Bill Maher is no friend of the right but he’s always been a friend of free speech.
On his HBO show “Real Time,” he took the left to task for pushing to ban right-wing nut Alex Jones from social media platforms.
Maher, noting that Jones has “told crazy lies” about him, said on his HBO show Friday that “if you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech.”
“That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means. We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country,” he continued.
“If you care about the real American s**t or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side. I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak,” Maher said.
This is true as far as the government is concerned. The government cannot silence Alex Jones. In fact, Jones has not been silenced. He still has his radio show. He has his website. He can still be heard by millions of people.
What he can’t do is post to Facebook or YouTube. As Charlie Sykes, a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard, points out, both companies are well within their rights to prevent Jones from spreading his nonsense on their platforms:
“If he engages in vile slander and fabrication about children who are murdered at Sandy Hook and he harasses the parents of children who were murdered at Sandy Hook … Facebook, Twitter don’t have an obligation to provide him a platform because they’re private companies,” Sykes said.
But Maher’s challenge to the left is well spoken. Pressure to ban, curtail, or limit free speech in any way — especially by redefining political speech as “hate speech” — violates the spirit of the First Amendment. The left may be able to get away with the practice on campus where their ideology dominates. But the damage done to legitimate debate by their constant caterwauling about “hate speech” is stifling opposing points of view.
It may not be “censorship” in the traditional use of the term. But it is toxic nonetheless. And when social media adopts the left’s standard that some opposition speech is hate speech, they become little more than corporate appendages of the Democratic Party and liberal ideology.