Tuesday, 26 January 2021

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G Government Affairs

Auntie Najwa's Unsolicited Advice: Veck, Unholy Demon of the Night!

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Salaam Dearies …

Happy New Year!! 

As many of you know, 2020 ended with a victory in a law suit filed by a hate speech profiteer against CAIR-Florida for allegedly interfering with her ability to make money. Self-appointed ‘journalist’ Laura Loomer, a failed congressional candidate who made her living capitalizing on mean untruths about her fellow human beings had been kicked of pretty much all reputable social media platforms for violating their community standards, and she blamed us. 

Her getting kicked off Twitter et al reminded me of one of my favorite Mel Brooks movies – Dracula, Dead and Loving It. It’s a classic – I highly recommend it. My favorite part is when Prof. Van Helsing drives away the vampire saying ‘veck (away), unholy demon of the night.’ Of course, as in all vampire movies, the demon does not simply disappear … until the end when daylight comes. Thankfully, daylight usually comes eventually.

As an aside and speaking as a grandmother, children not living up to their God-given potential truly makes me sad. Clever children, who could probably make a real contribution somewhere and instead choose to build their economic future on sewing discord on the internet – and then cry foul when the reputable platforms tell them to take their shenanigans elsewhere and go ‘veck.’ 

Instead of suing Twitter, Google et al for the loss of her income, Ms. Loomer decided that it’s the Muslims’ fault and sued CAIR-FL claiming conspiracy … citing as evidence a rumor started by a comedian as a joke. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, and she alleged that CAIR-Florida’s dark minions had secretly kibbutzed with social media executives and persuaded them to terminate her subscription. We’re still chuckling about that one. She lost and appealed, but even the appeals courts eventually chuckled with us – using the word ‘fraudulent’ throughout the opinion telling her again … to go ‘veck.’

Funny how people who don’t like the consequences of the agreements into which they have entered always cry foul. If you buy your home in a homeowner’s association, you can’t have chickens … no matter how much you like them. The clucking … all day … the crowing in the morning – it’s enough to drive anyone crazy. Have you ever been to Key West? Not to mention the smell. And no monster trucks, political signs, and you even have to pick up after your Chihuahua. Sweet Laura Dear, just like you have no legal recourse if the homeowner’s association shuts down your chicken farm, you have no legal right to hide behind religion to insult people on Twitter. Go somewhere else! You can’t force reputable publishing houses to publish your schmutz, and reputable platforms don’t have to allow you to speak. Get over it. God loves even losers. Go learn a trade. You’ll be fine.

People who like to spread hatred on private platforms, however, do not want to go so gently into the good night. Enter the 2021 Florida legislative session and particularly one House member, Mr. Anthony Sabatini, has already been busy preparing for a way to do something that is generally abhorred in ‘conservative’ circles: have the government interfere in the private contractual arrangements between platform providers and platform users. Not only that, the long arm of the law/state will come down and enforce rights that you never know you had.

If his bill – House Bill 33 – passes, the Florida Attorney General can go after larger platforms that block users’ religious or political speech if it violates community hate speech standards. Violations are $75,000 each. Let that sink in for a moment and consider the possibilities. And wonder whether Mr. Sabatini has considered the possibility that future AGs may not be appointed by ideologically suitable governors.

Public life has changed, and the United States probably has the most liberal free speech laws of all. Even lies and insults are protected by the First Amendment. Other countries that value human dignity or societal harmony over an individual’s right to freely spew insults and lies have laws against that. Here, we can have the Nazis marching down the streets, and it’s completely legal. 

In the political sphere, you can literally take an ad out in a newspaper the day before the election (if they let you) and lie about your political opponent being a child molester, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Sure, after the election, the truth comes out and you can sue, but by that time, the cabinet is appointed. Knowing what we know about electoral politics, maybe some standards are not so bad for freedom and democracy. 

Of course, the enforcement of community standards itself is a double-edged sword, and activists from all political and religious spectra have been on the receiving end. No one likes to be shut up. Social media platforms are in the business of making money, not usually the truth business. But with voters making up their minds based on memes and dishonest tweets; with citizens deciding how to conduct themselves in a pandemic based on junk advice, these platforms have stepped up recently, annotating questionable content and even pointing out presidential-sized lies.

So, it’ll be interesting how this all plays out. For now, the law on platforms (as well as homeowners’ associations) is clear. Government, stay out of our business – but Rep. Sabatini is trying to change that. It will be interesting to watch Florida legislators twist and turn defending business’ right to pay its employees hunger wages while at the same time telling them to allow religious and political speech to go unchecked. Either you like unchecked capitalism or you don’t. And then, the moment of truth will come when Palestinian rights advocates get louder and even more successful calling for an end to the American taxpayers' funding of an apartheid regime.

Oh Dearies, 2021 will be a better year insha'Allah, but the vampires are still out there and won’t go ‘veck’ unless people shine a light on them.

Salaam, Dearies, till next time.