"Equal Time" -- the Latest Trump Retread

Monday, July 30, 2018

Matt Gaetz, R-FL (Image via Wikipedia.)
As if bringing back protectionism (a major cause of the Great Depression) weren't bad enough, Donald Trump and his cronies now appear to be breathing new life into another idea that has no place in a free society: the "Fairness" Doctrine. Taylor Millard of Hot Air reports that a couple of pro-Trump congressmen have "launched a multi-pronged attack on Twitter" over "shadow-banning" conservatives. Part of this attack is an FCC complaint that is all but explicitly hostile to Twitter's property rights. Regarding Twitter's alleged practice of making it hard for people to find conservatives, Representative Matt Gaetz stated:
It gives advantages to our political opponents. It gives them access to the platform that we don't have.
Since when does freedom of speech include entitlement to being given a platform for speaking? Twitter can run its own forum any way it pleases because it owns the forum. This is bad enough, but the following is a particularly disturbing development:
This is, of course, a major problem and only likely to grow exponentially as "the mob" looks to regulate whoever can express what opinion. Democrats -- along with some conservatives -- suggested it was time for big data regulations due to Russia"s use of Facebook ads during the 2016 election. Republicans are now pushing for more government oversight because social media isn't giving "equal time" to certain Trump supporters. The hypocrisy is apparent, but no one cares because it's "owning the libs/cons."
The phrase "equal time" hearkens back to the era of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," in which the threat of the loss of a broadcasting license was used to violate both the property and free speech rights of the owners of broadcasting media.

Philosophy professor Tara Smith recently discussed in great detail how confused our national dialogue on freedom of speech has become, as well as the great risk this poses to our republic. It becomes clear later in the Hot Air piece that this problem is deeper among the Republicans than many might realize. Trump and his unprincipled, grasping supporters, are making it much worse.

-- CAV

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