The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) has announced that it has joined a lawsuit against a law in California, which its proponents say is aimed against online hate speech – but which is actually simple censorship.
The NRB, an association of Christian communicators, in this way joined other plaintiffs – The Babylon Bee, Tim Pool, and Minds, Inc. – in a bid to block the implementation of the law, AB 587.
Proposed by Democrat Jesse Gabriel and signed last September by California Governor Gavin Newsom, it mandates that companies behind social media platforms report what is deemed as hate speech, disinformation, radicalization, extremism, harassment and foreign political influence to the authorities, in this case, the California Attorney General.
The law envisages fines of up to $15,000 per day for each violation for those who fail to comply.
Opponents of the law include internet freedom groups as well as lobbyists for the companies the law refers to, but also the California Chamber of Commerce.
In his comments following the announcement, NRB President and CEO Troy A. Miller said that the association’s members would be affected by the law thanks to the very nature of their reporting, namely, it being religious.
In NRB’s opinion, some of its members would suffer censorship, while others would effectively become government agents complicit in undermining First Amendment protections – and these were the key reasons that prompted the non-profit to join the lawsuit.
Miller remarked that expressing a religious viewpoint is nowadays in many cases treated as “controversial speech” and that the decision to join the lawsuit came out of concern that what NRB calls the censorship law will be weaponized against its members.
“We are proud to act on behalf of NRB members who would be impacted by or required to comply with this censorship law,” Miller is quoted as saying in a press release.
NRB General Counsel Michael P. Farris also commented to note that governments trying to control speech under the pretext of protecting truth is a path not to more truth, but to tyranny.
According to Farris, the right thing to do is allow more speech and debate rather than suppress it, which would let the public decide which argument is true.
“A free people should never be afraid of more speech,” said Farris.