Former President Obama is taking heat over a speech for which he should’ve worn a mask and maybe nobody would’ve noticed that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth.
He began with a defense of free speech, claiming he was pretty close to a First Amendment “absolutist.” Then came the “but…” But because of social media spreading harmful “disinformation,” Big Tech needs to regulate speech more. And “content moderation” doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t prevent the distribution of “clearly dangerous content.” Which is why the federal government needs to get involved by creating a “regulatory structure” to ensure Internet speech platforms are “following certain safety standards that we as a country – not just them – have agreed are necessary for the greater good.” Funny, I don't recall being asked if I thought the federal government regulating speech was necessary for the greater good. Were you?
So to recap: he’s a “free speech absolutist,” except he thinks that Big Tech should monitor and censor speech and the federal government should have laws regulating speech to make sure they’re censoring it the way he thinks they should be – for our own good, of course.
Obama does have a point: people who tell gigantic lies can cause great harm. Like when you take away millions of peoples’ health insurance coverage while assuring them it will be replaced with something that allows them to keep their doctor if they like their doctor. I remember that being declared “Lie of the Year.” Yet irresponsible media companies broadcast it as if it were true.
And then there were the Trump years, which was the golden age of fake news, when trust in the government was poisoned by the media credulously repeating the Russia collusion hoax, the “very fine people” hoax, the “all Mexicans are rapists and criminals” hoax, the Nick Sandmann hoax, the Jussie Smollett hoax, etc. etc.
So maybe Obama has a point: we need federal regulation to ride herd on media outlets that fill the public square with dangerous lies.
Or we could zealously protect freedom of speech so that these unrepentant liars could be called out in the public square and everyone would simply learn not to listen to them anymore. I like that solution better, and it's already well under way.