The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Bigotry Hiding Behind Free Speech

Rep. Thomas Massie is one of those Republicans who pretends he supports liberty — albeit he only worries about the liberty of certain groups... those most like himself, diversity be damned. Recently he voted against a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in its various guises. This sort of resolution doesn’t sit well with Massie’s alt-Right fanboys.

To defend his vote Massie lied. First, he assured people he doesn’t hate anyone based on ethnicity or religion — the only two categories he mentioned. Then he pompously said, “Government can’t legislate thought,” a position he doesn’t enunciate when Republican censors are ripping off library shelves books about LGBT people.

But the measure in question, House Resolution 1125, didn’t pass any legislation. In fact it didn’t legislate at all nor could it. Massie however claimed, “This bill promoted Internet censorship and violations of the 1st amendment.”

This is just another dishonest description by Massie. There was no “bill” being voted on but a resolution and resolutions have no legislative power. If Congressman Massie is unfamiliar with the difference between them he really shouldn’t be sitting in Congress. As Congressman Bill Keating explained, “Resolutions are not laws; rather, they are expressions of the ‘sentiments’ of either the House or Senate.”

In addition Massie showed he has no comprehension of how censorship is defined, but then he simply isn’t very bright. The resolution “calls” on various groups to do things, but this is more urging them to take measures as opposed to mandating via law that they do so. It has no power to compel. It just:

… calls on elected officials, faith leaders, and civil society leaders to use their bully pulpit to condemn and combat any and all manifestations of antisemitism;…calls on elected officials to condemn and combat any and all denials and distortions of the Holocaust and to promote Holocaust and antisemitism education; …calls on social media platforms to institute stronger and more significant efforts to measure and address online antisemitism while protecting free speech concerns…

I suppose the last part can dupe a simpleton into thinking censorship is going on. So I understand why Massie fell for such faulty logic. But censorship is not something you do with your property; it is the forcible restriction of speech on other people’s property.

I’ve sold books my entire life. I don’t sell every book; I don’t carry books by Nazis or those promoting racism for instance. That isn’t censorship; it is me making a decision about what books I will promote with my own resources. If I made it illegal for you to sell such books that would be censorship but my choice about how I will use my own property is not. It’s pretty basic logic so someone may want to sit down and explain it to Mr. Massie.

Of course, many Republicans are now promoting a theory that all social media platforms belong to “all the people” collectively. It’s a form of cyber-socialism pushed by alt-Right scum as a means of stealing the property of others so they can promote their own unique brand of hateful authoritarianism using stolen resources. They are trying to do to social media what the Communists did in Russia to book publishing and newspapers.

Social media platforms that “address online anti-Semitism while protecting free speech concerns” are NOT engaging in censorship. They are deciding how their property will be used and how it won’t be used.

Faux libertarians such as Massie — who has claimed to be libertarian in the past — invoke property rights all the time to justify removing content. They only scream “free speech” when the content is something they or their fanboys enjoy.

If anything the clause about social media platforms is entirely redundant. Because of Nazis and other racists slithering about the online world every platform already is faced with the venom they spew and is grappling with how to handle it. Admittedly, some of them — Facebook — handle it very badly and incompetently, but they all are already trying to “address” hate, while “protecting free speech.”

Massie’s claim that the resolution is about censorship in any way is a blatant falsehood and unless he’s a lot dumber than I think he is — which is still substantial — he knows his claims are false. That really leaves one question unanswered then. If his “NO” vote wasn’t about the non-existent censorship then what precisely did offend him about this resolution?

I fear none of the potential answers show Massie in a good light — which helps explains his lies.


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A blog for the Moorfield Storey Institute: a liberaltarian think tank.

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James Peron

James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.

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