These truths to be self-evident, that all men are created as a member of Congress, I get to have a lot of really interesting people and the experts on what they're talking about. This is the podcast for insights into the issues. China, bioterrorism, Medicare for all in depth discussions, breaking it down into simple terms. We hold, we hold. We hold these truths. We hold these truths with Dan Crenshaw, our. All right, welcome back to Episode two of the op ed series, so this piece again, this is published in The Daily Wire.
You can look it up right now, free speech, culture wars.
We don't agree anymore on the virtues of free speech as a defining principle of Americanism. And that's a problem. The left and the right do not agree. So let's go over. I mean, America is unique in this in this sense. A lot of people have increasingly, especially on the left, increasingly don't like it when you talk about American exceptionalism, as if as if that degrades other countries or something. But in many ways, America is truly exceptional.
Doesn't mean it's the best at everything. I get that that's not it's not what we're talking about, but it is exceptional. And it did pave the way for Western civilization to, I think, dramatically improve people's lives the way it has over the last couple hundred years.
And part of that was because of what was laid out in our founding and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, where we took all of the greatest ideas that think mankind has ever had and wrote them down and wrote down some key principles. One of those key principles is this notion that free speech is even a thing. And to this day, we're like the only we're the only ones that really enshrine it in a constitution that can't just be legislated away with.
Fifty one percent of the majority. See, that's a problem when you can do that, because if you haven't noticed lately, culture, not just in America, but across Europe in many places of. Free speech as a virtue is on the decline, people are willing, increasingly willing to say that if they disagree with some kind of speech, they will label it dangerous. And when it's dangerous, it's therefore harmful. When it's harmful, it's not just harmful psychologically, but physically harmful and offensive and when it's physically harmful.
Now, they can claim that your speech is actually infringing on their rights, on their own natural rights as we define them, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
But this is not true. Like this is just false in a fundamental way. This is false.
But this idea has garnered quite a bit of momentum as of late, and it's a real problem.
But free speech is actually important and we have to define it in an absolutist kind of sense. It is natural, is a natural, right, a right given to us from God, not by government.
And this is this is essential in the Declaration of Independence, which laid down this basic fact that laid down the why of why government exists. It exists to protect your natural rights. Now, how it does that gets complicated. That's why we have a constitution tells us how to govern. But in a very practical way, free speech is important as well. So the philosophical reason is because it's a natural right given to you by God, nobody can muzzle you.
But it's also practically important. It's a bulwark against tyranny. And it's I would call it a public pressure release valve. People like to yell and scream. They get really mad. OK, the year twenty twenty one so far has been a lot of people really, really mad.
But that's important. And when you're mad, like, how much does how much angrier does it make you when someone tries to chase you, when you're trying to express something that you're angry about, like maybe your spouse says, OK, that's enough. You know, just just I mean, doesn't that make you just that just infuriates you. Now, extrapolate that out to the masses. Of course. Of course. This isn't going to work. It really it causes societal damage.
It causes feelings of resentment and bitterness. And it's almost a guaranteed way towards towards actual physical violence and warfare. If people are just unheard, if they never feel represented, that the basic practical fact is why America was designed the way it was, because we were able to look at hundreds of years, thousands of years of history and see what works and what doesn't. So it's a defining principle because it's right philosophically and because societal harmony is derived from the ability of everyone to be heard.
Now, let's not pretend that freedom of speech has always been perfectly protected in this country. We've got a lot of problems right now, but not necessarily because of government. And in the past, we have had problems protecting the right to free speech because of government. Even Abraham Lincoln imprisoned journalists during the Civil War, OK, used, you know, the rebels and they were promoting the rebel cause. Now, that wouldn't fly in today's America and for good reason.
Woodrow Wilson really upped the ante. He was outwardly hostile to the Constitution. He imprisoned thousands under the Sedition Act for speaking out against the government during World War One. A lot of those journalists were released when Republicans took control after Woodrow Wilson. So he's the father of progressivism, guys who so in these cases, it was government that overstepped its bounds and used war as an excuse in modern times.
It's not necessarily the government attacking speech. I know like the Democrats like to claim within the most frantic and deeply in disingenuous ways that that Trump attacked the press during his tenure. This has never been true. Guys, come on, Curtis, you can criticize the press. They deserve criticism a lot. But no, what we're talking about today, the real threat to free speech is the social media oligarchy that we see and. It's a new problem. One that we didn't really foresee even a few decades ago of where a few companies have been so successful and connected, so many people, that the vast majority of our interactions and our news, they come from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
And once people are locked in to viewing content on these places, it's basically impossible for somebody to compete with them. We've seen some try, but, you know, it's it's not realistic. I mean, let's just be honest. It's not realistic. You know, this is so this gets to the libertarian stance on this is there's like we'll just build something better and compete with it. This isn't necessarily reasonable in the situation that we're dealing with now. And, you know, and we know it.
Right. So you might get some people moving to parler. But this is this is the real, you know, the hardcore conservative base maybe moving to parler and to talk to ourselves. That's it. That's not the point of social media.
I thought I thought the entire point was connecting everybody.
And we've got to figure out how to do that effectively. And the thing is, obviously, is that these companies with the flick of a switch can send you down whatever, whatever algorithmic rabbit hole that they want you to be sent down or they can just silence you. And we're struggling with how to deal with that.
I mean, we're struggling how to deal with being connected on this on this mass scale at all. You're seeing, you know, the plenty of studies out there that show that, look, there's real problems with social media, especially for our young people who are just over connected and and exposed to things like online bullying, which is which is tough for a lot of reasons.
But I think the bigger problem is this, and this is why this is even harder of a problem. It's hard enough to solve. If Democrats and Republicans agreed that free speech was a good thing, OK, the problem would still be hard to solve. And I'll get into why it's still complicated. It's not as easy as just passing a law that says, hey, like, respect people's free speech. It's not that easy. A lot of people think it's as easy as Section two 30 and just don't make it Section 230, just abolish it.
Everything will be fine. No, wrong.
But but the real problem is the reason we can't even get to that discussion is because Republicans and Democrats don't even agree that this is a problem. That's what scares me the most.
I notice that reporters sort of lazily observe the, quote, bipartisan outrage of big tech, but they overlook a pretty key point. We are mad at big tech for totally different reasons. And Republicans, on the one hand, are scolding Jack Dorsey for the vague and subjective community guidelines that are enforced with glaring political bias. Democrats do the opposite. They actually want more big tech censorship, not less. And so this is the real problem, because I think the overall the problem might be solvable.
And I'll get I'll get into a little bit more detail on that. But the first problem is cultural. The first problem is this. I got into this before this almost global movement against free speech, this belief that speech can actually be violence and actually harm you and therefore it needs to be mitigated. This belief that something like hate speech is even a real thing. And it's not like let me just say that out from the right set. It is not a real thing, because if it is, how do you define it?
Really, how do you define it is so utterly subjective and so impossible to to properly and legally define that. It's I think it renders the entire experiment definition really speaking irrelevant. And the problem with Democrats is they're not liberals anymore. That's the real problem. There are fewer and fewer liberals on the Democrat side. Um, the a lot of my friends, Tulsi Gabbard, I describe her as a liberal, but she's no longer in Congress. There's fewer and fewer like her.
And we need a lot more liberals, I think to so that I can debate with somebody who at least shares some basic liberal values, such as free speech being an important and important tenant of a democracy. And that's changed because the progressive disposition is not liberal by its nature. It has little patience for these universal values. Why? Because the goal of progressivism is, well, progress, progress, change for the sake of change itself. And that progress has to be toward some kind of utopian ends.
At their core, progressives believe that such universal principles can only be tolerated to a point that is, until they prevent the deliberate and intentional molding of public opinion that is necessary to achieve those progressive utopian ends. Those ends tend to change oftentimes, like the progressives under Woodrow Wilson or different than the progressives now. But they do hold one thing in common utopian ends and change for the sake of change itself. And they get very mad when they classically liberal values enshrined in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence get in the way of them changing things radically.
They do not like checks and balances. They're very, very clear about this. And they prioritize outcomes again, those outcomes might change occasionally, but that's primarily their goal in governing. We want an outcome that looks like this. We don't want anybody to be mean to anybody else anymore, especially if anybody else falls into their categories of protected classes. And we all know what those are. According to Progressive's, the hierarchy of the oppressed, if you if you want.
So it's always about this kind of outcome. But what they're not concerned with and this is the problem, this is why you can't trust progressives to govern you. It's because they're not concerned with principles of governing, especially limiting principles to the whole point of being in charge of the government is is is to solve problems a certain way.
It's not necessarily about which problems to solve. We all more or less want to solve the same problems, not always, but more or less OK. We want a more prosperous society. We want people to have access to good health care. We want trade. To be fair, I wish we all wanted borders to be secure. That's an example where we don't have the same goals in mind. But when it comes to domestic policy, you know, I would think that we generally have the same goals, your vote, left or right, depending on how that person is going to solve that problem.
And this is where I think progressivism offers no solutions whatsoever. It's not that we shouldn't listen to some of the things they want. Like I want people to be nice to each other, too, right. I don't want people to use racial slurs. I don't want people to feel like like they're like they're somebody's engaging in hate speech against them, like uncomfortable speech. Like, I don't want that necessarily. But I also have to think about how I'm going to solve that problem.
I can't just make it illegal because there's consequences to that. Principles matter. The conservatives concerned with process and principles. That's why you're electing a conservative, because we tell you the framework with which we solve problems and it's through a framework of limiting principles. And the outcomes well, will be what they may. What's important is that the process is correct and it's fair.
And it's just so a conservative like just because the same runner keeps winning the race, assuming the rules of the race are neutrally applied and fair to all, does not mean there's an injustice at play.
Now, the progressive believes that there is an injustice and is willing to change the rules of the race to achieve a more equitable outcome, even if that means suppressing free speech. So the conservatives wants to protect free speech, even the messy, even the unpleasant kind, so long as it doesn't obviously incite violence or criminal behavior. Right. So that's that's where the legal definition of free speech stops.
And that makes a lot of sense, because you can actually you can actually define that, OK, you have to prove intent.
You have to prove with some specificity that the person meant some kind of actual harm and that this that this speech caused it. All right. That's fair. That makes a lot of sense.
But when you just to make it subjective and you try to harness all forms and all kind of the chaos of human expression, well, it's an exercise in futility.
The conservative understands that because the conservative understands that the power of government is limited just by its very nature and must be limited as well as because otherwise ends up in an oppressive tyranny. The progressives don't have this kind of humility and they have no qualms about restricting speech that does not adhere to their political leanings, but they can't. But here's the beauty of our Constitution. It doesn't allow progressives in charge of government to do everything they want to suppress free speech.
So the levers of social media, these community guidelines are the closest that progressives have ever come to finding a way to change the rules of the race without directly violating the First Amendment.
This is important. This is why they pressure these social media companies to do their bidding so much, because they know they can, because they know that they themselves can't pass a law that would censor you. I would violate the First Amendment in a very blatant way. But what they can do is shame these social media companies into doing it, because by being a private company and by inviting people onto their platform, to their platform, they control it. They are engaging their own First Amendment right to to implement those guidelines on their platform.
But now this gets to the to the to the rest of it, like, what do we actually do about that? So the first thing we do about it, by the way, is keep making the cultural arguments for free speech and why it's important. All right. Note note the differences between how the left and right speak about this and help explain to your liberal friends why, just as a fundamental right free speech absolutism, as the ACLU used to stand up for, as liberals used to stand up for why it is so important.
It is. It is a liberal value, a right. It is a pressure release valve for society. We can't get along without it. We really can't. It's so important. But now let's assume that we just assume we won that battle. Let's assume the Democrats finally woke up and we're like, you know what? We're liberals again. And we actually believe in some classically liberal values.
What do we do about this is a. 10 to 30, is it something else? Well, now you're getting into more complicated territory, it's not that easy because like I just said, these companies do have First Amendment rights themselves. They don't charge you necessarily. Sometimes they do, but only if you're using some kind of service or you're promoting ads or whatever you're doing. But they generally don't charge you for use of their platform. And they're like, well, look, these are our rules.
Too bad this is tough to get around. Abolishing Section two 30 doesn't do what people think it does. Look about long podcast's on this that there only a few podcasts old at this point. So please look them up or dig into this with some pretty smart guys who understand this topic really well. Even trying to narrow the scope of Section 230 probably won't do what we want it to do. And if you abolished it outright, you'd probably end up in a situation where social media companies, in order to not get sued, would have to censor way, way, way more than they already do or not censor at all, which is not feasible because you do have to take off just some content, maybe illegal content, maybe just extremely destructive content, pornography, things like that that just people just don't want to see.
Even parler has to take down things. It just takes down less than the others. So really. But then we have to ask ourselves, what's our real problem? Is it any censorship? No, not necessarily, because, again, there are some things that just have to be taken down. The problem is, it doesn't seem like the rules or the community guidelines are fair, doesn't seem like they're objective. It doesn't seem like they're specific and it doesn't seem like they're applied neutrally in a universal way.
I would say that's the problem. And so what we're looking at in Congress and what have actually been able to talk to some Democrats about as well, and they're open to it again, there are some liberals left about looking at this through a consumer protection rights lens and finding a way getting again. We've got to get this right, because you don't you don't want the conservative disposition is a limited government approach and for good reason. For very good reason.
And so if we want to get these companies to adhere to the spirit of the First Amendment because they don't have any legal obligation to adhere to the First Amendment as we see it, but they do have it, I think, an American obligation to adhere to the spirit of it, then I think consumer protection rights are probably the way to go.
There's going to be more on that to come as we as we try and figure out exactly what the right answer to that is. And it has to be bipartisan, because if it's not bipartisan, especially over at least over the next four years, we're never going to get anywhere with it. So first step when the culture war on this. All right. Convince your classmates, convince your coworkers that free speech is not a weapon meant to harm your fragile feelings and expose your delicate insecurities just like a, you know, a Facebook user.
No more weaponize is speech than a criminal. Weaponize is due process. OK, you need to keep these principles in place even if they offend you. Sometimes it's like you do not have a right not to be offended. That's a very important principle of a free society, because once you start believing that you do have a right not to be offended, then you also believe that you have the right to tell other people what they can and can't do in order not to offend you.
Now you're now you're infringing on other people's behavior and speech. And this gets way messier than you'd like to. Then you'd like to admit. I think once we win that then and we move into the complicated nature of how we deal with these social media companies, and that's exactly what we're working on in Congress. Free speech is a universal principles, perhaps one of our more important. So we better figure out a way to protect it. Thanks for listening.