Friday 1 March 2024

MSNBC Legal Analyst Argues for ‘Common Sense’ Speech Restrictions Live on Air

 A legal analyst at MSNBC argued earlier this week that there is a need for “common sense” restrictions to the First Amendment to prevent “disinformation” online.

The comments from University of Michigan law professor Barbara McQuade underscore how many on the far left now view basic American Constitutional rights.

During an interview with network host Rachel Maddow that The New York Post flagged on Thursday, McQuade argued that current restrictions on free speech might not go far enough.

McQuade said previous arguments from the U.S. Supreme Court had set a precedent — that there are some limitations to what people can say if it is intended to create harm — but she added those might not be far-reaching enough.

One such case is 1919’s Schenck v. United States, in which it was ruled that a person could not shout “fire” while in a crowded theater if that person’s rationale for speaking was only to cause public harm. 

In the context of American political discourse in the age of social media, McQuade said that the country’s “deep commitment to free speech,” a cornerstone of society, is leaving people vulnerable to being misled.

While hawking a new book she has authored called “Attack from Within: How Disinformation is Sabotaging America,” McQuade told MSNBC she hoped to initiate a “national conversation about truth and our commitment to [free speech].”

After Maddow asked if Americans are vulnerable to being misled more than citizens of other countries without First Amendment protections, McQuade agreed.

“Rachel, I think we’re more susceptible to it than other countries, and that’s because some of our greatest strengths can also be our Achilles heel,” she said.

McQuade continued:

“So, for example, our deep commitment to free speech in our First Amendment — it is a cherished right. It’s an important right in democracy, and nobody wants to get rid of it, but it makes us vulnerable to claims [that] anything we try to do to regulate speech is censorship.

“Of course, the Supreme Court has held that all fundamental rights, even the right to free speech, can be limited, as long as there is a compelling governmental interest and the restriction is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.”

McQuade went on to complain that people who do not feel free to share their voices online view themselves as victims of censorship.

She further noted that the Supreme Court will soon hear a case brought forth by leaders in Florida and Texas that argues social media platforms are and have been actively targeting conservatives.

She argued that as private entities, the country’s tech companies should not be tethered to ensuring everyone has a voice.

McQuade concluded by pitching a solution in which some people might not be allowed a podium, as America’s town square has moved largely online.

“We need to have a conversation and common-sense solutions to these things,” she told Maddow. “Instead, we throw out terms like ‘censorship,’ call each other names, we use labels and we all retreat to our opposite sides.”

“We need to be pragmatic and come up with real solutions,” McQuade concluded. “But, it is, I think, one of the things that makes America particularly vulnerable to disinformation,” she said.

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