From Josh Hawley to Kamala Harris, online free speech is under attack.
At the end of the day, a diverse array of values and causes has space to coexist, and no faction gets to dictate the terms by which the entire internet has to play. It isn't always perfectly comfortable, but online, there is room for everyone.
In the digital realm, that freedom is only possible because of a decades-old provision of the Communications Decency Act, known as Section 230. Signed into law by President Bill Clinton, when both Democrats and Republicans were mostly worried about online indecency, it has enabled the internet to flourish as a cultural and economic force.
Widely misunderstood and widely misinterpreted, often by those with political ambitions and agendas, Section 230 is, at its core, about making the internet safe for both innovation and individual free speech. It is the internet's First Amendment—possibly better. And it is increasingly threatened by the illiberal right and the regressive left, both of which are now arguing that Section 230 gives tech industry giants unfair legal protection while enabling political bias and offensive speech.
Why all Americans should be thankful for the First Amendment
Prosecutors in Liverpool decided they were unable to charge anybody in the death of Frankie Murphy when the 13-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike back in 2016.
But prosecutors did charge and convict a young woman who posted rap lyrics on Instagram in Murphy's memory, because they included the n-word.
Chelsea Russell, 19, posted lyrics to a song by the Detroit rapper Snap Dogg (no, not Snoop Dogg) on the bio of her Instagram account to pay tribute to Murphy. The song, "I'm Trippin'," released in 2016, is heavy on killing snitches and waving guns around and it has lots of use of the n-word. It's the type of song that people point to when they say they don't like rap music because it's too violent.
(...) The phrasing is quite Orwellian: "All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and Anthem." This language belies what Goodell declared in a statement announcing the new rules: "It is unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case." That perception was not a result of the protests; the president and others who deliberately sought to mask authoritarianism with empty performances of allegiance created it. In a Fox News interview on Thursday morning, Trump said, "I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it's good. You have to stand – proudly – for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there, maybe you shouldn't be in the country."
And why does the league fall for this? One main concern appears to be the maintenance of the military marketing that has become endemic to every American sporting event. The defense of the pregame (and at times, in-game) pageantry is most understandable within the context of the seemingly irreversible change the country has undergone in the last several years. The Stars and Stripes, already lending its colors to three major-league insignias, has itself become a sports logo for a good reason. Patriotism, or what we too often mistake for it, is now a marketable commodity for teams and leagues. To understand what is happening in the NFL right now, you have to go back to the fear mongering that emerged after September 11th, 2001.
As ESPN journalist and author Howard Bryant notes in his forthcoming book The Heritage, the nexus of the military and law enforcement "has rarely been framed as a political response to perhaps the worst day in modern American history" – yet it is unavoidably political. The sports world, he writes, "embraced jingoism in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks but was unequipped to deal with complexity at home. It was easy to throw the word patriotism around but not quite so easy to tell just who the heroes really were." To boot, there were and still are social penalties assessed for not adhering to the new script. Heaven forbid a fan tries to kneel as a flag is unfurled over the length of a football field, or questions why the anthem is being played before a sporting event at all. (...)
I find that hard to believe, since any brand is sensitive to negative publicity. And nobody has produced quite the negativity (while cloaking themselves in 'patriotism') as Trump and Pence have (they do have somewhat high profiles and a media that reports every single word they say):
Trump turned the debate into a campaign issue , saying the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner." The NFL hasn't gone that far, but Kaepernick and Reid believe they are being singled out as leaders in the movement.
Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL .
There was no immediate comment from Trump on the new policy, but Vice President Mike Pence called it "a win for the fans, a win for (Trump), and a win for America." Last season, Pence walked out of game at Indianapolis after some players kneeled during the anthem.
"Americans can once again come together around what unites us — our flag, our military, and our National Anthem. Thank you NFL," Pence tweeted, adding the hashtag "ProudToStand."
Again, if it wasn't costing them money. They really don't care.
Ultimately the bottom line is always money. But many things can affect it.