Joe Biden Yells A Dumb Anti-Free Speech Trope In An Uncrowded Congress

from the don't-support-censorship-joe dept

Joe Biden has never been a particularly big free speech supporter. For years, as a Senator, he consistently sided with the entertainment industry in their never-ending quest to have the government help attack free speech on the internet via aggressive and oppressive copyright laws. Throughout his campaign he railed against protected speech online that he disliked. And last night, during his first full address to Congress, he trotted out the very dangerous "fire in a crowded theater" trope:

He did it in a very dumb way too. In talking about his push for gun control, he pushed back against the idea that things like background checks and certain limitations on firearms would violate the 2nd Amendment... using the trope about the 1st Amendment:

This shouldn't be a red or blue issue. And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can't yell fire in a crowded theater.

This is unfortunately not the first time Biden has used that line in his push for gun control.

For a decade now, we've been explaining why this is not a good thing to say, but apparently people need a big refresher. So, here we go.

First off, the "shouting fire" line was first said by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Schenk v. United States. It was not a precedential statement, but rather what's known as dicta, basically a judicial aside. Schenk was not about fires in theaters. It was about jailing someone who was morally opposed to war for handing out anti-draft brochures during World War I. If anything the statement should be seen as an example of why and how we need to better protect free speech rights, because when we don't, and we let people aimlessly say things like "you can't falsely shout fire in a crowded theater" it leads to jailing people for protesting war -- something today we recognize as quintessential protected speech. If people knew the actual history behind the statement, it's unlikely they'd use it.

It never had any precedential value as dicta, but even if it did, the Schenk case is no longer good law. In fact, just months later, Oliver Wendell Holmes basically changed his mind. A few years back, Thomas Healy wrote an entire book about how a bunch of his free speech supporting friends more or less convinced him that he was very, very wrong in Schenk (and a couple of other similar cases), so in the very next term, Holmes suddenly started crafting our modern concepts of 1st Amendment law, in which most speech is absolutely protected. Initially in a set of dissenting opinions (in which his colleagues on the bench continued with the original line Holmes created), Holmes realized that he was totally wrong in Schenk and began saying things like:

I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.

Decades later, the ruling in Brandenburg v. Ohio effectively overruled Schenk, and began to establish the extremely limited and narrowly defined exceptions to the 1st Amendment.

These later decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action. . . . A statute which fails to draw this distinction impermissibly intrudes upon the freedoms guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. It sweeps within its condemnation speech which our Constitution has immunized from governmental control.

Since then a very small number of exceptions have been determined by the courts, but they are very, very, limited. And while someone could craft a scenario in which falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater could potentially fall into one of those buckets, it is extremely unlikely and would be extremely context dependent. In general, saying "you can't yell fire in a crowded theater" is false.

Almost universally, any time someone uses that line, they are endorsing unconstitutional suppression of speech, and trying to pretend it might be constitutional because "not all speech is constitutional." As Ken White rightly notes, that's what makes the use of this phrase so pernicious:

It's an old tool, but still useful, versatile enough to be invoked as a generic argument for censorship whenever one is needed. But it's null-content, because all it says is some speech can be banned — which... is not controversial. The phrase does not advance a discussion of which speech falls outside of the protection of the First Amendment.

[....]

The observation "not all speech is protected" adds nothing to a discussion because it offers no mechanism for determining whether the speech at issue falls into a traditional exception or not.

In other words, the main function of using the "fire in a crowded theater" line, including in Biden's speech last night, is to say "I'm not going to explain to you why what I want to do is Constitutional, because I can just say the Constitution doesn't limit everything that I'd want to do." It's not only a meaningless statement in that it avoids the important heavy lifting of explaining why what you want to do isn't unconstitutional, but it brushes that very issue under the rug and says "let's not explore the issue of Constitutionality, because we can ignore it."

And doing that while at the very same time effectively defending the jailing of someone for protesting war is shameful and certainly un-Presidential.

For what it's worth, it appears that the "fire in a crowded theater" line was a stupid improvisation from Biden. It did not appear in the transcript the White House released prior to the speech:

One hopes that someone in the administration who understands the history and problems with that line will tell him to stop using it because it's extremely problematic, not just in the context of the 2nd Amendment, but very much so in the context of the 1st.

Anyway... if you care about the 1st Amendment and have feelings about this line, have we got a t-shirt (and other gear) for you:

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, 2nd amendment, fire, fire in a crowded theater, joe biden


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 9:37am

    …eh, still better than the last guy, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 29 Apr 2021 @ 9:49am

      Re:

      Oh yea?! Well he'll be as bad as the last guy just as soon as he...

      Hires his kids to help him grift us.
      Tweets 50x a day from the bathroom.
      Lies 100x a day.
      Quid pro quo's other countries to find dirt on his opponents.
      Obstructs justice over and over.
      Drops the world's opinion of us.
      Never breaks 50% approval...oh wait, it's too late on that one, nevermind.
      Goes golfing every weekend at his own golf courses.
      Calls white supremacists fine people.
      Pushes elections officials to steal elections for him.
      Starts an insurrection at the Capitol.

      Just as soon as he does things...he'll be just as bad.....yea, it's not going to happen is it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 10:09am

        Re: Re:

        Oh come on. Not all of his tweets were lies. Some were merely devoid of fact.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Baron von Robber, 29 Apr 2021 @ 10:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          and English. Some didn't seem to involve English.

          One side effect of Twitter no longer giving Muammar Covfefe preferential treatment is that misinformation on Twitter took a decent drop.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 11:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            His tweets were all perfectly good English, just with grammar, meaning, understanding and factual information removed.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2021 @ 7:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Perhaps in the same sense that The Canterbury Tales is English...

              It's certainly English, but the original context is so far removed that you'll need far longer than a glace to understand it.

              It's practically a form of translation in itself.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "...and English. Some didn't seem to involve English."

            Oh, come on, that's not fair. Just because neither Merriam-webster or the urban dictionary ever heard of Covfefe doesn't mean it's not a word. After all, would a Very Stable Genius with a Very Good Brain have used it otherwise?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2021 @ 3:43am

        Re: Re:

        But her emails!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 12:47pm

      Re:

      I mean it would be nearly impossible to do worse as that would take(among other things) a hefty body-count, though it's still quite concerning that this is coming so soon after the election.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 9:49am

    Mike there you go showing off your blind loyalty to the Dems.

    (I'm putting '/s' just.
    Also PSA: Do not drown in my sarcasm. If gotten in the eye, risen thoroughly. If ingested, seek psychiatric help immediately )

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TaboToka (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 10:16am

    Yelling fire

    The correct qualifier is you can't FALSELY yell fire in a crowded theater.

    Words used to purposely incite a panic are not protected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 10:28am

      The correct qualifier is you can't FALSELY yell fire in a crowded theater.

      No, you can do exactly that…so long as you don’t cause a panic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 11:01am

        Re:

        I'm going to pretend people keep insisting on this because the really hate war plays.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 12:06pm

          Re: Re:

          And plays about the Chicago fire and similiar events. Might want to not go with immersive props for that one for obvious reasons involving what is and isn't a part of the show.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 12:49pm

      Re: Yelling fire

      Words used to purposely incite a panic are not protected.

      Not quite true. Words used to "incite imminent lawless action" are not protected. Whether or not inciting a panic includes imminent lawless action is a different question. There are many situations in which falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater is very much protected.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 29 Apr 2021 @ 10:18am

    Eh, Biden was what you'd have expected...

    Tim Scott was the actual clincher. When he talks of going across the aisle and moving forward together and trying to find common ground, that's a lot more believable than when obstructionist McConnell does the same (and Cruz, Hawley and their ilk are not interested in common ground anyway).

    So the Republicans put somebody up to the plate who actually was quite far from the empty theatrics and histrionics of where the Trumpist part of the party is going.

    This was a voice that Biden cannot afford to ignore. So good strategic choice to put him there. But who made that choice? And what does it mean for the Republicans and how they are going to position themselves in the next years?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 10:34am

      the Republicans put somebody up to the plate who actually was quite far from the empty theatrics and histrionics of where the Trumpist part of the party is going.

      They also put up the only Black Republican in the Senate to deliver the rebuttal. If you think that was done for any reason other than a cynical appeal to “diversity”, of course you’d believe that Republicans finally plan to do something other than “govern” from a position of “own the libs at all costs”.

      This is a group of people who couldn’t even be bothered to applaud when Biden talked about a drop in child poverty rates. Do you really believe they’ll do anything other than demand complete concession to Republican/conservative ideology in exchange for passing legislation?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 29 Apr 2021 @ 1:02pm

        Re:

        They also put up the only Black Republican in the Senate to deliver the rebuttal. If you think that was done for any reason other than a cynical appeal to “diversity”,

        Sure. Of course he is their alibi Black. But cynical or not, they chose to pick an appeal to "diversity" as their attack vector. And Tim Scott did not let the opportunity, however they decided to give it to him and nobody else, go waste. I don't know whether he was pushed to the front because nobody wanted to be the fall guy.

        But he ended up way more effective than what Cruz/Hawley etc could have achieved given that job, and some may think twice about pushing him to the front again.

        I may be imagining things but I found that side part intriguing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:46am

          Re: Re:

          Well, honeymoon's over... Headline cut&paste from Foxnews:

          Sen. Tim Scott predicts 'coming backlash to this liberal oppression' on 'Hannity'

          Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has received incessant hatred and racism from the left following his rebuttal to President Biden's address to Congress Wednesday, but the senator told "Hannity" on Thursday that liberals should watch out for a Republican rebound.

          "Liberal oppression". That term alone should tell you enough. I read that Scott is a good behind-the-scenes negotiator particularly regarding things like the bipartisan policing talks.

          But if he doesn't manage to avoid letting himself get painted in a corner with the rest by Foxnews and their ilk, there is no future for him either outside of the authority-adoring and compromise-sabotaging Trumpist movement.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 1:07pm

            'Keep that up and I'll do what I've alwasy done!'

            Oh noes, the republicans might 'rebound' and lash out and be something other than civil and polite to their political opponents, how ever shall the democrats deal with this completely new and unprecedented behavior from the republicans?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              David, 30 Apr 2021 @ 1:21pm

              Re: 'Keep that up and I'll do what I've alwasy done!'

              I think "rebound" was meant as "get the upper hand again", like in the favor of voters. I mean, I get why McConnell chose not to deliver that absurdly hypocritical message himself: it looks better from almost anybody else, and if he had delivered it, it would have made him look not just powerless but pathetic.

              The problem is that the message "we'll play nice in future if we get the upper hand if you play nice now" rings totally hollow as long as McConnell stays at the helm since his track record of giving a rat's ass about his promises of yesteryear speaks for itself.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 6:18pm

                'Oh look we have power again, now about that pinky-promise...'

                Yeah, if that's what they meant then they are banking on really stupid people with really short memories, because on top of their demonstrable hypocrisy in ignoring their own arguments the second it's beneficial to do so 'stick it to the libs' might as well have been the GOP motto for a good while now, so the idea that they'd ever 'play nice' while in a position of power is something that would require either stunning levels of denial or ignorance on the part of those they are trying to convince.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 May 2021 @ 7:18am

                  Re: 'Oh look we have power again, now about that pinky-promise..

                  "...if that's what they meant then they are banking on really stupid people with really short memories..."

                  Like the normal person who votes republican these days?

                  I used to believe it was just endemic party corruption. Strongman tactics and demagoguery finally tipping the scales of power their way in the GOP.

                  And then came the shit-show farce they put up around the election and we all saw the full extent of the crazy. The GOP is nothing more than a shameless cadre of grifters corralling a large herd of clueless morons to the shearing. The real issue is that one in three american voters isn't just a fscking horrible person but also an idiot.

                  And yea, they can bank on those morons to keep voting their way no matter what they do.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    That One Guy (profile), 3 May 2021 @ 3:25pm

                    Re: Re: 'Oh look we have power again, now about that pinky-promi

                    At this point I'd probably write off anyone still identifying as republican from a list of 'people who can be trusted not to be either blindingly stupid and/or blatantly corrupt', sure, but in this case I was referring to the democrats they'd be trying to convince with their 'be nice to us now and we'll be nice to you when we have power' argument, because said democrats would have to be insanely ignorant and/or gullible to fall for that.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:23am

        Re:

        "They also put up the only Black Republican in the Senate to deliver the rebuttal."

        To an increasing degree the presence of black people in the republican party reminds me of that old joke about a journalist who, after interviewing the blind-since-birth old KKK leader screaming about racial purity for an hours time with much bile and venom, quietly whispered to one of the standardbearers "Doesn't he know...?" only to be answered "We don't have the heart to tell him he's black...".

        It's been said that the true measure of equality won't come when a genius member of a minority demographic is recognized for their genius, but when an utter moron of that minority manages to achieve the same success as a moron from the majority. In this, ironically, the GOP is ahead of the democrats...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 11:10am

    Say whatever you want

    ... just remember, that theatre is private property so the owner can kick you out for now reason what-so-ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bwburke94 (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 12:39pm

    These days, are there any crowded theaters to yell "fire" in?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 1:14pm

    No, bad Biden, bad!

    If anything that it was an unscripted line is more concerning as that suggests that it's something that he actually thinks is a good argument rather than one that's been carefully planned out and is being read.

    Hopefully it'll be treated as a throwaway(even better if someone can explain to him why it's a bad line) but it's certainly something worth keeping an eye on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 1:48pm

    Okay, so government cant punish you for yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater per se. But government still can punish you for sharing digital information if that violate someone's copyright "property" because that still ain't protected speech, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 2:14pm

      Re:

      There are many, many things you can't say (or publish in writing) without significant consequence. You can't tell everyone "my employer is highly successful because ..." without risking a trade secrets lawsuit. You can't go on TV (or radio, or a youTube channel) and say "The number one state secret that I know is ..." and then reveal classified information - especially if you have security clearance. You can't say to your friends "Let's get together at 9:00 Tomorrow morning and rob the back on the corner of main and tenth, because I know they silent alarm isn't working", especially if they do so, with or without you. That last one would risk prosecution for, at the least, accessory before the fact. You can't say "ABC corp is about to be sued for patents they infringed" if it isn't true without risking an expensive defamation lawsuit. It's easy to concoct a long list of things you can't say without consequence, even in the US. Most of them involve obvious wrong-doing. Copyright introduces a plethora of other things that are not obvious wrong that could nonetheless cost you dearly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    William Null, 29 Apr 2021 @ 3:04pm

    I need to congratulate you on this article. Usually you do pretty bad job on stuff like this (ever since 2016, I wonder why?), but today you correctlypointed out how anti-freespeech Biden is. You usually do a good job on stuff related to IP law abuse or telecom monopolies, shame that you let your emotions get in the way of logic when it comes to 230 reform.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 3:16pm

      Please point to stories from reputable news outlets that prove Biden is “anti–free speech”.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 29 Apr 2021 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      Wow, the desperation just drips off.

      So the meat thing didn't work, and the beer thing didn't work.
      What makes you think the anti-freespeech thing has any shot?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 3:59pm

      Oh, that's a problem now is it?

      It's almost as though there was someone else who's anti-free speech stance was way more important to cover the last four years due to the power they had at the time...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 4:43pm

      Re:

      Just what is the "logic" behind Section 230 "reform"? There needs to be something valid blocked off for emotions to get in the way. Emotions usually get in the way of even considering stabbing your own mother to death too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 30 Apr 2021 @ 9:10am

        Re: Re:

        Emotions usually get in the way of even considering stabbing your own mother to death too.

        Uh, emotions tend to be involved either way when stabbing your own mother to death. I rather doubt that such a deed would be done entirely out of rational dispassionate considerations.

        Like, "oh this assassination contract actually is for my mother, hope she doesn't mind that it's me. After all, it's nothing personal".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        William Null, 30 Apr 2021 @ 1:44pm

        Re: Re:

        Logical argument against stabbing your mother to death would be "you don't want to go to prison". In fact, if you are stabbing your mother to death, you are pretty much letting the emotions get in the way of logic.

        On the 230 thing, see my reply to Masnick below.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 8:01pm

      Re:

      [Projects facts not in evidence]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 10:46pm

      Re:

      Usually you do pretty bad job on stuff like this (ever since 2016, I wonder why?)

      This is a non-partisan site, William. We have always been critical of government officials who attack our rights, no matter what team they're on, and we've always been supportive of government officials who protect our rights, no matter what side they're on.

      Our stance has remained entirely consistent. The only thing that changed in 2016 was that you decided that we were no longer allowed to criticize your preferred candidate.

      You usually do a good job on stuff related to IP law abuse or telecom monopolies, shame that you let your emotions get in the way of logic when it comes to 230 reform.

      Our stance on 230 has remained the same, and is the same as our stance on IP abuse and telecom monopolies. It is not emotional. It's based on reality.

      You should try it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        William Null, 30 Apr 2021 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem with 230 is that it outlived its usefulness. It allowed the social media oligopoly (I agree monopoly is not the right word to use, but it's a shorthand, because saying oligopoly is a mouthful, not to mention people may not understand what that word means) basically control the speech online. Not only that, but once somebody tries to make a site that even slightly deviates from the status quo, be it a payment processor or different social media site, it is quickly destroyed by the incumbent web hosting and credit card companies. A true competition to create the marketplace of ideas cannot be had in such conditions.

        The situation isn't that much different from the US telecom. Except instead of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast (which I like to refer to as Comrizon&T), we got Google/Alphabet, we got Amazon, we got Apple, we got Microsoft, we got Facebook and Twitter. And instead of laws written to suit them (though we got that too...) we got their anticompetetive practices that makes it all but impossible for any alternatives that aren't an echo chamber (for the record, I hate echo chambers no matter if they're right or left wing, that's why I use Minds and not Twitter or FB or Parler) to really make a dent in the oligopoly we have here.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 30 Apr 2021 @ 5:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The problem with 230 is that it outlived its usefulness. It allowed the social media oligopoly (I agree monopoly is not the right word to use, but it's a shorthand, because saying oligopoly is a mouthful, not to mention people may not understand what that word means) basically control the speech online.

          1. If people don't understand the word oligopoly, how are they going to grasp section 230 and it's implications?
          2. How does social media companies control speech online? I can go on the internet and say whatever I want regardless of how unpopular it is, it's just that I realize that not everyone would want to associate with me afterwards, just like how people would react to the same thing in meat-space. But I also know that I have a choice on where I make my speech and if it's appropriate for my chosen venue, because I understand discretion.

          Not only that, but once somebody tries to make a site that even slightly deviates from the status quo, be it a payment processor or different social media site, it is quickly destroyed by the incumbent web hosting and credit card companies. A true competition to create the marketplace of ideas cannot be had in such conditions.

          You have to specify what you mean by "status quo". And please do give examples of sites that have been destroyed because of "deviating" from said "status quo".

          The situation isn't that much different from the US telecom. Except instead of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast (which I like to refer to as Comrizon&T), we got Google/Alphabet, we got Amazon, we got Apple, we got Microsoft, we got Facebook and Twitter.

          It is very different, since in most cases when it comes to the US telecom their customers belongs to a captive market. When it comes to services on the internet, you have choices galore. To say the situations are the same doesn't correlate with reality.

          And instead of laws written to suit them (though we got that too...) we got their anticompetetive practices that makes it all but impossible for any alternatives that aren't an echo chamber (for the record, I hate echo chambers no matter if they're right or left wing, that's why I use Minds and not Twitter or FB or Parler) to really make a dent in the oligopoly we have here.

          Well, section 230 wasn't written to suit them. It was specifically written so internet services could moderate and curate content that fit their intent of their service, regardless of their size. If you think changing 230 will improve the situation, you are sadly mistaken. I have not yet seen even one suggestion on how to "improve" 230 that wouldn't lead to incredible collateral damage while cementing the big players as top dogs.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 5:40pm

          The problem with 230 is that it outlived its usefulness.

          [citation needed]

          It allowed the social media oligopoly [to] basically control[ ]speech online.

          Well, shit, I guess I have to go tell everyone on the Fediverse that they have to shut all their instances down.

          …OH WAIT NO THE FUCK I DON’T

          Twitter and Facebook don’t “control speech” online. They don’t even control speech on each other’s platforms.

          once somebody tries to make a site that even slightly deviates from the status quo, be it a payment processor or different social media site, it is quickly destroyed by the incumbent web hosting and credit card companies

          Well, shit, I guess I have to go tell everyone on the Fediverse that their instances are actually dead.

          …OH WAIT NO THE FUCK I DON’T

          Web hosts generally don’t care if someone uses a given host for a social media service. Like all capitalist companies, they care if that service can reflect poorly upon the host (or put that host in legal jeopardy somehow). AWS didn’t stop hosting Parler because of any political affiliation. AWS stopped hosting Parler because of the nonexistent moderation and the bad press caused by said moderation.

          And if you believe 230 has “outlived its usefulness”, you must also believe that Parler should lose the same protections as Twitter and Facebook. All three services rely on the same law for the same protections.

          As for payment processors: Yes, it sucks that payment processors designed for the kinds of works and services that banks and credit card companies are typically loathe to touch can be annihilated because of that loathing. But 230 has nothing to do with that. Seek reform for that bullshit elsewhere.

          A true competition to create the marketplace of ideas cannot be had in such conditions.

          The marketplace already exists. Nobody has an obligation to entertain ideas they don’t want in their specific corner of the marketplace (i.e., to host speech they don’t want to host).

          we got their anticompetetive practices that makes it all but impossible for any alternatives that aren't an echo chamber

          People shouldn’t act like assholes if they don’t want to get kicked off a service with a diverse userbase. A conservative can be a conservative on social media without being a bigot. A liberal can be a liberal on social media without using ableist slurs to describe conservatives. If you have a problem with the values upheld by the TOS of a given service, find a different service or don’t use social media at all (which I recommend).

          No site is obligated to host your speech — or anyone else’s. No site is obligated to change its TOS for your comfort. Don’t like how “SJW woke bullshit” is taking over Twitter? Go somewhere else. Don’t like the options outside of Twitter? Either stop being an asshole on Twitter or stop using social media. What the fuck is so hard about that?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2021 @ 10:24pm

            Re:

            The marketplace already exists. Nobody has an obligation to entertain ideas they don’t want in their specific corner of the marketplace (i.e., to host speech they don’t want to host).

            Or put another way the 'marketplace of ideas' already exists, there are just a number of people who don't want to face that only a minority of people want what they are selling and think that more popular 'stores' should be required to host their product under the mistaken beliefs that they are owed the space and/or that the reason people aren't buying what they are selling isn't because they know about it don't want it but because they don't know about it at all.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 9:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The problem with 230 is that it outlived its usefulness.

          Not even remotely true. We rely on it every day. Without it, we wouldn't let people like you post on the site.

          It allowed the social media oligopoly (I agree monopoly is not the right word to use, but it's a shorthand, because saying oligopoly is a mouthful, not to mention people may not understand what that word means) basically control the speech online.

          No, it protects every website and every user of every website. It has nothing to do with whether or not there are large companies online or how they moderate.

          Not only that, but once somebody tries to make a site that even slightly deviates from the status quo, be it a payment processor or different social media site, it is quickly destroyed by the incumbent web hosting and credit card companies.

          That's both not true and not even remotely related to 230. I mean, in the last few years we've seen plenty of new entrants. Companies like Discord, TikTok, Clubhouse, Substack have all come out of nowhere for social media/hosting content. Payment firms like Square and Stripe (not to mention the various crypto options). None have been shut down.

          The only companies that have faced problems have been.. um... Parler? And that's because it broke the rules of the company it chose to host on. That's it. That's got nothing to do with 230.

          A true competition to create the marketplace of ideas cannot be had in such conditions.

          Competition has nothing to do with 230. If you want to complain about antitrust issues, sure, but that's unrelated to 230. Studies have shown that 230 created more competition, not less. Without 230, only big companies with huge legal departments can survive.

          The situation isn't that much different from the US telecom. Except instead of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast (which I like to refer to as Comrizon&T), we got Google/Alphabet, we got Amazon, we got Apple, we got Microsoft, we got Facebook and Twitter. And instead of laws written to suit them (though we got that too...) we got their anticompetetive practices that makes it all but impossible for any alternatives that aren't an echo chamber (for the record, I hate echo chambers no matter if they're right or left wing, that's why I use Minds and not Twitter or FB or Parler) to really make a dent in the oligopoly we have here.

          Oh look, so you use Minds, showing that you already recognize that competition is possible. I literally had a call with Minds' founder last week and he told me how important 230 is to them, even if he disagrees with how Facebook operates. Without 230 he recognizes that he'd not really be able to exist.

          Your problem is not with 230. Your problem is with the fact that not everyone agrees with you.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2021 @ 6:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So long as sites like gab, bitschute, 4 chan 8kun exists and others exist there is no monopoly controlling speech online. Those sites exist in a marketplace of ideas, and if they are not drawing a large clientele, we that says the ideas being promoted on those sites is not popular.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2021 @ 12:23am

      Re:

      Here's a tip: if you feel the need to point out the 2016 presidency like criticizing Trump is a damning point, following it up with a reply of "oh wait, I'm actually non-partisan" isn't fooling anyone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    btr1701 (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 6:54pm

    This shouldn't be a red or blue issue. And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute."

    So you mean there is the possible that someone could own another human as a slave? I mean, if the 13th Amendment isn't absolute and there are exceptions to every amendment...

    And if the 19th Amendment isn't absolute, that would mean it's possible that the government could deny people the right to vote based on their sex/gender?

    Wow, thank goodness for Biden. There's a whole new aspect to constitutional law that I never knew existed before!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 6:57pm

      there is the possib[ility] that someone could own another human as a slave?

      Possible? Slavery is still a thing in the United States. The government owns lots of slaves — only these days they’re referred to as “prisoners” because slavery is only legal as a punishment for criminals.

      if the 19th Amendment isn't absolute, that would mean it's possible that the government could deny people the right to vote based on their sex/gender?

      Plenty of conservative white Christians would love to make that happen, of that I’m sure.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      "So you mean there is the possible that someone could own another human as a slave?"

      In practice? Then yes, the US still has slavery.
      I guess you could call it indentured serfdom, because for any practical purpose the guy doing twenty years for smoking weed in public and who is now a hundred k in the hole to the correctional facility for toiletries will be spending the rest of his days little different than an 18th-century cotton picker in the south.

      But yes, with sufficient majority the constitution can be rewritten. This process is called "amending" it and has been performed quite a few times now.

      Seriously, what is up with you alt-right wingnuts with your love for a document which even a european like me has apparently read while you yourselves haven't?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 8:13pm

    2 words...

    Ice Floes

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:56am

    fire in a crowded theater

    Writing this the day of a massive human avalanche in Israel was crummy timing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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