The expanding censorship on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook continue to be a major issue in the United States. However, the same debate is occurring in Europe despite a long erosion of free speech values. In Spain, a far-right politician was locked out by Twitter after saying “a man cannot get pregnant” because they have “no uterus or eggs.” Francisco José Contreras, deputy to Spain’s Vox Party, made the response to an article about a transgender male who the birth of a baby girl. The remark was deemed hate speech by Twitter.
Contreras said in a Facebook post on May 11 that he had received a message from Twitter which informed him that he had violated its policies on “hate speech” and explained “The hateful tweet (which I was forced to delete) was one that said: ′’A man cannot get pregnant. A man has no womb or eggs.’ You can see this is already fascist biology. Next time I’ll try 2 + 2 = 4.”
Personally, I found Contreras’ posting to be nasty, demeaning, and gratuitous. This couple was celebrating the birth of their new child. However, this is an example of how the solution to bad speech is more and better speech — not censorship. There are many who share this view which has deep political, religious, and social foundations. Rather than simply responding to such comments, many want to stop others from speaking or hearing such views.
In response, Contreras’ supporters started #AManCannotBePregnant.
This is not the first run-in for the Vox party. The party’s account was suspended in January for claiming that high crime rates were tied to North African immigrants.
Last year, we discussed how Norway criminalized hate speech toward transgender people in their private homes or private conversations.
For free speech advocates, we need to educate the American public on where this road leads and why we need to stay faithful to our core values. What is at stake is the very right that has long defined us as a nation. Once we cross the Rubicon into speech criminalization and controls, Europe has shown that it is rarely possible to work back to liberties lost. We are moving into potentially the most anti-free speech period of American history — and possibly the most anti-free speech Administration. Many politicians are already arguing for citizens to give up their free speech rights in forums like the Internet. With the media echoing many of these anti-free speech sentiments, it will require a greater effort of those who value the First Amendment and its core place in our constitutional system.