The political effort to limit free speech attacks our own values

Members of Congress are now pushing for public and private censorship on the internet and in other forums. They are being joined by an unprecedented alliance of academics, writers and activists calling for everything from censorship to incarceration to blacklists. For example, an article published in The Atlantic by Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith and University of Arizona law professor Andrew Keane Woods called for Chinese-style censorship of the internet, stating that “in the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong.”

Much of the effort by politicians and activists has been directed at using Big Tech to censor or bar opposing viewpoints, seeking to achieve indirectly what cannot be achieved directly in curtailing free speech. Congress could never engage in this type of raw content discrimination between news organizations under the First Amendment.

However, it can use its influence on private companies to limit free speech. The move makes obvious sense if the desire is to shape and control opinion — the essence of state-controlled media. Controlling speech on certain platforms is meaningless if citizens can still hear opposing views from other sources. You must not only control the narrative but also eliminate alternatives to it.