Rudy Takala of the Washington Examiner interviews Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai on a range of topics, including threats to the traditional understanding of the First Amendment.

Examiner: You’ve also spoken a lot about threats to the “culture of the First Amendment.” What do you mean by that?

Pai: It seems to me that something is changing in American society, and particularly on college campuses. There’s the old saying that I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it. That kind of ethos is increasingly rare.

That poses a special danger to a country that cherishes First Amendment speech, freedom of expression, even freedom of association. I think it’s dangerous, frankly, that we don’t see more often people espousing the First Amendment view that we should have a robust marketplace of ideas where everybody should be willing and able to participate.

Largely what we’re seeing, especially on college campuses, is that if my view is in the majority and I don’t agree with your view, then I have the right to shout you down, disrupt your events, or otherwise suppress your ability to get your voice heard.

That’s something, I think, that poses a danger to what I call the culture of the First Amendment. The text of the First Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, but there are certain cultural values that undergird the amendment that are critical for its protections to have actual meaning. If that culture starts to wither away, then so too will the freedom that it supports.

Examiner: Do you believe that those who oppose the culture of the First Amendment are at war against conservative points of view, including censorship on Twitter?

Pai: What I can say is that even though private actors like Twitter have the freedom to operate their platform as they see fit, I would hope that everybody embraces the concept of the marketplace of ideas. The proverbial street corner of the 21st century, where people can gather to debate issues is increasingly social media, which serves as a platform for public discourse. We should be sure that we don’t foreclose any points of view, unless they pose a threat of violence or clearly violate the law.