The whole debate that’s raging now in Washington, DC over whether or not to ban TikTok, the Chinese owned social media platform has me thinking, and wondering whether or not a legal decision, a moral decision can be made on this front.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of the platform at all. I’ve never been on it. I never want to get near it. If what all the scuttlebutt is true, and that China can see what you’re visiting as far as websites, look at your keystrokes, follow you around as you wend your way through your day, it becomes a very scary thought. And the thought that they are sending rather inappropriate messages and videos to our kids is equally troubling.
But then on the other hand, we’ve got this whole First Amendment thing. And yes, we believe in free speech. We don’t care what it is you have to say, as long as you’re not yelling fire in a crowded theater, it’s legal. Well, is what TikTok has been alleged to do the equivalent of yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater? There’s the rub.
When all of the talk started of banning TikTok back when Trump was president, I was all for it. To me, most of social media is nothing but a large garbage pit. There isn’t much of value with any of the sites. I occasionally will visit Twitter to see what the latest news is coming out of DC, but it’s rare. I’m more apt to go on to slam some Democrat that makes a stupid remark or doesn’t do their homework before going on one of the cable news shows and they make a fool of themselves (I’m looking at you, Marie Harf!).
And then I was reminded that we have this little thing called a First Amendment. It’s the reason why people can burn a flag of the United States and not get beheaded like they could if they burned an Iranian flag in Tehran. It allows for opinions that are downright vile in some cases to see the light of day, even though most people with half a brain in their heads say that it would be considered totally inappropriate behavior.
One of my favorite all-time movies was “First Money In October” with Walter Mattheau and Jill Clayburgh. It dealt with a pornographic movie and whether it should be banned. Mattheau said it shouldn’t because “crap has the right to be crap”, while Clayburgh couldn’t see any reason for it to exist. And so it is with TikTok.
There is a very large part of the argument that says TikTok is helping our enemy gather information on us that they probably shouldn’t be gathering. And I would say that should be enough to liken it to crying FIRE! But is it? I can’t remember another episode in my life where a foreign government had the ability to influence the lives of half of the people living in this country. TikTok currently has about 150 million Americans tuned into it.
What’s also damning is that our kids seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time on their site. They watch video after video of “woke” people screaming how everybody but them is a white supremist. Or, why they are going to change their pronouns to clambake/fish monger today, and tomorrow it will be something totally different. Yes, from time to time, there is something funny on TikTok (I don’t watch the actual site, but a YouTube contributor that makes fun of the site from time to time).
So, is it enough to make a foreign government….check that, an UNFRIENDLY foreign government stop doing what they are doing, even though it may very well violate the most sacred of our Constitutional Amendments? I’m sure that before the whole TikTok thing is settled, the Supreme Court will probably be weighing in on it as well. It will just be interesting to see what it is they have to say about it.
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!
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