The latest Big Tech censorship news broke last week:
Let us for the moment leave aside this massive media inanity:
“Farrakhan also among those removed from social-media sites.”
If Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is “far-right” – I’m all the way back around to Karl Marx.
That being said, the latest move by Big Tech to de-platform people they don’t like – cleaved the center-right in two…Donald Trump-style.
The Trump-Never Trump Venn Diagram – is a nigh perfect overlay with the division over Big Tech censorship.
The Never Trump (NT) contingent mostly refused to defend the de-platformed – mostly on three fronts.
One: The de-platformed aren’t themselves defensible. Because by their NT definition – they aren’t actually conservatives. And/or they simply do not like them.
Which is willful blindness to the inexorable next waves of Big Tech purges – which will undoubtedly swallow very many who meet their definitions.
Next the NTers – start REALLY sounding Leftist.
Two: The de-platformed’s speech – may actually incite violence. That crazy people will read what they say – and commit violence as a result.
This is at once incredibly anti-First Amendment, Leftist and intellectually diminutive (please pardon the redundancy).
Crazy people – are crazy. They can be driven to mad acts – by their refrigerator manual. Or by a Rogaine commercial. Or by a flower opening in their yard. Serial killer David Berkowitz said he took his murderous orders – from a dog named Harvey owned by his neighbor Sam.
You simply can not sanitize the planet for crazy people.
And there is simply no way the threshold for violence-inciting speech – is this ridiculously low:
Conservative actor James Woods has been locked out of his Twitter account for now more than a week. For curse-word-free quoting the TV show “The Wire.”
If it was on pay TV fifteen years ago – and available via streaming services ever since – there is no way Woods Tweeting it is even remotely problematic.
We’ll get into more, even more ridiculous examples in just a bit.
Three: The NTers say “These Big Tech monsters are private companies – and they can have or not have whomever they wish on their platforms.”
Under normal circumstances, this is exactly the First Amendment “freedom to assemble” argument I have made my entire life.
In our private and business lives, we are free to assemble – or not assemble – any way we wish. Completely free from government interference or imposition.
I made this exact argument when the Colorado baker wouldn’t bake a homosexual wedding cake. His lawyers made the “freedom of religion” argument – which worked, he won – but that was to me the weaker tack to take.
“It’s my private business…and I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” – seems undeniably strong to me.
But when faced by monstrous Big Tech’s de-platforming – this argument simply does not apply. For several reasons.
For starters – Big Tech isn’t making this argument:
“Facebook Inc. said it’s banning a number of controversial far-right figures…for violating the social-media company’s policies on hate speech and promoting violence.”
This is omni-directional absurd.
“Promoting violence” – ???
Gay gadfly Milo Yiannopoulos was among the recently Facebook banned. He was also banned by Twitter in 2016.
Milo has to my knowledge – and I LOOKED prior to writing this – never said a single thing that could be even remotely construed to incite violence.
But what about Leftist radical group Antifa?
Antifa got a Milo appearance at Berkley University cancelled – by violently tearing up the campus the month prior to Milo’s arrival.
Here’s a bunch of videos of Antifa’s violent Berkley destruction. Here’s more videos of Antifa violence – in Portland, Oregon, Huntington Beach, California, Laguna Beach, California, at Kent State University and elsewhere. Here are two compilations of Antifa attacking people all over the place.
But Facebook – hasn’t banned Antifa.
So Milo tries to peacefully engage in free speech at Berkley. Antifa responds with violence.
And Berkley, Twitter and Facebook – ban Milo, and keep Antifa.
That’s…a little backwards.
And “hate speech” – is speech. You can’t ban the adjective – without banning the underlying noun.
And “hate” – is in the eye of the beholder. And the beholder – has biases. Because the beholder – is human(s).
Let’s do some basic math, shall we?
There are about seven-and-a-half billion people on Planet Earth. Let’s conservatively say three billion of them have access to the Internet – which means access to Big Tech’s platforms.
There is literally no way a website with as many posting members as a Facebook or YouTube – can possibly read each and every post for possible deleting purposes. There are simply WAY too many.
So the platforms will have to come up with some sort of criteria to preemptively prevent the kinds of posts they wish to prevent.
Well, Big Tech – is exceedingly hard Left. So their criteria – will be exceedingly hard Left.
We could list examples…until the crack of Doom.
All of which brings us to: The 1996 Communications Decency Act – and its Section 230.
Which gives Big Tech companies running allegedly open platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – immunity from the lawsuit likes of slander, libel and Intellectual Property (IP) infringement.
Because it is users – not the companies – posting on their platforms.
So if a user slanders someone on Facebook – Facebook must remove the post when made aware, but can not be sued for it.
If a user uploads an entire movie to YouTube – Google must remove it when made aware, but can not be sued for it.
Makes perfect sense.
Except: The Big Tech companies were given this massive immunity – in exchange for each being an open platform.
Where everyone can post – and the companies do not edit.
If the companies start editing content and users, they cease to be immunized “platforms” – and start to be sue-able “publishers.”
To wit: The New York Times is a publisher. With First Amendment rights – including the freedom to assemble any way they wish. But they can be sued for slander, libel and IP infringement.
Big Tech – can’t have it both ways. Availing themselves of “platform” immunities – while editing conservatives out of existence like “publishers.”
Here’s the portion of Section 230 – on which Big Tech seems to be hanging its anti-conservative hats:
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
“(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
“(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph.”
If Big Tech’s censorship is done “in good faith” – they do not lose their lawsuit immunity.
No one with an IQ above nine on a warm day – can possibly think Big Tech is censoring “in good faith.”
I’m no lawyer (thank God) – but there are several ways to address the monster, censoring monoliths these Big Tech companies have become.
Certainly antitrust is one. (We have, in fact, made this argument also – for several years.)
Ok – Milo is kicked off of Twitter and Facebook. What competitors to these two behemoths can he join instead? You can’t think of a single reasonable one for either – and neither can I.
Really long second shot: We may even be able to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act:
“(C)ommonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO,…focuses specifically on racketeering and allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing, closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally.”
But where we should certainly start – is Big Tech’s wanton and blatant violations of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
I’ve been told by a Never Trump attorney that it is impossible to prove “bad faith” in court.
I’d argue I just did here in print.
But if it’s true this part of the law is unenforceable – then the law is an ass.
We should throw it out – and pass something enforceable in its place.
We must do something about what’s happening.
Because what’s happening – ain’t great for the future of our nation.
This first appeared in Red State.