- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2018

All this social media censorship talk that’s been fueling conservative angst in recent months has had the distressing effect of putting the ideological right exactly where the left wants it — in a regulatory box with nowhere to go.

The solution? The ideological right needs to create a new battlefield. How about amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act?

Look at the situation; look at what’s going on.

You’ve got months and months of headlines and stories and statistics and analyses showing the censorship realities of being caught conservative on social media. Ask Diamond and Silk, the black pro-President Donald Trump duo who were shut out of Facebook for what they say were their political posts. Ask conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, who sued YouTube — unsuccessfully — for unfairly restricting access to Prager University videos. Ask Alex Jones who was just the target of a massive social media scrubbing by Facebook, by Google, by Apple.

That’s but a partial list.

So what have conservatives done to fight this unfair censorship?

By and large, to call for government regulation against the big-tech companies.

No, no and triple no. Regulating the free market is a leftist’s talking point, not a conservative one. Conservatives calling for crackdowns on social media companies plays right into the left’s hands.

There’s nothing the hard left serving the globalist gods would like more than to get a foot in the door of regulating content on the internet. First a foot — then a fist.

“Leaked [George] Soros document calls for regulating Internet to favor ‘Open Society’ supporters,” screamed one Daily Caller headline in August of 2016.

“Hacked documents reveal Soros plans for more Internet regulation,” ran another from the Washington Examiner, a month later.

This is the plan.

“Documents obtained through the breach of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations reveal a comprehensive vision for the future of the Internet, with the philanthropic group funding at least 13 organizations to promote expanding government-funded access and encouraging regulatory influence over the content users view,” the Examiner piece stated.

This is the goal.

It’s really rather ingenious how the left has managed to create a censorship system that has the ideological right calling for government regulation.

Ingenious and despicable.

“Infowars,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy just tweeted, “is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

But conservatives need to tread cautiously here.

Choices are limited — it’s not as if there’s a Republican-led tech firm waiting to bust open the social media market and provide a welcoming mat for the conservatives of the world.

But here’s a thought: What if instead of pressing for Congress to do something, the White House to do something, the regulators on Capitol Hill to do something — what if instead of demanding the social media giants be treated like public utilities or as monopolies, and regulated accordingly — what if conservatives took a different tack?

What if conservatives created a new battle ground that makes the left at least dance a little nervous dance?

Currently, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Let’s add a category called “political belief.”

It’s not the perfect solution, but it’s a start. Yes, it’s true, Title VII only guides employer-employee relations. And yes, it’s true — amending the code to include political belief is not an overnight fix to all this censorship.

But creating this category would help keep censorship regulation away from government hands and more in the private market, and it would give those employees who’ve been harmed by censorship — who’ve been discriminated against or treated unfairly at the workplace — the tools to successfully fight the bias in court.

Companies don’t like to pay punitive damages. They also don’t like the negative publicity that goes along with fighting civil rights’ infringements in court.

Adding “political belief” to Title VII would soon enough send the signal throughout the private market that discriminating against someone for the crime of being an elephant in a firm filled with donkeys is as serious an offense as discriminating against someone’s skin color. It wouldn’t take long for these same provisions to be extended to customers, consumers and clients of these social media companies. And why wouldn’t they be?

Culture changes can indeed start small but sweep a nation. It’s how climate change became such a concern to corporations. Congress wouldn’t give the United Nations’ favored environmental regulatory control, the Kyoto Protocol, the time of ratification day. So companies, facing pressure from activist members of the public, took up the reins to go green themselves. This was so-called voluntary self-regulation.

The same could happen here.

Title VII protections for political beliefs may not be the only solution to the social media censorship problem, or even the best one. But it’s an idea worth considering, at least for the long-term and at least while floundering to find ways to control the bias without violating core conservative principles.

At the least it might keep conservatives from walking right into the lion’s den of Democratic talking points, and giving away the internet to government regulators.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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