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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

‘Anti-American’: Trump Order Regulating Social Media Companies, Possibly Favoring Conservatives, Blasted by Experts

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“The mother of all bad ideas”

The Trump administration is drafting an executive order that would regulate the largest social media platforms and “Big Tech” companies in the country, from Google to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest. President Trump’s goal apparently is to make these critical platforms extra-friendly to conservatives, who falsely have been claiming there’s an anti-conservative bias in the way Silicon Valley operates in the public realm.

While multiple reports say the executive order is not finalized, TechCrunch and CNN on Friday report the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would be charged with regulating Big Tech and social media platforms. The FCC is headed by a Trump loyalist who opposes net neutrality,

The executive order, currently titled “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,” is a direct response to both right wing activists’ false claims of censorship and left-wing bias among social media platform operators, and an invitation-only White House meeting last month, labeled a “social media summit” that included mostly just “right wing extremists.”

On Friday, CNN reported the draft Trump executive order “could lead to a significant reinterpretation of a law that, its authors have insisted, was meant to give tech companies broad freedom to handle content as they see fit.”

It would “significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.”

It also “would reflect a significant escalation by President Trump in his frequent attacks against social media companies over an alleged but unproven systemic bias against conservatives by technology platforms.”

Justice staff writer Melissa Gira Grant at The New Republic tweeted, “if this reporting is accurate, Trump has decided to chip away at Section 230 by executive order.”

The Legal Director for Public Knowledge, a D.C.-based nonprofit that says it “promotes freedom of expression, an open internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works,” offered this push-back:

NYC-based nonprofit PEN America, which works “to protect free expression,” including press freedom and safety, blasted the proposed order, calling it “an anti-American edict that would empower FCC & FTC to be viewpoint-based arbiters of online speech.”

“Thankfully, 1st Amendment forbids that,” the group adds. “It’s regrettable that this Administration doesn’t seem to know that.”

The Editor-in-Chief of the tech site Lifewire calls it “The mother of all bad ideas.”

 

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

‘We Don’t Promote That Here’: Kentucky School Administrators Force Students to Remove LGBTQ-Pride Tee Shirts

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Student Says Principal Outed Several LGBTQ Students to Their Parents

Administrators at a Kentucky high school reportedly forced several students to remove LGBTQ-affirming tee shirts,. The students say they were told “we don’t promote that here,” referring to being LGBTQ, and that the shirts were a “disruption.”

Administrators at Martin County High School reportedly claimed the tee shirts violate the school’s dress code, which says: “Clothing must be appropriate for school and must not interfere with the educational process.”

The tee shirts said “Queen Queer” and “Lady Lesbian,” according to Yahoo News.

The school administrators might have violated the students’ free speech, based on other similar cases (below).

The students are accusing the administration of refusing to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), suggesting that words like “lesbian” or “queer” when used in a positive manner are “disruptive” and could put students in danger, and saying that school is not a place they can or should be open about who they are – while allowing students to flaunt their support of the Confederate flag or President Trump.

“The administrators stated to us that [students] were forced to change because [administrators] were ‘worried for the dangers of the students, and did not want to hear of any students coming back saying they were being bullied,” one of the students told Yahoo News. They added that the administrators said “That school was not a place for children to express their sexual orientation.”

Rather than working to protect free speech – an important lesson for all school students – the LGBTQ students were discriminated against, victimized, and might have had their civil rights violated by the school administrators.

“It was basically just [the principal] saying that we don’t need to advertise our orientations on a big billboard because that puts a target on us for bullying,” one of the students, Jessica, added. “She also said we didn’t need a [Gay-Straight Alliance because we already know who our friends are that support us.”

“We want the administration to really treat others equally because we want the ability to express our identities just like the students who wear Trump apparel, religious apparel or the Confederate flag. I know we are in a rural, Christian-Republican community, but we want tolerance. Our shirts aren’t hurting anyone. It’s unfair that because the staff have certain beliefs, they treat students differently and scare them into not speaking out,” Jessica also said. “We just want justice.”

Yahoo News adds that “Jessica even alleged that the principal outed some LGBTQ students to their parents when calling to warn about a possible walkout which never took place.”

The school appears to be ripe for an intervention from civil rights groups.

In 2016 The ACLU sued a Tennessee school district that had banned a student from wearing a tee shirt that said: “Some People Are Gay, Get Over It.” The ACLU won.

In a detailed look at pro-LGBTQ tees cases, including the 2016 Tennessee case, the Southern Poverty Law Center adds: “First and most importantly, a school cannot manufacture its own ‘disruption’ by overreacting to speech.”

The SPLC also offers more examples, including this one:

“In 2008, a Florida judge struck down a Pensacola-area school’s ban on logos including rainbows, pink triangles and the words ‘gay pride’ or ‘GP,’ which students began wearing in defense of a classmate bullied for being a lesbian.”

Here’s a video report from about the Martin County school administrators decision to ban the speech of several LGBTQ students, from WYMT:

 

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

Viral Video Shows Pickup Truck Ramming Crowd Protesting ICE – They Say a Guard Was Driving, Cops Did Nothing

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Protestors Were Also Pepper Sprayed

A video that has gone viral on social media shows a group of protestors sitting peacefully across a road in front of Rhode Island’s Wyatt Detention Facility Wednesday night, chanting for the release of about 120 immigrants. A black pickup truck approaches, honks, briefly stops, then runs into the crowd. Children and one person in a wheelchair were part of the protest, organizers say.

“It was terrifying because we didn’t know what exactly his intention was,” said Amy Anthony, a spokesperson for Never Again Action told The Washington Post. “It certainly appeared he was trying to hit us.”

Several protestors were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. None of the injuries were severe.

“The driver, protesters say, was a correctional officer employed by the privately run facility who was wearing a badge and a uniform — an assertion backed up by video of the incident,” The Washington Post reports.

Local police did not arrest the driver, and in fact took no action at all, according to Anthony.

The driver was allowed to walk into the prison, while prison guards were allowed to pepper spray the protestors.

“If this is the way this correctional officer is behaving in public when people are recording, it’s not hard to imagine the behavior is much worse behind the walls in the facility where no one can see what is happening,” Anthony noted.

The Wyatt Detention Facility is a publicly-owned but privately-run prison facility that contracts with various government agencies, including ICE, to detain prisoners.

It is unclear if private prison guards have the legal right to pepper spray protestors exercising their First Amendment rights.

On its website Never Again Action says it is “a mass mobilization of Jews who are organizing to shut down ICE.”

They also say, “We’ve been taught the signs by our ancestors. As our government runs concentration camps, and rounds up and cages our neighbors, we are called to speak out: #NeverAgainIsNow.”

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

President Preps Order Forcing Social Media Sites to Give Conservatives Special Rights as Trump Sons Attack Twitter

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One Trump Son Starts Following Alt-Right Social Media Site Popular With Extremists

Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are attacking the social media site their father says helped put him in the White House, as President Donald Trump appears to be following through on a promise to go after social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. That promise is based on false and debunked claims that “Big Tech,” from Google to social media sites, are biased against conservatives.

Politico reports the Trump White House is circulating several different drafts of what would become an executive order that would somehow regulate free speech on social media platforms, which are publicly-traded private companies. Trump last month promised conservatives he would explore “all regulatory and legislative solutions” to try to control social media companies and other Silicon Valley “Big Tech” corporations, like Google.

“If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system,” a White House official told Politico.

What the White House and President Donald Trump are ignoring is conservative extremists are the ones more often engaging in politically motivated and white supremacist domestic terror attacks, like the one in El Paso this weekend that left 22 people dead. Just recently FBI Director Christopher Wray told a U.S. Senate committee that the “majority of the domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”

Any claims of anti-conservative bias also are not taking into account the offensive behavior by some conservatives, including violating the social media platforms’ terms of service, which apparently lead to them being suspended or removed from those sites.

As for Twitter being a “liberal cesspool,” as the White House called it, the fact is the President has an extremely low approval rating.

Meanwhile, both Trump sons in what appears to be thinly-veiled support for their father’s impending executive order, blasted Twitter this week, while Eric Trump started following the alt-right and far right social media platform Gab. Gab is known to be more friendly to extremists, the alt-right, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and white supremacists, as NBC News’ Ben Collins noted Thursday morning:

Eric Trump does not appear to have joined Gab, at least not under his name, although there are several parody accounts that appear when searching the site. He did, however take to Twitter to call the popular social media site “an absolute mess.”

Days earlier Eric shared an article from Breitbart, which is known as a home to the alt-right, titled “Former Google Engineer: Google Will Try to Prevent Trump from Being Re-elected.”

This is just one of several tweets Donald Trump Jr. has posted or retweeted in recent days:

Image: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

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