In case you forgot, last week America was in a panic over a judge lifting the mask requirement on airplanes. That got put on the back burner quickly as we learned that Elon Musk was purchasing Twitter, and panic over that has absolutely dominated social media this week. The former CEO of Reddit tried to warn us about those “free-speechers,” who “really just want to be able to use racist slurs.” Cenk Uygur couldn’t believe the irony of right-wingers thinking they championed free speech while celebrating a law called “Don’t SAY Gay,” while Robert Reich put in an equally lazy take about the right cheering for free speech for Elon Musk but not for Colin Kaepernick.
Now we have TIME Magazine’s Charlotte Alter to explain that “free speech” means something entirely different now than it did when the First Amendment was ratified. We haven’t read the piece yet, but we’re guessing she’ll say something about the Founders not knowing about “assault weapons” when the Second Amendment was ratified.
.@CharlotteAlter: “Freedom of speech” has become a paramount concern of the techno-moral universe.
But “free speech” in the 21st century means something very different than it did in the 18th, when the Founders enshrined it in the Constitution https://t.co/UKjEfuWiJg
— TIME (@TIME) April 29, 2022
Oh, and “free speech” (in scare quotes) is a “tech bro obsession.”
Alter, fantasizing about how she’d spend her $44 billion, writes:
… protecting “free speech,” which Elon Musk has cited as a central reason he agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion this week, may be worth twice as much as solving America’s homelessness problem, and seven times as much as solving world hunger. It’s worth more (to him, at least) than educating every child in nearly 50 countries, more than the GDP of Serbia, Jordan, or Paraguay.
But “free speech” in the 21st century means something very different than it did in the 18th, when the Founders enshrined it in the Constitution. The right to say what you want without being imprisoned is not the same as the right to broadcast disinformation to millions of people on a corporate platform. This nuance seems to be lost on some techno-wizards who see any restriction as the enemy of innovation.
In a culture that places a premium on achieving the impossible, some tech titans may also see the liberal consensus on acceptable speech as yet another boundary to break. In Silicon Valley, bucking the liberal conventions about harmful speech can seem like the maverick move.
“The liberal consensus,” “the liberal conventions” … not about free speech, but about acceptable speech and harmful speech.
If you want to oppose free speech and support censorship, please do so without gaslighting people with the claim that the meaning has suddenly changed. https://t.co/hjJUQS0P3J
— AG (@AGHamilton29) April 30, 2022
The entire article is just a genocide of strawmen. The beliefs attributed to the people they disagree with don’t even remotely match reality.
Try asking the people you’re writing about what they actually think instead of making it up to paint them in the worst possible light.
— AG (@AGHamilton29) April 30, 2022
She's right in that for more than the first century of our nation, free speech just meant not needing permission to speak not freedom from any legal consequences. It took a long time until we reached what we now know as free speech. I like the improvement.
— Eric Greenbaum (@EricGreenbaum) April 30, 2022
How do you define “disinformation” Charlotte? Would it be “disinformation” if someone argued that only women can get pregnant and give birth, for example?
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) April 30, 2022
No. It hasn’t changed. Not at all.
— bluska (@bluskabucknut) April 30, 2022
Please tell me this is satire
— Mike Pearson (@mike_fortiuscap) April 29, 2022
You deserve this epic ratio.
— O Tromp. (@TheTal2495) April 30, 2022
This is a "journalist's" opinion. I think it is the journalists who have dramatically changed, not the meaning or importance of the 1st Amendment.
— Michael Whitchurch (@MikeWhitchurch) April 30, 2022
This article is a disgrace and for it to come from someone who purports to be a correspondent.
— Mike Glenn (@mrglenn) April 30, 2022
Free speech should be left in the hands of those with the responsibility to wield it properly, like TIME columnists.
Former Reddit CEO manages to make ‘free-speechers’ a derogatory term https://t.co/RAgdiYGxai
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) April 7, 2022