How long will it take before Americans finally get sick of the constant attacks on our free speech? Not content with the fact that major social media outlets already regulate political conversations, former Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chairwoman Ann Ravel wants the government to get in on the act.
In a recent talk, Ravel stated that the government should control political discourse on the internet. That’s right — she believes that the government should have the power to tell us what we can and cannot say about our political views on our social media accounts.
Ironically enough, she gave her talk on the campus of UC Berkeley, whose students have shown a reckless disdain for the first amendment in recent months. They have engaged in rioting and other violent behaviors to prevent conservatives from speaking on their campus. Heat Street reported:
Speaking at an event called “Future of Democracy,” Ravel argued the proliferation of “fake news” and political advertising on platforms like Facebook influenced elections. She warned that the lack of disclosure by the creators of these campaigns was becoming a huge problem.
“We know that there’s a lot of campaigning that’s moved to the internet, whether it’s through fake news or just outright advertising and there is almost no regulation of this, very little,” she said. “And so that the disclosure that we expect as to who is behind campaigns is not going to exist soon.”
Of course, one only has to look at her record during her time at the FEC to determine which types of political thought she would like to regulate. As chairwoman, she stated that the government should impose regulations on conservative websites such as the Drudge Report. Naturally, when she met with opposition, she chalked it up to misogyny — because we all know that Americans don’t care about free speech, but they DO hate women, right?
Yes, fake news is a problem. A recent BBC News report showed that those who regularly consume and share fake news are more likely to vote. It is imperative that people inform themselves on the issues. However, the solution is not government regulations. The solution is for individuals to exercise their due diligence when they are reading news reports.
The first amendment gives all Americans the right to speak as they see fit; indeed, it was intended to prevent the government from controlling the information people wish to share. When the government can regulate our words or conversations, it can do so in a way that is harmful to the American public. And that is particularly the case if people like Ms. Ravel are the ones imposing the regulations. Let us not be fooled. It is clear that her agenda is not to ensure that Americans receive accurate information. She wishes to silence the voices of those with whom she disagrees.
Many on the left agree with Ms. Ravel’s assertions. During this election, we have seen them go to great lengths to keep conservatives from expressing their political beliefs. The violence at Berkeley and Trump rallies is a prime example of their willingness to use force to discourage opposing opinions. We even see this on college campuses, where they prohibit conservative speakers from sharing their views.
It is not likely that Ms. Ravel will get her way anytime soon, but this does not mean that conservatives should not continue to pay attention to those who share her views. There is a concerted effort on the left to prevent conservatives from expressing their ideas. Rather than encouraging political discourse, they wish to silence any form of dissenting opinions. Attacks on free expression should be alarming to both liberals and conservatives. If the government is allowed to regulate our political discussions, it will be one step closer to granting them the ability to silence the voices they don’t want the public to hear. We cannot afford to let this happen, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we protect our constitutional right to freedom of political expression.