The New Old 'Speech Police' - Granite Grok

The New Old ‘Speech Police’

You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Connections. Networking. The insiders game.

How about, “it’s not what you’ve done but who you follow?” Could who you track on social media, regardless of whether you just lurk or engage, get you excluded from things in the real world like jobs or admission to a college? This lawyer says yes.

If you want to know why Bradley Shear is pushing Congress and the states to crack down on social-media snooping by colleges and universities, ask the lawyer about the Alex Jones case.

One of Shear’s teenage clients was denied admissions to a prestigious college after the admissions officer ask him why he followed the InfoWars conspiracy theorist on Twitter, according to Shear.

Lots of people follow feeds, not because they are fans, but because they are not. So, using their social media footprint as a threat would be a great way to force people (so inclined) to avoid “speech” the institutions are most likely to find unsavory.

Talk about proactive speech control.

The idea that a college admissions officer (employer, recruiter, or any other guardian of a gateway) would consider denying access because they disapprove of your “reading” or “viewing” choices is not new but the ability to access it at will without context and then use that to make an entry decision without the other person’s knowledge?

Don’t touch it. It’s evil.

Of course, two can play that game.

Shear did a digital background check on the interviewer and learned she is a “follower” of socialist politician Bernie Sanders. The lawyer informed the admissions director about the apparent bias against his client.

The college “quickly resolved the situation to my client’s satisfaction” to avoid “negative publicity” about judging an applicant not for what he’s done, but who he tracks online, according to Shear.

Not everyone will have the time or resources to play internet surfing chess (or would that be checkers?) but they shouldn’t have to do that.

And while I’m not saying we need the government to step in and prohibit the practice because I think the threat of negative publicity in a free market works as does the college that ‘red-lettered’ Shear’s client we are also talking about free speech, free thought, and free association. If the potential for damaging lawsuits isn’t a preventative because these institutions have a high expectation of getting away with it, states should look at their own situations.

Then threaten to cut off all government funding.

That should do the trick.