Let me state for the record that I am not a constitutional scholar. I have read and studied the document itself and many contemporary documents – and that is from what I form my views of the foundational document of America. I prefer to find the meaning of the words, ideas and principles in our American Constitution but reading and studying the words of the people who were struggling to find the right ingredients for the glue to hold our nation together in perpetuity.
That being said, something many people overlook is that the Constitution is a pact between the people and their government. It clearly and distinctly notes what government cannot do to the people. For example the First Amendment says that “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.”
As the Constitution is our protection from government’s encroachment on individual rights, it is assumed that the greatest danger to our rights comes from government.
I am not at all sure that is true. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that is true at all.
While the words in the Constitution mean the government has no ability to curtail speech, and Lord knows that we have courted danger by allowing speech codes and letting terms like “hate speech” to survive, in general this is a people vs. government thing. What it ain’t is a way to force Facebook or Twitter to leave people alone. As much as it might seem we should have an open forum – because that is what the Zuck and Stoner Dorsey promised – but the First Amendment does not apply to a private business.
This week, I was re-watching the first season of the dystopian series, Altered Carbon, on Netflix (I really liked it) and (as it was in Season 2), their world was run by evil corporations and these evil corporations run the governments. This is a common theme in many dystopian science fiction books, movies and TV shows. You probably can name several – Blade Runner (Tyrell Corporation) , Terminator (Cyberdyne Systems), RoboCop (OCP), Alien (Weyland-Yutani), the Resident Evil franchise (Umbrella Corporation), and so on…and all are uniformly assumed to be evil capitalist entities that trample the rights and lives of people for profit, but we are being taught an object lesson in why that assumption is a fallacy.
I think we can agree that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google lean so far left, they have begun to stumble. We can also agree that these private sector behemoths control a very large percentage of our public discourse and access to news and information – and we can also agree that, even though the free speech provision of the First Amendment does not apply to them, they are willfully and brazenly violating the concept of free speech. They are censoring posts, tweets and videos – as well as throttling and blocking web traffic and access to information. Like the evil corporations of fiction, they also have their government enablers – like Senator Ed Markey, who thinks that the problem is not censorship, but that they don’t censor ENOUGH.
My point is that the real danger is not from government or capitalism, it is from the leftist private sector companies that have achieved a monopolistic, market dominating, quasi-governmental rung on the ladder of society. The truth is that, even in the fictional world of science fiction, the “evil capitalistic” corporations look far more like collectivist dictatorships than true free market participants. Some would say, and I include myself in that group, that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google look a lot like those dictatorial corporate villains of science fiction.