Freedom of speech and expression were under a full scale assault at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing, but Rep. Tom McClintock (R-California) came prepared with a powerful speech.
At the April 9 hearing on “Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism,” freedom of speech was mostly ignored. With Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) at the helm, a vast majority of Democrat speakers, and a panel of witnesses obsessed with identity politics, this debate centered on Democratic preoccupation with racism.
Rep. McClintock took a brave stand for free speech. “Free societies don't punish words and thoughts. They punish deeds” he said. He also made a dire warning of the “very slippery slope between banning ‘hate speech’ and banning speech we just hate."
“Both sides are losing perspective of why we have the first amendment,” he observed. “Its because the freedom to speak your mind is an absolutely essential to a free society.” He then cited part of Thomas Jefferson’s statement where Jefferson proclaimed “we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
McClintock went on to to defend offensive, even hateful speech, which put him at odds with many of the other speakers present. “Speech can be ugly, disgusting, hateful, prejudiced, and alarming, but it can never be ‘dangerous’ to a free society as long as men and women of good will have the freedom of speech to dispute it, challenge it, and reject it.” He firmly asserted that “Suppressing speech, even the most hate-filled speech doesn't diminish its influence, it strengthens it.”
He summarized the debate around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, stating that if social companies wish to keep their immunity from legal liability on their platforms, they need to allow freedom of speech.
He asked the representatives, “You can't be a neutral platform and at the same time exercising editorial control over content. Which are you? Are you a neutral forum or are you a editorial publication responsible for your content?”
Representatives of both tech companies present asserted at least with words that they strive to balance free speech and diversity of opinion with safety and enforced community guidelines.