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.
Assaults on free speech may be the most pressing issue of our time. Anyone reading this blog has surely witnessed the deplatforming of conservative figures under nebulous “community guidelines,” as well as the personal and professional ruin that tend to follow.
Indeed, I occasionally fear that my dashed-off ramblings might, in some none-too-distant Orwellian America, be misinterpreted or misapplied as “hate speech”—all it takes is the wrong person complaining. Of course, this blog’s obscurity is perhaps my best defense—I’m too small to matter. That said, that fear is one reason I’m pumping up alternative income streams and attempting to boost my SubscribeStar subscriber base; the authoritarian maw of the SJWs grows ever wider.
Big Tech companies routinely run roughshod over free speech, working hand-in-glove with the Deep State of our government to curtail our rights. This kind of public-private tyranny is designed to allow the government to control speech when it legally and constitutionally cannot, by allowing large tech companies to write vague, ever-changing “terms of service” agreements that are weaponized to silence or smother conservative voices.
With the potential to control what citizens see or don’t see, Big Tech firms like Facebook and Google have the power—given their incredible market share—to suppress news favorable to the president (for example), burying news that doesn’t fit their hip, Leftist viewpoints. Even when third party websites can exist, they face demonetization: get dropped by PayPal, and your ability to take donations or collect subscription fees withers.
All that power means Big Tech companies will likely play a huge role in the outcome of the 2020 election. President Trump and conservative Republicans will be fighting an uphill battle against a blackout of the techno-elites’ making.
As such, this week’s Lazy Sunday is dedicated to four pieces about the techno-weirdos that lord over our society like the robber barons of the Gilded Age:
“Banned! Techno-Elite Deplatform Alex Jones” – this piece chronicled the surreptitious, cross-platform, nearly simultaneous deplatforming of InfoWars, Alex Jones’s alternative news and commentary site. The coordinated nature of Jones’s deplatforming was such a stark example of collusion across multiple companies in the same industry, it practically begged for a Department of Justice investigation. As far as I know, the government never looked into it. Naturally, I immediately purchased a bunch of InfoWars stickers, because now we pretty much have to support Alex Jones, even if he is a bit wacky.
“First They Came for Crowder” – earlier this summer, lisping, totalitarian gay apparatchik Carlos Maza convinced YouTube to demonetize conservative comedian Steven Crowder with a single limp flick of his wrist. The fallout was that a number of content creators—even non-conservatives—began to see their videos demonetized, as clueless YouTube execs tried to figure out what to do.
“Creepy Techno-Elites Spy on Users” – as if all this malfeasance weren’t enough, Facebook—owned and operated by an autistic intellectual property thief—was paying scribblers to transcribe the contents of voice calls made over its Messenger app. Even the NSA never (allegedly) listened to calls without a warrant, but Facebook “is a private company, so it can do whatever it wants,” scream the libertarians. Even more shocking, Google is rewriting its algorithms to suppress search results related to conservative content. Break ’em up, DoJ!
“Friday Reading – Dystopian Short Story” – this recent post is a review and summary of the story “Das Woke Capital,” a chilling vision of what is to come if we don’t disrupt the nexus of progressive governance and progressive corporations. Just a day after writing that post, Terror House Magazine published a similar story, “Chip,” about a near-future in which users willingly get a cybernetic chip implant that allows them to share content mind-to-mind—only, the designers have taken control of users’ minds to put them to work on massive undertakings like uncovering light-speed hyper-drives. Sound ludicrous? Don’t be so hasty.
We’re living in strange times, when technology has the potential to destroy our fraying social fabric—and to suppress the views of anyone who disagrees with the mercurial beta soyboys that run these companies. I am loathe to recommend government intervention, but these companies represent an existential threat. Break them up!
It’s been a good, but long, week—I’m still recovering from a nasty cold that’s lingered for almost three weeks now—and the three-day Labor Day Weekend will be a welcome respite. Classes are going well, and my Advanced Placement United States History students seem, in the whole, engaged and eager to learn about our nation’s history. I’m just looking forward to some rest.
So, what better time to skip politics and do a little reading? I occasionally read short stories from Terror House Magazine, an online literary magazine that will publish pretty much anything. They run a monthly prize with a $10 purse for the best submission, but otherwise the submissions are (it seems) completely open.
Because anyone can submit pretty much anything, some of the work is basically smut—be forewarned. But after weeding out the trash, they publish some truly excellent literature.
Such was the case with a chilling little tale, a vision of an America just a blink away: “Das Woke Capital.”
That’s a level of creepy beyond merely selling your data or using an algorithm to use facial recognition software. That’s creepy, to be sure, but when it’s some faceless formula it doesn’t seem as bad. When a living, breathing humanoid is pouring over your voice conversations (salacious or otherwise), it adds a whole other layer of skin-crawling chilliness to creepiness factor.