Rep. Matt Gaetz got roaring approval at an America First rally in Georgia on Thursday when he excoriated Big Tech and suggested that it may be time for citizens to “use” the Second Amendment.
“The internet’s hall monitors out in Silicon Valley, they think they can suppress us, discourage us. Maybe if you’re just a little less patriotic,” said Gaetz. “Maybe if you just conform to their way of thinking a little more, then you’ll be allowed to participate in the digital world.”
“Well, you know what? Silicon Valley can’t cancel this movement, or this rally, or this congressman. We have a Second Amendment in this country, and I think we have an obligation to use it.”
But what does Gaetz mean by “using” the Second Amendment?
“The Second Amendment – this is a little history lesson for all the fake news media. The Second Amendment is not about, it’s not about hunting, it’s not about recreation, it’s not about sports,” the congressman explained. “The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary. I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation, and to make sure that they are fully understood.”
This is beyond exaggeration, beyond hyperbole, beyond reason. If it doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your head stand up, then you’ve become inured to this sort of bombastic, threatening rhetoric.
We don’t need an armed rebellion against Big Tech. Check out what Governor Ron DeSantis just did in Florida. Isn’t that a better way to handle Big Tech censorship than shooting up Silicon Valley?
There was immediate criticism from right and left.
This is not speech protected by the first amendment. This is beyond yelling fire in a theater. https://t.co/FyIcIqqsIl
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) May 28, 2021
Kinzinger was hardly alone in asserting that Gaetz’s horrendous remarks aren’t protected by the First Amendment, though they almost certainly are. The Supreme Court has ruled that advocating violence is constitutionally protected speech, unless said speech is likely to cause “imminent lawless action.” That would be a very difficult standard to meet in this case.
Gaetz may have been trolling the left and media — something he and Trump take great glee in doing. After his Second Amendment remarks, Gaetz joked, “That’ll be the part that gets me kicked off YouTube, talking about our rights and our freedoms.”
No, you were talking about taking up arms against Silicon Valley. And being on YouTube is not a “right.” Social media is run by private companies that can make their own rules. From a supposedly free-market conservative, it’s strange that he’s ignorant of how the free market works.
Gaetz may run for president in 2024 if Trump doesn’t run. But he’s really just a stalking horse for fellow Floridian Ron DeSantis. He didn’t help his cause by urging people to “use” the Second Amendment.