The Twitterati and the court of social media are second-guessing world-renowned lawyer, Alan Dershowitz on the concept of the 1st Amendment, going so far as to claim he should stick to criminal law and not comment on Constitutional law.
I can and will comment on Constitutional law; The First Amendment, like the 2nd, is a right, a God-given right, that is guaranteed by the Constitution, period. Facebook and especially Twitter have shredded and stomped on those guarantees, claiming they are exempt because they, you know, ‘feel’ they are.
In days gone by, monopolistic news sources couldn’t get away with having the only platform in a particular space and box out all others who wanted to express an opinion, whether it was ‘The Boston Commons leaflet’ or the New York Times. Competition could spring up and express their own opinion, whether the same or diametrically opposed, there was a space for that opinion guaranteed. And any company that tried to thwart those freedoms either overtly or covertly were brought to heel by the law and the courts.
That is, in a sense, what happened to AT&T in 1982 when it was split up by the government into regional units, which stopped it from controlling all telecommunications and keeping other companies from competing and innovating. Even the gargantuan entity that was ‘Ma Bell’ was subject to antitrust laws and after a 10-year legal fight, the Bell monopoly was stopped.
Twitter and Facebook want the benefits of being a private company, being able to control what is seen and heard in their space but also want to be able to use their monopoly, and first in space position that was facilitated by the government making laws to help the new communication platform to grow and to keep others services from gaining a foothold in that space.
With both of those objectives having been met, the laws need to be changed to reflect the new reality in which the companies, to wit, Facebook and Twitter need their power and influence checked by the removal of ‘section 230’ protection and possibly a new law being enacted to protect the 1st Amendment from these corporate telecommunication behemoths, like was done in the case of AT&T 37 years ago, to punish them for their violation of the free speech protections of millions of Americans up to and including the President of the United States.
This is so Orwellian that it should not have to be explained but the education monopoly is such that these days if you even reference ‘1984’ the social media generation are dumbfounded as to what you are talking about and are so immersed in totalitarian dogma that understanding the concept of free speech is beyond their imagination; like explaining drowning to fish.
If Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg and made to relearn the meaning of free speech we will be able to once again be able to rely on the marketplace of ideas to sort out the good from the bad regardless, or maybe because of, the pronoun you identify as.
By: David Gignac