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Imagine a bar for all the thugs who were banned by every other bar.
Now imagine Texas Republicans setting up an information booth there.
Flanked by local Republican state Reps. Craig Goldman and Phil King, Abbott declared in a Twitter video Wednesday that “anti-Semitic platforms like Gab have no place in Texas.”
Officially, Abbott was backing a King bill for an advisory council to combat anti-Semitism.
But the governor also took the occasion to single out Gab, basically an online graffiti wall for garbage spewed by anti-Semites, the alt-right, QAnon obsessives, white supremacists — anyone banned from other websites.
Since Jan. 23, two weeks after the U.S. Capitol riot, Gab has also included content posted by the Republican Party of Texas.
As you might expect, neither the Pennsylvania-based operators of Gab nor state party Chairman Allen West of Garland took Abbott’s comments well.
Andrew Torba, who founded Gab in 2015 as a 25-year-old social media whiz, wrote online that Abbott’s comments were “despicable and false,” but he allowed that “unpopular viewpoints may be found on the site.”
That is his exact target market.
Torba founded Gab on the mantra, “Hate speech is free speech.”
West’s state party office fired back with a social media post saying the party will “fight censorship” and “The 1st Amendment still shines brightly in the Lone Star State.”
Mainly, that shows West’s office has not read the First Amendment.
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) March 11, 2021
It only prevents the government itself from limiting speech.
It does not say anything about whether Republicans should post on a commercial website that markets hatred and hostility in the guise of promoting free speech.
Abbott’s comments came after party Vice Chair Cat Parks of Hamilton County spoke out last week, writing that she found anti-Semitic and racist comments on the party’s posts and “this was a common theme on Gab.”
“Gab is not a viable or healthy outlet for RPT to share our message of opportunity, liberty and personal empowerment,” she wrote
King and Goldman said they joined Abbott’s video to oppose anti-Semitism.
“I didn’t even know who Gab was until the governor mentioned it,” said Goldman, R-Fort Worth.
King’s bill commissions a state study on anti-Semitism and sets up education programs.
“American Jews face a higher percentage of attacks and hate crimes than any other faith group,” King, R-Weatherford, wrote in a text message.
“That’s what my bill is about — trying to address this growing area of crime and religious persecution.”
Abbott made it mean much more.