November 14, 2022
“Attorney General [Austin] Knudsen calls on YouTube to stop censoring firearms-related speech,” a November 2 media advisory from Montana’s top law enforcement officer warns. In its removal of a dozen videos (including one by The Rogue Banshee, a Montana-based content creator) on “how to finish construction of an ‘80% lower,’” the online video-sharing social media platform was effectively acting as a political proxy for five Democrat senators, Richard Blumenthal, Bob Menendez, Chris Murphy, Cory Booker, and Edward Markey to shut down and black out free speech.
Those powerful politicians know the First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring such content and that “incomplete lower receivers are not regulated as firearms by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and are legal,” Knudsen asserted.
His letter, with all claims corroborated with copious footnotes, is addressed to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. It cites two main areas of concern and ends in a warning:
“The videos are legal and cannot be censored by the federal government; YouTube repeatedly removes political speech it disfavors; If YouTube continues exercising quasi-sovereign control over political speech, States will regulate the service as a common carrier,” Knudsen cautioned.
“If Senators Blumenthal, Menendez, Murphy, Booker, and Markey are troubled by the existence of 80% lowers, they are free to introduce amendments to the Gun Control Act to regulate those items,” Knudsen noted. “The fact that they haven’t shows that such actions are unpopular even when Congress and the Presidency are controlled by their own party. Perhaps more cynically, one might also conclude that the senators wouldn’t waste their time proposing such an amendment, when they know that multi-billion-dollar media conglomerates like YouTube will bend the knee to the anti-Second Amendment lobby at their beckoning call.”
“To name a few examples, YouTube recently removed a speech by former President Trump at the Heritage Foundation for its political message,” Knudsen continued, providing clear examples of recent censorship bias on the part of the global video colossus. “The site also took down another Heritage Foundation video featuring ... a former transgender individual, who warned about the dangers of gender ideology [and] took an increasingly aggressive role in shutting down dissent over the draconian COVID-19 lockdown measures as well.”
YouTube’s decisions to remove speech it dislikes, combined with its monopolistic power, inappropriately flirts with the boundaries of the First Amendment,” Knudsen warned. “Increasingly, legal scholars are recognizing that social media sites may not both serve as a town square and exclude disfavored political speech.”
“Many States have taken action to end Big Tech’s tyranny over our political discourse, and perhaps it is time that Montana did the same,” Knudsen posited, citing a Fifth Circuit ruling upholding a Texas common carrier-based law “now on appeal to the Supreme Court [that] if it stands... will give States a blueprint for enacting similar laws that reign in Big Tech censorship.”
Big Tech argues they deserve exemptions because they are not content providers. Acting as content deniers, suppressing anything that does not advance a state-approved “progressive” narrative, and facilitating the universal spread of that which does, effectively amounts to the same thing.
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About the Author
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a regular featured contributor for Firearms News he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.