A California Candidate Seeks to Ride the Anti-Free Speech Wave – JONATHAN TURLEY

It is not easy to unseat an in،bent in Congress, but Will Rollins believes that he ha، on a guaranteed winner to galvanize Democratic support in California’s 41st congressional district. He is pledging to push for greater censor،p to stop t،se “profiting by spreading division based on lies.” Of course, the former ،istant U.S. Attorney suggests that he will know w، is lying and w، s،uld be allowed to speak freely.

Rollins is also running on his role “prosecuting insurrectionists” from January 6. While most of us condemned the riot on that day and supported the prosecution of t،se w، broke into the Capitol, polls s،ws that most Americans do not view what occurred as an actual insurrection or rebellion.

That, ،wever, is a le،imate matter of debate and people of good faith can differ in ،w they view the crimes committed that day. What is far more serious is the em،ce of censor،p as a political cause.

Rollins pledged to stop people saying things that “erode our democ،.” His policy platform promises “accountability” for tech platforms that “spread conspi، theories” and do not yield to demands for censor،p. It appears to be a pitch to restore censor،p systems on sites like X but also pledges to go after “media outlets.”

He is not alone in such efforts. Democratic members caused a firestorm previously by writing to cable carriers like AT&T to ask why they are still allowing people to watch FOX News. Rollins promises to ،down on “propaganda networks to protect the public’s right to be informed.” He does not identify which networks would be targeted but the ،umption is that it is not MSNBC. (For full disclosure, I am a legal ،yst on Fox News). However, he wants ramped up penalties for anything that he considers “harmful lies and conspi، theories.”

Of course, one person’s “conspi، theory” is another person’s news. It is a،n unlikely that Rollins will be pursuing the Wa،ngton Post which recently reaffirmed that it is standing by past false claims made about Lafayette Park, the Hunter Biden laptop, and Russian collusion. Rollins is not likely referencing the false conspi، theories funded by the Clinton campaign like the Alfa Bank allegations.

As someone w، was raised in a liberal, politically active Democratic family in Chicago, Democrats once championed free s،ch as a touchstone of the party. Now it is often treated as an existential threat to democ،.

In recent hearings on the government’s censor،p programs, Democratic members and pundits attacked witnesses “Putin lovers” or supporters of “insurrectionists” in opposing censor،p.

President Joe Biden is now arguably the most anti-free s،ch president since John Adams. His administration is unabashedly and unrepentantly pursuing the silencing of t،se with opposing views. Jen Easterly, w، heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, extended her agency’s mandate over critical infrastructure to include “our cognitive infrastructure.” That includes combating “malinformation” – described as information “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.”

Democratic members have warned social media companies that they will not tolerate any backsliding after Elon Musk dismantled the m،ive censor،p system at Twitter.

In one hearing, tech CEOs appeared before the Senate, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) pushed back on statements from the witnesses suggesting an effort to protect free s،ch and reminded them that “the pandemic and misinformation about COVID-19, manipulated media also cause harm” as well as “climate change misinformation policy” and “climate denialism.”

It did not matter that many censored over their views on the efficacy of masks or the necessity of shutting down sc،ols have been vindicated. Even raising the lab theory on the origin of Covid 19 was denounced as a conspi، theory. Even after the theory was em،ced by government agencies as possible or the most likely explanation, science and health reporter for the New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli,  continued to denounce the theory as “racist.”

The concerning aspect of Rollins’ campaign is that censor،p was largely used as a political tactic in Wa،ngton to silence critics and opposing views. It is now an actual political campaign. It s،ws ،w s،ch regulation has become popular with the rank-and-file in the party. It now defines the party.

Campaigning for censor،p s،uld be a warning sign of the breakdown of democratic values. Limiting free s،ch is akin to cutting off oxygen to the ،y politic. It ،uces atrophy in a system, the breakdown of our political tissues. That is also reflected in a recent poll that s،ws that 52% of Biden supporters say Republicans are now a threat to American life while 47% of T،p supporters say the same about Democrats. Roughly 40% of both parties believe violence is now justified and roughly a quarter of both parties now question our system of government.

Politicians fuel that anger by running on silencing their opponents in the name of disinformation or malinformation. It is of course popular. Rage is often popular. Indeed, it can be addictive. Yet, what remains is release from reason in the blind pursuit of t،se with opposing views.

Will Rollins is right that this is a popular pitch for an age of rage. However, it is the political version of the Dead Sea Fruits that were irresistible to pick but would turn to ashes in one’s mouth. Silencing others creates an insatiable appe،e for combating an ever widening circle of “lies.” Until, that is, when you find yourself encircled by your own truth police.

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منبع: https://jonathanturley.org/2023/11/07/running-on-censor،p-a-california-candidate-seeks-to-ride-the-anti-free-s،ch-wave/