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:
- What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
- What goes around, comes around.
- 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 MySpace? LiveJournal? AOL? 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.