Pete Riehm
Will social media ever allow free speech?
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By Pete Riehm
June 6, 2023

Freedom of speech is the most critical and vital right of a free people. That’s why it’s enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. A free people have the indisputable and intrinsic right to express their opinions regardless of who agrees or disagrees. Inherent to this right and essential to a fully functioning republic is that free speech protects dissent and unpopular speech. It even protects speech that may be inaccurate and especially speech widely considered wrong because many opinions once publicly castigated as false are later proved to be true.

In just the last few years, we can find ample consequential examples of media driven opinions proven false and unpopular dissent eventually vindicated. Starting in 2016, the press and pundits were certain President Trump had colluded with Russia to steal the election. With social media pumping it up, they howled this narrative incessantly for years even though they knew the Hillary Clinton campaign fabricated the whole smear. In the 2020 election, social media turned the tables and anyone that questioned the results or wondered if the Chinese had colluded with Democrats to steal the election was banned or cancelled. Debate is always verboten; social media will only allow approved speech. Since they were blatantly wrong about the Russians, why believe them about the Chinese?

The entire Chinese virus charade is the quintessential case study of government colluding with social media to squelch free speech. You could not claim the virus came from China; it came from China. You could not question the wet market origins of the virus and especially not say it was a lab leak; it was created in the Wuhan lab and somehow released. You could not suggest Ivermectin as a treatment; Ivermectin was used by India to get their pandemic under control. You could not challenge masks, shutdowns, social distancing, or ventilators, but all were later shown useless or harmful. Any American that voiced any opinions counter to the social media approved narrative was promptly ridiculed and rapidly silenced.

Social media is a public forum trying to attract subscribers. It seems they would strive to create an open forum with equal access where citizens could trust that ideas were fairly debated and vetted and allowed to stand or fall on their own merit. So, why would social media even consider regulating speech? Unless, they had picked a side.

No surprise here, but social media has absolutely aligned with the leftists. Their goal is not an open public forum to serve their customers but rather a propaganda machine to advance their chosen candidates. Shadow banning conservatives on social media is now well documented and even expected, so we know conservative candidates are stealthily censored. They might even be denied accounts on social media platforms and thereby deprived of perhaps primary access to the public.

Everyone is well aware that Trump was banned from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, but while the uber leftists in social media are always advancing Democrats and hindering Republicans, they will also put their cyber sights on certain Democrats. Democrats seem to have forgotten how Bernie Sanders was sidelined when he was neck and neck with Hillary Clinton. Typically, the DNC can handle getting their preferred candidate, but they must be very worried about Robert Kennedy, Jr. because social media is already working against him.

Kennedy is not a typical Democrat. He is critical of open borders, COVID and vaccine policies, and vows to use tariffs against China to protect American jobs, but most striking is that he is a strong proponent of free speech. None of that sounds very Democrat and it surely chaffs the cyber tyrants in social media. Instagram cancelled Kennedy’s personal account in February 2021 for challenging COVID orthodoxy, but now Instagram won’t let him set up a campaign account for his presidential candidacy. Is the fix already in for Joe Biden?

While some of Kennedy’s common sense is refreshing, he is still more liberal than most Americans, but perhaps Democrats will realize the loss of free speech affects them too. Hopefully, there are still enough rank and file Democrats that want to select their candidate and not have him ordained by the elite. If so, pray they will at least join the crusade to preserve free speech.

There is also hope in competition. Platforms like Rumble and Substack have enjoyed enough success that leftist social media are noticing and perhaps concerned. Elon Musk’s Twitter has vowed to advance and preserve free speech. YouTube has dropped their policy of blocking any debate about the validity of the 2020 presidential election results presumably to retain subscribers seeking an open forum for free speech. They still blacklist certain conservative outlets and endorse legacy media as authoritative, but it’s a step back from their unbridled censorship.

Freedom of speech is among our most important rights. Without it, there is no vigorous vetting of ideas and incisive debate to root out the truth. Truth matters: freedom cannot be maintained under false premises. Americans must insist their right to freedom of expression is preserved if our republic is to survive, so if you are denied that right, leave. Go where free speech is protected; it’s your duty. Social media will follow you or wither, so we have the power – use it as if your freedom depends on it because it does.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

Pete Riehm is a conservative activist and columnist in south Alabama. Email him at peteriehm@bellsouth.net or read all his columns at http://www.renewamerica.com/.

© Pete Riehm

 

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Pete Riehm

Born to German immigrants, Pete Riehm grew up in Texas as a first generation American. Working his way through college, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After graduating from the University of Houston, Pete was commissioned into the United States Navy through Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He also earned a Master's Degree in National Security from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas... (more)

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