Let’s hear it for satire: An important amicus brief has been filed on behalf of funny fake-news outlet the Babylon Bee in a crucial First Amendment case working its way through New York’s courts, with free-speech legend and UCLA prof Eugene Volokh, social video platform Rumble and creators app Locals among those filing briefs in support.
To recap: Last year, New York state passed a nakedly unconstitutional law aimed at restricting certain kinds of online speech.
Namely, that which tries to “vilify, humiliate, or incite violence against a group” over “race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”
All of which is (with narrow exceptions for incitement) 100% protected constitutionally.
For sites that allow comments, the law threatens crushing fines that accrue by the day if they fail to post a public plan for a response if someone does a speech no-no.
The statute also demands site owners create some kind of snitch hotline for outraged readers.
It’s a clear threat to site owners: Keep ugly speech off your platform, or the hammer comes down.
Worse still, this law was passed in response to the Buffalo supermarket massacre.
Albany progs are using that unthinkable horror — which was not caused by speech, but by the demented evil of its perpetrator — as a lever to achieve their long-held goal of undermining First Amendment rights.
The ways such a law can be abused are literally endless.
Especially in a state where public employees, like ex-CUNY professor Shellyne Rodriguez, go on violent rampages against opinions they don’t like and literally threaten journalists with death.
And that goes double since state Attorney General Tish James had made it abundantly clear she backs the censors.
The left, in New York and elsewhere, has been on an anti-speech crusade for years, one supercharged by Trump-mania.
It’s no longer a fringe position: A recent survey showed that almost half of Democrats now support legal restrictions on speech; 75% think the state should cut down on hateful social media posts.
Another poll showed more than half of college students think schools should use speech codes to clamp down on unfavored ideas.
This means a victory over the law is not only crucial now; it will be ever more important in the future as this new, censorious generation gets older.
So all good luck to the Bee, Volokh, and their fellow freedom fighters.
It’s clear they’re going to need it.