I“It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.”
In Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451, Captain Beatty explains to Guy Montag how the society in the novel devolved into a mindless swamp dominated by mass conformity and groupthink. He explains to Montag:
"People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? ...Coloured people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Bum the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, into the incinerator."
And of course, in the novel, it's not really about making people happy. It's about shutting people up so that the powers-that-be can assert total control over everyone's lives. It's about the elites maintaining their power without complaints from the humble masses. It's about placating the people, as the Roman emperors did when they gave out wine and grain in order to prevent people from rebelling. It's pandering at its most dangerous.
That could never happen here, right? Isn't that just for sci-fi novels and conspiracy theorists? Just ask conservative pundit Steven Crowder that question. Crowder was recently demonetized by YouTube after complaints by Vox journalist Carlos Maza. Maza, who is gay, complained that Crowder was bullying him - Crowder's defenders say otherwise, that while he did lampoon Maza, it was in the spirit of satire and parody, not homophobia. (you can decide for yourself)
“When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
There's an ugly trend going on right now on social media, not surprisingly as we're heading into the 2020 presidential elections. Here's a growing list of conservative voices either demonetized or banned from various platforms:
Many of the Prager University videos were placed on the restricted list by YouTube, so even though they are still on the platform, many of their videos are not accessible to anyone doing a restricted search - furthermore, many of them have been demonetized. Live Action, a popular pro-life site, was recently listed on Pinterest as porn, and then banned from the platform altogether. “By secretly applying the label of ‘pornography’ to Live Action’s pro-life content, Pinterest demonstrates a concerted effort to sideline a leading pro-life organization the only way they knew how,” according to Lila Rose, Live Action's founder. She asserted that they were targeted by Pinterest, "because our message is so effective at educating millions about the humanity of the preborn child and the injustice of abortion.” ++ To be fair, you can access information about Lila Rose and Live Action on the site, but they can't post themselves.
(by the way, you can also find tons of quotes by the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan on Pinterest, and despite his outrageous and hateful statements, he still has an active Twitter account. Double standard anyone?)
Not only has Facebook banned conservative British pundit Paul Joseph Watson, but Alex Jones' infamous InfoWars has been removed from all social media platforms. At the same time, not only is the left-wing terror group ANTIFA not banned from Twitter, they use the platform to recruit others to start their own chapters so they can continue their destructive and sometimes violent campaign.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
You don't have to be a fan of anyone, right, left, or in the middle, but banning people just for speaking? For saying something you don't like or that's even rude? In my mind, ANTIFA is doing much worse because they are deliberately using Twitter to recruit, and considering what the group does in their "protests," one could argue that they are promoting violence on social media.
So should we ban them? Who decides this? That's the problem, at least in part. YouTube, for example, has taken it on themselves to define hate, but that begs the question, should we ban hate speech at all? Here are some examples of what can get you punished on YouTube:
In the episode, anyone who didn't look a certain way, use certain kinds of words, or think the "right" way immediately lost their social standing, thus being barred from discounts on rent, better car rentals, admittance to certain venues, etc. None of this self-discrimination came from the government, which takes us back to Beatty's quote. There is no constitutional issue when we're dealing with private companies, rather than the government. In a way, fighting against government censorship is in some respects easier to identify because we can measure it against the Constitution. With YouTube or Facebook or Instagram, they don't have to follow those rules. They can in reality make up their own rules, which is exactly what they're doing, and at least for now, conservatives seem to be on the losing end.
In the wake of the 2016 elections, where social media had such influence and where foreign entities tried to sway voters one way or another, big tech has been put on blast, particularly by the Democratic Party. Now you could say that this argument borders on conspiracy theories, but at the same time, it needs to be considered. People like Sargon of Akkad or Joe Rogan or Dave Rubin have been on YouTube for years, but it's only now that they find their channels being demonetized or their videos taken down? Executives at Twitter and YouTube are both on record for their disdain of conservative voices such as Ben Shapiro - in fact, even Vox reports that conservative Twitter employees feel unsafe to voice their opinions in the workplace. ++
If these people are the ones running the show, then conservatives will have to make some big choices. These companies insist that their services are not biased, but of course, the evidence says otherwise, as we see from who is banned and who is not. There are social media alternatives, such as Gab and Bitchute, both of which welcome free speech. But these forums are relatively small. Many have taken to the courts for a resolution, and in fact, a judge in California said last year that Twitter can't just ban people for any reason, arguing that this policy misleads consumers.
For now, conservatives have hunkered down in preparation for the fight ahead, wondering at the same time just how worse the assault against free speech will get before it gets better, and for how long.
Witty; cunning; crafty
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