I have the honor to testify this afternoon before the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Trade. The hearing will look at calls for public and private regulation of language, including recent letter from Democratic Members asking why Fox News and other networks should be allowed on cable news. The hearing, entitled “Fanning The Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media”, will take place at 12:30 pm. My testimony is below.
As it will come as no surprise to those familiar with my earlier writings, I hold onto what was once a popular view of freedom of speech. I believe that free speech is the greatest protection against bad speech. While that view is under attack and may indeed be a minority view today, history has shown that public or private censorship does not produce better language. It’s a self-replicating and self-continuing path that only leads to more censorship and more controlled language. Accordingly, I encourage Congress not to head this slippery slope towards censorship.
About 70 years ago, Justice William O. Douglas accepted a prestigious award with a speech entitled “The One Un-American Act” on the Greatest Threat to a Free Nation. He warned that restricting freedom of speech “is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the only un-American act that could most easily defeat us. “The measures discussed today have the potential to defeat us all. It is surprisingly easy to convince a free people to give up their freedoms, and it is extremely difficult to regain those freedoms once they are lost.
I will testify with three Democratic witnesses: Soledad O’Brien, Anchor, Matter of Fact; Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Media, Columbia University; and Kristin Danielle Urquiza, Co-Founder, Tagged by COVID.
Here is my testimonial: Turley.Testimony.Disinformation and Extremism.2021