Gee & Ursula: No winners in battle over limiting free speech in Washington

Jan 17, 2022, 1:45 PM | Updated: Jan 18, 2022, 7:43 am
Free speech, election fraud...
A protester outside the Capitol in Olympia. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Proposals that seek to limit aspects of free speech are coming from both sides of the aisle during the current legislative session in Washington state.

Ross: Gov. Inslee’s bill to punish lying politicians may be asking for trouble

The first comes from Gov. Jay Inslee and state Senator David Frockt, whose bill would make it a gross misdemeanor for elected leaders or candidates to spread unfounded allegations of voter fraud.

This is while several Republican candidates for Congress in Washington have made voter fraud claims central platforms of their respective campaigns. That includes state Rep. Brad Klippert, failed gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, and Navy veteran Jerrod Sessler — all three of whom are running to unseat fellow Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse. State Rep. Vicki Kraft is running for Congress on a similar platform against incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

But does the bill go too far, or is it merely a means of holding people accountable?

“I’m all for it,” KIRO Radio guest host Aaron Mason said. “People are going to say politicians lie all the time, but there’s a standard of proof in this country when it comes to lies. We have libel and slander laws. They are things that happen all the time — you can’t just say things that are patently and provably false.”

The proposal hasn’t drawn support from everyone, though, including KIRO Radio host Gee Scott.

“There’s no way in the world I can get behind this,” Gee said. “There is freedom of speech, right? Look, if I got on a radio right now and said I think the election was stolen, I have the freedom of speech to [say] that, right? You cannot criminally prosecute someone for that.”

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Klippert has introduced a bill related to a different type of free speech, in an effort to ban any and all classroom discussions theorizing that the United States is “structurally racist.”

Election fraud claims becomes common thread among state’s GOP candidates

Similar to Inslee’s proposal regarding election fraud lies, Gee finds Klippert’s bill equally problematic.

“We are trying to prosecute teachers for teaching about structural racism, and it’s just based on which side you’re on,” Gee said. “This is something that I have to say I disagree with by saying ‘freedom of speech.'”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
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Gee & Ursula: No winners in battle over limiting free speech in Washington