Sunday, October 27, 2019

Americans want to weaken First Amendment, limit independent speakers, to conform to social norms and make life easier for minorities, think tank reports

The UK Daily Mail reports on a study, by Matthew Wright, from the Washington DC think tank “The Campaign for Free Speech” that more Americans, especially under age 38, think that the First Amendment should be changed to ban hate speech and that “alternative media sources” outside of licensed media should be regulated.

However, the findings are not as striking statistically as the tone of the article would suggest. For example, hate crimes can in many states (and sometimes in federal law) draw stiffer sentences.

The Campaign for Free Speech has a summary page which is disturbing.  Many Americans don’t understand that the First Amendment applies only to government, not to what private companies including social media or even hosting platforms can do in establishing their own terms of service.

There was also a curious reference to “current social norms”.  It is difficult to delineate what this means?  Misgendering trans people with pronouns?  It is difficult at this level to determine if this is about political threats or security threats (from the “radical right” and white supremacy) or more about the hyper-competitiveness that leaves many people with disadvantaged backgrounds behind. 

The Campaign for Free Speech doesn’t seem to be the same group as New America, which held an interesting forum “The Future of Free Expression” which I attended in July.  That group seemed to have very interesting people working there.

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