutional in both Florida and Texas. At least the bills in both those places pretended to try to address the 1st Amendment issues by limiting the reach of their bills. Reinbold’s bill, SB 214, the Stop Social Media Censorship Act, doesn’t even make the slightest attempts to hide how much of an attack on the 1st Amendment it is. The key bit of nonsense:
Civil liability for censorship of speech by a social media platform. (a) Except as provided in (g) of this section, the owner or operator of a social media platform may not intentionally fact check, delete, or use an algorithm to disfavor, shadow ban, or otherwise censor the religious or political speech of a platform user.
So, again, all of this is protected under the 1st Amendment. If you’re using my property to speak, I can ask you to leave and take it down. That used to be a kind of fundamental tenet that Republicans claimed they supported as a core aspect of a “free market principle” like private property. But, beyond the usual drivel pretending that you can compel private companies to host speech that violates their policies, this goes even further in saying that such websites cannot fact check. Nothing quite says you support free speech like telling companies they can’t speak at all.
I guess I might need to spell this out for people like Senator Reinbold: fact checking is speech. It’s fundamental speech, protected by the 1st Amendment. The thing you pledged to protect and uphold and promised to fight for.
Of course, perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise coming from Reinbold, who appears to be the unfortunately typical kind of confidently ridiculous populist politicians who have been rising to prominence of late. She’s so extreme in her viewpoints that she was kicked out of the Republican caucus, and stripped of her committee assignments not once, but twice. She recently got some attention for being banned from Alaska Airlines for refusing to wear a mask. Because of that she was unable to get to the state Capitol for key votes. She was also once banned from the state Capitol for not following some fairly basic COVID safety rules.
And, yes, if you’re wondering why she might be so dang angry at social media sites for daring to (checks notes once again to make sure…) “fact checking,” perhaps it’s because she has a history of, let’s say, posting less than factual information.
Reinbold’s Facebook page on Friday contained many posts with Covid-19 misinformation, including advice to take hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin if infected with the virus. Her page also includes strong expressions of her opposition to mask and vaccine mandates.
Alaska: please, I beg of you, stop electing idiots.