Having resolved all of the pressing issues that once faced Ohioans — the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty, the opioid crisis — the state legislature is now free to focus on Big Tech’s plot to destroy America.
Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, appears ready to lead the state’s charge to protect the First Amendment. His plan, far from a pioneering one, parrots doomed legislative efforts already undertaken in other states, including Florida and Texas.
In short, Cutrona plans to protect the First Amendment by violating the First Amendment rights of the Big Tech companies.
In an announcement last week, Cutrona pledged to introduce legislation “that prohibits social media platforms from censoring users when they are expressing themselves unless it is in violation of state or federal law.”
The announcement included some flag-waving quotes from the representative:
“With social media being a quintessential form of communication these days, this bill is to ensure people’s Constitutional right to freedom of speech is not infringed on,” he said. “As Americans, obviously we are not all going to agree with one another on thoughts and ideas, and that’s okay. But it’s surely not the job of Big Tech employees to choose favorites on what deserves censorship based on ambiguous policies and their personal views.
“These monopolized Big Tech platforms should not have the power to dictate what they deem as acceptable speech, that’s exactly why we have the First Amendment and why I’m introducing this legislation,” Cutrona said.
Not often do I find myself siding with corporations worth literally a trillion dollars, but Cutrona leaves no choice here.
Where to begin. Perhaps by reading the First Amendment, which Cutrona apparently has not gotten around to doing just yet.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That’s it. The amendment is concise, with none of the clunky construction that has cast the Second Amendment into an unending tug-of-war of interpretation.
With very few exceptions, exceptions that most of us learned in high school civics classes, the government can’t shut us up.
From 2020:Trump escalates war on Twitter, social media
We can argue about the power of social media and tech monsters like Google on public discourse, but they are not the government. They can boot users if they like. They can control their content, they can shape and mold their ideological messaging as they see fit.
Cutrona, and it’s hard to believe this needs saying, IS the Government. He governs. He helps make laws.
He has no business telling Facebook or Twitter what sort of content they should be hosting, short of obviously illegal content like child pornography.
It makes no matter if you believe that Facebook and Google are conspiring to push a lefty agenda, although you’re kidding yourself if you think for a minute that their CEOs don’t salivate at the thought of crushing the other into permanent oblivion.
They have their own protected free speech, even if you hate it. If you believe in the First Amendment as written, you have to stop there.
What matters is that just as you, with the known exceptions, have the right to say stuff that might get you booted from Twitter, Twitter has the right to boot you should it so choose. You are free to find another social media that aligns with your speech, although you might want to find one with a better long-term business plan than Parler or Gettr.
More:Conservative social networks keep making the same mistake
So far, legislative efforts like the one being mounted by Cutrona haven’t met with much success. Florida Republicans, for example, passed a bill back in April that banned the “deplatforming” of politicians, but a federal judge with concerns about its constitutionality (yes, its constitutionality), has put it on hold.
If Cutrona is eager to waste time pursuing go-nowhere, accomplish-nothing legislation, might I suggest a government ban on the word “deplatforming?”
Truly, that is a terrible word.