If there is no freedom of speech, then there is no United States of America. It’s foundational to our liberty. Free speech isn’t always speech we like, but it’s necessary none the less.
Well, it seems as though the federal government wants to segregate speech into acceptable and unacceptable categories. According to Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post, the House of Representatives passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which deals with form contracts between customers and businesses. But in the murk of legalese and jargon, a clause leaps to the forefront which sends a truckload of red flags, as Volokh notes:
The law “shall not apply to the extent that a provision of a form contract prohibits . . . submission of,” among other things, material that “contains the personal information or likeness of another person, or is libelous, harassing, abusive, obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, or is inappropriate with respect to race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other intrinsic characteristic.”
So speech on all sorts of viewpoints would be protected by the proposed law, even against private contractual restrictions. A business couldn’t require users to agree to a contract that forbids critical reviews. A fur store couldn’t do the same as to anti-fur reviews; a restaurant couldn’t do the same to reviews that faulted it for serving foie gras. A business whose owner was pro-Donald Trump, and who was afraid that clients would learn this and would then publicly excoriate him for it, couldn’t do the same as to anti-Trump reviews. But contracts barring speech that “is inappropriate” (whatever that is) “with respect to race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other intrinsic characteristic” would remain perfectly legal.
That’s called unconstitutional. This is planting a seed of speech policing that could grow to allow federal lawmakers to decide what is appropriate speech and what is inappropriate speech. May it never be!
For those who’ve forgotten, let’s take another look at the Constitution’s First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law…” Stop right there. That’s as clear as a bell. Continue:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Yet, it appears they are making a law that blurs the lines. It may be a first step and a very small one at that, but those steps will get larger, and our rights will erode faster unless we do something to call back that power. That’s why an Article V Convention of States is now more important than ever.orking To Abolish