A Bogus Beef

Some academics object to Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott moving to ban TikTok from Texas government devices and from personal devices used to conduct Texas official business. Texas’ legislature passed the bill creating the ban, and Abbott signed it into law last December. Now a New York State-headquartered organization, ironically named The Knight First Amendment Institute, which is a facility of New York City’s Columbia University, is suing Abbott among other governors, over the ban, claiming free speech violations.

The lawsuit said the state’s decision…is comprising teaching and research. And more specifically, it said it was “seriously impeding” faculty pursuing research into the app—including research that could illuminate or counter concerns about TikTok.

This is, to use the legalese technical term, a crock. It’s also, to use a legal technical term, a frivolous suit.

Banning TikTok in no way inhibits what these academics say or collaborate over, nor does it in any way impede those academics’ speech or collaboration; it only bans one tool, a national security risk, from being used for the speech/collaboration. There are, after all, a plethora of communication and collaboration devices available other than TikTok. To name just a few (located after 10 grueling seconds on Bing search):

  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • Miro
  • MindMeister
  • Loom
  • Asana
  • Notion
  • Microsoft Teams

There are, also, freeware tools like Hugo and Scribe.

It’s hard to believe these So Smart persons aren’t aware of these tools. Maybe they should listen more to the students in their freshman orientation courses.

It’s even harder to understand why these Precious Ones insist on leaving their personal information; their research ideas, techniques, and progresses; their speech and thought available for People’s Republic of China government personnel to freely exploit; they should be called to explain that.

Their free speech interference claim is especially pernicious, given that these august personages are of the same guild that so zealously blocks, even with violence and firings, the speech of those with whom they disagree.

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