Nobody Is Violating Your First Amendment Rights, Bubba
The most delightful bit of irony to transpire this year was that the same bigoted halfwits who zealously defend a bakery’s right to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because “First Amendment rights” are positively in a lather over Trump having been banned from Twitter and Facebook.
Ah, Trump supporters. Sigh. Besides the fact that these folks are hypocrites on an absolutely massive scale, they also clearly need a refresher on what the First Amendment actually protects — and from whom it protects us.
Here is the full text of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Congress, people. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Twitter is not Congress. Facebook is not Congress. Social media companies, unless they’re literally run by the government, are private entities who can choose whom to allow on their platform and whom to kick off. These entities have their own user agreements that everybody agrees to when they sign up for the platform. If you break their rules, they can eject you at any time.
But let’s go back to the cake thing real quick, because I don’t want anybody to get this twisted. It’s definitely hypocritical as hell for folks who support the bakery’s right to behave like raging bigots to now cry foul on Twitter for ejecting Trump. But also, these two situations aren’t an apples to apples comparison.
Social media outlets, web servers, and the like aren’t banning Trump and his lunatic seditionist minions because of who they are. If they were, they actually would be violating the law — the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits places of public accommodation and employers from discriminating against who they serve or who they hire on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The bakery did violate this law. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2018 acknowledged this but let the bakery slide because the Colorado courts where the case was first tried were “hostile” toward the baker’s religion. The Supreme Court ruling read: “While those religious and philosophical objections are protected, it is a general rule that such objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.”
In other words, you have a right to exercise your religious views as long as doing so doesn’t infringe on someone else’s civil rights. Civil rights take precedence over religious views because of the problem that happens when people shape their religion to their prejudices and not the other way around. If religion were to be given precedence, folks would be free to deny service on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. I have no doubt that would catapult us back to Jim Crow era style discrimination and secret underground queer communities with a quickness.
Social media platforms and web servers are denying Trump and his merry band of sycophants service, not because of their identity, but because they are a danger to our democracy. After repeated warnings, they continued to spread unsubstantiated lies about a “rigged” election, fomenting unrest and explicitly planning a literal government takeover.
The bakery’s denial of service is a civil rights violation; Twitter is just kicking out an unruly customer.
A comparable justifiable refusal of service on the bakery’s part would have been if the gay couple in question had marched into the bakery during the afternoon rush, dropped their pants, taken a choreographed tandem shit on the bakery’s floor, and then smeared the shit all over all the customers. And then the bakery said, “Your behavior is not welcome here, please leave.”
Some civil rights groups and political leaders are raising concerns that private companies banning Trump for his “opinions” may set a precedent for more problematic forms of big tech control. They worry that large social media platforms could begin to refuse service to anyone they choose — yes, even on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. But, again, those identities are protected by law and a litany of Supreme Court rulings.
Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and whoever else aren’t denying Trump service because of who he is; they are refusing him because he took a massive shit on our country and then smeared that shit all around. This is not a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights. Not by a long shot.
What it is, however, is the free market at work. Oh yes, that very same free and unregulated market for which conservatives are always singing their praises — it’s the only way to run an economy! Free markets supposedly automatically adjust and magically correct all wrongs. Let bakers refuse service if they want! The gays, the Blacks, the Jews, and whoever else a baker’s religion tells him to hate can simply go find another baker and that other baker will get those icky-bad people’s money! No regulation necessary! Yay freedom!
Unregulated markets generally do a shit job at caring for the most vulnerable among us, educating our children, providing healthcare equitably, and distributing resources fairly. But in this case, the free market did exactly what its most optimistic proponents suggest it should: It took out the fucking trash.
And not one person’s constitutional rights were violated in the process.
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