Tuesday, August 7, 2018

"Silencing Alex . . . for openers"


That's the title of an article this morning by Eric Peters.  Here's a lengthy excerpt.

The other day, YouTube and Facebook and several other inter-related social media platforms banned Alex Jones – the founder of Prison Planet and InfoWars. The reason given isn’t that Alex is a “conspiracy” theorist – the ancient charge – but chiefly that he is a purveyor of “hate” speech.

What this really means is that the powers that be hate the things Alex speaks about – his political incorrectness – and can no longer abide his being free to speak about such things.

Having locked down colleges, the workplace and most other places, the very last place where it is still possible to openly express non-orthodox views – and to hear and read them – is online.

And now that is to be locked down, too.

. . .

Since it’s not yet formally illegal to voice – and publish – contrarian views ... the method used to silence these views was first to “demonetize” those who voiced and published them.

This means pulling the ads – and ad revenue – almost all of which is controlled by the social media platforms ... If the powers-that-be couldn’t compete for readers and viewers honestly – on the soundness and fairness of their coverage – then they would eliminate competition by destroying it financially.

But that didn’t work, either.

Contrarian sites turned directly to readers for support, end-running the Goo-guhlplex’s control over online advertising.

. . .

... the powers-that-be are screaming out of despair. They are losing control over what people read and hear – and they desperately want it back.

. . .

And it’s why they are pushing the button. Outright bans. We are going to make sure you can’t listen to or read viewpoints that we don’t approve of by simply taking them off the air. We will use our monopoly control of the Internet – mark that – to control what you read and hear by making sure you read and hear only what we allow you to read and hear.

It’s not a legal prohibition of free speech – not yet. But it amounts to the same thing since effectively one big corporation – the Goo-guhl/Facebook/YouTube combine – controls what you get to read and hear online by controlling what it permits to be written and spoken about online. To get banned from these platforms amounts to being banned from the Internet.

. . .

This is not about “hate” speech.

It is about shutting down speech. And it won’t be just Alex who gets shut down if this is allowed to slide. It will be every non-orthodox point of view, including Libertarian and even lukewarm “conservative” points of view. This is already happening. It is going to get much worse.

. . .

If banning contrarian media from mainstream/social media doesn’t do the trick, the next step – the last step – will be an outright legal ban on “hate” speech. Which will be defined by them – as anything which does not suit them.

There's more at the link.  Do, please, click over there and read the whole thing.  It's worth your time.

Let me say at once that I hold no brief for Alex Jones and his Infowars outlet.  I regard him as a wild, weird and wacky fringe extremist, who prattles a few nuggets of truth surrounded by an unconscionable amount of utter nonsense.  I don't watch, listen to or follow him, and I think that's most unlikely to change.

Nevertheless, Eric Peters is absolutely correct.  Free speech must mean unrestrained freedom of speech if it's to be real.  It doesn't mean that speech should be free of consequences.  If I make a public statement that's potentially defamatory, or may put others at risk for any reason, there are likely to be consequences, legal and otherwise, and it's only fair that I should be exposed to those hazards.  However, they should not inhibit my freedom of speech.  If I believe it's important to say something, I should have the right to say so.  Alex Jones should have the same right, whether or not I agree with or support his views.

What Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media behemoths are doing is showing, by their actions, that they reserve the right to judge whether our speech is worthy of being free.  Who gave them that right?

They arrogate that right to themselves on the grounds that they're private businesses, not bound by the First Amendment, and thus not subject to constitutional constraint.  In that, they are correct.  However, they should remember three ancient and time-honored sayings and principles:
  1. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
  2. What goes around, comes around.
  3. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are at this time the biggest and most influential companies in the social media business.  One to two decades ago, they were not - in fact, they did not exist as social media companies at all.  In one to two decades from now, the odds are pretty good that they won't exist either, at least in their present form.  Who remembers MySpaceLiveJournalAOL?  Remember how they dominated older forms of social media?  What's their market share now?

If Google, Facebook, Twitter et. al. are allowed to get away with this censorship (because that's precisely what it is), they'll have no grounds for protest if (when?) a future society censors them in the same way, either formally or informally.  I daresay they think that will never happen.  I beg to differ.  What goes around usually does come around, in my experience, and what you do unto others does affect what they later do unto you (and how they do it).

I believe this corporate censorship of free speech is a deliberate short-term attempt to influence the mid-term elections later this year.  It's also a long-term strategy to favor progressive over conservative trends in society, and "de-platform" those who are out of step with today's political correctness.  I believe it's inimical to democracy, and must be stopped.  Whether that happens because those corporations come to their senses, or because they're eventually "hoist with their own petard" and suffer the consequences of their decision, is immaterial.  They must be stopped.

That's why I'm investing time and money in setting up my own Web site, which I hope will go live in the not too distant future.  I have no idea whether Google will continue to host conservative and right-wing blogs on its Blogger platform.  I suspect it might decide to do that . . . and I want to be prepared.

Peter

12 comments:

SiGraybeard said...

To put a minor twist on this, those social media sites will still be full of hate speech, it will just be the hate speech from the left. Like that NY Times twit (whose name I will not mention) who's full of hate for white people. Especially old white men.

Because when one of them says it, it's never hate speech.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

The problem with being a defender of Free Speech is the people you end up defending. Larry Flint isn't even a good pornographer. I sold Hustler in my first job, back in the '70's. Of course I looked at the pictures. I was a high school goober. About the only thing Flint had going for him was his apparent decision to escalate the 'Pubic Wars' by going right up the plumbing with a camera. The girls were unattractively posed and poorly photographed. Defending Flint's right to publish mediocre porn was distasteful.

*shrug*

Alex Jones appears to be a whack job who is receiving Radio Venus on his bridgework. Defending his right to publicly espouse his beliefs can make one shudder. But the alternative is public discourse dominated by scolds like Her Shrillness.

stencil said...

One of the worst effects of this twitch of the left is that it validates - for the left - the claims of people like Jones and Q. The AntiWhatevers seem increasingly to believe they can get away with anything, because they now are supported by the Illuminati as well as Allah and the Historical Imperative.

Jerry said...

And they call us deplorable? In any case, I much prefer free speech. You may wonder if someone is an idiot. Free speech confirms your suspicions.

As to the Google/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Youtube continuum, they are either a private company or they are a public utility.

If they are a private company then we need to evaluate their behavior in regards to federal election commission guidelines. We are also free to tell GIFTY to sod off and go seek alternatives. I use non-Google search engines, a Facebook alternative called MeWe and a Twitter alternative called Gab. Google is so upset with Gab that they kicked the app out of their Play store then licensed a different app using the same name. I expect some enterprising lawyer will have great fun at Google's expense.

If the GIFTY continuum are public utilities then PDT needs to make a few changes in the appropriate committees.

Trimegistus said...

Bake the cake, Google!

froginblender said...

Facebook won't be around in twenty years regardless of what they do today. They simply don't have enough proprietary tech to keep them ahead of rivals. From Zuckerberg on down, their top people are also less than super-brilliant. Their success has been a combo of being in the right place at the right time and support from three-letter .gov agencies.

Google, maybe, maybe not. They could become like today's Microsoft, a relatively long-lived tech giant. But even they won't last as long as IBM has.

McChuck said...

They are not just private companies. They are a public accommodation, exactly like a lunch counter, a bus, or a theater. They must allow anyone and everyone to use their service, or they are in violation of the 1964 civil rights act.

Antibubba said...

I'm certain Mr. Jones and his mindless minions are pleased as punch to have their paranoia validated. As long as it isn't the government doing the forbidding, they can do as they please. Were they the only points of access, then McChuck's "public accommodation" argument might have validity, but he's still active on Gab and many alternative sites.

Islacrusez said...

Does the author of that article not realise that Google owns YouTube, or does he just want to call it "Goo-guhl" a few more times and pretend it's a multi-corporation conspiracy because he can't articulate his point properly?

As for Alex, what he deserves is some new ventilation between his eyeballs. Unfortunately what he must get, for the good of us all (ick), is the same rights and protection as the rest of us. At least until someone can string him up in court. If for no other reason than because silencing him validates silencing anyone, including us.

Jonathan H said...

From what I have seen over recent years is that Liberals don't (or can't) fathom that some day they might not be in power.
Another example: Harry Reid changed Senate rules to approve judges with a simple majority because of Republican opposition. At the time, some people warned it would come back to bit the Democrats and they insisted there would never be a time they were out of power, so it didn't matter - and now, just a few short years later, the Republicans are using it exactly the way it was prophesied they could.
Similarly, the many executive actions Obama took that Trump has repealed, Democrats insisted would never be undone because they didn't look to the future.
I suspect the next big Internet company will be one that caters to a large swath of middle of the road Americans and when they censor the Left for ACTUAL hate speech, there will be no grounds for them to complain.

Aesop said...

1) this isn't the cake-baking argument.
You can play that card when anyone can bake a cake.
You cannot make it when you own all the ovens, flour, sugar, and eggs, in existence.
2) Besides the obvious marketplace backlash ($100B in stock market value loss later, Facebook is starting to get the hint, and when the stockowners and SEC get through, there's about to be a yuuuuuge change in corporate directorship there), this will become the worst of all possible worlds: the government will get the camel's nose into the tent and start regulating the Goolag monopoly as what it is, and break it up.

Alex Jones is merely the election of Hugo Chavez to venezuelanize social media. They're in the process of burning down their own house.
{cf.: major Hollywood studios}

You read it from me first.

John Block said...

The one form of speech that needs protecting, is so-called "hate" speech. The free mar
ket of ideas will sort truth from manure, if allowed to....