Warm Southern Breeze

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Ted Cruz, Jack Dorsey, Twitter, and Free Speech

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, October 29, 2020

GOP Texas Senator Ted Cruz, member of the Senate Commerce Committee, moments before he screamed at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey via remote hearing about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Once again, Ted Cruz turns in a great performance, and quite possibly may be nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for the same.

A reminder:
While he was in high school, Ted’s parents talked him out of moving to California to pursue an acting career. So he said in a November 2013 interview with the Boston Globe.

But yesterday, the Asshole from Texas, aka Republican Senator Ted Cruz, made an ass out of himself.

No surprise there, eh?

Nobody likes Cruz. Recall that in 2016, former Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner (OH-8) called him “Lucifer in the flesh.” Additional diatribes against Cruz may be found at the conclusion of this article.

Ted WILL make a run for the Presidency again, so he’s just posturing. After all, it IS election season, and even though he’s not on an election ticket, per se, he is on the ticket. And just 2 years ago (2018), Cruz just barely escaped being replaced by Democratic challenger Representative Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) – 50.9% to 48.3% of 8,371,655 ballots cast.

In fact, the entire GOP slate is on the ticket nationwide this year. And so far, it’s not looking good. It didn’t look good yesterday, either. The “optics” aren’t good, goes the saying about political appearances.

But more to the point…

The Senate Commerce Committee conducted a Full Committee Hearing on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 10:00 a.m. which was entitled, “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?”

What is Section 230?

In short, Jeff Kossett describes it as the “26 words that created the Internet.”

Who is Jeff Kossett?

Jeff Kossett is Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity Law at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and is one of the nation’s foremost experts on Section 230. Regarding the law, he said, “Section 230 set the legal framework for the Internet that we know today that relies heavily on user content rather than content that companies create. Without Section 230, companies would not be willing to take so many risks.”

The law, written in 1996, modified the 1996 Communications Decency Act, is short, sweet, and to the point.

Section 230(c)(1) reads:

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

But this hearing was pure grandstanding from the get-go.

Why?

Senators Wicker, Blackburn, and Graham have a law they want to foist upon the American people.

The introduction of their prospective legislation (the “Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act”) – which has been introduced, and is number S.4534 – reads “To amend section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 to modify the scope of protection from civil liability for ‘‘good Samaritan’’ blocking and screening of offensive material.”

The prospective legislation doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

Why not?

First, read what Wicker wrote on one of the many Senate Commerce Committee’s pages pertinent to the matter:

“For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs. These practices should not receive special protections in our society where freedom of speech is at the core of our nation’s values. Our legislation would restore power to consumers by promoting full and fair discourse online.”

Censor?

Here’s what the conservative wing of the Supreme Court decided in 2018:

“The Free Speech Clause
of the
First Amendment
prohibits only governmental,
not private,
abridgment of speech.”

The Supreme Court case “MANHATTAN COMMUNITY ACCESS CORP. ET AL. v. HALLECK ET AL. was decided in 2018, in a 5-4 ruling written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch.

The justices wrote further that,

“Providing some kind of forum for speech is not an activity that only governmental entities have traditionally performed. Therefore, a private entity who provides a forum for speech is not transformed by that fact alone into a state actor.”

Bluntly, private entities (like Twitter) are TOTALLY free to censor, or not, to their heart’s content.

Why?

Because they are NOT governmental entities, nor state actors.

In short, government can’t tell them what, or what not, to say.

And that’s the way it should be.

It’s called “Freedom of Speech.”

So, whether Ted Cruz of Texas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, or Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, like it, or not, is inconsequential. The law clearly does NOT apply to Twitter, Facebook, or Google in regard to matters pertaining to social media platforms. The Supreme Court has so ruled.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court has continually UPHELD the law numerous times since it was written. There are AT LEAST 27 cases involving Section 230 and touching upon a wide-ranging spectrum of matters from terrorism, to failure to warn, including threats, discriminatory housing ads, sexually explicit content, defamatory information, and more.

Once again, to illustrate the initial case in point – that Ted Cruz is purely posturing – he screamed at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey saying in part, “Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear – and why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic Super PAC, silencing views to the contrary of your political views!?!”

Well Teddy… the Constitution says he can. At least that’s what the conservative wing of the Supreme Court ruled.

Readers should know that what they saw yesterday was pure hyperbole and political posturing. In other words – pure bullshit.

How’d we get Section 230?

In 1995, when the Internet was just beginning to grow, California Congressman Chris Cox was flying back to Washington and read that the early online service provider Prodigy had been successfully sued for defamation by Jordan Belfort, founder of the stock brokerage house Stratton Oakmont, after a user had written a post accusing Stratton Oakmont of fraud.

The anonymous poster had accused the Long Island securities firm of fraud in connection with an Initial Public Offering, which was later immortalized in the motion picture “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

The New York State Supreme Court’s majority opinion ruled that because Prodigy posted user guidelines, used moderators, and scanned for indecent content, it was considered a “publisher,” and therefore legally liable for content that users published on its site.

Representative Cox thought Prodigy was being punished for actively trying to keep their own house clean and orderly, and foresaw a possibility in which budding Internet companies could be sued out of existence because of what courts might consider as their liability for harmful content which were posted by users. So he decided to do something about it.

So he collaborated with Oregon then-Congressman Ron Wyden to co-sponsor a bill to insulate Internet companies from unnecessary legal exposure from user content, which eventually was added to the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

By writing Section 230, it helped open the door to TRILLIONS of dollars in investments in the Internet.

Section 230 offers a broad shield to tech companies, and protects them from lawsuits over content generated by users on their sites. It gives Twitter and Facebook the right to moderate content, but does not give them the responsibility to do so. Senator Ron Wyden said of the bill that, “Because content is posted on their platforms so rapidly there’s just no way they can possibly police everything.”

But Section 230 does NOT absolve companies of every responsibility. For example, they’re still required to be on the lookout for copyright violations by bootleg movies, and child pornography – the greater concern of the law.

The SCOTUS has since struck down most of the Communications Decency Act shortly after it was enacted, but kept Section 230. (See: EFF, Britannica, and Congress.gov)

Technology Ethicist David Ryan Polgar said that, “A lot of people will say … that without Section 230, you wouldn’t have had the rise of social media because they would have been sued to oblivion,” but that the law treats Internet businesses “very similar to how we treat the Post Office. There’s misinformation all the time that people are sending through letters, but you don’t blame the Post Office. They’re merely the conduit.”

The current POTUS – Trump – seeks to eliminate Section 230, because he, Marco Rubio, and Josh Hawley believe that Twitter, FaceBook and Google are biased against conservative political speech, and became enraged after Twitter appended fact-check warnings to several of Trump’s tweets which sought to discredit Vote By Mail ballots, falsely accusing states that used them of massive fraud.

Ironically, the President has benefited significantly from Section 230, because he’s been able to post and repost numerous debunked crazy conspiracy theorist tweets… all without recourse, no matter how blatantly false they are.

Kate Ruane, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU said that “If platforms were not immune under the law, then they would not risk the legal liability that could come with hosting Donald Trump’s lies, defamation and threats.”

Ron Wyden, now a Senator, also has some criticisms of Section 230. His original intent in writing the law was not just as a shield, but as a sword as well, and has been disappointed in Big Technology’s lack of interest in moderating itself, and he warned that if “you don’t use the sword, there are going to be people coming for your shield.”

Moreover, however, this is the inevitable result of the elimination of the long-standing FCC Fairness Doctrine (1949-1987), which the GOP sought long ago to eliminate, and did so successfully in 1987.

Now, that the children of freedom have been born, and are maturing, the GOP cries and whines and doesn’t like it.

Like her, or not, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard introduced H.R. 4401 – Restore the Fairness Doctrine Act of 2019 on September 19, 2019.


One of the Committee’s many “fact sheets” contains the following:

The Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, which was recently introduced by Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., would modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to clarify the original intent of the law and examine Big Tech’s content moderation practices through an updated, more transparent standard.

Chairman Wicker said:

“For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs. These practices should not receive special protections in our society where freedom of speech is at the core of our nation’s values. Our legislation would restore power to consumers by promoting full and fair discourse online.”

Chairman Graham said:

“I’m very pleased to be working with Senators Wicker and Blackburn to bring about much-needed reform of Section 230. Social media companies are routinely censoring content that to many, should be considered valid political speech. This reform proposal addresses the concerns of those who feel like their political views are being unfairly suppressed.”

Senator Blackburn said:

“The polished megaplatforms we associate with online research and debate exert unprecedented influence over how Americans discover new information, and what information is available for discovery. Moreover, the contentious nature of current conversations provides perverse incentive for these companies to manipulate the online experience in favor of the loudest voices in the room. There exists no meaningful alternative to these powerful platforms, which means there will be no accountability for the devastating effects of this ingrained ideological bias until Congress steps in and brings liability protections into the modern era.”

Marsha Blackburn, is an avowed enemy of the Internet – readers may recall her outrageous commentary and opinion about whether, or not, the Internet should be considered a utility – and another asshole, only from Tennessee. She is an enemy of Free Speech and of the Internet ever since she was in the House of Representatives, and attempted to pass legislation that would have forbidden Free Market and Free Enterprise efforts by publicly-owned and governmental entities following the success of EPB’s ultra-high-speed fiber optic Internet service in Chattanooga, Tennessee. EPB – Electric Power Board – is a public-owned electric utility, whose efforts have literally transformed that city and Hamilton County, making it the pride of Tennessee.

Roger Wicker is an ineffectual, namby-pamby GOPer from Mississippi, who has done nothing of any value for Mississippians since he was first elected to the House in 1994. He dragged his track record of do-nothingness to the Senate, where he has occupied space since 2007.

Lindsey Graham is a hypocritical POS from South Carolina, whose sycophancy toward the President, following his former opposition of him, is the hallmark of his time in the Senate.


A brief compendium of remarks on Ted Cruz.

George W. Bush: “I just don’t like the guy.”

Bob Dole: “I don’t know how he’s going to deal with Congress. Nobody likes him.”

John Boehner: “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

Lindsey Graham: “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Peter King: “I hate Ted Cruz, and I think I’ll take cyanide if he ever got the nomination.”

Donald Trump: “He’s a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.”

Marco Rubio: “Ted has had a tough week because what’s happening now is people are learning more about him.”

Rand Paul: “He is pretty much done for and stifled, and it’s really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships, and it is a problem.”

Chris Christie: “For him to somehow be implying that certain values are more appropriate, more American, depending upon what region of the country you’re from, is to me just asinine.”

Carly Fiorina (aka, Cruz’s hypothetical running mate): “Ted Cruz is just like any other politician. … He says whatever he needs to say to get elected, and then he’s going to do as he pleases.”

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: “Everybody who knows him in the Senate hates him. And I think hate is not an exaggeration.”

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter: “Cruz is a sleazy, Rovian liar.”

Former Republican staffer John Feehery: “Cruz is an army of one, alienating anybody who is in his path. He advocates losing strategies purely to further his own career at the expense of the party.”

Princeton classmate Mikaela Beardsley: “There are not that many people in my life who I can think of who I didn’t actually have extensive interactions with who bring up such bad feelings.”

Another Princeton dormmate: “He was just sort of an odious figure lurking around.”

Princeton roommate Craig Mazin: “Ted Cruz is a nightmare of a human being. I have plenty of problems with his politics, but truthfully his personality is so awful that 99 percent of why I hate him is just his personality. If he agreed with me on every issue, I would hate him only one percent less.”

A spokesperson for the Satanic Temple: “It grows tedious when pedophile priests and loathsome politicians are conveniently dismissed as Satanic, even as they spew Biblical verse and prostrate themselves before the cross, recruiting the Christian faithful. Satanists will have nothing to do with them.”

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