Senator Steve Daines Decides To Spit On The 1st Amendment Again: Wants To Ban Moderation Of Politicians
from the politicians aren't a protected class steve dept
I’m beginning to think that Montana Senator Steve Daines really, really doesn’t like the 1st Amendment. Instead, he likes to wrap himself in a faux American flag as he pretends to be patriotic, while attempting to stamp out the rights the 1st Amendment provides to Americans. Last week, we wrote about his attempt to amend the Constitution (specifically, chipping away at the 1st Amendment), to make flag burning illegal.
This week, he decided to just spit on the 1st Amendment itself and introduce yet another unconstitutional social media moderation bill that would amend Section 230. Called the “Preserving Political Speech Online Act,” the bill does a few different things, but the key one seems to be… to make politicians like himself a special protected class. Because, Senators like himself, worth over $30 million, clearly are an oppressed class.
There’s some stuff about how if you take political advertisements from some candidates you have to take them from all candidates. But the really sketchy stuff is in how it modifies Section 230. It would change Section (c)(2) — the part of Section 230 that is rarely relied upon, regarding “good faith” blocking of content — such that the “otherwise objectionable” bit is deleted, and replaced with “threatening or promoting illegal activity.” It would also remove the line that sites are protected for blocking material “whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
Of course, this misunderstands the nature of both Section 230 (and how (c)(1) already protects most moderation) and the 1st Amendment, which already protects most content moderation editorial choices as well. But, then Daines has to take it a step further and make absolutely sure his bill is blatantly unconstitutional. Because it also adds in a prohibition on certain types of moderation. It says you can no longer moderate “political speech.” Apparently Daines wants to make sure all Nazis are protected when they promote fascism. His bill would add in this bit of unconstitutional garbage:
PROHIBITION OF BAD FAITH BLOCKING AND SCREENING.?
??(i) IN GENERAL.?For purposes of subparagraph (A)(i), it shall not be considered good faith for a provider of an interactive computer service to block, censor, or screen material on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or political affiliation or speech
Now, race, color, religion, sex, and national origin are already protected classes. Political affiliation is not. Nor should it be. And, flat out saying that you’re regulating speech here should have raised all of the 1st Amendment alarm bells possible. But it did not. Because this is not a serious attempt at serious policy making from a serious person. This is grandstand culture warrioring from a silly politician with nothing better to do than rile up an ignorant, silly base.
Amusingly, there’s an exemption on that stuff for a website that is “dedicated to a specific issue, policy, belief, or viewpoint.” So… if you set up a site specifically for Nazis, you can now ban people who don’t support fascism. But the webhost hosting the Nazi focused site, which is open generally to the public, cannot ban the Nazi website. Is that really what Daines wants?
And, left unsaid so far, is that all of this is based on a total myth that anyone is being moderated for their political viewpoints. They are not. People are being moderated for violating policies such as by spreading mis- and disinformation, harassing others, trolling others, and other such general mayhem. No one is being moderated for supporting any standard political viewpoints. It’s a myth that fools like Steve Daines embrace because to admit the truth would be to admit that their most vocal supporters are ignorant rubes and assholes.