Archive

Posts Tagged ‘deplatforming’

Freedom of Speech Matters, Even if the Provocateur is Alex Jones: 2

August 13, 2018 8 comments

As mentioned in the previous post of this series, laws to protect free speech are really about protecting unpopular speech. For a long time, organisations such as the ACLU understood that standing up for highly unpopular speech was necessary to prevent the creation of legal precedent to suppress other forms of free speech. Of course, that was before the ACLU was influenced and infiltrated by SJWs– and yes, I am aware of the irony my linking to a piece on a LIEbertarian rag such as ‘Reason’. But the point still stands- organisations which once stood up for the right to free speech, especially its unpopular forms, are now trying to justify their unwillingness to fully support obnoxious characters such as Alex Jones.

But why are so few willing to support Alex Jones? Sure.. the guy is an obnoxious character whose style of acting makes William Shatner seem restrained. But so are many other people, both public figures and private citizens. I mean.. there is no law against being a loud obnoxious asshole with a penchant for hammy acting. Nor is hawking “dietary supplements” of dubious efficacy a crime in USA- thanks to all that wonderful lobbyist-paid legislation passed in mid-1990s. In other words, Alex Jones is not any worse a human being than many YouTube celebrities I can think of right now. And let us be honest- the “conspiracy theories” he is purveying are no more sane or insane than what you see on TV shows such as Ancient Aliens, in its 13th or 14th season now.

So why have so many LIEbral idiots and presstitutes.. I mean “objective credentialed journalists” gotten their panties in a bunch over a character whose bullshit and scams are as American as they come. And why do they keep on repeating some nonsense about how his online presence is somehow hurtful to the mental and physical well-being of “normal folk”. Are they suggesting that people who peddle crazy shit and hilarious lies should not be allowed a public forum? Because if that is their central argument for deplatforming Alex Jones, they themselves are guilty of far greater crimes with infinitely higher real-world body counts than anything he is even remotely capable of pulling off. And they have doing it for a long.. long time.

Some of you might be aware that public support for wars as old as the Spanish-American War of 1898 was largely created by lies published by state-supported journalists of the day. The same can be said of WW1 and WW2. But since none of us are old enough to remember that, let us start something closer to out time- namely, the role of these “credentialed objective journalist” in pushing the Vietnam war to an ignorant and racist public in its early years. To make a long story short, the vast majority of american journalists (print, radio and TV) kept on selling the war to the american public until the 1968 Tet Offensive made it just too hard to ignore reality.

But until then these CONartists.. I mean “honest objective journalists” had no problem reprinting press releases from the american government as news and publishing pretty much any other bullshit in order to demonstrate their loyalty to the system. It might come as a shock to some people now, but there was once a time when Americans volunteered for the Vietnam war- partly under the assumption that they were going to win it, based on the lies and bullshit spewed out by mainstream journalists of that era. Of course, things got real once it became hard to hide the increasing number of body bags and crippled soldiers coming back to USA.

So should all the journalists of that era who willingly and enthusiastically lied for the american government be held responsible for the unnecessary loss of life on the American and Vietnamese side? How many of those who wrote glowing articles about American intervention in Vietnam prior to the Tet offensive lost their jobs because of knowingly publishing lies and bullshit? What about NONE! But why stop there.. Remember the lies published by those “objective professional journalists” to help convince the american public of the need for first Gulf War in 1991? Or what about enthusiastically spreading lies about presence of WMDs in Iraq to justify the failed occupation of Iraq in 2003. Did any journalist lose their job over publishing government-sanctioned lies? Heck.. many of them still write in NYT, WP and appear on cable news.

If you support deplatforming Alex Jones because of some negligible real-life harm people who listen to his shows may have done, how can you justify the continued ability of those who cheerlead disastrous wars such the Vietnam War, Afghanistan War and Iraq Occupation to still have careers in journalism? Aren’t american journalist responsible for tens of thousands of american soldiers who got killed or crippled by those senseless conflicts? What about the millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians who died during Vietnam war? What about hundreds of thousands who died due to conditions created by war in Afghanistan and failed Iraq Occupation?

If you believe that some mentally unstable idiot who listed to Alex Jones show and then went with a semi-auto rifle to a Pizzeria in DC is sufficient for Alex Jones to be deplatformed, how can you justify the continued ability of the vast majority of journalist in USA who work for corporate news outlets to still have a job? If you think Alex Jones allegedly doxing parents of kids who were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting is bad enough for him to be deplatformed, what do you think about all those mainstream journalists whose carelessness over the years has resulted in torture, imprisonment and death of their sources? Face it.. “credentialed objective journalists” who work for corporate news outlets in USA have been responsible for crimes that are thousands of times more horrendous than anything Alex Jones is accused of.

What do you think? Comments?

Freedom of Speech Matters, Even if the Provocateur is Alex Jones: 1

August 10, 2018 13 comments

As I briefly talked about in my previous post on this topic, the willingness of large monopolistic corporations to cut off essential services to an unpopular person without due process is highly problematic. Some of you might say that people like Alex Jones, who are cheerleaders of an ideology which hold private and corporate power to be supreme, deserve to be screwed by the very system they worship. And, Yes.. it is darkly funny and ironic that a prominent cheerleader for libertarianism got run over by large corporations acting as surrogate government agencies.

Some of those who commented to my previous post put forth excuses such as.. “they are private corporations”, “he was doing illegal things”, “Google, FaceBook and Apple are not monopolies” and “Free Speech protection does not apply to private corporations” etc. I for one find the sudden love among LIEbrals for private corporations, private property rights, insights into laws about monopolies and free speech rather amusing. Wasn’t it barely two weeks ago when LIEbrals were loudly professing to believe in exactly the opposite of what they are claiming this week?

Then again, establishment LIEbrals have been enthusiastically kissing the ground which Mueller and his fellow NeoCons walk on for almost a years now. They act as if the failed and highly expensive occupation of Iraq never occurred. They pretend that all these newfound icons did not lie through their teeth about the presence of WMDs in Iraq, how american soldiers would be greeted as liberators, how the occupation would cost less than 60 billion USD etc. And don’t forget all those ‘mainstream’ media outlets pimping fake intelligence in 2002 and early- 2003.

My point is that there is something very wrong and short-sighted about cheering on a bunch of wannabe tyrants just because they are persecuting some unpopular person first. And this raises the even bigger issue of why protection of free speech is so important. Let me begin this part by saying that we have laws to protect free speech because it is implicitly understood that free speech is often unpopular speech. Nobody is going to persecute you if you shout “USA, USA” at some game or “thank some veteran for his or her service”. Protection of free speech is, therefore, exclusively about protecting unpopular speech.

Free speech is about calling an asshole an asshole. It is about openly criticizing unjust institutions and systems. It is about organizing and protesting against injustice and unfair treatment. It is about expressing viewpoints contrary to the popular narrative. It is about expressing a dissenting viewpoint in as colorful a manner as you choose. Free speech, especially unpopular speech, provides a feedback mechanism for society to find out and address problems, both temporary and systemic- if it chooses to do so. As you will soon see, there is a good reason behind my decision to put a photo of Alex Jones alongside MLK, Malcolm X and Larry Flynt in the attached graphic.

I am sure that a few of you might be scandalized by my decision to compare the current travails of Alex Jones to such historical and notable figures such as MLK and Malcolm X. That comparison is however far more accurate than many of you would want to admit. For starters, the biggest controversies surrounding MLK and Malcolm X during their lifetimes centered around what they said and the causes they openly supported. Let me remind you that Jim Crow laws, overt “legal” discrimination against blacks and generally treating them as less-than-human was the accepted way of doing things in USA as late as the mid-1960s. In other words, their speech was unpopular speech.

Now ask yourself, have you heard of any instance of either MLK or Malcolm X being denied phone connections by the Bell monopoly of that era, because of their unpopular views? I am sure many whites would have loved to see that happen, but it did not. But why not? Well.. there were laws and regulations that prevented monopolies such as Bell from denying service to people without due legal process. Long story short, they could not deny telephone connections to anyone who paid their bills on time and did not intentionally damage their rented equipment.

The same was true for gas, electricity and water utility companies. Similarly, it was quite hard for major public venues (even at that time) to deny them space for holding large meetings. Compare that to the situation today. Do you think FaceBook would have let groups which openly protested “existing laws” exist on their platform? Would YouTube keep hosting videos in which someone like MLK encouraged his supporters to break “existing laws” even when those laws were clearly unjust. Let me remind you that majority of whites in 1960s were against civil rights and racial equality.

To put it another way, even somebody like MLK would have been deplatformed by internet and communication monopolies such Google, FaceBook and Apple if they had existed at that time. Let us now talk about Malcolm X, or more specifically what he said in his more well-known speeches. Do you think he would be able to remain of social media platforms such as FaceBook, YouTube etc after his famous ‘The Ballot or the bullet‘ speech? Ever considered that a lot of what he said in his other speeches would have gotten him multiple strikes for “hate speech”.

Or what about Larry Flynt, whose first famous conflict with the establishment was over his decision to publish spread nudes of women in the 1970s. And yes, I know they were very hairy- because it was the 1970s. Was the telephone company able cut his connection because they disagreed with the ‘morality’ of his business decisions? What about the press who printed his magazines? Moving on a bit further, do you remember how he got himself into that famous supreme court case. In case you don’t, he used his magazine to incessantly troll religious and conservative frauds such as Jerry Falwell. He won the case and they made a film about it later.

The point I am trying to make is the laws to defend Free Speech are really about defending Unpopular Speech. There is a reason why the standard for what constitutes Free Speech is set such that it is not easy to suppress it with spurious claims of libel and slander- especially if you are a public figure. To be clear, this does not mean you can libel and slander people in a malicious manner. In fact, I know people who received satisfactory settlements against certain well-known news outlets who had libeled and slandered their good name.

If Alex Jones libeled and slandered people or actually incited violence against specific individuals, he should be sued by the affected individuals and the case should be tried before an independent judge and jury and under conditions where his legal counsel can cross-examine the plaintiffs and their witnesses. In other words, even somebody like Alex Jones deserves the benefit of due legal process. His fate should not be decided behind closed doors and on the whims of some petty and unaccountable tyrants employed by internet monopolies such as Google, FaceBook and Apple.

In the next part of this hopefully short series, I will talk about why corporate media outlets peopled with supposedly “professional” and “objective” journalists are a far bigger hazard to public well-being than an alcoholic clown continuously screaming at the camera and hawking nutritional supplements.

What do you think? Comments?

Censoring Speech on Internet is Always a Bad Idea: Aug 21, 2017

August 21, 2017 22 comments

Over the previous few days, many short-sighted idiots.. I mean people.. of varying fame on the internet and various social media platforms have been supporting attempts by various corporate monopolies and oligopolies to deplatform people and organisations with connections to the so-called ‘alt-right’. Let us, for a moment, ignore that the so-called ‘alt-right’ is actually a bunch of different groups with overlap in some parts of their individual ideologies but large (and often irreconcilable) differences in other parts. Let us, instead, focus on the far more important question which is as follows:

Should corporations, with or without state support, be allowed to censor speech on the internet?

In my opinion, giving corporations (of any type) such power, whether implicitly or explicitly, is a very bad idea. Now some of you might say- but.. but they are trying to censor Nazis. What is wrong with bending rules to marginalize Nazis or people who profess to believe in that ideology? The short answer is that censorship of speech is always a bad idea, even if the groups or individuals you are trying to censor are vile and loathsome. Furthermore, censorship of free speech or similar instance of rules and regulations based on extreme cases are almost always counterproductive in the longer run in more ways than one.

The longer answer requires us to first consider the context and history of such demands and the almost certain negative and counterproductive consequences of such actions.

1] Many famous or credentialed morons.. I mean experts.. like to claim that free speech never “actually existed” are in the same ideological basket as those who defend slavery and Jim Crow because “that is how people used to do things”. I could show you the stupidity of that logic by asking them why those credentialed sophists why they prefer to use functional flush toilets and drink purified and treated water when neither of those have existed for most of human history. The nature of what is possible and justifiable has more to do with feasibility rather than selective interpretations of tradition. For example- the majority of people in USA are now OK with gay marriage largely because conservative opponents of gay marriage tried to couch their opposition in terms of appeals to thoroughly discredited traditional norms surrounding marriage.

2] Any half-decent analysis of history suggests that attempts to suppress ideas because they clash with dominant culture of the day often results in those ideas gaining more exposure and respectability. As some of you know, a number of ideologies from Christianity in the Roman Empire to Nazism in Wiemer-era Germany were able gain significant public interest because of persistent attempts by the prevailing establishment to shut them down and persecute their members. Sites such as the Daily Stormer, Rebel Media and many right-wing internet forums and social media recently gained tons of public attention because of the many attempts of internet oligopolies to shut them down. Moreover, trying to censor the content on such sites is problematic because it is quickly reproduced on many others.

3] Why would any person with basic critical thinking skills trust large corporations or government officials- both of whom have no worthwhile public accountability to make subjective decisions that are impartial? Why would they? What motivation do they have to be fair and reasonable? Do you really think that the legal precedent gained by censoring these neo-Nazis won’t be used to censor anybody else who they do not like? Do you think that social movements from such as BLM and various labor unions will somehow never be subject to high-handed censorship? Also do you trust the law enforcement apparatus in USA will not misuse such precedent to further their abuse of groups which they already like to murder and imprison? If you still trust large corporations, government officials and law enforcement to behave ethically, I have a bridge to sell you.

4] Laws criminalizing explicit violent threats and intentional libel have been around for a very long time. Therefore, we do not require new laws and regulations to prosecute those who commit such acts, either in real life or on the internet. What is most troubling about attempts by internet oligopolies to censor unpopular online speech by hiding behind the “Nazi exception” is that they are going after ideas and ideologies which by themselves are not innately violent or libelous. For example- a racist shitbag who opines that whites are the “master race” is just stating what he or she believes. As long as the person in question is not making an explicit violent threat, he or she is just being an asshole. And one person’s asshole could be an other person’s philosopher.

5] Right-wing ideologies such Nazism and similar ethno-nationalistic movements tend to gain most of their support from those who feel disenfranchised by the established socio-political system of that day. There is a very good why Mussolini became successful in the chaos of post-WW1 Italy or why Hitler rocketed in popularity after the great depression caused mass unemployment in 1930-era Germany. Similarly the rise of right-wing fascistic movements in west-European countries during the late 1920s-1930s was due to a combination of mass unemployment, unresolved nationalism and entrenched political establishments who did not want to change the unsustainable status quo.

In other words, the rise of neo-Nazis and similar right-wing movements in USA is a symptom of people losing their faith in the system and elites who are currently running them. You cannot treat a serious systemic disease by addressing a few of its minor symptoms. I would go so far as to say that the current interest in censoring unpopular free speech is basically an admission by the establishment that they are either unwilling or unable to fix the larger problems of socio-economic inequality. It is the policy equivalent of trying to patch up a banged up car with duct tape because you cannot afford to, or are unwilling to, repair it.

To summarize: Attempts to censor free speech (especially the unpopular kind) by large corporations and government officials are, at best, short-sighted and futile attempts to address minor symptoms of much larger socio-economic problems. At worst, they will make those assholes more popular and respectable while simultaneously abusing resultant legal precedents against a variety of relatively peaceful social movements and individuals. Therefore, in my opinion, it is far better for us a society to let a few assholes say what they want, even if they end up trying to test the boundaries of such freedoms. Large corporations, government officials, and “law enforcement” pose far larger risks and threats for the well-being and future of most people than a few idiots in office-cuck attires parading around some city with citronella-scented tiki torches.

Will write more on this topic in a future post, depending on your replies to this one.

What do you think? Comments?