To the editors of the Natchitoches Times:
After a recent editorial, published in this newspaper, I write to clear up a few points the writer made that may confuse your readers about free speech and social media. Dear Readers, Please understand that the First Amendment prohibits government (e.g., city, state, federal) from infringing on your free speech rights. Social media companies like Twitter or Facebook are not governmental entities. They can censor anyone violating their terms of agreement, the ones agreed to when creating an account. Anyone thrown off these sites must be pretty bad actors, given that social media companies are very greedy and want as many users as possible.
As for government action, Americans have never had unlimited First Amendment protections. The government can and does prohibit speech, especially if it incites violence or insurrection. About censorship, the editorial claimed “the Left” was shutting down conservative voices. While I am not sure who “the Left” is, I do know that censorship claims no political affiliation. For most of the First Amendment’s history, censors mostly came from “the Right” or conservatives. (Getting caught distributing abolitionist literature in 1850 Louisiana, for example, could get a person run out of town or likely worse.)
I agree with the writer on one thing: the best way to counter bad speech is with more good speech. But countering bad speech with more bad speech is just bad. (I hope the writer does not equate intelligent and honest conservative speech, which is not silenced, with lying or advocating violence?) Perhaps, we might agree, too, that extremism on either end of the political spectrum is evil and bad for this country. Stalin and Hitler, for example, were the respective poster children of far left and far right and were equally and monstrously evil. Finally, while not a social media company, this newspaper is privately owned and can refuse to publish my letter. I may not like it, but the newspaper has not violated my First Amendment rights. I suppose I could start my own newspaper.
I guess last week’s editorial writer can start his own Twitter or Facebook.
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors in Letters to the Editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Natchitoches Times. The author of each letter published owns his or her own words, completely unedited.