Harold Hutchison / Nov. 3, 2020

Post-Election Priority One: Protecting Free Speech

Our First Freedoms are under assault from the Left no matter who wins.

The election being held today — or, more accurately, continued today — will certainly decide some things. One thing that won’t be decided, though, is free speech — even though it’s on the ballot.

When we discussed the big issues of 2016, we viewed the election of Donald Trump as “the last line of defense for free speech.” In a way, he’s spent the four years since his election shoring up some of those defenses — mostly though his judicial nominations.

On paper, if we didn’t have opponents bent on blowing up our entire system by packing the Supreme Court, ramming through statehood for DC and Puerto Rico (so as to pack the Senate with four additional Democrat senators), and stacking the deck in other ways, we’d be in very good shape. But if Joe Biden wins, the Left will move to pack the courts and thereby set the stage for an assault on free speech via the use of government power — an assault worse than those envisioned by both New York’s Cuomo-James regime and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

But as we’ve learned over the last four years, the threat to free speech doesn’t just come from government. We can also look at the odyssey surrounding Silicon Valley’s censorship. The attack by Facebook and Twitter on the New York Post was the high-profile breakthrough moment for many Americans, but it certainly wasn’t the first such transgression. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that could, ostensibly, be edited by anyone, has reportedly banned the use of conservative sources. And while Parler and Gab are among a number of potential Big Tech communications competitors, they don’t have nearly the reach of the mainstream social media companies.

That said, there exists another threat to free speech — one that doesn’t come from the halls of government power or a cubicle somewhere in Silicon Valley — that has to be addressed: the use of tech for the formation of mobs bent on sowing unrest or engaging in violence. One disturbing sign of the times is the formation of a mapping site that, according to Law Enforcement Today, will provide an online map with the names and address of donors to President Trump’s campaign. This goes further than even the actions of former San Antonio Mayor Joaquin Castro, who doxxed his political opponents but didn’t include a map.

If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. Something similar happened in 2008 in the wake of California’s Prop 8, which upheld the age-old belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. One need not even have supported Prop 8 to be concerned about its implications for free speech. What happened after its passage, as related by The Heritage Foundation, is a potential preview of what could happen to Trump donors after the 2020 election. The chilling pattern of vandalism, boycotts, harassment at home and work, and even professional repercussions was aided by a customized version of Google Maps.

The ultimate goal of using such maps would, of course, be to intimidate Americans from taking part in the many public political debates that are the sign of a healthy republic — especially those that challenge the prevailing views of the Left. Needless to say, this is a dangerous development, a significant escalation from merely engaging in various smears.

Free speech is, obviously, crucial to our form of republican government. In conjunction with freedom of the press, it helps keep the peace by ensuring that Americans have the chance to engage with and persuade their countrymen in the marketplace of ideas. Nothing good can happen if this vital feature of the democratic process is infringed upon. If you haven’t already, vote today with that in mind.

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