Photo Credit: Mark Mauno (CC-By-2.0)
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During an interview with CNN, Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) said that he would “love to regulate the content of speech.” However, he conceded that the First Amendment prevents him from doing it.

Lieu spoke with CNN’s Brianna Keilar after the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. She mentioned how Lieu addressed Republican concerns, “You took the opportunity to push back on Republican claims of bias in Google searches. In the middle of the hearing, you googled Republican Steve Scalise and you googled after that Republican Steve King to show that there were favorable stories including from conservative outlets about Scalise, negative coverage of King, and you made the point, essentially, that wasn’t because of a Google algorithm it’s because of what these members do and say.”

“I will say it was clever and caught some attention, but I wonder if you and other Democrats have missed opportunities to use your time and press Google CEO at a time when these large tech companies are struggling to manage content, perpetuating conspiracy theories, they are so vulnerable to outside interference isn’t that a focus that could have been a missed opportunity?” she asked.

“It’s a very good point you make. I would love if I could have more than five minutes to question witnesses. Unfortunately, I don’t get that opportunity,” Lieu responded. “However, I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech. The First Amendment prevents me from doing so, and that’s simply a function of the First Amendment, but I think over the long run, it’s better the government does not regulate the content of speech.”

Watch:

At the very least he recognizes the First Amendment prohibits him from doing that. I find it ironic that while they dismissed Republican concerns, they bring up the very thing Republicans are concerned about.

Who decides what speech is ok and which speech is not? With a few exceptions, the First Amendment protects it all. 

I don’t want regulation from the right, and I don’t want regulation from the left. I want companies like Google to recognize that they have a responsibility, as a platform, to err on the side of freedom.

I want Congress to stay out of it.

For now, Congressman Lieu believes the First Amendment does not allow him to do that, but as we’ve seen the Democratic Party become more and more illiberal and radicalized who is to say he won’t change his mind as his base changes its mind.

Polling shows greater support for tech companies to restrict certain kids of speech. Pew found in 2015 that 40 percent of Millennials supported the restriction of speech deemed “offensive” to minorities. “Offensive” can be pretty subjective. Almost one-half of Millennials agreed in a University of Chicago study that colleges should limit free speech “in extreme cases.”

Who defines what is extreme? In the case of UC Berkley that would pretty much be any conservative that comes to speak on campus.

The fact Lieu, as a member of Congress, would like to regulate speech, but just “thinks” it would be bad to regulate it in the long-term does not inspire confidence.

Photo Credit: Mark Mauno (CC-By-2.0)

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