Rep. Castor tells Google to fix ‘free speech’

by Fabius Maximus

Summary: Our government is evolving from a Constitutional Republic into something else as America’s power centers coalesce to take power. See them moving to limit free speech. Will they succeed?

Evolution vs. Revolution.
Photo 86092871 © Michaeljayberlin – Dreamstime.

 

We are taking the next step away from a Republic running under the Constitution to a new oligarchical government. Powerful corporations and the rich (via the special interest groups they fund) make policy. Government agencies and the courts enforce these policies. This new system is being implemented step by step, quietly.

One mechanism used to make new laws: a leftist bureaucrat sends a letter to one or more powerful organizations (business or non-profit) led by fellow Leftists. It makes claims and gives “guidance.” These private sector leaders give maximum credence to this letter, using it as justification for broad actions. Everybody is a hero. Nobody is responsible.

Bureaucrats rule over free speech

The template was the 2011 letter by Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education. Just “guidance” so she successfully ignored the Administrative Procedure Act – no preliminary public comment period, nothing published in the Federal Register. See her 20-page letter and the accompanying “fact sheet.

This was one of the Obama administrations major rips in the Constitution, although not in the same league as implementing a treaty without Senate approval or ordering the execution of citizens without a warrant, trial or verdict (details here). This was an innovation giving bureaucrats a new degree of freedom to make laws. It declares without explanation that the following are now prohibited.

  • “Sexual harassment of students …is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
  • “All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX. “
  • “Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

The letter neither explains how the DoE defines “unwelcome” nor how a person should know that their “advances or requests” are unwelcome in advance. These vague guidelines empowered university mandarines to stage a thousand kangaroo court hearings of men with near-total disregard for any rights or sense of fairness.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education, is attempting to do the right thing. Rather than just issue a counter-letter, she proposed new regulations to “improving schools’ responses to sexual harassment and assault” (see her press release, which has links to the proposals and supporting materials). A year later, the public comment process is concluding. Following the law is slow, but good to see.

The Democrats in the House try to rule

The Democrats control only the House, but they have allies in the Courts, the bureaucracy, and many boardrooms in Corporate America. They are testing to see if that suffices to enact laws beyond anything allowed in the Constitution.

The dramatis persona.

The Service Employees International Union – representing local and state employees, known for its affiliation with the Democratic Party (Wikipedia).

Res Publica – A Soros-funded “community of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance.” No website; details here.

Move On – Leftist activist group.

Avaaz – A global activist group founded by these groups. On 15 January 2020 they published a politically useful report about people using YouTube to broadcast climate heresy. See a summary and the full report.

Kathy Castor (D-FL) – An attorney and chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (created 9 January 2019). She used the Avaaz report as window-dressing to issue demands.

Feel the power!

Twelve days after the Avaaz published their report, Rep. Castor sent a letter to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, demanding that YouTube censor views that she disagrees with. See the press release and the letter. Here are the concluding paragraphs. Very softly threatening.

“I urge you to ensure that YouTube is not incentivizing climate misinformation content on its platform, or effectively giving free advertising to those who seek to protect polluters and their profits at the expense of the American people. Specifically, YouTube can address these issues by taking the following steps.

  • “Stop promoting climate denial and climate disinformation videos by removing them immediately from the platform’s recommendation algorithm;
  • Add ‘climate misinformation’ to the platform’s list of borderline content;
  • Stop monetizing videos that promote harmful misinformation and falsehoods about the causes and effects of the climate crisis;
  • Take steps to correct the record for millions of users who have been exposed to climate misinformation on YouTube.

“Please respond by Friday, February 7, to describe any efforts you plan to take in order to address these important issues.”

This is the exercise of power in our post-Constitutional America. How enthosastically will Google’s executives respond, now that “Congress” has given them an excuse?

What can stop this increasingly bold alliance of Congress, Courts, bureaucrats, and special interest groups? Nothing, so long as America’s citizens sleep on duty.