Happy Fourth Fifth of July, everybody! And since there’s no day like Independence Day to address weighty subjects like civil liberties, civil rights and uncivil discourse, I have a modest proposal that’s sure to be met with immediate approval by its intended audience – its intended audience in this case being the government of the great state of Florida.
First, indulge me in a little background.
Surprising absolutely nobody who has any idea how the First Amendment works, last week a judge in Florida issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of a recently passed Florida law that targets all large social media platforms not owned by companies called “Disney.”
This post isn’t about the judge’s decision, nor is it about Florida’s stone-stupid new law. This post is all about offering solutions to what Florida deems Big Tech’s free speech problem.
Since Florida can’t actually order privately-operated platforms to forfeit their editorial discretion (as one court has already informed Florida and several others will be happy to confirm, if necessary), Florida will eventually find itself back at square one. In this case, square one is the position of wondering how it can go about making sure that Florida’s citizens (including any former Presidents still butthurt over being permanently banned by Twitter who might be hanging around the state) can post whatever they’d like on social media, without being suspended, “shadow banned”, or otherwise made to STFU by platform operators uninterested in hearing or hosting their bullshit.
Now, to be clear, when I say “post whatever they’d like,” I don’t necessarily mean porn – because Florida made clear in writing their now-enjoined law that “obscene” content is the one thing the state doesn’t think social platforms should be forced to allow. And, given that this is Florida we’re talking about, they probably mean anything that meets Grady Judd’s definition of obscene.
At any rate, the solution to Florida’s problem is clear: The state simply needs to create a social media platform of its own, maintained and hosted by the state government, where they can allow people to post anything they’d like about the 2020 Presidential election being stolen by Italian satellites operated by Reptilian aliens, or about COVID-19 being a hoax being perpetrated by pedophiles who live in the tunnels beneath the White House, or whatever the fuck it is the My Pillow guy is making a “documentary” about this week.
What do you say, Florida? That would be easy, right? Easier than defending your stupid, clearly unconstitutional new law in court, at least.
I mean sure, you’d have to hire some techs, invest in server infrastructure and bring in support staff to field and respond to all the claims of copyright infringement, defamation of character, human trafficking, threats of violence, etc., that privately held social media platforms deal with every day – but how tough can that be, really? After all, the federal government and various state governments are always telling us how unacceptably poorly online platforms currently handle such things, so clearly these governments fully understand how it should be done and will simply do it that way, no problem. Right? Riiiight.
Naturally, among other things, we would expect that once the state-sponsored social media platform existed, Florida would leave in place any post that might be deemed “threatening,” provided that the post doesn’t fail the true threat test. I’m sure Gov. DeSantis won’t mind having the state’s money provide people a forum to say he should be drawn and quartered, right?
The more I think about this idea, the more I like it. And I don’t see any reason for Florida to be alone in this. I mean sure, the staunch free speech advocates in Arizona’s legislature have occasionally shown themselves to be a tad less interested in supporting free speech – like the time they advanced a bill which made it illegal to use “any electronic or digital device” with the intent to “annoy or offend” people.
But that was the old Arizona legislature. The new Arizona legislature is all about free speech – well, all about free speech and conducting thorough, entirely credible, deeply thoughtful “audits” of elections, that is.
Come on Florida – and Arizona, Texas and all other state-level bastions of (non-sexual) free speech – get busy creating new social media platforms that are truly free of censorship, shadow banning, liberally biased algorithms, invasive tracking of user behavior and the rest of Big Tech’s many sins.
Y’all are the experts on free speech, after all; time to show us how it’s done.