We discussed how reporters, editors, commentators, and scholars have embraced the growing demands for censorship and language control, including President-elect Joe Biden and key advisors. This includes scholars who reject the concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Now the Dean of Columbia Journalism and New York writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment freedom of expression was “armed” to protect disinformation. Correctly. A dean and writer of journalism explains that the problem is that freedom of speech itself allows for too much freedom on the internet and other forums.
Coll’s comments came during a discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked by Kasie Hunt about the need for Big Tech to censor language. Instead of defending people’s right to express themselves freely, Coll touted companies like Facebook as “motivated, like all companies, to make money” even though they “act like a public space”. He lamented the failure to regulate free speech more comprehensively and showed little concern or merit for arguments from free speech advocates. As Harvard scholars recently declared “China was right” about censorship, Coll only assumed that it goes without saying that too much free speech is a bad thing and that these companies need to protect people from harmful or wrong ideas.
“And yes, Facebook has moved a bit. You had better choices in 2020 than 2016. You’ve learned to slow things down here and there, you know, but you can’t get away from the fact that your mission is to connect everyone in the world. That motivates Mark Zuckerberg and it’s his passion and he firmly believes in free speech. “
What drives you most crazy is that Coll called for less freedom on behalf of journalists:
“Those of us in journalism have to come to terms with the fact that freedom of speech, a principle we hold sacred, goes against the principle of journalism and what we do about it. As reporters, we are marching into this war with our facts nobly shouldered as if they are winning the day, and what we see is because of the extent of this alternate reality that you were talking about, our facts, our principles, our scientific Method – that is not enough. So what do we do? “
That used to be a simple question. What you do is allow free speech to combat bad language. They support the right of citizens and journalists to publish without censorship. What you are doing is embracing freedom of expression while increasing the need to use that freedom to counter disinformation. Instead, Coll joins the forces trying to silence or restrict the language of others. You are not promoting freedom of speech by asking for its restriction. For free speech advocates, it is as compelling as saying that we must “save” villages by destroying them in Vietnam. Worse, he does it in the name of “good journalism”.