November 29, 2020

White House Offers To Allow Renaming Confederate Bases… In Exchange For Getting Rid Of Section 230

By Mike Masnick
Let’s state upfront that there is no way in hell this is happening, and it’s all just performative nonsense. No one is actually going to do this. However, the NY Times is reporting that White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has floated the idea of “compromise” to get the annual NDAA passed, after President Trump has whined about it requiring the renaming of military bases named after Confederacy leaders. As a bit of background, I still don’t understand why we have literally anything named after leaders who actually tried to leave the country and fought against the US military, in order to continue enslaving people… but that’s just me. The NDAA (the National Defense Authorization Act) is the annual budget allocated by Congress for the military. It’s one of those “must pass” kind of things that some in Congress try to sneak junk into, knowing that it has to pass. President Trump has threatened to veto the bill because of the base renaming bit.

Now the Times is reporting that Meadows is saying Trump would stop fighting the renaming… if Congress uses the NDAA to totally repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Really.

Over the course of several conversations, Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, asked Mr. Meadows what might persuade Mr. Trump to sign the measure with the renaming requirement intact, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Meadows, according to the people, said that adding a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, considered the most consequential law governing speech on the internet, would help.

Just to put this out there: this is insane. On many different levels. I’ve already expressed my confusion over why there’s any debate at all about these base names, but the idea that Congress should simply wipe out Section 230 in the NDAA just creates an entirely new layer of pure ridiculousness. I mean, in part because this would simply increase uncertainty and liability for internet services, leading to a much higher likelihood that Twitter and other social media sites would take down Trump’s nonsense for fear of having to defend themselves in court over it.

It truly is striking how focused so much of Washington DC has become on Section 230 without even understanding what it currently does, how it works, and what will happen if it gets removed.

Anyway, again, this is not happening. No one is going to go ahead with this. But it’s just yet another example of the ridiculous policy proposals now floating around the White House.