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‘Disinformation’ expert professor: U.S. needs ‘common sense’ speech restrictions

The University of Michigan law professor who claimed Donald Trump could be charged with manslaughter for the January 6 “insurrection” and that the Hunter Biden laptop was all “Russia” recently proclaimed we need “common sense” speech restrictions.

Appearing on Monday’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Barbara McQuade said the United States’ “deep commitment” to free speech makes it “uniquely susceptible” to disinformation.

“I think we’re more susceptible to it than other countries, and that’s because some of our greatest strengths can also be our Achilles Heel,” McQuade told Maddow according to the New York Post.

“[The First Amendment] is a cherished right. It’s an important right in democracy, and nobody wants to get rid of it, but it makes us vulnerable to claims [that] anything we want to do related to speech is censorship,” McQuade said.

The author of “Attack from Within: How Disinformation Is Sabotaging America” went on to note the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed that no “fundamental right” is without limits — “as long as there is a compelling governmental interest and the restriction is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.”

Regarding social media content moderation, McQuade said there needs to be a “conversation and common-sense solutions,” and she chided those who “throw out” words like “censorship.”

MORE: Be prepared to guffaw when government, media lecture about ‘disinformation’

Jonathan Turley wrote on Friday that “if [what ‘we want to do related to speech’] involves blacklisting, throttling, deplatforming, and bans, it most certainly does raise questions of censorship.”

He added: “Free speech is now portrayed as an existential threat to the country as opposed to the very thing that defines us as a free people.”

Turley nonetheless called McQuade’s position — “increasingly popular among law professors” — an “important contribution to th[e] debate.”

The Amazon.com synopsis of McQuade’s “Attack from Within” only specifically mentions “opportunists on the far right” and “Russian misinformed social media influencers” with regards to disinformation and its “sabotage.”

MORE: Obama in Stanford speech: Disinformation ‘has endangered the health of global democracy’

IMAGE: U. Michigan; Barbara McQuade/X

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.