An interesting discussion between Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate on Free Speech, Censorship, and the Internet:
An interesting discussion between Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate on Free Speech, Censorship, and the Internet:
“Some people complain that Parler doesn’t do enough to block bad people who use their service, whether to spread falsehoods or evil ideas or plans for criminal conduct. But I’m skeptical that this should be Parler’s job.
“The post office doesn’t stop mailings by print magazine publishers because their magazines contain evil ideas or fake news. (They do investigate some mail frauds, but that’s a fairly narrow category, and in any event they do this using governmental law enforcement procedures.)
“Telephone companies (landline or cellular) don’t cancel the KKK’s phone number, or shut down phone service or text messaging service to people whom someone accuses of planning riots. And that’s not just a matter of privacy: They don’t do this even when the contents of the magazine are well known, or the KKK publicly announces that some phone number is its recruitment line. I think on balance we’re better off when the post office and phone companies aren’t policing the viewpoints or factual assertions their customers express.
“Now the post office is generally under a First Amendment obligation not to restrict our mailings (unless our speech has been found to be constitutionally unprotected, generally in some governmental proceeding). Telephone companies are likewise common carriers, who generally are legally barred from canceling service because they don’t like what their customers are saying. Parler does have the legal right to police the content of speech that uses their services, just as Twitter has that right.
“But I don’t think it has a moral obligation to do so (just as I don’t think Google has a moral obligation to cut off Gmail accounts of people who send messages to friends that someone reports as “misleading” or “defaming,” which technically violates Google Terms of Service, or Microsoft has a moral obligation to cut off Outlook accounts of people who “communicat[e] hate speech” or “advocat[e] violence against others”). I think it can reasonably choose to generally leave most content judgments to their users, and enforcement of most laws to law enforcement—just as the legal system has chosen to impose that approach on the post office and phone companies.” [Why I’m Happy That We’re on Parler” at Reason’s The Volokh Conspiracy]
Writes, Thomas Brewster, the associate editor of cybersecurity at Forbes:
“Just after the Capitol Hill riots on January 6, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer admitted the company’s ability to enforce its own rules was “never perfect.” About the shocking events of the day, she added: “I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate and don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, shortly after the Capitol Hill riots on January 6.
“Sandberg was later criticized for downplaying her employer’s role as a platform for the organizers of the siege. But Facebook was far and away the most cited social media site in charging documents the Justice Department filed against members of the Capitol Hill mob, providing further evidence that Sandberg was, perhaps, mistaken in her claim. Facebook, however, claims that the documents show the social media company has been especially forthcoming in assisting law enforcement in investigating users who breached the Capitol.
“Forbes reviewed data from the Program on Extremism at the George Washington University, which has collated a list of more than 200 charging documents filed in relation to the siege. In total, the charging documents refer to 223 individuals in the Capitol Hill riot investigation. Of those documents, 73 reference Facebook. That’s far more references than other social networks. YouTube was the second most-referenced on 24. Instagram, a Facebook-owned company, was next on 20. Parler, the app that pledged protection for free speech rights and garnered a large far-right userbase, was mentioned in just eight.”
“Whilst the data doesn’t show definitively what app was the most popular amongst rioters, it does strongly indicate Facebook was rioters’ the preferred platform.”[“Sheryl Sandberg Downplayed Facebook’s Role In The Capitol Hill Siege—Justice Department Files Tell A Very Different Story“, Forbes, 2020 Feb 7]
Yet, it was the #1 most downloaded app at the time, Twitter competitor Parler, that was banned from Amazon Web Services, Apple, and Google.
From Ayn Rand Centre UK:
The recent elections in America have triggered a polarising question: in the political division of Left and Right, is one side more evil than the other? Among the many who have opined on this issue is Dr. Andrew Bernstein, in his article titled: “The Left is Vastly More Evil than Religious Conservatives.” This has been a controversial take, particularly in the Objectivist community, where it has been met with both vehement agreement and strong opposition. However, a more essential question would be: does it matter whether one side of the political aisle is more evil than the other? To what extent, if any, are such identifications useful?
“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” —Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell: Common Sense in a Senseless World traces Sowell’s journey from humble beginnings to the Hoover Institution, becoming one of this era’s greatest economists, political philosophers, and prolific authors.
Philosopher Ben Bayer of the Ayn Rand Institute’s New Ideal speaks with Steve Simpson, Senior Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, on the “de-platforming” of conservative websites, Section 230, and censorship.
The outspoken and independently minded, former Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii, roundly criticized former CIA Director John Brennan, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and big tech “oligarchs” seeking to censor fellow Americans after the January 6 Capitol riot.
“The mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 to try to stop Congress from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities were behaving like domestic enemies of our country. But let’s be clear. The John Brennans, Adam Schiffs, and the oligarchs in big tech who are trying to undermine our constitutionally protected rights and turn our country into a police state with KGB-style surveillance are also domestic enemies, and much more powerful and therefore dangerous than the mob that stormed our Capitol.”
“Now President Biden, I call upon you and all members of Congress from both parties to denounce these efforts by the likes of Brennan and others to take away our civil liberties that are endowed to us by our creator and guaranteed in our constitution. If you don’t stand up to these people now, then our country will be in great peril.”
Here is the entire video:
The mob who stormed the capitol to try to stop Congress from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities were behaving like domestic enemies of our country. But let us be clear, the John Brennan's, Adam Schiffs and the oligarchs in Big Tech who are… pic.twitter.com/Q3VssCiz5l
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) January 26, 2021
Writes Abigal Joe Biden’s First Day Began the End of Girls’ Sports” in the WSJ:on “
Amid Inauguration Day talk of shattered glass ceilings, on Wednesday President Biden delivered a body blow to the rights of women and girls: the Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. On day one, Mr. Biden placed all girls’ sports and women’s safe spaces in the crosshairs of the administrative state.
The order declares: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the rest room, the locker room, or school sports. . . . All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” The order purports to direct administrative agencies to begin promulgating regulations that would enforce the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision Bostock v. Clayton County. In fact, it goes much further.
In Bostock, the justices held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited an employer from firing an employee on the basis of homosexuality or “transgender status.” Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for a 6-3 majority, took pains to clarify that the decision was limited to employment and had no bearing on “sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes”—all regulated under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments. “Under Title VII, too,” the majority added, “we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.”
The Biden executive order is far more ambitious. Any school that receives federal funding—including nearly every public high school—must either allow biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls’ sports teams or face administrative action from the Education Department. If this policy were to be broadly adopted in anticipation of the regulations that are no doubt on the way, what would this mean for girls’ and women’s sports?
“Finished. Done,” Olympic track-and-field coach Linda Blade told me. “The leadership skills, all the benefits society gets from letting girls have their protected category so that competition can be fair, all the advances of women’s rights—that’s going to be diminished.” Ms. Blade noted that parents of teen girls are generally uninterested in watching their daughters demoralized by the blatant unfairness of a rigged competition.
Update: She also made an appearance on Tucker Carlson to discuss her views:
Quart provides a list of the Biden administration’s 17 Executive Orders executed on the first-day of taking office. From “Biden signed more executive actions on day one than Trump, Obama, and Bush combined“:
An executive order requiring that people wear masks, and keep their distance from each other, on federal property.
The launch of a “100 Days Masking Challenge” to encourage Americans to wear masks.
The reversal of Trump’s decision to remove the US from the World Health Organization.
An executive order that creates the position of Covid-19 response coordinator and restores the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, a team in charge of pandemic response, within the National Security Council.
Calls to Congress to extend Covid-19 aid, and requests to various departments to extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and pause payments for federal loans.
An “instrument” that will allow the US to re-join the Paris Agreement on climate change within 30 days.
An executive order reversing actions Trump took that Biden’s agencies judge to have been harmful to the environment, public health, or the national interest, and asking agencies to revise these standards to tackle climate change.
An executive order with the aim of “embedding equity across federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions.” This order will also disband the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission.
An executive order reversing a Trump administration order that excluded undocumented immigrants from the Census.
A memorandum directing officials to “preserve and fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
An executive action repealing two proclamations, informally known as the “Muslim ban.” that restricted entry into the US from majority-Muslim countries.
An executive order revoking Trump’s “harsh and extreme immigration enforcement” and directing agencies to set immigration policies more “in line” with the Biden administration’s “values and priorities.”
A proclamation that will pause the construction of the border wall with Mexico and determine how to best divert those funds elsewhere.
A memorandum to extend a designation allowing Liberians who have been in the US for a long time to stay.
An executive order directing the government to interpret the Civil Rights Act as prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, not just race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
An executive order enacting new ethics rules for government officials.
An executive order reversing “regulatory process executive orders” enacted by the Trump administration.
A Washington Post article indicates that Trump did not incite the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 with his speech. Evidence suggests the attack was planned in advance:
“Self-styled militia members from Virginia, Ohio and other states made plans to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance of the Jan. 6 attack, and then communicated in real time as they breached the building on opposite sides and talked about hunting for lawmakers, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
“While authorities have charged more than 100 individuals in the riot, details in the new allegations against three U.S. military veterans offer a disturbing look at what they allegedly said to one another before, during and after the attack — statements that indicate a degree of preparation and determination to rush deep into the halls and tunnels of Congress to make “citizens’ arrests” of elected officials.
“U.S. authorities charged an apparent leader of the Oath Keepers extremist group, Thomas Edward Caldwell, 66, of Berryville, Va., in the attack, alleging that the Navy veteran helped organize a ring of dozens who coordinated their movements as they “stormed the castle” to disrupt the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
“The arrests this weekend of several people with alleged ties to far-right extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, suggest that the riot was not an entirely impulsive outburst of violence but an event instigated or exploited by organized groups.”
“This is the first step toward identifying and understanding that there was some type of concerted conspiracy here,” said one senior official with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is leading the investigation.
CNN reported the same conclusion:
“Evidence uncovered so far, including weapons and tactics seen on surveillance video, suggests a level of planning that has led investigators to believe the attack on the US Capitol was not just a protest that spiraled out of control, a federal law enforcement official says.”
Writes Democrat Jonathan Turley in The Hill:
Democrats are seeking to remove Trump on the basis of his remarks to supporters before the rioting at the Capitol. Like others, I condemned those remarks as he gave them, calling them reckless and wrong. I also opposed the challenges to electoral votes in Congress. But his address does not meet the definition for incitement under the criminal code. It would be viewed as protected speech by the Supreme Court.
When I testified in the impeachment hearings of Trump and Bill Clinton, I noted that an article of impeachment does not have to be based on any clear crime but that Congress has looked to the criminal code to weigh impeachment offenses. For this controversy now, any such comparison would dispel claims of criminal incitement. Despite broad and justified condemnation of his words, Trump never actually called for violence or riots. But he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to raise their opposition to the certification of electoral votes and to back the recent challenges made by a few members of Congress. Trump told the crowd “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices be heard.”
The damage caused by the rioters this week was enormous, however, it will pale in comparison to the damage from a new precedent of a snap impeachment for speech protected under the First Amendment. It is the very threat that the framers sought to avoid in crafting the impeachment standard. In a process of deliberative judgment, the reference to a snap impeachment is a contradiction. In this new system, guilt is not doubted and innocence is not deliberated.
Here is the full speech:
Left to his own political instincts, Mr. Biden could be the man for this moment. He is a moderate liberal with sympathy for the working class who is inclined to reach across the political aisle. With a 50-50 Senate and a narrow House majority, he also has good practical reason to do so. At 78 years old, he realizes he is likely to serve only one term and could create an admirable legacy as the man who calmed the Trump-era furies. That, at least, is our hopeful case for the Biden years.
Yet Mr. Biden also comes to power with a Democratic Party whose ascendant progressives have other ideas. Their goal is to use the federal government as a battering ram to drive economic and cultural “transformation.” Progressives in the House and Senate, urged on by the Democratic media complex and Silicon Valley, view the defeat of Donald Trump as the opening to assert a new level of government control over the economy and cultural dominance over American society.
Mr. Biden’s rhetoric in particular has been more condemning than unifying. He was right to blame Mr. Trump for contributing to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but comparing Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to Joseph Goebbels is Trump-like excess. His speech writers seem infused with woke ideology, as they cast the riot and most other events in the language of identity politics. Mr. Biden’s early legislative priorities also seem odd given that he has no great election mandate and a narrowly divided Congress. Ron Klain, his new White House chief of staff, described the top priorities as addressing four “overlapping and compounding crises”—Covid, the economy, climate and racial justice. The rhetoric of “crisis” is the familiar progressive trope to scare the public into accepting radical change…
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore.