The First Amendment protects Americans from being punished by the state for the things they say. The “state” part here is key: You are not being censored, for example, if you’re fired from your job as a newspaper columnist because you got caught hanging out with a neo-Nazi biker gang. Quite a lot of people don’t seem to understand the definition of government censorship. One of these people is apparently Sen. Marco Rubio, who last week stated that one of his first priorities in Congress this year is passing a demonstrably anti-free-speech bill. The American Civil Liberties Union this morning condemned the measure because it would “weaken the First Amendment right to boycott.”
For the past few years, Rubio has been leading a bipartisan group of senators that wants the government to crack down on people and companies who boycott Israel and Israeli businesses. This is known as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions — or BDS — movement. It’s a form of political protest against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The movement aims to overturn Palestinians’ highly restricted access to travel, water, health care, civil rights, and labor protections. One BDS target is Caterpillar, which makes bulldozers that have been used to topple Palestinian homes in the West Bank to make way for Israeli settlements. The United Nations says such settlements are illegal.