Thursday - November 2, 2017 9:21 am

Does free speech cover Twitter?

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Our founding fathers were pretty smart when the wrote the U.S. Constitution. But they could never envision that people would communicate in 140 characters or less. Twitter, it seems, is how many people communicate today. It seems to be the favorite form of communication for our President. But is the use of Twitter covered by our First Amendment rights to free speech? A new lawsuit argues it is. A lawsuit has been filed by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now against three state legislators. These legislators have official Twitter accounts for their office, and use those accounts to share news about state government and public policy issues. But representatives Robin Vos, John Nygren and Jesse Kremer don't allow just anyone to follow them on Twitter. The lawmakers have all blocked One Wisconsin Now from commenting on their tweets. The lawsuit argues that is a violation of their free speech rights. They make a good point. These lawmakers and others increasingly use Twitter as a form of communicating with the public. That should include anyone who wants to follow them, even those with whom they disagree politically. It would be no different than blocking opposing views from a public town hall meeting. It should not be acceptable for those who hold public office, whose salaries we pay, to block the public from challenging or responding to them. Free speech does not extend only to those with whom they agree. Our founding fathers would certainly agree with that.

Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw is the Program Director for both 1410 WIZM and 580 WKTY.   He's currently the morning news anchor on 1410 WIZM, Z93 and 95-7 The Rock.  He joined Mid-West Family Broadcasting as a reporter/anchor in 1989 and served as News Director from 1990-2015.   He's been the winner of several Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association awards for Best Editorial in Wisconsin.  He enjoys traveling, bicycling and cooking.

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