Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday, Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen stated that Antifa is not considered a “hate group” by his organization.
“If you are familiar with our work, we write about antifa often,” Cohen testified during the hearing on domestic terrorism. “We condemn their tactics — I’ve said so publicly and we do so always — but antifa is not a group that vilifies people on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion and the like.”
While they may not hate over religion, they certainly spread hate based on political leanings. In fact, Cohen’s statements came one day before a man in Boston was hospitalized with three fractures in his face after being attacked by a group of 7-10 Antifa militants over his support of President Donald Trump.
Republican members of the committee were less than impressed with Cohen’s failure to include the left-wing anarchists who have been creating chaos on campuses across the nation if someone right of center attempts to give a speech — but decision to include the Republican policy center the Family Research Council.
Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry asserted that the SPLC’s failure to include Antifa “reduces your credibility” and accused them of targeting people and groups based on their opinion instead of empirical data, the Washington Times reported.
“So you’re okay with Antifa as long as they don’t say things that you don’t agree with, but it’s okay if they hit people on the head with a bike lock or set things on fire or riot and flout the law by wearing face masks and incite riots—you’re okay with that?” Perry asked.
Cohen responded by saying that while they condemn the actions of Antifa, they still do not consider them to be a hate group.
As for the Family Research Council, Cohen claimed that their inclusion is warranted due to their criticism of the LGBTQ community.
“Our listing of hate groups doesn’t necessarily mean that they engage in violence, although we think that the anti-LGBT propaganda is one of the factors that makes the LGBT community in our country the most likely to be victimized by hate crimes,” he said.
The SPLC has recently partnered with Google to “downplay” hate groups in search results, which has been blasted by many as blatant censorship. Cohen claimed that access to “hate sites” contributed to tragedies such as the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Yet, he argued that the anti-Family Research Council posts on the SPLC website had nothing to do with a shooting at their offices in 2012.
“We’re no more responsible for what Mr. Corkins did based on reading our website than Martin Scorsese is for what John Hinckley did,” Cohen said.
Perry referred to Cohen’s response as a “breathtaking double standard.”
Does the Arizona Constitution Provide Means for Lawmakers to Crack Down on Big Tech Censorship?
Does the Arizona Constitution provide protections from Big Tech?
The Arizona Constitution provides stronger protections for freedom of speech than the First Amendment does, potentially providing legislative solutions to Big Tech censorship in the state at a moment where political censorship is more pervasive than ever.
Article 2 Section 6, Arizona Constitution states that “Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right. “
This differs greatly from the federal constitution in that it doesn’t limit the powers of a legislature to restrict freedom of speech. The US Constitution identifies “Congress” as the body it’s restricting from making a law abridging the freedom of speech.
The speech rights established by the Arizona Constitution are thus expressed positively; recognizing a right belonging to the people, as opposed to negating an infringement of said right.
Quite obviously, the Arizona Constitution was written in an 1910, an era in which the internet would’ve been just as inconceivable as it was in 1789.
In a 2019 Arizona Supreme Court case, the state’s highest court recognized in a 4-3 judgement that the Arizona Constitution provided greater protections than the federal constitution. The case recognized that violations of the First Amendment would represent de facto violations of the
It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Arizona Attorney General, or state legislature, could hold Big Tech oligarchs to account for violating the Article 2 Section 6 rights of Arizona citizens- especially in a context the major platforms are collectively adjudicated to be acting as a trust in order to suppress competition and silence lawful speech.
Three Arizona legislators called upon Attorney General Mark Brnovich to begin an antitrust investigation into Big Tech oligarchs following the coordinated deplatforming operation against Parler, in which both Amazon and Apple colluded to restrict the free speech platform from the internet.
In an era where the overwhelming majority of free speech is communicated online, the censorious actions of Big Tech very plausibly represent an assault of the right of free expression guaranteed in the Arizona Constitution. Both chambers of Arizona’s legislature remain Republican, even as the state has become purple, and action against Big Tech censorship on the state level could become a real possibility in the coming years.
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