Free expression is so central to liberty that its restriction by private megapolies is intolerable.
Whether or not Donald Trump wins his suit against the big tech firms that censor him, he is right in principle. No matter the difficulties, paradoxes, and technicalities, these companies’ assaults on free expression have to be stopped by law.
These outfits are not local cake makers who mustn’t be forced to celebrate what they find unholy. They are multi-national outfits with the wealth and power of sovereign states. When Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube act in concert to deny access to the President of the United States, or when a functioning monopoly like Amazon pulls a book for political reasons—as it did with When Harry Became Sally, Ryan T. Anderson’s thoughtful look at transgenderism—they are making it next to impossible for certain ideas and opinions to be widely expressed and known. That is a danger to our right to free speech.
And that right has to be protected by the government because it is given to us by God.
This is not, in other words, a First Amendment issue. The First Amendment protects our free speech from the government. But the government is still responsible for protecting those rights from other threats as well. It says so in the Declaration of Independence.
It was Abraham Lincoln who most fully understood and expressed the fact that, while our Constitution is the law of the land, the “sacred principles” in the Declaration of Independence—“that immortal emblem of Humanity”—give the Constitution its philosophy and its purpose. Governments, the Declaration proclaims, “are instituted among men” to secure the rights endowed in mankind by their Creator.
If this is so, then whether the threat to our God-given rights comes from private entities or from government itself, government is responsible for making those rights secure from that threat.