Senator Lindsey Graham Stonewalls Free Speech
Apparently, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham opposes free speech. Consider what he did recently.
The two-term South Carolina Republican who’s up for re-election this year erased several written comments, which were recently posted on his Facebook page. Some of the comments questioned the senior Senator’s expressed opposition to online poker’s legalization at the federal level.
Sen. Graham is certainly justified in removing comments which might be considered by most as either offensive or objectionable. This includes defamatory remarks, profanity, and off-topic content. However, virtually all the comments which appeared at his page were not defamatory, nor profane, nor off-topic. To the contrary, they were cordial, thought-provoking, and very much on-topic. Yet, Sen. Graham clearly doesn’t want any dissent when it comes to confronting opinions which differ from his own.
I find this beyond troubling. In fact, I find it reprehensible. These actions are unacceptable for an elected public official in a free society.
“Lindsey Graham not only pulled down a lot of our comments, but blocked me personally, and several other long-time advocates,” pro-online poker activist Mike Qualley told me yesterday. “None of us left negative comments on his page — just facts. These guys hate the truth so much that they are willing to stomp our First Amendment rights to hide it.”
Before they were removed, I had the chance to review many of the comments. All were respectful. They were also signed by people with real names and faces. Moreoever, some of the comments included links to facts from reputable news sources and special-interest groups, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) among them. Since it was Sen. Graham who initially raised online poker/gambling as a political issue, one might expect he would welcome direct feedback from American citizens.
Well, apparently not.
What’s most troubling here are the extraordinary lengths to which Sen. Graham has gone to subvert the democratic process. All citizens must be granted rights to express themselves to their elected officials. Otherwise, representative democracy becomes a sham. America isn’t a true republic unless communication is a two-way street. And in this day and age, most people get their news via the web. Online is where people go to exchange ideas and talk about current events. The Internet has become the new “town hall.” Only Sen. Graham has locked the doors and won’t let anyone inside unless they’re in agreement.
I noted several names posted at Sen. Graham’s page among the “comments” section, including people who actually reside and vote in South Carolina. Let’s make this unmistakenly clear — these are Sen. Graham’s own constituents. And what has he done? He stripped away their comments. He silenced their voices. Does anyone else see this as a serious problem?
Wait, it gets worse.
Not only did Sen. Graham remove comments opposed to his position; he’s now blocking those same people from posting in the future — even people from South Carolina. Let’s declare this openly what it is — blatant censorship. Such practices might be acceptable for private companies or individuals. But for an elected public official to block his own constituents from trying to express their opinions about a public issue important to them is an outrage.
Presuming his Facebook page is serviced by people who work within his government office, that also makes his page a taxpayer-supported entity. It’s not his website. It belongs to the office of the senator, and indirectly the good citizens of his state who fund it.
This all makes Sen. Graham’s actions in direct violation of the principles of representatiave democracy and governance.
I hereby declare that the United States Senate should immediately introduce a motion to censure Sen. Lindsey Graham for his actions, which are unbecoming for an elected official in a free society.
Sen. Graham must also publicly apologize and in the future cease all attempts to deny citizens their right to voice opinions on a taxpayer-supported platform.
Note 1: Read more on the act of censure here. See: CENSURE See: LIST OF SENATORS WHO HAVE BEEN EXPELLED OR CENSURED
Note 2: Sen. Graham has two Facebook pages — one affiliated with his U.S. Senate office, the other affiliated with his re-election campaign.