Abbott held a news conference Friday regarding his legislative proposal to ban social media platforms from censoring Texans. Abbott says “too many social media sites silence conservative speech and ideas and trample free speech.”
Abbott joined Sen. Bryan Hughes in Tyler, Texas to discuss Senate Bill 12.
“Conservative speech will not be cancelled in the state of Texas,” Abbott said. “(This bill) would allow any Texan who has been cancelled, censored or de-platformed to file a lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook or any of these other companies.”
But Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott waded into controversy by branding Gab, a minimum-moderation alternative to Twitter, an anti-Semitic platform. The problem is, the Texas GOP joined Gab in late January.
Abbott’s attack against Gab came out of the blue. A short video clip posted by the governor’s social media account shows him flanked by representatives Phil King and Craig Goldman, sitting against a backdrop of the flags of the US, Israel, and Texas.
“Anti-Semitic platforms like Gab have no place in Texas and certainly do not represent Texas values,” he declared. Legislation “fighting anti-Semitism” like that penned by fellow Republican lawmakers, on the contrary, does represent the values of the Lone Star State, he added.
Anti-Semitic platforms do not represent Texas values.
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) March 11, 2021
Gab, which is headquartered in Philadelphia, was founded as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter, but has been branded by some as an echo-chamber for racism and hate, especially after Twitter purged its conservative users and they fleed to Gab.
“We’re very worried about people’s rights,” Utsav Sanduja, Gab’s Chief Operating Officer, told Vice earlier this year. “A lot of political speech is being labeled as hate speech and is simply being wiped off the map.”
That has made it popular with many right-wing groups that couldn’t post anything on Facebook or Twitter.
Gab issued its own response to Abbot’s attack:
Gab is not an "anti-semitic" platform. We protect the political speech of all Americans, regardless of viewpoint, because in this age of cancel culture nobody else will.
That means unpopular viewpoints may be found on the site.
— Gab.com (@getongab) March 11, 2021
Every month 30 million people use Gab’s services to get access to the free flow of information online. Gab is the home of free speech in a world where Big Tech oligarchs have censored, deplatformed, and demonized tens of millions of good, honest, and decent people with whom they disagree politically.
Tonight Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a “Republican,” issued a despicable and false statement smearing Gab as an “anti-semitic platform that quote “has no place in Texas.” This is the same Gov. Abbott who just five days ago said he was “taking a stand against Big Tech censorship.”
Gov. Abbott’s statement will likely not sit well with the nearly 800,000 Texans who have visited Gab.com in the past 24 hours alone. What is even more strange is that the Texas GOP itself is on Gab with a verified account.
Gab is not an “anti-semitic” platform. We protect the political speech of all Americans, regardless of viewpoint, because in this age of cancel culture nobody else will. That means unpopular viewpoints may be found on the site.
The enemies of freedom smear us with every name in the book because they hate America and they hate free speech. It’s a shame to see a GOP politician fall for this trap when conservative values are under sustained attack all over the country.
People smear Gab for the kinds of people we host. They never smear Gab for the kinds of people we ban. That’s because we don’t have political tests for our users. Ban decisions are made on an individual basis. Our test for political speech is whether it is legal or not. Pretty simple rule.
There are many Jewish Gab users and customers, whose lawful speech we protect with just as much zeal as we would protect the lawful speech of any person of any faith, ethnicity, or creed.
This is what America used to be like: a place where The People could speak freely regardless of their faith, ethnic background, or beliefs. This is the America Gab is fighting to preserve.
Apparently, Gov. Abbott doesn’t agree.
I’m shrewd, passionate, learned and energetic, God-fearing and patriotic. I’ve done a fine job reintroducing good old American conservatism to a new generation of Americans. I’ve earned the love and friendship of many, the hatred of some, but the respect of all.