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Daily Briefing: IS FREE SPEECH AT RISK? (January 12, 2020)

WATCH:  Democrats undermine own calls for unity with impeachment pushFox News, Jan. 11, 2021 —   Harvard Law School emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz sounds off on ‘Hannity.’

     Table of Content:
As tech giants recoil from Trump and Parler, is free speech at risk?: Arthur Bright, Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 11, 2021

Crazy 2020 Is Dead! Long Live Crazier 2021!:  Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, Jan. 10, 2021
Don’t even try to pretend there’s such a thing as free speech anymore
Rex Murphy
National Post, Jan. 11, 2021
It’s an old line, with many variations, and none the worse for wear. The best lines, for me, were in the newspaper comic The Wizard of Id, especially for the depiction of the king — always pictured squat, grumpy, and dragging a tattered robe full length behind him.
I cannot imagine why both the line and the king reminded me over the weekend of the Confucian overlord of Twitter, Jack Dorsey. For he is not squat nor does he drag a long robe behind him — at least not in public. On the “grumpy” side the jury, as the saying goes, is out.
However, he surely does have the manner of a king. Purely on his own say-so he cancelled the account of the president of the United States, just days before a new one is to be sworn in. Jack, as most twitterers refer to him, has had four years to do this, but he waited till the last moment, using the attack on the Capitol as his excuse, when the backlash would be minimal, with his many anti-Trump confrères ready to toast him at the next Silicon Valley jamboree, and of course so many in the madly partisan anti-Trump press ready to dish out screeds telling him how brave and wise he is.
But, for the nonce, we may take Trump out of the equation, for Mr. Jack has hit the “off” button on a myriad of accounts, big and small, in the past, and if reports over the weekend are anything to go by, has been having a purgative go on Twitter users. Nor is Twitter alone in this early January purge. Facebook jumped on the Trump ban. Google and Apple, the other two empires of the internet world, moved to ban the new, alternative site to Twitter, called Parler, from their various applications.
Such a concert of censorship, all conducted within hours or days of each other by a quartet of the most influential corporations on the entire planet, run by the richest, most powerful men of our time: please do not call it collusion.
And conducted, not incidentally, during these anxious days of shutdown and COVID. It is a vulnerable time for very many, and for some others a time of shifty opportunism. I’m not even going to bother with the purely technical ripostes that these unilateral and unappealable bans are not violations of freedom of speech. That line goes, since these are private companies they can ban whom they like, they are not government, and the banned can find other venues (except Parler). Save that for the junior high debate class and CNN panels. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.}
As tech giants recoil from Trump and Parler, is free speech at risk?
Arthur Bright
Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 11, 2021
The drama of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol Building in Washington played out largely in real life, to tragic effect. But it has culminated in one of the most significant changes in the landscape of political social media in recent memory. The leader of the United States has been banned from his favored means of communication, and his conservative allies are throwing about accusations of censorship and unconstitutionality.
So what happened?
Really, there are three related but distinct sets of events that occurred. The first is the de-platforming of President Donald Trump from Twitter, Facebook, and other sites. The second is social media’s mass banning of QAnon and Capitol-assault-related accounts and media. The third is the at least temporary collapse of Parler, a right-wing Twitter clone that promised to be a haven for free speech. They should be treated separately.
Let’s start with Mr. Trump and his social media accounts, particularly Twitter, on which he was followed by 88 million people. In the aftermath of the Capitol invasion, a federal crime that resulted in five deaths, Mr. Trump and his team continued to post material that could be interpreted to endorse the riots. Facebook, Twitter, and other major social media companies viewed this as a violation of their terms of use – the rules under which users agree to use the companies’ services – and deactivated Mr. Trump’s accounts.
Isn’t that an unconstitutional violation of the president’s First Amendment rights?
No. The First Amendment is specifically about the limits of what the government can do to regulate speech. Twitter is a private company, and is entitled to restrict its services to customers however it wants (subject to certain federal laws).
But Twitter is a public forum!
Not really. It is tempting to think of Twitter, and the internet generally, as the modern version of the town square. Many have made that analogy. But social media companies are corporations. So rather than a public town square, Twitter is a privately owned stadium where the Twitter corporation has built the facilities, hired the security, and handed out megaphones to everyone walking in the doors. They don’t charge admission, but it’s their property, and so they can let in – and kick out – whomever they want.
But aren’t they gagging the president by cutting him off from one of the world’s biggest social media platforms?
No. The president has unrivaled access to the media. Every broadcaster on the planet would leap at the chance to interview him. He has regularly called into programs on Fox News to chat live. And he has a White House press office with a press corps dedicated to reporting whatever he might say.
That’s not the same as Twitter. The press can filter him; on social media, Trump can say exactly what he wants.
That’s true. And the White House has a public website that could publish Mr. Trump’s words unfiltered. Mr. Trump has options – more than almost anyone else on the planet – to get his message out. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Crazy 2020 Is Dead! Long Live Crazier 2021!
Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness, Jan. 10, 2021
The proper conservative response to last Wednesday’s violent entry into the Capitol and vandalism, as well as assaults on law-enforcement, is to identify the guilty parties and ensure they are arrested. Such deterrence will prevent any future devolution from legal popular protests into thuggery. No constitutional republic can tolerate its iconic heart stormed, breached, and defiled.
Is Some Violence Worse than Others?
Of course, there is no such thing as “good” or “acceptable” violence of either Trump supporters or of the Antifa and BLM sort. Yet the latter were largely exempt from any consequences for most of the summer—despite Joe Biden’s demagogic implication that the now multibillion-dollar funded BLM was treated harshly in comparison to the rogue Trump rioters.
Do we remember the authorities’ exemptions given to “warlord” Raz Simone and his armed thugs who, with absolute impunity, took over a Seattle “autonomous zone” known as CHOP or CHAZ, where four shootings and two deaths followed? Who exactly destroyed or vandalized thousands of state and federal public monuments—some in Washington, D.C.—and burned and looted hundreds of buildings with impunity?
Those who wrongly demanded to defund the police, now rightly deplore the lack of a Capitol police presence. Their only consistency is their own perceived political self-interest. Biden himself rarely if ever, without exceptions, outright condemned the atrocious violence of Antifa and indeed contextualized it as an “idea”—a disincarnate entity that apparently could magically also burn and loot. Again, his inaugural call for unity was quickly superseded by his surreal accusations that the police were racist in not quelling the violence. Yet the problem at the Capitol was not that security was racially selective, but that there was not much security at all. And the lapse was probably not by design as much as sheer incompetence.
The president-elect’s demeanor and furor certainly were not compatible with his media image as the supposedly angelic uniter of the country. Within 24 hours he had gone from blasting the police authorities as racists to the old reductio ad Hitlerum trope of comparing a few Republican senators to Nazi propogandist Joseph Goebbels, in a hysterical rant that descended into incoherent numerology about the bombing of Dresden. I’m sure Xi Jinping and Ayatollah Khamenei were impressed by his historical recollections. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Storming of the Capitol was stupid, but Democrats’ flaming hypocrisy is outrageous
Robert Knight
The Washington Times, Jan. 10, 2021
How could the U.S. Capitol Police have been so ineffective when rioters who broke away from the massive, peaceful pro-Trump rally besieged the building?
Here’s a theory: It wasn’t Antifa or Black Lives Matter out there on the Mall. Perhaps they honestly didn’t expect this kind of violence from a normally law-abiding group.
Over the years, large demonstrations by tea parties and pro-lifers have had zero violence, with participants even cleaning up litter. By contrast, BLM/Antifa riots erupted this summer in 48 out of the top 50 cities, with dozens of murders, Molotov cocktails, arsons, beatings and destruction of entire city blocks and police stations.
For the left, violence is just another hammer in their toolbox. Not so conservatives. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the overwhelmed Capitol cops. Even so, the Electoral College ballot counting by the vice president amid persistent charges of vote fraud should have raised the security level to the nth degree.
The storming of our national Capitol building was shocking, horrendous and beyond stupid. A police officer and a woman protester died, along with three more deaths from “medical emergencies.” The spectacle of our nation’s center of government being overrun was something we never thought we’d see in our free republic.
The riot was tailor made for the Democrats’ ongoing narrative of dangerous right-wing groups agitated by a reckless president. They accused him of deliberately inflaming the crowd to violence and are calling for his immediate removal from office.
I don’t believe for a minute that the president intended for the rally to take the turn it did. And, reports of anarchist agitators in the crowd need to be investigated. However, when the violence broke out, he could have been far more forceful in his tweeted order to the mob to stop.
The media were enthralled, knowing that they will be using this abomination over and over to bash all 74 million people who voted for Mr. Trump along with anyone identified as less than “woke.” Already censorious, the cancel culture is about to go full-jacket Maoist.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blamed Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas for the Capitol riot and deaths. They, along with four other U.S. senators and 121 Republican House members, had voted to object to counting Arizona’s electoral votes, asking that allegations of vote fraud first be examined and confirmed or put to rest. They were voted down by large margins.
With millions of people convinced that the election was stolen, an emergency audit might have been viewed as “protecting democracy.” Instead, anyone who wants an authoritative examination are accused of “destroying democracy,” as The Washington Post likes to put it. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
Social media dominance needs to be monitored ‘carefully’ at federal level: ex-US AG:  Julia Limitone, Fox Business, Jan. 11, 2021There are growing concerns about how powerful social media platforms have become in wake of the chaotic protests on Capitol Hill. Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on “Mornings with Maria” Monday that social media dominance needs to be monitored “carefully at the federal level.”
Trump and Section 230: What to Know Anshu Siripurapu, Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 2, 2020 –It’s been called the “twenty-six words that created the internet.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is a landmark U.S. law that shields social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook from liability for content their users post.
Facebook Removing All Content That Mentions ‘Stop the Steal’ Ahead of Inauguration Day:  Juanita Kan, Epoch Times, Jan. 12, 2021 — Facebook announced on Monday it is removing all content that contains the phrase “stop the steal” ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
Mexico president slams social media ‘censorship’ after chaos in U.S. Capitol:  Dave Graham, Reuters, Jan. 7, 2021 — Mexico’s president on Thursday blasted social media companies for blocking the accounts of President Donald Trump for his part in chaotic scenes in Washington on Wednesday, again appearing to cleave to his U.S. counterpart in a contentious dispute.
Impeach and Convict. Right Now.:  Brett Stephens, NY Times, Jan. 6, 2021 — It wasn’t hard to see, when it began, that it would end exactly the way it has. Donald Trump is America’s willful arsonist, the man who lit the match under the fabric of our constitutional republic.

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