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Burt Prelutsky / November 2, 2020

Section 230 Has to Go

It is a part of internet legislation that allows companies to censor content they deem obscene or offensive.

By this time you have probably heard a great many references to Section 230 without knowing exactly what it is. By definition, it is a part of internet legislation that allows companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, allegedly neutral platforms, to censor content they deem obscene or offensive, “even of constitutionally protected speech, as long as it is done in good faith,” while providing them with immunity from lawsuits.

It should never have become law under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 because it violates the First Amendment. But it also violates commonsense. Grant an organization or an individual the right to censor speech or thought and, as surely as the sun’s rising in the East, freedom of speech and thought are going to be curtailed.

In practice, Section 230 has never been practiced in good faith. But how naïve would someone have to be in order to believe that companies run by Leftists would not do everything in their power to promote their political beliefs and silence the opposition?

As a result, we have a situation where the New York Post can be sued if the information it has been publishing about the corrupt practices of Joe and Hunter Biden is found to be false. It’s called libel. And as CNN and the Washington Post, among others, have discovered, it can be a very costly mistake. Although some of the other settlements have been kept secret, it’s known that Jeff Bezos’ Post had to fork over $250 million to young Nicholas Sandmann for tarnishing his reputation.

So, whereas the New York Post has a lot at stake, the Silicon Valley tech giants risk nothing by not only refusing to carry the anti-Biden news, but by preventing its customers from even commenting on it.

It’s no wonder that the monopolistic titans of technology, billionaires like Bezos, Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey, have such a soft spot in their hearts for the Chinese Communist despots. They have so much in common.

The most chilling aspect of all this is that there is only a small handful of senators, men like Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley, and, in the media, Tucker Carlson, who are sounding the alarm about this direct assault on the First Amendment.

But things aren’t a lot better in other areas of the media. You merely had to watch the way that Savannah Guthrie bared her fangs and her political bias as she attacked President Trump at the NBC Town Hall, to know that the media doesn’t just have a dog in this race, it has a huge pack of ravenous wolves.

In the meantime, over at ABC, George Stephanopoulos was lobbing softballs to Joe Biden the size of beachballs. Not once did the moderator even raise a question about the deals that Biden, while the Vice President of the United States, managed to snare with China and Ukraine for his son Hunter.

He also wasn’t asked to denounce Antifa or Black Lives Matter the way that Trump is constantly being asked to denounce so-called white supremacists. The only surprise is that George Stephanopoulos didn’t ask the presidential candidate for his favorite recipes or ask him, a la Barbara Walters, what sort of tree he would be if he were a tree.

However, on a rare day out of his basement, he was asked what sort of milk shakes he had just purchased. “Vanilla and chocolate,” he responded with rare candor, not caring whether or not he was offending those voters who prefer strawberry.

These days, that’s what passes for scoop journalism. Or perhaps that would be regarded as several scoops, depending on how thick the candidate likes his milk shakes.

Stephanopoulos started out stooging for Bill Clinton and 30 years later, he’s stooging for Joe Biden. It makes me wonder what he sees in the mirror when he shaves that still-youthful face. Perhaps he sees a boy who never became a man. Or perhaps he’s thinking about that gruesome-looking portrait he has tucked away in his attic.

It seems to me that Republican candidates make a mistake when they concentrate on refuting the lies of their opponents. Instead, they should focus their campaigns on Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. That’s because no matter how independent the Democrats running for the House and Senate can claim to be, once they take the oath, they’ll be taking their marching orders from New York’s Mr. Tweedle-Dee and San Francisco’s Ms. Tweedle-Dum.

If there’s one person who believes that the best defense is a truly offensive offense, it’s Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Whereas another man might try to hope that the voters would eventually forget how many deaths he caused by forcing nursing homes to accept patients suffering from the Chinese virus, Cuomo actually wrote a book (okay, if you’re going to be picky, had someone write a book to which he could stick his name) in which he takes bows for his handling of the pandemic.

And just in case most people will avoid reading the book, preferring to wait for the Broadway musical “Cuomo the Magnificent!” he announced: “It’s reprehensible and cruel to the families to blame me for nursing home deaths.”

That’s so like the Governor, never giving a thought to himself, always concerning himself with the feelings of others.

Tucker Carlson had a very unlikely guest on his show last week. Her name is Noor bin Laden and she’s the niece of Osama bin Laden. She lives in Switzerland, but because the European newspapers all depend on the American media for their news and opinions, the young woman reported that she receives far more hate mail and death threats because she is pro-Trump than she had ever received because her uncle was a blood-thirsty Islamic terrorist.

Penny Alfonso passed along a perceptive observation by Tony Torres: “There is nothing more condescending, racist and bigoted, than any white person who thinks a member of a minority group cannot function without their intervention or assistance.”

After President Trump helped to negotiate peace treaties not only between Israel and two of its traditional enemies, but between Serbia and Kosovo, Pat Miano asked me if I thought Trump would receive the Nobel Peace Prize, adding that he wasn’t holding his breath.

I replied that I wasn’t holding mine, either. “If Obama had pulled off this hat trick, they would have given him a second Peace Prize…and then, no doubt, a third for being the first person to have ever won two.”

Dan Parker posed this puzzler: “If my not wearing a mask can infect those who are wearing a mask, what good is their mask doing them and what good does it do me? And if social distancing works, why wear masks? Or if masks work, why the social distancing?”

I told him I was relieved to discover that I wasn’t the only person who was lying awake at night asking myself these seemingly obvious questions. It didn’t help knowing that somewhere Anthony Fauci was sleeping like a baby.

A while back, Pat Miano and I were discussing over-rated movies, and we agreed that “The Graduate” would be near the top of our lists.

He started it by writing: “Not only was Ben a schmuck, but I didn’t think much of Elaine either. She was bratty, spoiled, immature and had lousy taste in men. I didn’t give the marriage more than two or three years at most before she went running back to her mommy and daddy.

"And Dustin Hoffman as an object of female lust? Oh, come now! I could never understand why so many ‘Baby Boomers’ thought it was the greatest film of our generation. I hated it, and it has not aged well.”

I replied: “Baby Boomers weren’t overly bright. But they did share a lot of the character traits of Ben and Elaine, so it figures they would have identified with them. You give the marriage two or three years? You are a hopeless romantic, aren’t you? I predicted an annulment before the year was over.

"I can just picture the very first and last family get-together, with Elaine and Ben sitting down to a cozy little Thanksgiving dinner with Mom, Ben’s former lover, and Dad, the cuckold, carving the turkey and wishing it was little Ben who was lying on the platter.”

Miano, whose entire life centers around me, passed along a few more of what are labeled Ponderisms:

“Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, ‘I think I’ll squeeze those dangly things and drink whatever comes out?’”

“If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?”

“Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?”

“How is it that one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?”

“Do you ever wonder why you gave me your email address?”

On advice of counsel, I’m taking the fifth.

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