Easily the dumbest article I’ve read this year was one by a posh liberal columnist in a high end political journal explaining why freedom of speech wasn’t under threat in the West. Anyone who argued otherwise, he claimed, was a “grade A chocolate-coated plonker.”
It was, of course, the kind of glib nonsense you could only spout if you were on the squishy left/bien-pensant/progressive side of the political argument.
Everyone on the right knows better because they have all experienced at first hand what it’s like to live in a culture where you cannot speak your mind without being punished for it.
Sometimes – speaking up for Brexit or Donald Trump at a London dinner party, say – it merely leads to social ostracism; or losing friends who probably never deserved to have you as a friend anyway.
Too often, though, the consequences are far more serious than that: loss of work; denial of promotion; the destruction of your business or your income stream; a full scale social media bullying campaign orchestrated by the SJW hate mob followed by the curtailment of your career; police investigation; even arrest and imprisonment.
But it’s not just individual freedoms which suffer; the very future of Western liberal democracy is at stake here, as governments start copying the tactics of totalitarian states by using censorship to silence voices which dissent from their preferred progressive narrative.
If you want an insight into just how bad the problem has got and why it urgently needs addressing, I strongly recommend you listen to my podcast with Ezra Levant.
Levant is the founder of Canada’s Rebel Media, which, like Breitbart News, reports on all those inconvenient truths which the liberal-left establishment would rather brush under the carpet.
What he told me about the censorship he has experienced from Silicon Valley – aka San Francisco: “the most left wing city in the U.S.” – didn’t surprise me but it did shock me.
He described how YouTube, for no clear reason, demonetized his Rebel Media content.
This capricious decision could have killed his company. In 2017, YouTube advertising was generating $1 million a year for RebelMedia. Then: nada.
Businesses live or die by the market and rightly so: it’s the most efficient and fair way to ensure that scarce resources are allocated towards services and products that people most want.
But Rebel Media wasn’t being punished by the market for failure: on the contrary, it was clearly creating product that many people like to see, otherwise it wouldn’t have made that million bucks in advertising.
No, it was simply being punished by the left-liberal commissars who police YouTube for having the ‘wrong’ kind of politics.
Young Turks don’t get demonetized for talking politics; Eminem doesn’t get demonetized when he makes second-rate rap songs full of sophomoric attacks on President Trump.
You only get demonetized if you contradict Silicon Valley’s left-liberal narrative.
Given that free speech is one of the bedrocks of liberal democracy, how can any industry be allowed to wield such power that it is able to censor the views held by perhaps half the population?
To appreciate how bad the problem is, follow Levant’s suggested thought-experiment.
“Imagine if you were having a conversation on your cellphone and you got a memo from your cellphone company saying: ‘We heard you talking about certain things on the phone and we didn’t like that. So if you don’t stop having those conversations we’re going to cancel your cellphone contract.”
As Levant says, you’d be outraged. You’d say: “You’re just a phone. Just a platform. I can say whatever the hell I want.”
Except with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Amazon and the rest it is clearly the case that you cannot say whatever you like.
These Silicon Valley tech firms form the kind of oppressive, anti-consumer oligopoly that prompted Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting in the early 20th century.
The difference between Jeff Bezos and JD Rockefeller is that whereas Rockefeller just controlled oil, Bezos and his ilk control “ideas, information, perception of the world.”
As Levant says:
“He can make you vanish in a moment. He’s got a half billion contract with the CIA. The new monopoly – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Amazon are far more powerful politically and ideologically than John Rockefeller ever was.”
It gets worse. Whatever threat these organizations pose to individual freedoms, the way they work in cahoots with governments is more dangerous still.
“Governments say: ‘Ah. I could censor my enemies but that’s subject to debate and scrutiny and hearings and challenges and constitutional matters and transparency. But, what if I have a private tete-a-tete with the head of Facebook I say: ‘You shut down this Alternative für Deutschland, you gotta shut down this Marine le Pen for me, we can’t have another Brexit, another Trump. Can you, my Democrat friends in San Francisco the most left-wing city in America, can you put your finger on the scale just a little bit? Because if I – Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel – do that, there’ll be squawking, there’ll be law suits. But if I just whisper in your ear that we’ll go easy on your tax avoidance and we won’t hold you culpable for hate speech, you’ll shut down Tommy Robinson…”
He’s right, of course, about the seriousness of the problem.
He’s also dead right about the solution.
“There’s only one man in the world who can stop this. His name is Donald Trump.”
The recent share price collapses of Facebook and Twitter are almost like a sign from God: “Smite them, Donald!”
And I’m only half joking. It really is a miracle that right now we have in the White House not a crooked globalist who would have given Silicon Valley a free pass but somebody who not only gets the culture wars but who also has the power to prevent the bad guys from winning them.
If free speech goes, Western Civilization dies with it. Trump gets that, I think. I trust he will do the right thing before it’s too late…