Politics

Is Meaningful Section 230 Reform Possible?

Low angle photograph of courthouse

Large Internet platforms have always moderated the content they allow on their services, and Section 230 of the Federal Communication Act allowed for the growth of user supported platforms, by not holding them to many of the same liabilities a publisher would face. Yet today, we’re seeing unprecedented censorship, editing and moderation of platforms with massive userbases. The Internet of today has corporate super powers, virtual nations, that can effectively dismiss voices and points of view that do not fit their narrative. When Twitter is effectively able to censor the reach of articles from established newspapers, we have to ask what meaningful reform can be made to Section 230, to ensure every American has control over the way their voice is presented to the world. The following are a few proposals for reforming the law, and also the challenges in implementing them.

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The Return of American Corruption

Photo by Bill Oxford
Photo by Bill Oxford

All nations are corrupt. All leaders are corrupt. In Orwell’s famous novel Animal Farm, a revolution that started with the best of intentions, and that supported the rights of every animal, eventually led to one class of animals finding ways to convince all the others to let them lead. The goal of the people of any republic should be to try to minimize that corruption, and implement a process that make their leaders beholden to as large a portion of the population as possible. In American, in 2020, that processes is in crisis.

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Who Will Lead Us From War

2007 Protest Against the Iraq War - Chattanooga, TN
2007 Protest Against the Iraq War - Chattanooga, TN

When I was a child, my parents took me to India one winter. Upon my return, my sister told me that George H. W. Bush had started bombing Iraqi forces that were invading Kuwait. It was 1991, and the Gulf War had begun. From the time I was young, American presidents have always used our military as tools of war, extracting resources under the guise of promoting freedom. In 2007, I participated in an anti-Iraq war protest in my home town. The following year, I joined the people who were planning the protest. I volunteered my time to create our website and promotional material for the march. War has always been the part of American policy that I despised. The bar for peace is so low that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted at “at least” our current president hasn’t started any new wars. The question remains, which presidential candidate is likely to keep America from foreign engagements for the next four years.

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Why I No Longer Hate America

Red, White & Blue by Luke Michael
Red, White & Blue by Luke Michael

Years ago, a friend told me he was going to visit his sister in Queensland, Australia. I was living in New Zealand at the time, and we made plans to meet up. We ended up hiking through some spectacular parks and amazing waterfalls. On one of our hikes, my friend asked me, “Why do you hate America?” It’s one of those lines often parodied from early 2000s Fox News broadcasts, during the height of outrage over the Iraq war.

At the time, I did hate a lot of American foreign policy, and found there was little difference between US political parties. I had my reasons for leaving, yet I eventually came back to America. Having traveled through and lived in different places around the world, I saw the trade-offs in the different values held by nationals of various countries. I still take issue with many policies in the United States, but I believe there are many aspects to American law and ideology, that respect individual rights and freedoms in fundamentally unique ways. America may run afoul of letting people slide through the cracks, but it is also a nation suited to help people succeed at their dreams.

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Why I No Longer Hate the Police

Chicago Police
Chicago Police

My mother told me that when I was very young, I would always look out the window in the evenings for the police car that would often sit on our street each night during the late shift. On a night when a car didn’t appear, and my father couldn’t get me to sleep, he would put me in a stroller and walk around until we saw one. I grew up on shows like Dragnet and games like Police Quest, and when I told my neighbors that I wanted to be a cop when I grew up, they’d tell me, “You’re too smart for that.”

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Opening Night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee

Back the Blue - Homan Square, Chicago

CHAZ, Seattle and the Mob

Secondary Effects

Yellow Flower on a Wooden Table

The first week of June, I received an e-mail from one of my best friends in London. Her flatmate had committed suicide. Across the world, rates for attempted suicide are growing dangerously amid the continued lockdowns. Serious child abuse emergency room visits have risen by by over 35%, while surveillance into abuse incidents is hindered with many schools remaining closed. The civil unrest, riots and other secondary effects are from the response to the pandemic, but not the virus itself. So far, every indication shows the fatality rates for this virus are in decline. Yet despite what should be good news, leaders from around the world seem to be doubling down on the existing narrative of fear to justify continued behavior modifications, despite the growing secondary effects of the lockdowns.

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War is Hell

Burnt Out Police Van. Chicago. May 30 2020.
Burnt Out Police Van. Chicago. May 30 2020.

To those of you who want a civil war, I say to you: you have no idea what you’re asking for. The causalities of war are high. You do realize that being the most moral or righteous does not in any way guarantee victory? There is literally no justice in war, only souls convinced of their rigorousness with promise of nobility. It is vanity to see glory in war. It is hubris exemplified! No American is asking for the war you want. No minority gives a shit about your white guilt. No looter studies the theory of stealing for its socioeconomic ends. And who are you fighting? Despite the stagecraft of the divisiveness of our government, they are unified in holding the nation they control and have the backing of a military who would slaughter any opposition. The people in our nation with the majority of the firearms would not be fighting against them.

“War is hell,” is the understatement of the century. It is the disillusion of any hope. It is soldiers running over children in Iraq, because if they stopped, their vehicles would be overturned by improvised bombs. It is families devastated by the ideology of might. The spoils of war can be seen every day when you open your wallet, and find that it is filled with oil and blood.

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