The anti-Trump Weekly Standard (TWS) is calling for social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube to expand their blacklists of people and organizations like Alex Jones and Infowars.
"There may come a time when tech companies make a bad decision regarding who they allow to use their platforms. But this isn’t that." https://t.co/1tpuRTWQqV
— Holmes (@HolmesLybrand) August 8, 2018
In his call for online purity, a purity that will be defined by bubbled billionaire Tech Czars, TWS’s Jonathan Last offers a false and intellectually lazy choice:
Maybe you think that the public square the Internet has created over the last decade is healthy and optimal. If so, then banning Alex Jones is a bad idea. But if you look around online communities and think that they can, and should, be better—then the real problem is that tech companies haven’t gone far enough.
As you can see, in its ongoing efforts to wrangle cable news invites, TWS is adopting the exact same Orwellian language we hear from the book burners in the establishment media and from Social Justice Warriors–buzzwords like “healthy” and “optimal” and “be better.”
This is the language of censors, of those who purge heretics for wrongthink under the guise of doing what is best for “the community.”
You see, they are the ones who know what opinions and ideas we should and should not have access to — for our own good.
Jonathan Last’s piece is also peppered with the non-argument that private companies should be allowed to set their own “standards,” even though no one is calling on these monster-sized companies not to have standards.
Rather, what we are calling for is truth in advertising and an equal application of standards.
Something TWS takes pains to ignore is the fact that prior to Big Tech maneuvering its way into monopolizing the town square that is social media, prior to these multi-nationals scooping up everyone’s business to create that monopoly, we were promised free and unfettered speech.
Before kidnapping the town square, the kidnappers assured and reassured us no one would be booted from the town square.
And then there is the hypocrisy…
Interestingly enough, when Last is not talking about a vocal Trump supporter like Alex Jones, he has an entirely different opinion about the rights of private companies to set their own standards.
When Google fired James Damore last August for his opinions about gender, when Google decided who it would allow onto its property and hand a paycheck to every week, Last blasted the company as “Stalinist.”
Damore didn’t’ wind up in a gulag. (Not yet, anyway.) He was merely deprived of his livelihood a few days after writing a samizdat essay in which he politely and compassionately expressed a coherent set of rational ideas.
But just like in Stalin’s Russia, at Google there are Right Thoughts and there are Wrong Thoughts. These categories are determined by those in power and the average worker dissents from them, even by an inch, at his peril.
So, as you can see, Last and the TWS actually have no guiding moral or free speech principles — other than to cheer on and encourage Big Tech Monopolies to silence Trump supporters.
Something else these Vichy Republicans refuse to do is draw a line, is to explain to us rubes at what point they would encourage the government to do its primary job (which is to protect our rights).
Every grocery store and gas station within 100 miles of Jonathan Last has the right to refuse him service. Every Internet provider has the right to refuse Last and the Weekly Standard Internet service. The best way to get someone to re-examine his precious “muh principles” is to force him to actually live under those precious “muh principles.”
Last’s dumbest argument, however, involves comparing Christian wedding cake bakers to Facebook.
Despite all facts to the contrary, this is actually presented as a serious argument [emphasis mine]:
You might recall a couple months ago when conservatives celebrated the Masterpiece Cake Shop decision. (Rightly, in my view.) The nub of their argument was that privately held businesses ought to be allowed to refuse certain kinds of services to certain customers, provided that (1) the refusal was based on reasonable, non-discriminatory grounds and that (2) the person being refused had reasonable recourse to an alternative remedy.
That’s precisely what has happened here. Jones is being denied access based on his behavior and actions, not who or what he is.
Last is either breathtakingly obtuse or desperate to mislead his readers.
The gay wedding cake debate has absolutely nothing to do with “behavior and actions.” The owner of the cake shop in question was more than happy to sell his same-sex customers any cake that was already on the shelf.
The distinction here — and this is important — is that this same-sex couple demanded this cake artist PARTICIPATE in their behavior, that he PARTICIPATE in their gay wedding, PARTICIPATE in what this baker sees (accurately) as the sacramentalization of a sin.
In other words, their demand was that an artist participate in sin by creating art that violated his conscience.
Newsflash: Jones is not asking Facebook to write his copy. Nor is he asking YouTube to produce his videos. Nor is he asking anyone to participate in what many (including me) would describe as his “sin” of his conspiracy theories.
All Jones wants is what is already on the shelf, what everyone else has access to.
I do not like Infowars. On that issue, the Weekly Standard and I agree 100 percent.
But what I am doing here, and what I have done many times in the past, is to defend speech I do not like, do not agree with, and even find repulsive — and defending speech that offends you is the only way to protect the all-important spirit of the First Amendment against any kind of censorship, including corporate censorship.
But as you can see from the examples above, TWS and Last only defend speech they agree with, while they cheer on and encourage the corporate censorship of speech they do not agree with — speech that competes with them in the arena of ideas.
And there is no other way to describe that other than un-American.
As far as I know, Alex Jones has never called for any kind of censorship, corporate or otherwise, against anyone — including those demanding he be silenced.
Which means that for all his flaws, and he has many, Jones is actually “better” for the “optimal health” of the “community” than the morally compromised cruise ship stewards on the sinking USS TWS.