Multiple participants at the ongoing annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, suggested instituting free speech limitations as a way to deal with alleged hate speech and the continuing polarization of opinions.
While speaking at “The Clear and Present Danger of Disinformation” panel, Vera Jourova, vice president for values and transparency at the European Commission, pushed for containing free speech rights on the continent by citing the need to control hate speech, and predicted the United States would follow suit with similar anti-constitutional speech regulatory measures.
The WEF panel was discussing how regulators, social media firms, and the public can tackle “disinformation.” It is unclear how “disinformation” is defined by the panel.
Earlier on the panel, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) also batted for putting restrictions on free speech.
The ‘fire in a crowded theater’ analogy is often used to justify restrictions on free speech. The usage refers to a 1919 opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court which argued that speaking against war during wartime is like shouting fire in a theater and causing panic.
A Free Press Problem?Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) sees free press and online discussions as an issue that needs to be tackled. “The problem we have is the open press system and basically all the platforms,” Manchin said during a panel discussion at the WEF meeting.
“So if you’re able to have five platforms, social platforms, that you can basically personify the extremes as somebody who is extremely right or extremely left, and it seems like that is the majority speaking. They’re not the majority, but they’re basically driving everybody to make a decision. What side are you on? Are you on this side or this side?”
Stephen Miller, the founder of America First Legal and senior advisor to former president Donald Trump, tweeted Manchin’s statement while warning about the links between American leaders and global elitists.
‘Fragmentation’ of OpinionsAt Davos, WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab insisted that differing opinions are creating “fragmentation” in society.
“The most critical fragmentation is between those who take a constructive attitude, and those who are just bystanders, observers, and even go into the negative, critical, and confrontational attitude.”