Judge Andrew Napolitano spoke up on the ongoing issue with companies like Google and Facebook censoring people’s comments and ideas based on what they claim are hate speech and he comes down on the side of free markets and free speech, and expels the myth that businesses and individuals are in view of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
“The First Amendment restrains the government. It reads Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Congress has now been interpreted [that] to mean no government shall abridge the freedom of speech,” Napolitano said during a “Fox and Friends” interview Thursday.
“And Facebook and the other high tech companies are not owned by the government, so they are free to censor,” he added. “They can do whatever they want, but censorship is a very dangerous business.”
“They will lose market share, they will lose a lot of customers,” he added. “They will lose their identity as a marketplace for ideas and then these hateful ideas will go somewhere else.”
The judge added that although hate speech is detestable and wrong, it’s better to suffer through it than to sacrifice the right of freedom of speech.
“Which is worse in the American icon of values?” Judge Napolitano asked. “Hate speech or censorship? I would argue that censorship is worse.”
“The remedy for hate speech is not censorship,” he continued. “It’s more speech. It’s speech to challenge and expose it.”
I agree. That is what is needed.
“I am not naive,” said Napolitano. “I don’t think that we could all stand on a street corner and talk to a bunch of haters and change their minds. Some of them, a legion of angels coming from heaven telling them they’re wrong would not change their minds.
“But it is better we know who they are, where they are, and what they say, than they be driven underground,” he added.
“Once we get into the censorship business it will just keep getting worse,” he continued. “So if they can censor something that I say because it’s ‘hate’ to them, it might be music to your ears.”
Earlier in the week, following the incident that took place in Charlottesville, Napolitano told Fox and Friends, “One of the beauties of our system is that you are free to go right out on that street corner and say whatever you want.”
“Hate speech is protected.” he added. “The speech that we love, and we welcome doesn’t require protections because we welcome it. It’s the speech we hate and fear that the Constitution protects.”
In speaking about the events of the Charlottesville protest, Napolitano said, ““If the person that organized this white supremacist rally stood up and said something incendiary and encouraged the crowd to commit violence, and there is time for someone to rebut what he said … then his speech is protected and he’s not criminally liable.”
“Bottom line is, the First Amendment was written to give the broadest, widest, most possible protection to speech, even speech we hate,” he continued. “Because the best remedy for hateful speech is not to suppress, it but to rebut it. To challenge it.”
He’s exactly right. While I don’t like that big outlets like Facebook and Google have gone all Nazi on everyone and targeted conservative voices, they are free to do so.
Here’s something that bothers me though, and that is this: Conservative voices have always said they believed in competition, in coming up with new and innovative means to do things, entrepreneurship and a host of ideas that could be used to combat the censorship, but they aren’t doing that. Instead, they are cursing the darkness and some are even asking government to get involved.
Why would we do that? Now, it’s one thing to have internet trolls harass you on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and those outlets allow such individuals to remain. They are not only accomplices to their crimes once they know, but they become complicit in them by not banning them from their platforms according to their own Terms of Service.
When are liberty-minded people not going to bow to the almighty dollar and sponsorships and come up with a search engine and internet products that compete with Google? When are liberty-minded people going to come up with social media platforms that will target the audiences attracted by Facebook and Twitter?
We’re supposed to be those that overcome, not succumb. Let’s let these people engage in their little shenanigans and let’s come up with our own solutions to the problems these people present.