I have the honor of testifying this afternoon before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The hearing will address calls for public and private regulation of speech, including the recent letter from Democratic members asking why Fox News and other networks should be allowed on cable news. The hearing entitled “Fanning The Flames: Disinformation and Extremism In The Media” will be held at 12:30. My testimony is below.
As will come as no surprise to those familiar with my prior writings, I maintain what was once a mainstream view of free speech. I believe that free speech is the greatest protection against bad speech. That view is admittedly under fire and indeed may be a minority view today, but history has shown that public or private censorship does not produce better speech. It is a self-replicating and self-perpetuating path that only produces more censorship and more controlled speech. Accordingly, I encourage Congress not to proceed down that slippery slope toward censorship.
Roughly 70 years ago, Justice William O. Douglas accepted a prestigious award with a speech entitled “The One Un-American Act,” about the greatest threat to a free nation. He warned that the restriction of free speech “is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” The measures being discussed today have the potential to defeat us all. It is surprisingly easy to convince a free people to give up their freedoms, and exceedingly difficult to regain those freedoms once they are lost.
I will be testifying with three Democratic witnesses: Soledad O’Brien, Anchor, Matter of Fact; Emily Bell, Director, The Tow Center for Digital Media, Columbia University; and Kristin Danielle Urquiza, Co-Founder, Marked by COVID.
Here is my testimony: Turley.Testimony.Disinformation and Extremism.2.24.2021