Smashing the Soapbox

The attack on free speech is gaining speed. Indeed, we shouldn’t expect the Internet to be a realm of free expression for much longer. Consider, for instance, an initiative named Stop Hate for Profit, which is calling on Facebook to “find and remove public and private groups focused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation, and climate denialism” and to adopt “common-sense changes to their policies that will help stem radicalization and hate on the platform”; an allied group named Change the Terms has helpfully provided definitions of these so-called common-sense changes and says they should apply to Internet platforms for social media, video sharing, public or private group communication, message boards, online payments, ticket purchasing, marketing, advertising, blogging, website hosting, and domain name registration.

In the revolutionary environment we find ourselves in, where definitions change almost weekly and purity spirals are the order of the day, this is chilling. Consider, for instance, white supremacy, which theorists like Robin DiAngelo have transformed from something like “a violently fascistic ideology based on the purported natural superiority of lighter-skinned people” into something like “the global, modern society that emerged in mostly Christian Europe and North America based on reason, science, objectivity, individual autonomy, free thought, and free markets.”

Let’s put two and two together, shall we? (Yes, I realize mathematics is racist too, but so be it.) If expressing any fact or opinion that doesn’t conform to the ever more rigid ideology of anti-racism can subject you to effective removal from the Internet, then free speech is dead.

Way back in 1996 at the dawn of the Internet Age, John Perry Barlow penned A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, which among other things proclaimed “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

How quaint.

11 thoughts on “Smashing the Soapbox”

  1. In 2016, I wrote ‘The Seven Threat Vectors Against Free Speech’

    …which, quaintly, did not mention social media. The effect of social media has been to take conversations which previously would have been private, between two or a few individuals, and make them semipublic or fully public…and exposed to attacks by aggressive conformists and review by the platform owners.

  2. The major threat seems to be the control by huge tech companies like Google which has bought up potential competitors like YouTube and other possible sources of free speech. The level of control seems to be the threat and reclassifying these companies as public utilities will be the only way to control this abuse of a publicly funded entity. The Internet was built by DARPA, a federal program. China seems to have no concerns about censorship and Google, especially, has allied itself with China.

  3. Some of us were saying starting right after the last election that the left was going to come after facebook and any other internet platform that the Trump campaign used effectively. They tried for decades to shut down talk radio but can’t because of the way stations work, but they can choke off the internet much much easier. Not perfectly, but pretty close to comprehensively. If there’s a conservative twitter account you like, you better expect it to be shut down sometime in the next few months…

  4. “They tried for decades to shut down talk radio but can’t because of the way stations work”

    All over-the-air broadcasting is regulated by the FCC, and could probably be controlled more comprehensively than the Internet could be.

  5. “All over-the-air broadcasting is regulated by the FCC, and could probably be controlled more comprehensively than the Internet could be.”

    True, but not in secret at the click of a mouse as we saw with Twitter. Until recently, station owners could also afford lawyers and the courts. It is the way it works in most of the rest of the world, just not here.

    The big platforms are in the position of the boiled frog. They could have jumped out of the pot by standing pat on freedom of speech. Instead, they are hiring tens of thousands of people to try to apply nebulous, ever changing standards to billions of tweets and posts. In VC speak, that’s not going to scale. They’re all in the position of Uber, hoping they can square the AI circle before all the money runs down the drain.

  6. The Dems tried to bully the FCC into shutting down Rush Limbaugh. It failed miserably, although your average liberal still wishes the government would do so.
    Despite complaints about Clear Channel monopoly power, there is still something like a free market in radio, and a profit motive. There’s no free speech way to shut down Rush, and there are plenty of stations who would love to get his audience. Twitter can shut down anyone it wants for any reason, and there is no serious alternative.

  7. Note the difference between liberals and patriotic Americans.

    Liberals want to use the government to shut down speech they don’t like, such as that of Rush Limbaugh.

    Patriotic Americans don’t want the government to shut down any speech. They prefer that the market do that. See, e.g., Air America.

  8. “Common sense reform” is leftist code for “we’re going to eliminate one of your constitutional rights whether you like it or not”. It must focus group well with the suburban white women the Dems are getting. I have no doubts that should Dems get control of the government we will lose great portions of our first amendment rights and all of our second amendment rights. All in the name of common sense. Oh, and the media is awful and I hope the tiger eats them all soon.

    Dave Rubin had a good interview with Senator Cruz on the YouTube. Some good conversation about big tech and freedom of speech. I’m liking Rubin’s interviews more and more. He’s a liberal who’s been red pilled good and hard and he talks about it in the interview.

  9. All over-the-air broadcasting is regulated by the FCC, and could probably be controlled more comprehensively than the Internet could be.

    The left’s efforts to shut down Limbaugh failed because he was able to syndicate his own show which now has almost 100% local sponsors. That is much harder to do with TV and his attempt at TV failed. They might be able to shut down Tucker Carlson, especially if YouTube is part of the effort. However, that would be a pretty good anti-trust case.

  10. “It is the way it works in most of the rest of the world, just not here.” I should have added “yet”.

    Limbaugh has been self syndicated from the first day of his national show back in 1988, I was listening. The way it works is that around half of the ads are sold by Limbaugh for national distribution and are broadcast as part of the main show. He takes all of this revenue. The other ads are open and the station sells them locally. They keep all this money. Any station that drops it knows that it will be picked up by a competitor in hours.

    He also has a very long list of advertisers desperate for exposure, so anybody that wants can drop him and he will never see a dime less. The FCC would have to go after all 600 or however many stations he has now, one by one and I doubt they have the stomach for it. Some of them still have money, a lot from Rush.

  11. As the Smithsonian proves, White culture is alien to POC. Let’s keep it that way. All around us are the consequences of the false belief that all humanity can share in the best, most advanced culture in the world. Give the people what they want.

    DiAngelo is correct. Truth is racist, sexist, and homophobic. The free Internet was invented mostly by racist, sexist, homophobic Whites. Barlow’s comment (and the similar “The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”) could be true only when non-Leftists Whites control the Internet. All other Internets are PRC/USSR style.

    I am all for homosexuals and transsexuals setting up their own society completely and wholly apart from the society they despise as “breeders.” I think it’s a self-correcting problem. Most Leftism is a self-correcting problem, when it can be isolated in a city, state, society, or nation.

    Don’t like my conclusions? Great—show me the great African democracies that arose after colonialism ended. Show me the love of freedom in the People’s Republics.*

    In the end, reality must be persuasive.

    * Think of what Japan would will be like when its patron is China, not the USA. We have seen what happens in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand when those peoples are inspired by Leftism and the USSR.

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