Alex Jones, The NFL and Freedom Of Speech

Activists on both sides want the government to referee freedom of speech.

The conservative world – or at least the right-wing world – was rocked this week with the news that Facebook, Apple and Spotify would ban Jones and his Infowars podcasts from their sites. Much of the right-wing reaction has focused on the question of freedom of speech and whether the internet giants have a duty to provide access to Jones’ conspiratorial ramblings.

The crux of the issue is that Facebook and the other companies are private entities. Because they are not part of the government, the First Amendment does not apply. The First Amendment only protects freedom of speech from being infringed upon by Congress, not private corporations.

In Facebook’s case, the waters are muddied by CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s claims that the social media giant is “a platform for all ideas” and that he is trying to “root out” bias in the company. If the company truly welcomes all ideas, then it should allow Jones to post his ideas, as reprehensible as they are, unless he violates the site’s terms of service.

Facebook should also set an objective standard to determine what is and isn’t “hate speech” and “bullying,” the vague terms that were used to justify Jones ouster from the site. The standards should be applied to both sides of the political spectrum. The list of political leftists who use hate speech is long and filled with people who are rarely held accountable for their words. Sarah Jeong is only the most recent example.

If freedom of speech is endangered by the left, many on the right are happy to attack the free speech rights of their political opponents as well. The most glaring example is the NFL kneeling controversy. President Trump overstepped his authority last year by calling on NFL team owners to fire players who kneeled to protest during the National Anthem. Many conservatives supported the president without stopping to think that the NFL, like Facebook, is a private organization.

In either case, the appropriate action for people who disagree with how the owners of Facebook and the NFL run their businesses would be to fire them. No one is forced to have a Facebook account or watch the NFL. If enough people vote with their wallets and stop sending their money to leftist companies, these policies may eventually change. The one thing that conservatives should agree on is that the government should not tell private companies how to run their business or what they should allow.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Both sides seem perfectly willing to abridge the free speech rights of their political opponents. That includes many on Republicans who consider the media “fake news.” A new Ipsos poll found that a plurality of Republicans, 43 percent, believe that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”

The idea that Big Government should referee the freedoms of speech and press is not new to the left, but should be an anathema to small government conservatives. At the very least, Republicans in favor of restricting speech should be aware that the government’s powers of censorship would almost certainly be turned against conservative outlets – or conspiracy sites like Infowars - by the next Democratic administration.

Where Voltaire famously said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Modern Americans of all political stripes say, “What you say offends me, so you must be silenced.” The First Amendment applies to me, but not you.

Justice Louis Brandeis had a better idea. Noting that “Those who won our independence were not cowards” who feared political speech, Brandeis said that, for the problem of dangerous and evil speech, the “remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” That’s a solution that all Americans should get behind.

[Photo credit: Sean P. Anderson/Flickr]

Comments
No. 1-4
OUWantdSum2
OUWantdSum2

Indeed, Hypocrisy is humans' favorite sin... but this article seems to gloss over all the nuances to these different scenarios and in particular, i take issue with another half baked defense of private corporation rights (Wakeup!, they dont have any, all Corp(s) exist at the privilege of the Federal Govt and Statutory Law, only Citizens have Inalienable Rights granted them from their Creator and enshrined in the Constitution)... So isnt this just another pseudo intellectual piece of junk journalism providing cover for private corporations to violate Constitutional and Statutory Law with impunity and trying to placate Constitutionalists long enough for the nation to be raped of all it's Rights... According to this jackass, rape, torture, and murder is ok as long as the Govt doesnt do it!... NO!... What part of the Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness AS LONG AS it doesnt infringe on another citizen's Right to LIfe, LIberty, and Pursuit of Happiness do YOU not understand? In addition, it's against all current Statutory Law to engage in predatory monopolistic business practices, slander, racketeering, and denying products and services based solely on race, sex, religion, or political persuasion... So, we shouldnt enforce ANY of those laws on the books that deal with these issues b/c of some idea of Libertarianism or the Constitution you pulled out of your ass, but certainly dont comprehend what it means to protect ALL Civil Rights for Every Citizen Every Time, No Exceptions!... You know, authoring on "Conservative" websites aint for everybody, it might be time for you to go get you a job in NYC, they LOVE "Conservative" Liberal Apologists over there, they'll probably even give you a prime time show! ;)

E.E. Bokbok
E.E. Bokbok

Fantasy:

In response to Colin Kappernick kneeling, the US president says nothing, not wanting to weigh in on what is clearly a private matter. The NFL, wanting to be smart and business-like, explains that while they appreciate Kappernick's cause, it's clearly not going to work for players to bring their causes to the field like that, and they fine him $1000, which doesn't break his bank, and doesn't "prevent free speech" but generally prevents stunts like Kappernick's from happening. Problem solved. Everybody wins.

Reality:

Our racist president needs an excuse to say bad things about black people, and loves loves LOVES this private issue and takes it on as his own, using the full power of the US government to amplify his whims. The problem turns into an intractable mess that is destined to trash a large American entertainment businesses known as the NFL.

BiggDoggie
BiggDoggie

@PerryMason I agree. There is not a whole lot of good logic with this post. You express it well, thank you

PerryMason
PerryMason

This article is wrong on all counts. Who, exactly are the 'sides' you are referring to? By implication you are asserting there are only 2 sides in the debate and you're wrong.

The majority of the folks calling out the NYT for its hiring of Ms. Jeong are pointing out the publication's hypocrisy. The NYT has both defended Ms. Jeong's tweets either by ignoring the criticism or, attempting to explain it away with rather pathetic excuses. Critics have pointed out, rightly, that if the NYT is to be consistent in holding its staff, politicians and pundits accountable for racists pronouncements - she would be looking for job.

With respect to the NFL - evidently it's necessary to point out to the author of this article that the US Constitution protects the right to free speech free from government interference. That right does not intrude into the workplace. The owners have the right, under the new guidelines established by Mr. Goodell to determine what, if any protest they will allow in their stadiums and the form of that protest.

NFL fans exercise their free speech rights by determining if they will or will not buy a ticket to a game or if they will or will not buy a subscription to the NFL Network, Red Zone etc.

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