Letter: To everyone, including friends and family members, who feel First Amendment rights are being denied – Sumter Item

Posted: January 23, 2021 at 6:28 am

I write not wanting to ruffle feathers or strain friendships. Yet, I am reminded that we remain silent because silence is easier. There may come a time I need friends to speak out on my behalf and they might not because I've set a poor example.

I am troubled by the messages that I've received over the last few days by people who are enraged because their freedom of speech rights are being denied. I interpret this to mean their Twitter accounts have been closed.

First, I'd like to point out your freedom of speech has not been denied, or I wouldn't be hearing from you. You are coming through on another forum maybe not the one you typically use, but I'm guessing you'll have a new platform shortly. Remember that Facebook and Twitter are private companies, and they do have the right to require that their users follow certain rules. Remember all of those pages you didn't read when you signed on to be a user? You simply checked, "I agree." Well, that's what you agreed to.

Second, the Supreme Court has ruled that there are a few exceptions to the First Amendment. They include obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement, true threats and speech integral to already criminal conduct. There's a reason you can't stand up in a crowded theater and yell "Fire!" It's incitement and causes danger to others as they attempt to flee.

One example: In November, Sidney Powell, then-lawyer for President Trump, accused Dominion Voting Systems of promoting widespread voter fraud through voting machines she claimed were manufactured in Venezuela for the explicit purpose of throwing elections. All of those claims were proven false, but, nonetheless, they were picked up by social media and spread across the internet like mice in a grain bin. The president repeated Powell's claims, and his ardent followers took his words to heart, becoming more and more convinced that their candidate had been robbed of his election. He, as well as other congressmen and women, jumped on the groundswell of this example of misinformation despite state and federal judges (many Republican) throwing the claims out of court.

Employees of Dominion Voting Systems began receiving death threats. Imagine that. You do your job, someone falsely claims you cheated, and without any facts to these claims, your business plummets, and your 300 workers and their families fear for their lives. To top it off, the president of the United States continues to feed this misinformation to his loyal supporters to the point they become outraged.

So, back to the original question: Has this speech included "obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement, true threats and speech integral to already criminal conduct?" If you, by chance, "shared" information on a "private" company's platform, whether you knew or didn't know that it was false, and it led to defamation and inciting others to violence, then yes - your account was blocked. That is a lesson to us all to be careful about casually hitting the "share" button.

Dominion Voting Systems is suing Sidney Powell for $1.3 billion (with a B), and the CEO claims that's just for starters. More suits are being filed. Are Facebook and Twitter concerned because they allowed their platform to be used to spread the lies that resulted in defamation, fraud, incitement, threats and criminal conduct? You bet.

Like millions of others, I am distressed and sickened that our country is being divided over the issue of honesty a quality I'm sure both sides agree with in principle. I understand completely why others can listen to the same speaker as I do and walk away with a different opinion as to the best approach for making our country a strong, productive and moral society for our children to inherit. In doing so, however, we have to start by agreeing with what is true and what is being propagated for personal and political gain. If someone is milking millions off a falsehood, then they're going to buy the cow? We've got too many cash cows in our midst, and they're doing severe damage to the land we love. It's time to trim the herd.

BRENDA BEVAN REMMES

Mayesville

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Letter: To everyone, including friends and family members, who feel First Amendment rights are being denied - Sumter Item

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