Who elected Twitter and Facebook to censor speech?

By Edward Achorn

I have spent my professional life defending the First Amendment and the free-speech rights it enshrines. It is the bulwark of all our freedoms.

The attacks on it are proliferating alarmingly. Now, the most powerful social media platforms — which function as today’s public square — are arrogantly silencing a U.S. president.

If a president’s right to be heard in the public square may be freely assaulted, who is safe? This is extremely dangerous to self-government and the perpetuation of our civil rights.

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Americans are walking on eggshells

By Edward Achorn

Freedom of speech is the bulwark of all our liberties. Take it away — no freedom.

It is being taken away.

Strategies developed at universities to silence dissent and drive out those who support freedom have infiltrated our culture. People are being fired, doxxed, threatened, punched, smeared, and otherwise bullied for expressing views that were once at the heart of America.

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A lament for journalism

By Edward Achorn

As a newspaperman for 41 years, I have watched with great sadness as many newspapers lost subscribers and advertisers. That decimated their ability to provide news and opinion.

Even sadder, though, was seeing newspapers abandon their core mission of holding the powerful accountable and defending America’s freedoms, especially the First Amendment.

When I started in the business in 1979, that mission served Democrats and Republicans alike.

As the years went by, people employed in the news media increasingly dropped the cloak of objectivity. They became advocates for progressive ideology. Journalists came to regard fairness and, in some cases, accuracy as impediments to their advocacy, which they believed served the public better than old-fashioned attempts at objectivity.

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China, censorship and Twitter

By Edward Achorn

There are good reasons for Americans to be concerned about the increasing efforts of social media giants to censor or curate political speech.

Along with the First Amendment implications, there is this big concern: These global companies, quite naturally, have financial interests. Those interests do not necessarily coincide with the safety and security of America and its people.

Notably, these corporations have a stake in the massive, expanding market of China. They could conceivably have powerful financial motivations to please that regime.

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Trump, tweets and the truth

By Edward Achorn

President Trump is crude and obnoxious, especially on the Twitter platform. Like many politicians, he says many things that are patently untrue. His propensity for bullying and insulting others disgusts many decent Americans.

But his enemies have turned off people, too.

Their actions have caused Mr. Trump’s base to rally around him, arguably strengthening him politically rather than weakening him. I have often thought Democrats would have been much better off just letting him hang himself.

Now these adversaries are seeking to blunt one of his political weapons, his Twitter account, which has 80.4 million followers.

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The courts, the Constitution and the coronavirus

By Edward Achorn

Another judge has ruled that Americans live in a constitutional republic — virus or no virus.

The Associated Press reported: “A judge in rural Oregon on Monday tossed out statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, saying she didn’t seek the Legislature’s approval to extend the stay-at-home orders beyond a 28-day limit.

“Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff issued his opinion in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by 10 churches around Oregon that argued the state’s social-distancing directives were unconstitutional.”

Governors may use emergency powers to issue edicts — specifically to protect the public — but in most cases only for a limited time. That is because, in America, power is supposed to reside in the people.

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Abraham Lincoln and the power of opinion

By Edward Achorn

If we hope to retain a representative democracy — always a difficult task — we will have to protect expressions of opinion and analysis, including unpopular ideas.

The heart of America remains the First Amendment — our right to question a powerful government without being punished or suppressed by that government.

Certainly, Abraham Lincoln understood the importance of public opinion in a free nation.

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