A Judge to be Impeached

US District Court Judge Jesse Furman said the censorship itself was protected free speech.

This is a man who has violated his oath of office and so is unfit to continue in office.

Baidu, the People’s Republic of China’s Google wannabe, has a free speech right, according to this “judge,” to block searches for things related to the PRC citizenry’s pro-democracy movement.  After all,

The First Amendment protects Baidu’s right to advocate for systems of government other than democracy (in China or elsewhere) just as surely as it protects plaintiffs’ rights to advocate for democracy.

Advocating for one’s own position by actively preventing those with differing opinions from speaking their differing opinions, or from seeking out differing opinions, is “free speech.”  Because suppressing the free speech of dissenters, suppressing dissenters’ access to others’ free speech, or to anything related to the subject(s) of their own interests, is just “editorial judgment.”  Because isolating dissenters each into a separate, individual island, and preventing contact with any other island is entirely legitimate free speech.

In fact, in dismissing a free speech suit against Baidu, this judge ruled in part

…to allow Plaintiffs’ suit to proceed, let alone to hold Baidu liable for its editorial judgments, would contravene the principle upon which “[o]ur political system and cultural life rest”: “that each person should decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence.”

And therein lies a fatal contradiction of this judge’s pseudo-logic.  Each person cannot decide ideas and beliefs for himself if he’s actively denied access to those ideas and beliefs.  If each person is allowed only to decide from among a carefully limited set of ideas and beliefs which others permit him to view, he has no decision to make.

The failure of the judge’s logic goes further.  The only liability to which a publisher is subject in the editorial judgments it makes is from its decision to suppress speech, not its decision to present it.

And further, and far more fundamentally: each person’s right to decide for himself “the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence” extends to presentation and consideration to him alone; it does not include any right to prevent presentation to or consideration by others.  Each person’s right to decide questions of adherence extends to himself alone; there is right to prevent such consideration by others.

What this judge appears to have (carefully?) ignored is that there is nothing at all in a right to free speech that requires any person to listen to another, nor is there any right to determine for another person what that person will be permitted to listen to.

Furman’s opinion can be read here.

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