MICHAEL BARONE: The left now just wants to silence conservatives — all of them.
It wasn’t just Donald Trump’s detractors who felt a sudden sense of relief when they heard that Twitter was blocking his feed after the storming of the Capitol and the disruption of the reading of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6.
While President Trump’s exact words to the crowd on the Ellipse didn’t constitute a criminal incitement, they were uttered with a reckless disregard for the possibility that they’d provoke violence, which any reasonable person could find impeachable.
But a moment’s reflection should have left any believer in free speech feeling queasy about a private firm censoring the president of the United States and preventing him from effectively communicating with citizens over a chosen medium of universal reach. And especially queasy since a large body of opinion sees this suppression of free speech by Big Tech monopolies not as a one-time exception but as the new rule.
Oliver Darcy of CNN wants the network’s cable rivals to be held “responsible for the lies they peddle.” Law professors are surprisingly open to speech suppression, as Thomas Edsall reports in his New York Times blog: Yale’s Robert Post laments that “the formation of public opinion is out of control”; the University of California, Irvine’s Rick Hasen laments “a market failure when it comes to reliable information voters need”; Columbia University’s Tim Wu suggests “the weaponization of speech” makes First Amendment jurisprudence “increasingly obsolete.”
Democratic worthies have been singing the same tune. Michelle Obama took the lead in urging the permanent ban on Donald Trump, which Twitter promptly promulgated.
2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang called for cable news channels to be required to air competing views. The deputy communications director of President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign, Bill Russo, apparently wants Facebook to censor “misleading” information.
The law professors leave details about who would “control” information and decide what is “reliable information” ambiguous. But Democrats obviously expect the decisions to be made by folks on their side of the political divide.
The speech restrictions and speech suppression by Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Google, as well as the latter two platforms’ expulsion of Twitter competitor Parler from their clouds, are all intended to benefit the political left and penalize the political right. These firms come as close as nongovernment actors could to canceling, if not criminalizing, at least certain strands of conservatism.
On CNN this morning:
“We have to turn down the capability of these Conservative influencers to reach these huge audiences.”
“There are people on YouTube for example that have a larger audience than daytime CNN”
Then calls for @OANN and @Newsmax to be deplatformed.
I’ve been a big fan of Medium, although I’ve learned quickly there are certain “publications” — essentially sub-blogs — that it’s best to avoid. Today I saw a piece published two days ago, The Moderation War Is Coming to Spotify, Substack, and Clubhouse, that addressed how Parler was censored and destroyed by Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon, and then warned that Parler won’t be the last.
The given reason, of course, was people were saying violent things on Parler and all the biens pissants are, of course, shocked, shocked that this was “permitted.”
It might be different if the double standard weren’t so glaring. As Amazon was canceling Parler’s hosting — in apparent violation of their contract — they were selling “Kill All Republicans” tee-shirts, and it turns out that while Twitter and Facebook were canceling Parler, the actual mob was coordinating on Twitter and Facebook.
It’s a conspiracy in restraint of trade, straight up.
Plus: “It’s worth noting that Amazon deplatformed Parler after members of Congress demanded it. That makes it a real First Amendment violation as well as a violation of the right to free speech which the First Amendment exists to protect. So somehow competitors are being shut down in a coordinated fashion by effective monopolies with governmental support.”
CNN bullies are now trying to shut down OANN and Newsmax.