Free Speech

Salon: Facebook Played a Greater “Role” In Capitol Riots, But Only Parler Was Cancelled

Parler’s “role pales in comparison to social media behemoths like Facebook, which is used by nearly 70% of American adults, said Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of the” left-wing group Media Matters according to an article in the left-leaning Salon.

From “Despite Parler backlash, Facebook played huge role in fueling Capitol riot, watchdogs say”:

“If you took Parler out of the equation, you would still almost certainly have what happened at the Capitol,” he told Salon. “If you took Facebook out of the equation before that, you would not. To me, when Apple and Google sent their letter to Parler, I was a little bit confused why Facebook didn’t get one.”

[…]

Carusone argued that Facebook “had a much bigger role” in the riot, noting that Media Matters and others “brought to their attention” numerous “red flags” they spotted in the lead-up to the riot, but Facebook managers “still didn’t do anything about it.”

“Apple and Google were being extraordinarily myopic and, frankly, hypocritical in singling out Parler,” he said. “Not because I want to defend Parler, but the math is the math. Facebook was worse.”

Though the article is filled with propaganda posing as news, it does as Amy Peikoff. suggests, provide “food for thought” on the hypocrisy of Apple, Amazon, and Google’s actions in canceling Parler.

 

Big-Tech Cancels Parler: Censorship By Proxy?

Vivek Ramaswamy and Jed Rubenfeld write in the WSJ on “Save the Constitution From Big Tech“:

“Facebook and Twitter banned President Trump and numerous supporters after last week’s disgraceful Capitol riot, and Google, Apple and Amazon blocked Twitter alternative Parler—all based on claims of “incitement to violence” and “hate speech.” Silicon Valley titans cite their ever-changing “terms of service,” but their selective enforcement suggests political motives.”

As an example take this Tweet that apparently meets the criteria of safe content that presumably is not an “incitement to violence” or “hate speech.”:

This Tweet has been up for several years.

 

Regulatory threats are the modus operandi of fascism

Continuing from the WSJ article:

“Conventional wisdom holds that technology companies are free to regulate content because they are private, and the First Amendment protects only against government censorship.”

This is and remains true – as long as those companies are private not just in name (de jure) but in practice (de facto). But what happens when those companies have been co-opted by government officials?

“Google, Facebook and Twitter should be treated as state actors under existing legal doctrines. Using a combination of statutory inducements and regulatory threats, Congress has co-opted Silicon Valley to do through the back door what government cannot directly accomplish under the Constitution.”

“Using a combination of statutory inducements and regulatory threats” is the modus operandi or operating method of fascism.

Writes Ayn Rand on the essential characteristic of fascism:

“The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal.

The dictionary definition of fascism is: “a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.), emphasizing an aggressive nationalism . . .” [The American College Dictionary, New York: Random House, 1957.]

“Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership.  [“The Fascist New Frontier,” The Ayn Rand Column, 98.]

The Carrot and The Stick

The authors of the WSJ opinion piece then go on to discuss Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which allows website owners to remove user-posted content from their websites (what the authors falsely claim as censoring speech) while not being held liable for content posted by users that remain.

“It is “axiomatic,” the Supreme Court held in Norwood v. Harrison (1973), that the government “may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.” That’s what Congress did by enacting Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which not only permits tech companies to censor constitutionally protected speech but immunizes them from liability if they do so.

“The justices have long held that the provision of such immunity can turn private action into state action. In Railway Employees’ Department v. Hanson (1956), they found state action in private union-employer closed-shop agreements—which force all employees to join the union—because Congress had passed a statute immunizing such agreements from liability under state law. In Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association(1989), the court again found state action in private-party conduct—drug tests for company employees—because federal regulations immunized railroads from liability if they conducted those tests. In both cases, as with Section 230, the federal government didn’t mandate anything; it merely pre-empted state law, protecting certain private parties from lawsuits if they engaged in the conduct Congress was promoting.”

“Section 230 is the carrot, and there’s also a stick: Congressional Democrats have repeatedly made explicit threats to social-media giants if they failed to censor speech those lawmakers disfavored. In April 2019, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond warned Facebook and Google that they had “better” restrict what he and his colleagues saw as harmful content or face regulation: ‘We’re going to make it swift, we’re going to make it strong, and we’re going to hold them very accountable.’ New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler added: ‘Let’s see what happens by just pressuring them.’ ”

Such threats have worked. …It’s no accident that big tech took its most aggressive steps against Mr. Trump just as Democrats were poised to take control of the White House and Senate. Prominent Democrats promptly voiced approval of big tech’s actions, which Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal expressly attributed to ‘a shift in the political winds.’ “

A similar point was made a half-century ago by philosopher Ayn Rand writing in The Objectivist Newsletter:

“Censorship, in its old-fashioned meaning, is a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas — such, for instance, as sex, religion or criticism of government officials — an edict enforced by the government’s scrutiny of all forms of communication prior to their public release. But for stifling the freedom of men’s minds the modern method is much more potent; it rests on the power of nonobjective law; it neither forbids nor permits anything; it never defines or specifies; it merely delivers men’s lives, fortunes, careers, ambitions into the arbitrary power of a bureaucrat who can reward or punish at whim. It spares the bureaucrat the troublesome necessity of committing himself to rigid rules — and it places upon the victims the burden of discovering how to please him, with a fluid unknowable as their only guide.”

“No, a federal commissioner may never utter a single word for or against any program. But what do you suppose will happen if and when, with or without his knowledge, a third-assistant or a second cousin or just a nameless friend from Washington whispers to a television executive that the commissioner does not like producer X or does not approve of writer Y or takes a great interest in the career of starlet Z or is anxious to advance the cause of the United Nations?” [“Have Gun, Will Nudge” The Objectivist Newsletter, March, 1962]

Or in this case, signaling out and canceling a private company – Parler – which at the time of its cancellation was the most popular and most downloaded app on the internet – that provided an outlet that provides serious competition to the established “progressive” far-left tech and political orthodoxy.

What makes this all the more ominous is that the CEOs of social media tech companies are calling out for further regulation to violate their rights, which they find preferable to the pressure of continuous, arbitrary government “pressure” and threats.

What these Big-Tech CEOs do not realize is that when the door is fully opened for the government to partially violate the rights of tech-Companies through regulations, the threats will only become greater, until they only own their companies in name, with the actual company board decisions being made by Congress and the actual CEOs becoming government bureaucrats in another alphabet government agency, so that they become little more than public utilities.

Vote For Bosch Fawstin in the Mohammad Cartoon Contest

From Bosch Fawstin: Vote For Me in the Mohammad Cartoon Contest:

Over at Breitbart, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer unveiled the contenders for the People’s Choice award in their Muhammad Cartoon Contest and I made the cut. I sent in 6 Mohammad drawings, and the one below can be voted on by you for the People’s Choice Award in the comments section of the following posts atBreitbart, Jihad WatchandPamela Geller. For some reason, my drawing is not being shown in large format on at least two of the sites, so I’m displaying it here so you can get a better look. I really appreciate your support.
 

Academics Against Citizens United

To the editor:

As part of the campaign to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Jessica A. Levinson continues a sad academic tradition of starting in the middle. (Why shouldn’t California voters get to weigh in on Citizens United?, Op-Ed, LA Times, Aug. 14)

Of course there is big spending to influence campaigns, but the cure lies not in denying freedom of speech to the spenders but in eliminating the reason for such spending. And that reason: too much government power, the power to regulate and the power to hand out tons of money and other favors.

Were government restricted to its proper function (protecting our lives, liberty and property), neither wealthy individuals nor groups would have much to gain by influencing elections. Limiting government to its proper function wouldn’t eliminate all influence peddling and corruption, but it would remove the major incentive to influence elections.

Michael Berliner

Speech Laws and the IRS

Comments Steve Simpson:

Whatever the question, a growing segment of the culture thinks the answer is always more regulation of political speech. Do you tell people what candidate to vote for? You should be regulated. Do you avoid telling people what candidate to vote for? You are a liar; you really want to tell people which way to vote, but aren’t admitting it. You should be regulated. Do you spend a lot of money on political speech? That level of spending is grotesque. You should be regulated. Do you spend only a little? The laws are working. Let’s pass more of them. Are you a nonprofit that pays no taxes? You’re getting a gift and should be regulated. Are you a for-profit entity that does pay taxes? You’re distorting democracy and should be regulated! 

It’s time we realized that the tax and campaign finance laws that apply to political speakers are designed to prevent people from speaking effectively and that many opinion leaders want to use them to do just that. If we want to prevent another scandal like this from happening — and more importantly, if we want to protect our ever-dwindling right to freedom of speech — we need to recognize that we can have freedom of speech or we can have a regulated marketplace of ideas, but we cannot have both.

[The American Spectator : Speech Laws and the IRS]

The Aftermath of the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Movie: Part One

‘Atlas Shrugged’ Producer Promises Two Sequels Despite Terrible Reviews, Poor Box Office – The Hollywood Reporter

The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff. […]

[John Aglialoro] defended his film Wednesday by accusing professional film reviewers of political bias. How else, he asks, to explain their distaste for a film that is liked by the audience? At Rottentomatoes.com, 7,400 people gave it an average 85% score. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, though, gave the movie zero stars, and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it one. A dozen others were equally dismissive.

“It was a nihilistic craze,” Aglialoro said. “Not in the history of Hollywood has 16 reviewers said the same low things about a movie. “They’re lemmings,” he said. “What’s their fear of Ayn Rand? They hate this woman. They hate individualism.

Or, perhaps they liked Ayn Rand’s work of art and actually did hate Aglialoro’s movie (who did not use the script written by Rand). Let’s hope he doesn’t turn Part III into an opera.

Koran Burners Derek Fenton and Terry Jones: Free Speech and the First Amendment Bow Down to the Advocates of the Religion of Violence and Censorship

Thanks to the ACLU Derek Fenton, Koran-burning transit worker fired from his job after Ground Zero protest, re-hired reports the NY Daily News [22 April 2011]:

A Koran-burning New Jersey Transit worker, fired for his protest near Ground Zero last Sept. 11, is getting his job back – along with an extra $25,000 for his troubles. Derek Fenton, 40, will also collect back pay since his Sept. 13, 2010, dismissal for torching pages of the Muslim holy book on the site of a proposed lower Manhattan Islamic center. The deal additionally pays Fenton $25,000 for pain and suffering and restores his pension credits.

[…] “Our government cannot pick and choose whose free speech rights are protected, based on whether or not they approve of the context of our statements or actions,” Fenton said. “This is the very essence of the First Amendment.”

In related news Florida preacher Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp were jailed for planning a peaceful protest (“he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet”) outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Apparently, according to the judge and jury’s Alice in Wonderland “reasoning”, Jone’s attempt to speak against Islam peacefully would cause some Muslims act violently as they are unable to physically control themselves. (Does not anyone find this demeaning to Muslims who are equated as being rabid dogs who cannot control themselves when they hear the barking of the Florida Priest?) Therefore, as the pro-Islam supporters cannot control themselves Terry Jones should face going to jail!!!!

Apparently Jone’s opponents are allowed to physically surround him and scream in his ear and shout in his face and “chase him away” as show in the video clip:

Reports the Detroit Free Press:

A judge late Friday sent two Florida pastors to jail for refusing to post a $1 bond and barred them from visiting a Dearborn mosque or its adjacent property for three years unless the mosque’s leadership says otherwise. After a short time in jail they left on $1 bond each. The stunning developments came after a Dearborn jury sided with prosecutors, ruling that Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp would breach the peace if they rallied at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Critics slammed the decision to jail them, the court proceedings, and Wayne County prosecutors, saying they violated the men’s Constitutional rights.Prosecutors asked Judge Mark Somers for $45,000 bond. Somers then set bond at $1 each for the two pastors. They refused to pay. And Somers ordered them remanded to jail.

Chaos broke out outside court as opposing factions yelled at each other. Jones and Sapp were led out of court by Dearborn police. That left Jones’ supporters stunned, given that he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet.

[…]

“This is a true miscarriage of justice,” Elmir said. “Rev. Jones has committed no crime. He should never have been facing jailed time for his protected speech.” [“Terry Jones goes free on $1 bond after jailing; judge bars him from mosque for 3 years”]

Comments Eugene Volokh (his full analysis is well worth reading):

I think requiring anything other than a modest, content-neutral permit fee would be unconstitutional, as the Court held in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992). Forsyth County struck down an ordinance that required organizations to pay a security fee (capped at $1000) for “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection [for assemblies] … [that] exceeds the usual and normal costs of law enforcement ….” The Court found the security fee
unconstitutional because, among other reasons, the regulation included no objective standards directing how to establish the level of the fee. Instead, the amount of the security fee was left to the “whim of the administrator.” And even beyond the unconstrained discretion as to the amount, the Court held that a demonstration permit fee can’t be based on the likely risk that audience members will react violently:

The Forsyth County ordinance contains more than the possibility of censorship through uncontrolled discretion. As construed by the county, the ordinance often requires that the fee be based on the content of the
speech.

The county envisions that the administrator, in appropriate instances, will assess a fee to cover “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection of persons participating in or observing said … activit[y].” In order to assess accurately the cost of security for parade participants, the administrator “‘must necessarily examine the content of the message that is conveyed,’” estimate the response of others to that content, and judge the number of police necessary to meet that response. The fee assessed will depend on the administrator’s measure of the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content. Those wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers, for example, may have to pay more for their permit….

The costs to which petitioner refers are those associated with the public’s reaction to the speech. Listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.

A sound analysis, it seems to me, and one that would preclude jury-set fees for speakers who “might offend a hostile mob” a well as fees set by government officials. To its credit, the Michigan ACLU has publicly sided with Jones on the constitutional question.

Comments Amy Peikoff:

In addition, this is distinctly unlike restrictions on obscenity or profanity. The ideology of Islam, if adopted and practiced consistently, does appear, from everything I know about it (I plan to learn more, soon, starting with my Koran reading group), to be a threat to our way of life. Freedom to protest against it is as important as freedom to protest against any politician, political party, or political ideology. This is not an issue of defending one’s right to produce or consume tasteless pornography, simply as a matter of principle, so that we can preserve our right to political speech. In my mind, this is an unjustified restraint on political speech itself.

For more on this issue see Amy Peikoff’s post “When is Enough Enough?

Free Speech Under Attack in Europe

Geert Wilders in the WSJ  on Islam/Multiculturalism vs Freedom of Speech:

The perverse result is that in Europe it is now all but impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam, or about the effects of immigration of Islam’s adherents. Take my own case, for example. My point is that Islam is not so much a religion as it is a totalitarian political ideology disguised as a religion. To avoid misunderstandings, I always emphasize that I am talking about Islam, not about Muslims. I make a clear distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam, recognizing that there are many moderate Muslims. But the political ideology of Islam is not moderate and has global ambitions; the Koran orders Muslims to establish the realm of Allah in this world, if necessary by force.

Stating my views on Islam has brought me to court on charges of “group insult” and incitement to racial hatred. I am being tried for voicing opinions that I—and my constituents—consider to be the truth. I am being tried for challenging the views that the ruling establishment wants to impose on us as the truth. [ “European Free Speech Under Attack“, WSJ ]