FCC Commissioner: Restrictions On College Campuses And Twitter Show Free Speech Slipping Away

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Ajit Pai
Ajit Pai

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressed his worry of the waning of free speech rights in American. The suppression of dissenting speech on college campuses and Twitter he believes are prime examples.

“I think th[is] poses a special danger to a country that cherishes First Amendment speech, freedom of expression, even freedom of association. I think it’s dangerous, frankly, that we don’t see more often people espousing the First Amendment view that we should have a robust marketplace of ideas where everybody should be willing and able to participate.

Largely what we’re seeing, especially on college campuses, is that if my view is in the majority and I don’t agree with your view, then I have the right to shout you down, disrupt your events, or otherwise suppress your ability to get your voice heard.”

The text of the First Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, but there are certain cultural values that undergird the amendment that are critical for its protections to have actual meaning.”


Mr. Pai unfortunately has perhaps a minority view on the federal communications commission which recently ruled that the First Amendment does not apply to Internet service providers, such as Twitter which recently announced that it would create a “trust and safety zone” to regulate and police comments left by its members.

He also lamented that if the public continues to possess a cavalier embracement of the importance of respecting free speech as a whole, that the end result would be government and politicians will take advantage of the situation and enact speech controls in any manner they see fit. Mr. Pai believes, and I share his belief, that the government during election years could declare websites such as Drudge Report and MSNBC as providing a disproportionate effect on the coverage of a particular idea and therefore must be regulated to provide content that is more in what the government believes to be on equal terms with what should be provided to other political campaigns.

What I find it particularly troubling is that Mr. Pai’s concerns represent those of an individual who is becoming a reflection of the past. In fact the chairwoman of the FCC, Ann Ravel, last year engaged in a campaign of regulatory propagation that included stricter regulation of campaign spending and speech curtailment. She worryingly went so far as to call for the removal of some of the commission’s members.

In addition, she targeted individual content providers such as Drudge Report, Google, and Facebook. Many of her efforts have been forestalled by close decisions of the commission, but these votes were narrow and in fact often times it was one individual who stopped some of her pledges. Frustrated by these votes, she slammed the commission is being “dysfunctional” in comments voiced to the New York Times.

While I certainly agree that there is too much money involved in political campaigns, and for that matter politics in general, it seems that the need to regulate what is advertised and what is presented by outlets to the public is objected to by those seeking office, and it becomes the case where regulating campaign contributions is the excuse often utilized.

We as a nation have deferred far too much authority into the hands of too few. And, to me it is unacceptable that the freedoms that define us are held and granted upon the whim of what’s becoming a free speech oligopoly.

By Darren Smith


The Washington Examiner

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

39 thoughts on “FCC Commissioner: Restrictions On College Campuses And Twitter Show Free Speech Slipping Away”

  1. Why are you leftists getting in a tizzy over the abrogation of free speech? This is one of your ultimate goals, is it not? Eliminate freedom, liberty, free speech, the pursuit of happiness and all that passé crap on which this nation was based? Institute a leftist authoritarian government to control everything and make all of your decisions? Advance Islamoterrorism? Nonstop political correctness? Turn in your parents if they disobey the authority of the state? Eliminate other democratic nations like Israel? Create a One World Government? Is this not your wet dream?

  2. Conservatives or Liberals that advocate governance inconsistent with our constitutional rule-of-law are the greatest threat to those rights identified in the Bill of Rights. The two major parties have people that believe the constitution is too restrictive in enabling their elected representatives from moving this country towards what they believe to be the correct “vision” for America. Their vision is “righteous” in their eyes and any opposition to that vision is of course of evil intent. The two major parties right now are the only vehicle conservatives and liberals alike have that give them any hope of being heard.

    Constitutionalists are more concerned with the means of government. They exist among both parties and the current alignment typically will have liberals aligning more with the Democrats and the conservatives aligning with the Republicans. The same alignment exists for Progressives but they are more concerned with the ends of government and not so much the means to get there.

    These differing worldviews are what is tearing this country apart; we cannot be both. We cannot exist pretending we have a rule-of-law all the while demanding our righteous causes be pursued outside the constitution. Doesn’t our vision of becoming “a more perfect union”, where we treat people as being created with equal, unalienable rights, mean we will never achieve perfection? Isn’t that the “ends” we should seek? Only one worldview provides the means to get there.

  3. I agree with Randyjet and he is not as the guy says in the comment above: clueless. His sense of history is spot on.

    The word “progressive” gets bandied about here by others. The word “conservative” gets put on a high plane. A conservative can be progressive. Look at Trump. He is radical in both ways. Bring back those jobs from China! Progressive? Conservative? Radical?

    1. Actually “delusional” works the best vis a vis Trump. A prime example is his take on Boeing completely moving out of S. C. and to China…see today’s (Sunday) Seattle Times pg D-1.

      Yeah, all the candidates are, in some sense, out of their minds or at least only have a slight grasp of reality.

      But the Trumper is just plain delusional.

  4. While I agree that there are some outlandish attempts on the left to shut down freedom of speech, it is a drop in the bucket compared to what the RIGHT has done historically. I grew up in the McCarthy era, which put people in PRISON for their political opinions, having a banned book, and stifling any and all speech which did not conform to the governments view. People lost their jobs, were blacklisted, many had to flee from the US, lost most of their rights and property. Comedians were jailed for saying things the Catholic Church found offensive, and they censored what went into the newspapers as well. Corporations were doing the same thing, and are still doing it today by funding groups and individuals to go on the internet and put forward their propaganda. So I am not so worried about the few leftists who go off the rails, but I am FAR more worried about corporate and the right wing power since they are a far greater danger. The Citizens United decision of the SCOTUS did a far better job of destroying free speech under the guise of “freedom of speech” than anything I have seen so far.

    1. randyjet – you seem unaware that your government is going to Hollywood and having them run programming that suits their needs. The progressives in Hollywood make it very hard for conservatives to speak out. Facebook and Twitter are suppressing conservative speech and promoting progressive speech. randyjet you are as clueless about what is happening now as you are about history.

  5. The more the Canadian writes, the more clueless regarding the Constitution we see he is. And he writes A LOT w/o saying anything.

  6. Hilde,
    I admire your innocent take that there is such a thing as an American government separate from corporations at this point. So sweet that you think that. There may be a handful of people in Congress who have not been 100% bought off by corporations, and you can find them by tracking their net worth over the course of their tenure. Some, like Mitch McConnell have managed to become millionaires many times over on a senator’s salary. Some, like the arsonist felon Darrell Issa, came in as millionaires and only increased their fortunes. Nancy Pelosi? Same story.

    But the government having its own agenda separate from the corporate industrial war machine? Not on its best day. You always get caught up in these insane conspiracies that make you look like a lunatic, when the biggest conspiracy, the ownership of a perpetual war and money machine is right in front of you.

    Wake up.

    1. Corporations + Government = Fascism. The present United States of America fits the definition of Fascism like a glove. The U.S.A. is a Fascist, of that there is no doubt.

  7. phillyT “There is only corporate media.” You forgot government media but then you seem completely oblivious to it. NDAA??? You’re only half awake. I’m telling you this so you don’t continually come off as a fool.

    ‪European media writing pro-US stories under CIA pressure – German journo‬

  8. Texan; And Ted Cruz isn’t even eligible to run. The sight of him makes my skin crawl. Religious right I am not. Nor atheist, but Spiritual although that’s a pretty loosely defined word. You could say I’m religious but not affiliated with any organized religion. I love the great masters; Jesus, Buddha, Chang Tzu, Lao Tzu, Krishna, Mohammed, Osho, etc. but I think they’re true teachings are so shrouded in bull shite that they wouldn’t recognize them.

  9. Texan Polygynist

    “So if he’s dead, that means the Christian Right is losing leaders. Even if Congress blocks Obama’s vote for a liberal judge that doesn’t jibe with the Religious Right, what makes you so sure that Cruz will become the official President if voters are aware of the Religious Right?”

    Thank you for your detailed response and clarifying Scalia’s position on some points but we must keep our eye on the endgame.

    My focus is on the ‘shenanigans’ (to put it in ridiculously mild terms) of the current ruling class. My attitude would be the same if a conservative i.e. Republican like Dubya was POTUS. If you think the Christian Right is bad, just wait till you see what happens when the next SCOTUS judge is appointed. Hindsight is 20/20 at best but we must try to stop this slippery slide into utter lawlessness and lack of freedom or respect for the individual.

    From your comments it seems obvious you’re against Scalia but what are you for? And if he was murdered does the end justify the means or does the means determine the end? The means determines the end and if the crimes and true intent of the ruling class were known by all there would be a revolution tomorrow morning.

    Did you read the Rappaport article? Have you really studied the ‘climate change’ agenda? U.N. Agenda 21? The TPP,? The Rand report on bringing a military police state to the U.S.? The connection between 60’s radicals including William Ayers and the roll out of everything you see today?

  10. One must ask oneself if it is the freedom of speech that is in question or the perversion of that freedom. When a group comes into a library and regardless of the importance of the message, proceeds to disrupt those in the library with chanting, that is not freedom of speech. That is the perversion of the freedom of speech and nothing less than disturbing the peace. So, now we have the peace being disturbed. What is the greater right or freedom, that of being able to say anything or peace.

    There is a time and a place for everything and the proper time and place for the freedom of speech is when and where it does no harm. In Hyde Park, London, England, there was and still may be a famous ‘Speaker’s Corner’. Anyone can rant and rave, say their mind, and represent religion, political ideals, etc. However, if the result of the exercise of this freedom is a disturbance, the speaker is stopped. During WW2 any one expounding Nazi ideology would have been stopped.

    The greatest freedom we have is protecting by defining our freedoms. It is not enough to say ‘live free or die’. This sort of jingoism is the ultimate mindless cop out. I don’t see many people sacrificing their lives for their ideology, except in Syria and Iraq.

    Any freedom we possess was obtained through the scrutiny of those that came before, whether they be the founding fathers or those that came before. These freedoms came at a cost. They came through revolution and evolution, designed and interpreted for the moment. They are alive and the surest way to lose them is to mindlessly expound them for their own sake. They exist for the people of the moment.

  11. Philly is absolutely correct. The consolidation of media are the real worry.

    But as long as you are going after all those liberal colleges and universities, how about including Wheaton College. The tenured teacher in the hijab is gone.

    Gotta love those conservatives. They’re damn good at turning the world on its head.

  12. We can live free or die. We will all die sometime. But to live a free life before death is supreme. Having a control freak spouse is one example of not being able to speak one’s mind in these United States. I would recommend a life style policy of no marriage. Then there is employment. I recommend self employed business or profession. If you work at some bank or factory start a union to protect your rights. If you have a state rep who will not stand up for civil rights and free speech then vote him or her out. Do not go to a theatre where they yell Fire and you will not have that problem. Do not attend a church, and especially one that calls the meeting a “Mass”. Do not fall for any religion. That includes Scientology. Science and tology do not meet. Get a rifle. Speak your mind, speak your peace, defend your rights to do so.

  13. If we do not vigorously defend our Free Speech, then we will lose it, one of the most basic and fundamental freedoms of mankind. That would be one of the stepping stones towards a dictatorship, and the ultimate fall of the US as we know it. No civilization, not matter how advanced for the times, has ever lasted forever. How long will the “shining city on a hill” last before it is destroyed from within?

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