Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Eugene Volokh Challenges New York Law Requiring Bloggers To Address Online Hate Speech

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  New York State Wants to Conscript Me to Violate the Constitution, by Eugene Volokh (UCLA):

Volokh ConspiracyNew York politicians are slapping a badge on my chest. A law going into effect Saturday requires social-media networks, including any site that allows comments, to publish a plan for responding to alleged hate speech by users.

The law blog I run [The Volokh Conspiracy] fits the bill, so the law will mandate that I post publicly my policy for responding to comments that “vilify, humiliate, or incite violence against a group” based on “race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” It also requires that I give readers a way to complain about my blog’s content and obligates me to respond directly.

I don’t want to moderate such content and I don’t endorse the state’s definition of hate speech. I do sometimes delete comments, but I do it based on my own editorial judgment, not state command. Still, I’m being conscripted. By obligating me to do the state’s bidding with regard to viewpoints that New York condemns, the law violates the First Amendment. ...

I started the Volokh Conspiracy to share interesting and important legal stories, not to police readers’ speech at the government’s behest. By challenging this law, I hope I can put down the badge and go back to my keyboard—because legislators can fight crime and respond to hate without violating the First Amendment or drafting me into the speech police.

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