Democrats may want to censor what Americans can read and watch, but it is comical to hear Republicans complain about it, since they have always dictated what Americans can think, smoke, and do with their money.
Late last month, Democratic Representatives Anna Eschoo and Jerry McNerney, both of California, and both senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, sent a letter to “12 cable, satellite, and streaming TV companies urging them to combat the spread of misinformation and requesting more information about their actions to address misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies spread through channels they host.”
Reads the letter,
Our country’s public discourse is plagued by misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies….
Nearly half of Americans get their news primarily from TV. However, not all TV news sources are the same. Some purported news outlets have long been misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm. Misinformation on TV has led to our current polluted information environment that radicalizes individuals to commit seditious acts and rejects public health best practices, among other issues in our public discourse.
The good members of Congress urged these companies to “combat the spread of misinformation” and requested of them information about their actions to address “misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies spread through channels they host.”
Two days after the letters went out, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media.”
In his opening statement, Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) acknowledged that “the First Amendment prohibits us from passing laws that inappropriately limit speech — even when it is controversial or overly partisan,” but then tried to justify Congress’s looking into “the spread of misinformation that causes public harm.”
Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) likewise affirmed the First Amendment, but then tried to justify Congress’s examining and evaluating media outlets “and the role they play in disseminating disinformation and fomenting extremism.”
The letter and the hearing did not go unnoticed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
In a speech on the House floor the same day as the hearing, McCarthy warned that Democrats are trying to censor what Americans can read and watch:
It has never been Congress’s role to define and enforce journalistic standards. The 1st Amendment expresses [sic] prohibits the government from controlling what the press says, but Democrats are trying to give themselves the power to dictate what you can read and watch in your own home, and their assault on free speech goes beyond today’s disgraceful hearing….
These are members of Congress who are using their official position to coerce and control the information Americans can watch and access in their own homes.
They’re demanding more censorship, more de-platforming, and more control of what Americans can watch….
Democrats’ actions this week make it clear that the greatest threat to free speech today is not a law from Congress, which is bound by the 1st Amendment. The greatest threat is politicians who bully private companies to silence dissenting views.
McCarthy said that Americans can decide for themselves “how best to live their lives,” and they deserve to decide how to take care of their families or open their businesses during a pandemic, and they “deserve to decide to watch the news, judge the information they choose and draw their own conclusion about its accuracy.”
Now that they control both Houses of Congress and the presidency, the Democrats are clearly trying to do everything in their power to silence dissent, even if it means violating the First Amendment.
But who are Republicans to talk? They have always dictated what Americans can think, smoke, and do with their money. This is certainly just as bad as Democrats’ dictating what Americans can read and watch.
Republicans have always dictated what Americans can think.
The federal government outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, and other factors. Most states have similar laws. But to ban discrimination is to ban freedom of thought and freedom of association. In a free society, everyone has the natural right to think whatever he wants to think about any individual or group and the right to choose to associate or not associate with any individual or group on the basis of those thoughts. His thoughts may be erroneous, illogical, irrational, unreasonable, or nonsensical, and his opinions may be based on stereotypes, conjectures, prejudice, bigotry, or racism, but in a free society everyone is entitled to his own thoughts and opinions. And who supports discrimination laws? Republicans of course.
Republicans have always dictated what Americans can smoke.
Marijuana is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. As a Schedule I drug, marijuana is said to have “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and “a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.” Possession of marijuana is a violation of federal law punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. Who supports marijuana prohibition laws on the federal level? Republicans of course. There are thirty-five states where the medical use of marijuana is legal, and fourteen states where the recreational use of marijuana is legal. Who opposes the legalization of marijuana on the state level? Republicans of course.
Republicans have always dictated what Americans can do with their money.
Although gambling in the United States is technically legal under federal law, the federal government does have a number of laws that regulate gambling. Each state can prohibit or regulate various forms of gambling within its borders. Only Nevada and Louisiana permit casino-style gambling statewide. Others states allow commercial casinos in some form, but generally restrict them to certain geographic areas. They also require state licensing and heavily restrict and regulate the gambling industry. Private gambling not done under the regulatory eye of the state is generally illegal in any form. And who supports gambling laws? Republicans of course.
Although it is legal for people to be paid to have sex — in front of a director, camera, and crew, and then, after production and distribution, in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of strangers — it is illegal for people to be paid to have sex in the privacy of their car, home, or hotel room. Although it is legal for consenting adults to have sex as often as they want and with as many different partners as they want, it is illegal if one of the parties pays the other for it. And although it is legal to pay for dinner and a movie to get some moments of intimacy with someone of the opposite sex, it is illegal to pay someone directly and skip the dinner and movie. And who supports prostitution laws? Republicans of course.
In a free society, people have the freedom to do what they will with their own money. Whether they “waste” it on gambling or prostitutes is their business and none of the government’s business.
But don’t Democrats support laws against discrimination, drugs, gambling, and prostitution? Of course they do. But Democrats don’t claim to be the party of the Constitution and recite a mantra of limited government, individual freedom, private property, free enterprise, and the free market.
The Democratic assault on the First Amendment is real. But we should never forget that Republicans do not for a minute believe that Americans can decide for themselves “how best to live their lives.”