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Attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have supported the satire news site, The Babylon Bee, with a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. This action comes in the wake of New York’s contentious online censorship law, which effectively forces online platforms like the Bee to track and suppress what it designates as “hateful conduct.”
We obtained a copy of the brief for you here.
This pursuit of justice also supports Eugene Volokh, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) protected under the First Amendment. Volokh, along with online platforms Rumble and Locals, is pushing back against this oppressive law. Inaugurated in 2022, this legislation extends its dominion over satire and comedy, and could impact perspectives related to culturally sensitive matters like gender identity and public health policy.
The comedic masterminds behind The Babylon Bee are constantly crafting headlines that outpace reality, mentioned Bryan Neihart, a legal counsel for ADF. But, according to Neihart, they should not live in fear that their humor will provoke an infringement on their First Amendment rights due to officials lacking a sense of humor. He emphasized that freedom of speech includes humor and sarcasm, regardless if the state sides with or finds the humor appealing.
This law puts an onerous duty on social media networks to produce a network for users to identify violations of state-mandated content moderation policies. These policies often rely on broad and nebulous terms such as “hateful conduct.” Subsequently, these networks must broadcast New York’s interpretation of “hateful conduct,” even when they disagree. Websites allowing comments, like The Volokh Conspiracy and the Bee, are effectively recruited to execute the state’s censorship agenda.
The brief clarifies that the New York censorship law deliberately attacks constitutionally protected speech, and effectively drives dissenting voices out of public discourse. It suppresses would-be speakers, who stay silent due to fear of reprisal or censorship.
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