The First Amendment principles that apply to prior restraints are straightforward. While any effort to censor by punishing a speaker after the fact is likely to violate the First Amendment, preventing the speech ahead of time is even more likely to violate the Constitution, even where the anticipated speech is profoundly offensive and hateful. Central to the ACLU’s mission is the understanding that if the government can prevent lawful speech because it is offensive and hateful, then it can prevent any speech that it dislikes. In other words, the power to censor Nazis includes the power to censor protesters of all stripes and to prevent the press from publishing embarrassing facts and criticism that government officials label as “fake news.” Ironically, Skokie’s efforts to enjoin the Nazi demonstration replicated the efforts of Southern segregationist communities to enjoin civil rights marches led by Martin Luther King during the 1960s.
Alegislative counsel member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned Friday that the suspension of President Donald Trump‘s social media accounts wielded “unchecked power,” by Twitter and Facebook.
Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU said in a statement that the decision to suspend Trump from social media could set a precedent for big tech companies to silence less privileged voices.
On Friday, Strangio’s very un-ACLU-like views of free speech were on full display. On Friday morning, Abigail Shrier — author of a new book exploring the rapid, massive increase in teenage girls self-identifying as trans boys and undergoing permanent gender reassignment therapies and surgeries in their teens — published an article in Quillette describing the extraordinary efforts by major corporations and various activists to prevent her book from being purchased:
The efforts to block my reporting have been legion, starting with staff threats at a publishing house, which quickly reversed its original intention to publish my book. Once I obtained a stalwart publisher, Regnery, Amazon refused to allow that company’s sales team to sponsor ads on its site. (Amazon allows sponsored ads for books that uncritically celebrate medical transition for teenagers)….
Because the book tackles an interesting phenomenon, a number of established journalists wanted to review it….[T]he issue has created surprising bedfellows. Religious conservatives are concerned about the trend—but so are lesbians, who look upon the shocking numbers of teen girls transitioning with abject alarm. Many suspect that all this transitioning of girls is effectively euthanizing a generation of young lesbians….In any case, every major newspaper and legacy magazine summarily turned interested journalists down.
The recent protest by Spotify employees over Joe Rogan’s podcast was triggered in large part by his decision to invite Shrier onto his program. Many liberal employees inside the streaming service demanded this episode be removed. “Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in [Rogan’s] conversations,” was one of the questions posed to Spotify’s CEO at a tense staff-wide meeting, along with a demand to know why that program had not been deleted from the platform.