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Thoughts on Events the Week of May 25

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 2, 2020

Freedom of Speech: I’m pretty much an absolutist when it comes to all the First Amendment rights. But as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, the right of free speech is not absolute. One of the limits, in my view, should have to do with facts, not opinions. Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed wisely that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

It was a colossal blunder for Congress to exempt social media from responsibility or liability for what they allow to be posted on their websites. It allows people (and bots) to post lies willy nilly all over the place with no accountability for their dissemination. That’s not right on its face.

Twitter made some limp wristed attempts to address this issue this week, by adding oblique disclaiming comments on a couple of President Trump’s tweets, but the refutations were week and open to misinterpretation. They should be stronger and clearer and relentless.

For example, when Trump posts a flat out lie, Twitter’s comment should be “This tweet is factually incorrect.” If after this comment, Trump continues to post the same statement, then the next comment should be, “Since the writer keeps posting a statement that has been debunked, we assume he knows it is factually incorrect, but is posting it anyway, so you should infer that he knows he is lying now, and not just mistaken.”

Social media will resist this much policing for a number of reasons, one of which is that once they have posted that second comment, it begs the question why they are letting a flat out lie remain on their site anymore at all. They would have to remove it. This is Okay with me. Trump says enough stupid stuff as opinions to scuttle him anyway.

Oh, and another thing. Nothing should be permitted to be posted by a bot. Bots are not humans. Surely, we have the technology to block them.

Morning Joe: As an prime example of how bad things have gotten on social media, President Trump via tweet accused Joe Scarborough, a talk show host on MSNBC,  of killing one of his interns many years ago when Scarborough was a Congressperson, though the coroner ruled the intern’s death an accident and Scarborough wasn’t even in the same state when she died.

These tweets not only should not have been allowed on social media sites for a New York minute, they should be actionable.

Worst state: Try as I might to achieve diversity, it is difficult to give the cup to any state but Kansas these days. On the plus side for the Sunflower State, Mike Pompeo will not be running for Senate this term; he let the deadline to file pass. Presumably, Pompeo prefers being Secretary of State, and may have his eyes on the big prize down the road. He is a nakedly ambitious man. However, I am pretty certain Pompeo’s political career will end the day Trump leaves office, if not before.

On the minus side, Pompeo’s passing on the Senate race opens the door for Kris Kobach, a Kansan who is a Pompeo wannabe only without the brains. Kobach hates immigrants, Muslims, blacks. He hates everybody but pasty old white guys, and just the fact that he is on the primary ballot wins Kansas the cup again this week.

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