Et tu, WordPress?

Thanks to photog for informing me about this one:  legendary conservative blog Conservative Treehouse is being deplatformed.  WordPress has given them to 2 December 2020 to find a new host.

It’s another sad casualty in the never-ending pogroms of Big Tech.  I am not a regular Conservative Treehouse reader, but it’s fairly standard, non-controversial conservative commentary.  CT was big on debunking the Russian conspiracy and Ukrainian hoaxes, and really delved deeply into the weeds of those baseless witch hunts.  It’s also been going hard to illuminate the theft of the presidential election.

But that’s enough.  In a world in which Twitter posts Orwellian “fact-check” tags to tweets about the election, any questioning of the orthodoxy is a thoughtcrime.  CT itself points to the real reason for their deplatforming:

The WordPress company is not explaining the reason for deplatforming because there is no justifiable reason for it.  At the same time, they are bold in their position. Perhaps this is the most alarming part; and everyone should pay attention. They don’t care.

Truthful assembly is now the risk.  CTH is now too big; with a site reach of 500,000 to a million unique readers each day; and with well over 200,000 subscribers; our assembly is too large, too influential, and presents a risk… we guard the flickering flame.

That’s the key—Conservative Treehouse is effective; ergo, it must be eliminated.  I’ve written far spicier posts on this blog, but I’m so small, WordPress doesn’t care (or, more likely, doesn’t notice).

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More Tech Censorship

Another round of tech censorship is upon us.  The Trump campaign has been banned from streaming service Twitch (which I thought was just for gamers and girls with big boobs).  A bunch of conservative and Right-leaning personalities have been banned from YouTube, including Gavin McInnes, who built his own platform at Censored.TV.  Immigration patriot website VDare may lose its domain registrar, forcing the website to the Dark Web and TOR browsers.

Probably the most shocking is the digital defenestration of Stefan Molyneux, the grandiloquent Internet philosopher.  Molyneux’s Freedomain Radio touts itself as “the world’s number one philosophy show,” and Molyneux’s output is ponderously prolific.  Within hours of major news events, Molyneux will have long “The Truth about [Insert Controversial Figure or Event Here]” videos uploaded, meticulously researched and supported with fact-filled PowerPoints.

Lately, though, Molyneux has been posting videos of his daughter’s tadpole pool, or of the two of them building a turtle garden.  He’s also been livestreaming Doom—controversial in the Tipper Gore era of schoolmarmish censorship of video games and music, maybe, but not thirty years later, and certainly not grounds for deplatforming.

So why did the Left decide to destroy Molyneux’s livelihood?  The simple answers:  because he’s Right-wing, and because they could.

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TBT: The Price of Freedom: A Good Attorney

One of the harsh realities for conservatives these days is that the only true guarantee of your rights is deep pockets and a good attorney.  With the direction things are heading, that’s even truer today than when I wrote this post one year ago.

Indeed, I think the Masterpiece Cakeshop guy got sued again, but at this point, I’m not even sure.  There are endless combinations of protected and preferred identities at this point, so I’m sure refusing to bake a cake for a Wookie Life Day banquet will result in fines from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

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Lazy Sunday LXV: Techno-Weirdos II

The New Year is chugging along, with Democratic primaries and caucuses mere weeks away.  Early voting has already started, as I noted yesterday.  “Tom Steyer’s Belt” continues to drive surreal amounts of traffic, which I suppose is one metric for the ubiquity of his ads.

Perhaps the greatest ally the eventual Democratic nominee will have is Big Tech.  We’re already witnessing the preemptive deplatforming of various conservative and anti-Leftist figures.  Attempts to weed out “fake” news—which to the Left is any news not reflexively critical of Trump—and to “fact check” conservatives are going to pick up as the election approaches.

Tech censorship raises a number of thorny questions that our traditional understanding of rights and obligations struggles to answer.  The question of free speech is particularly tricky, as it does seem that the monopolistic power—and the active collusion between them!—of Big Tech companies effectively strangles dissent.

That might be constitutional in a strictly literal sense—at least it’s not the government infringing on our rights—but it certainly violates the spirit of freedom of speech.  And, seriously, who doesn’t think the apparatchiks in The Swamp aren’t eagerly working hand-in-iron-fist with Google to keep tabs on us?

Does anyone have a copy of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act sitting around?  Maybe we should dust that off.  Trump would make a good trust-buster, as would Attorney General Bill Barr.  I’d sure love to see a political cartoon of the ursiline Barr swinging a club at a computer screen.

With that, here are two recent pieces I’ve written on tech companies and censorship:

  • Free Speech in the Private Sector” – This post looked at a lengthy essay from science-fiction author Cory Doctorow, in which he argued that our traditional understanding of freedom of speech is insufficient in addressing tech censorship.  The old libertarian canard that “a private company can set whatever limits on speech it wants” is a worthy ideal, but when the “private company” dominates the public square and effectively makes some forms of expression or some ideas unspeakable, then do we really have free speech?
  • Mailchimp Monkeys with Molyneux” – As if on cue, Mailchimp obligingly proved Doctorow’s point when it deplatformed Stefan Molyneux in a Twitter-induced panic.  Mailchimp might not be monopolistic in the way, say, Google is, but it’s all part of that cabal of freedom-hating e-litists.  Molyneux is a bit grandiose, to be sure, but he’s been maligned as being all sorts of unacceptable -isms and -ists that he simply isn’t.

That’s it for this week, folks.  Here’s to another week of selling our data to faceless technocratic overlords.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: First They Came for Crowder

It’s been a week for discussing tech censorship.  Yesterday, I wrote about Stefan Molyneux’s suspension from Mailchimp.  That was the result of deliberate misinformation and a handful of Twitter trolls.  It’s scary to consider that that’s all it takes to be deplatformed.

Such incidences are eerily, distressingly common.  Milo, Gavin McInnes, Laura Loomer, Alex Jones—all victims of Big Tech’s insatiable lust for virtue-signalling and social control.

This week’s TBT, then, looks back to Summer 2019, when conservative comedian Steven Crowder saw himself at the center of an on-again, off-again controversy regarding a mincing radical.

The great English physician said (I’m paraphrasing here) that we don’t need to be taught so much as we need to be reminded.  Crowder has endured with an excellent legal team, but it’s worth our time to consider the past (and present) battles in the ever-raging culture war.

Here is 2019’s “First They Came for Crowder“:

The big news in the conservative world this week was YouTube’s unceremonious demonetizing of Steven Crowder, yet another example of techno-elites censoring conservative and dissident voices.  Apparently, YouTube has somewhat reversed that decision if Crowder removes the hilarious “Socialism is for Figs” t-shirt from his website’s store (which, if that link is any indication, they have done).

The occasion for this deplatforming was a bout of limp-wristed hysterics from gay Hispanic (that’s a two-fer) Carlos Maza, a whinging, soyboy-ish fop with a penchant for calls of violence against conservatives.  Once again, loafer-lightened totalitarianism rears its fabulous head.

Maza argued that Crowder had “bullied” him in a series of sketches lampooning the sassy Latina’s emphatic videos for Vox.  As such, Maza demanded YouTube demonetize Crowder’s videos on its site.  When YouTube refused, Captain Canines led progressive journalists on a crusade against YouTube, claiming it didn’t do enough to protect LGBTQ2+etc. creators.

Please.  As Will Chamberlain writes in a piece on Human Events, Maza is one of the most privileged people on the planet:  he’s a flamingly gay Hispanic journalist.  Few people enjoy greater access to the full might and rancor of the progressive press (but I repeat myself) than this guy.

Crowder, on the other hand, has to hawk humorous t-shirts and hand-etched mugs to create a source of non-YouTube funding in order to keep his show going.  He’s been urging fans to subscribe to Mug Club for years for precisely this reason:  YouTube could pull the rug out at any moment (use promo code “Free Speech” for $30 off an annual subscription—that’s an incredible bargain).

YouTube brought in users with the promise of using their platform to make a living.  Now that they have a monopolistic market share of viewer eyeballs, they murkily shift their guidelines like a witch’s cauldron, booting conservatives for the slightest perceived offense.

Conservative content creators need reliable sources of funding to fight against the progressive media machine.  Steven Crowder needs your support.

And trust me—the mug alone is worth $70.

Mailchimp Monkeys with Molyneux

I purchased a new vehicle a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, I’m seeing Nissan Versa Notes everywhere (and they are not terribly common).  We’ve all experienced this sensation before:  we learn a new word, for example, and suddenly we hear it spoken frequently, when before it went unheard.

That’s the phenomenon I’m experiencing this morning:  no sooner did I write about Big Tech’s crippling control over our freedom of speech, e-mail service Mailchimp unceremoniously dumped Internet philosopher and YouTube personality Stefan Molyneux.  Molyneux hosts Freedomain Radio, which bills itself as “the world’s number one philosophy show.”

I’ve listened to a lot of Molyneux’s videos.  He’s not my favorite commentator, and he can be a bit rambling (not that I can judge him too harshly for that), but his demeanor and style are endearing, and his output is insanely prolific.  Within hours of a major news event, he’ll have a detailed, lengthy video breaking down the relevant information.  On top of all that, he hosts a live call-in show, from which he’ll derive videos that often ninety minutes in length.  It helps that his callers often have entertainingly tragic problems.

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Support Milo

I hold a soft spot in my heart for conservative gadfly and Internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.  I recall fondly his heyday in 2015-2016, when he championed free speech in the Babylon of Progressivism, Berkeley, California.  I still wish President Trump would appoint him White House Press Secretary—it would be must-see TV every day.

Behind the flamboyant, cartoonish homosexuality and the over-the-top trollery, though, is a talented journalist and writer; indeed, Milo’s work is some of the best long-form journalism I’ve ever read.  His writing, like his public speaking, is engaging and well-researched:  he really checks his facts and his sources, while still delivering that withering Coulterian death strike upon his unfortunate target.

Unfortunately, even fewer Americans will have the opportunity to read his work, as he’s apparently sold his website, Dangerous.com.

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FreeSpeech.TV Lineup Announced

Thanks to my brother for this nocturnal news update:  Gavin McInnes’s new subscription-based service, FreeSpeech.TV, is ready to launch.  Listeners to the excellent, hilarious Get Off My Lawn podcast know that Gavin has been planning this platform for some time now, so it’s exciting to see the lineup.  The most exciting part of that schedule:  the twice-monthly sit-downs with Milo Yiannopoulos to talk about the news.  Talk about throwing gasoline onto a raging fire of awesomeness.

The service is $10 a month, or $100 a year, which is on par with Steven Crowder’s Mug Club or Ben Shapiro’s subscription.  I just don’t think it comes with a Leftist Tears Hot-or-Cold Tumbler, much less a far superior hand-etched mug.  But with McInnes’s crazy, controversial, humorous observations about life and culture, I can live without a drinking vessel tossed in (although it would be hysterical to drink coffee from a mug made to look like McInnes’s bearded mug).

Because of constant censorship from techno-elites and their ever-shifting “terms of services,” conservative and Dissident Right voices have fewer and fewer options to raise funds.  Some sites, like immigration patriot website VDare.com, can’t even use PayPal anymore.  As such, more and more content creators are turning to alternative or free-speech-friendly services, or undertaking the cost of creating their own infrastructure, so they can continue to get their work to fans.

I am definitely a small fry in this game of commentary, but that’s why I’ve setup a page with SubscribeStar.  My goal isn’t too live off of subscriptions, but just to supplement my income slightly to make blogging more on a daily basis more feasible (and to reinvest some of the funds into maintaining and improving the experience).

For guys like Gavin McInnes, who has been hounded from even supposed safe havens like his old employer, CRTV (now BlazeTV), reliable income streams aren’t a passing lark—they’re absolutely crucial.

In a better timeline, McInnes would be hosting Red Eye.  But he’s a fighter, and I have no doubt his new service will continue to deliver the laughs.

Free speech isn’t free.  Support creators like McInness, Crowder, Shapiro, and Milo to the best of your ability to keep their content alive.

If you’d like to support MY content, consider signing up for a subscription to my SubscribeStar page.  New, exclusive content every Saturday, starting at just $1 a month.

TBT: Banned! Techno-Elites Deplatform Alex Jones

It now seems like an eternity ago, but Alex Jones’s Infowars was banned from multiple social media platforms last August.  Given Facebook’s freedom-killing decision to deplatform “controversial” right-wing figures like Milo Yiannopoulos, it seemed germane to look back at the Infowars deplatforming, as it was an instructive moment.

Conservatives have been complacent on this issue.  Yes, many conservative bloggers and YouTube personalities have denounced the Facebook deplatforming, but there’s still this sense that, “Well, it’s just Milo and Gavin McInnes, they are pretty outrageous, and so dreadfully lacking in decorum.”  We can’t have that kind of cuckiness in the conversation.  Milo might be outlandish, and McInnes makes some over-the-top, overly general statements, but that’s the whole point of free speech.  Why are we giving these tech companies a pass?

It’s not going to stop at Milo.  Indeed, it’s unclear if it even started with him.  As I detail in the post below, even more mainstream figures like Stephen Crowder have struggled against YouTube demonetization and other “soft” forms of deplatforming.  I know Milo is crass and a bit of a troll—but he’s also right and factually accurate on almost every topic.

Note, too, how Facebook threw in anti-Semitic radical Louis Farrakhan as a clear smokescreen.  “Oh, we’re not just targeting conservatives—here’s a Leftist race-baiter, too!”  Nice try.  Notice that whenever there’s been a controversial conservative figure banned, the Right always points out that Farrakhan is still on [insert social medial platform here].  Facebook couldn’t have missed that, and went for the low-hanging fruit of Farrakhanean craziness.  But even Farrakhan should be able to say his wacky, hateful stuff—“sunlight is the best disinfectant,” as I wrote in August.

As for the cuckier types on the Right, I’m getting so sick of this excessive focus on presentation-as-message.  Milo and McInnes present their ideas in funny ways, but that doesn’t mean the ideas themselves are worthy of condemnation.  Further, we’re almost too good at policing our own on the Right.  Can’t we give Milo some leeway?  The stakes are too high to get caught up on semantics.  “Oh, he texted something mean.”  Who cares?  I’m not Milo’s mom, and Ben Shapiro shouldn’t be either.

This tweet from Dissident Right babe Lauren Southern sums it up nicely:

Free speech isn’t free, and just because Facebook is a “private company” doesn’t mean it should be able to trample our freedoms.  We’re in uncharted territory, but we have to do something to protect speech for all Americans.

So, here is August’s “Banned! Techno-Elites Deplatform Alex Jones,” sadly relevant once again:

The explosive news Monday was that tech giants Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, and Apple banned Alex Jones and Infowars from their respective platforms.  While Jones is a controversial figure who peddles in rumor, conspiracy, and innuendo, the concerted actionfrom separately-owned and -managed Silicon Valley entities is unsettling.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote a piece for National Review arguing that Silicon Valley giants should be regulated—or even busted up—to prevent monopolistic and anti-competitive practices, drawing parallels to the muckraking reformers of the early twentieth century who brought down Standard Oil.   I’m wary of such solutions-by-government, but Hanson was anticipating a problem that has become all-too familiar:  the massive social and cultural clout the unmoored tech giants wield.

Steven Crowder of online late-night show Louder with Crowder often pokes fun at—and complains loudly about—the various murky “terms and services” and “community guidelines” rules that are ever-shifting in continuously updated apps and platforms.  A slight change in a Facebook algorithm—or a Twitter employee having a bad day—can lead to massive reductions in traffic for a YouTuber or blogger.  Reduced—or eliminated—traffic means less revenue.  YouTubers like Crowder who helped build the platform now find their videos demonetized for the most mysterious of reasons.

Candace Owens was kicked from Twitter because she rewrote recent New York Times hire and anti-white racist Sarah Jeong’s tweets by replacing disparaging uses of “white” with “black” or “Jew.”  Razorfirst posted a video some months ago of him literally just talking about nonsense for five minutes… and it was immediately demonetized.

Now Alex Jones is banned across multiple platforms from multiple platforms—which is absolutely chilling.  Jones is certainly not without controversy, and I wouldn’t take his ramblings to heart without a heaping helping of salt, but just because he’s a kinda nutty conspiracy kook who enjoys ripping his shirt off doesn’t make his situation any less terrible.  If we write off Jones because he was “asking for it” by being kooky, then we’re missing the whole point of free speech.

And, yes, the usual objections are inevitable:  “but, TPP, the First Amendment speech protections only apply to the government!  Companies can set whatever guidelines they want!  You can use some other platform!  He still has his website.”  Yes, yes, yes, and yes—all true.  Nevertheless, the arbitrary power we’ve voluntarily—if unwittingly—yielded to these tech elites is staggering.  And this preponderance of power may be where Hanson has a point.

Is not the function of the government to protect the rights of its citizens from threats and violations, both foreign and domestic?  In this case, arbitrary bans—particularly these coordinated attacks on controversial figures—seem to be a powerful means of preventing an individual and/or entity from delivering his message in the public square.  Like the street corner doomsayer, Alex Jones has a right to be heard, even if he’s sometimes insane (for me, the jury is out on Jones; I enjoy the entertainment value of his commentary, and I think he’s probably right about 80% of the time, but then he veers off into crisis actors, etc.—the danger of a man who is charismatic and convincing).

Today, it’s a relatively buffoonish character like Jones.  Tomorrow—who knows?  Do we really want to find out?  “Hate speech” is a code word for silencing conservatives.  It’s better to publish one racist screed from a lonely nut (not referencing Jones here, to be clear) than to muzzle millions because their innocuous, mainstream conservative viewpoint might been interpreted as a “dog-whistle.”

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it’s often better to give madmen the rope with which to hang themselves.  When we try to silence them, they only gain in credibility (indeed, when I read the news, I immediately went… to Infowars!).