Apparently someone in the Democratic Party forgot to take Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) aside and remind him that there are some things the left is only supposed to hint about – not say outright. But apparently Lieu got so flustered by the Google hearings on Wednesday that he forgot to present a friendly, Constitution-loving face to the country. That would explain why, when asked by CNN’s Brianna Keilar if Democrats should have pushed harder on the conspiracy theories circling on the internet, Lieu admitted that there was nothing he would love more than to get in there and start clamping down on free speech.
“It’s a very good point you make. I would love if I could have more than five minutes to question witnesses. Unfortunately, I don’t get that opportunity,” Lieu said. “However, I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech. The First Amendment prevents me from doing so, and that’s simply a function of the First Amendment, but I think over the long run, it’s better the government does not regulate the content of speech.”
You can see that he sort of catches himself there at the end and remembers: Oh wait, I’m supposed to be in favor of the First Amendment, not just act like I’m a prisoner of it.
It wasn’t enough to stem the flurry of criticism that came at him on social media, and it wasn’t long before Lieu took to Twitter to defend himself. In the process, he arguably made things worse.
“My whole point is that government officials always want to regulate speech, see e.g. the Republican Judiciary hearing alleging Google is biased against Republicans,” he wrote. “But thank goodness the First Amendment prevents me, @POTUS and Republicans from doing so.
“I agree there are serious issues, but the speech issues are protected by the First Amendment,” he continued. “Would I like to regulate Fox News? Yes, but I can’t because the First Amendment stops me. And that’s ultimately a good thing in the long run.”
So yeah, there you have it. A prominent Democrat in the House of Representatives is telling us that we’d better thank our lucky stars for the First Amendment, because otherwise, boy howdy, things would be different. If he had anything to say about it, anyway.
This kind of thing is disturbing to us, not least because Lieu is right about how close some on the Republican side of things have come to suggesting a government crackdown on Google. It is also disturbing because there is a growing faction on the left that is very outspoken (ironically) about how we should implement the same hate speech laws in the U.S. that they have in Europe and Canada. And furthermore, with all the hysteria about InfoWars and right-wing “fake news,” how the government should take action on that as well. So it does not set our minds at ease when a Democrat like Lieu floats one of these little test-balloons to see how the country reacts to such an idea.
The Constitution can be changed, but that’s not what we’re worried about. We’re worried about liberal interpretations of the First Amendment that might suddenly give Lieu the power he so obviously craves. And that would be a very dark day, indeed.