Tuesday, November 29, 2022


What's twisting right-wingers' knickers right now? It's this:

Fox News reports:
The House Judiciary GOP tweeted, "Why is the Biden White House scared of the First Amendment and @Elon Musk?"

Ilya Shapiro, director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute, said Jean-Pierre's comments likely violated the Bill of Rights.

"That statement sounds ominous and is likely a First Amendment violation in and of itself," Shapiro tweeted....

"This is a really weird thing for a White House press secretary to say about a company against which there are no criminal allegations," Isaac Schorr, a National Review reporter, tweeted.

Tim Young, a conservative author and comedian, tweeted, "The White House hates free speech."

Bret Weinstein, an evolutionary biologist and former Evergreen State College professor who rose to prominence in 2017 after he refused to partake in the college's "Day of Absence" for White people, also suggested that the Biden administration overstepped its authority by attempting to censor political speech on a private platform.

... He concluded, "The case for the censorship of claims and facts is simply fatally flawed. There may or may not be things worth barring with TOS. But regulating the flow of ideas based on whether they’re true is insane and dangerous, and the executive [branch] long ago violated the public/private boundary."
But Jean-Pierre never said anything about censorship. She never said anything about the Biden administration taking any action at all. Here's the transcript:
Q: Just a question about Twitter. You know, there’s a researcher at Stanford who says that this is a critical moment, really, in terms of ensuring that Twitter does not become a vector for misinformation. I mean, are you concerned about the — you know, Elon Musk says there’s more and more subscribers coming online. Are you concerned about that? And what tools do you have? Who is it at the White House that is really keeping track of this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, this is something that we’re certainly keeping an eye on. And, look, we — you know, we have always been very clear and — that when it comes to social media platforms, it is their responsibility to make sure that when it comes to misinformation, when we — when it comes to the hate that we’re seeing, that they take action, that they continue to take action.

Again, we’re all keeping a close eye on this. We’re all monitoring what’s — what’s currently occurring. And we see — you know, we see it with our own eyes of what you all are reporting and, just for ourselves, what’s happening on Twitter.

But again, social media companies have a responsibility to prevent their platforms from being used by any user to incite violence, especially violence directed at individual communities, as we have been seeing. And the President has been very clear on calling that out. He’ll continue to do that. And we’re going to continue to monitor the situation.
She's saying very clearly that social media companies themselves are responsible for the content that appears on their sites. And when she says the White House is "keeping an eye on" the situation and will "continue to monitor" it, she's taking an opportunity to announce government action and passing it up. She's announcing no action by the administration because the administration doesn't plan to intervene (although the president himself might express an opinion).

And yet all your right-wing relatives will now ominously repeat the phrase "keep an eye on" as if it means "build gulags." The fascist threat here is completely imaginary.

Meanwhile, the possible next president of the United States is arguing for precisely the sort of government intervention the right thinks Biden wants.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted Apple on Tuesday over Elon Musk’s allegations that it has threatened to boot Twitter from its App Store....

... the Republican governor said Musk’s move to reinstate thousands of banned Twitter accounts may have factored into Apple’s alleged moves — and that the company’s response should invite scrutiny from Washington.

“If Apple responds to that by nuking them from the App Store, I think that would be a huge, huge mistake and it would be a rally raw exercise of monopolistic power that I think would merit a response from the United States Congress,” DeSantis said.
Apple controls access to apps on its own phones, but Apple doesn't have a phone monopoly in America -- it has 50% market share in the U.S. phone business, a milestone it reached only this year, after trailing Android for years. Beyond that, you can easily use Twitter on a phone's web browser, without an app. Having access to the app is a matter of convenience. And millions of Americans use Twitter on computers rather than phones. So if the Twitter app disappears from Apple's store, that doesn't mean we suddenly live in North Korea.

In the old days, Republicans told us that regulating businesses is bad. They still think it's bad -- unless what the businesses are doing challenges them in the culture wars, in which case they believe free enterprise is unacceptable and authoritarian repression is warranted. Businesses simply aren't allowed to practice enlightened self-interest if that self-interest can be spun on Fox News as "woke."

No one on the right has a problem with DeSantis urging the government to investigate a business decision Apple hasn't actually made and might not even be considering. But when the Biden administration says it's not taking action against Twitter, that's a sign that it intends to, according to Republicans, and that's fascism. Got it?

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