Trump's Warped Definition of Free Speech - 2020-05-29
Palin's remarks were widely ridiculed at the time. The First Amendment, commentators on the right and the left pointed out, protects the freedom of speech, not the freedom from criticism. You have the right to speak, and others have the right to praise, mock, or ignore you as they see fit.
As absurd as it may sound, Palin's bizarre interpretation of the First Amendment has now been adopted by the president of the United States. On Tuesday, the social-media company Twitter added a label to one of the president's tweets, which falsely declared that mail-in ballots would be "substantially fraudulent," urging users to "get the facts about mail-in voting." Twitter did not ban Trump from the platform, or censor his tweet, although it would have been fully within its rights to do so, and in accordance with its own terms of service. It merely appended additional context showing that the president's claim was false.
In retaliation, Trump signed an executive order yesterday afternoon directing the federal government to "reconsider the scope" of Section 230, a provision of federal law that shields companies from liability for content posted by their users. The First Amendment was explicitly written to protect the right of citizens to express opposition to their leaders; it says that Congress "shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." But to the president, criticism of his falsehoods is a violation of his free-speech rights. This position reverses the purpose of the First Amendment, turning an individual right of freedom of expression into the right of the state to silence its critics.