The Republican Party has been engaging in a full court press to cripple democracy across the country. They tried to obstruct and/or overturn the 2020 presidential election (and Trump is still doing so). They passed bills aimed at suppressing and disenfranchising voters, particularly those of people of color. They are disseminating the racist “white replacement theory” to frighten their base that “others” are conspiring to replace them in the electorate.
Now they are upping the ante by advocating trashing the Constitution in order to impose totalitarian control over social media companies who fail to comply with their demands. NBC News is reporting that…
“Florida is on track to be the first state in the nation to punish social media companies that ban politicians like former President Donald Trump under a bill approved Thursday by the state's Republican-led Legislature. […] the proposal appears destined to be challenged in court after a tech industry trade group called it a violation of the First Amendment speech rights of corporations.”
Let's be clear about this. Florida Republicans are seeking to force private companies to bend to their partisan political will. Social media services like Twitter and Facebook took the extraordinary step of suspending the accounts of Donald Trump after his reckless and dishonest posts led to deadly riots in Washington, D.C. by insurrections for whom he professed his love. The sole purpose of the new law is to placate Trump and make it easier for him to advance his self-serving, anti-democratic crusade. The article went on to note that “Republicans have called social media bans unfair censorship,” and that…
“The Florida bill would prohibit social media companies from knowingly 'deplatforming' political candidates, meaning a service could not 'permanently delete or ban' a candidate. Suspensions of up to 14 days would still be allowed, and a service could remove individual posts that violate its terms of service.
“The state's elections commission would be empowered to fine a social media company $250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for other candidates if a company's actions are found to violate the law.”
The state has absolutely no legal authority to force private companies to provide a platform for any individual. The constitutional protection against censorship applies only to the government. But Florida's Republicans argue that the wide influence of social media is cause for increased regulation. If that's true, then shouldn't the same principle apply to television and newspapers that also enjoy wide influence? By that standard, shouldn't Fox News be forced to carry my stories and opinions, and be fined if they refuse?
Republicans used to believe in something called a “free market.” They insisted that business should be free of government intervention and that the marketplace should decide the winners. Trump even made that argument recently when he predicted that Twitter and Facebook would fail without him and he floated a proposal to start his own social media company.
That's competition. And while Trump's alt-Twitter would likely suffer a humiliating defeat, at least it would be decided in the free market. Florida's bill upends all of that and puts the boot of autocracy on businesses that they regard as disobedient. Which is further proof that Republicans are flaming hypocrites who will discard any and all principles when they don't adhere to their advantage.
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