Ban Everyone

You may be aware that we recently celebrated Independence Day. That yearly occasion on which 10% of the country pauses for a moment between the parade, barbecue, and fireworks to remember the existence of artifacts named the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States.

This year we mark the moment amidst an increasingly contentious culture war that seems as though it will only end when one side has proven to be unquestionably more offended than the other. The danger to the liberty we should celebrate is the possibility that the most offended party will have control over the power of government to enforce the redress of their imagined grievances.

The traditional breakdown of the combatants is to divide them between Left and Right, but I don’t really see it that way. To me, it is a battle between the Left and the Really Far Left. The only areas of disagreement amount to how little liberty individuals should have and how we should be ruled by our betters in government. And we should be thankful that for now, those disagreements are holding some of the worst impulses of power in check. When the Left and the RFL start to agree, we are all risk of losing liberty.

As an example, look at the battle field of technology and Social Media. The RFL cannot tolerate the expression of any idea that does not conform to their vision of what the world should be. So they push companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to block, ban, throttle or demonetize heterodox ideas that they label “hate speech.” There is no objectively definable standard for what constitutes “hate speech,” but roughly it refers to speech that the RFL hates because it expresses disagreement with their ideology.

The response of the RFL is to argue that the big tech and social media companies are too big and too powerful and that they should be broken up as monopolies. I don’t believe they really want to do that, but the threat to do so is leverage to move Left companies more to the RFL. The companies don’t really seem to have a problem with this. I suspect it’s because they really want to be more RFL than not, but the market will not let then go there on their own. Being able to claim they were pushed there gives them cover to do what they want to do anyway.

So they ban, demonetize, and shadow ban ideas they don’t think people should be allowed to hear or read. This deeply offends the Left who find their voices being silenced. What is the response of these self-proclaimed defenders of freedom? They advocate for the government to get involved and regulate what can and cannot be banned by a private company. They argue that we need the government to trample on freedom in order to protect freedom.

I know. It doesn’t make sense to me either.

Facebook, to pick an example, is private property. Built and owned by individuals. Their success in creating an online platform that appeals to millions of users should not in any way limit their rights. They can set the terms of use for their platform in any way they choose. If those terms allow them to ban anyone at any time for any reason, then that’s the deal you accept when you create an account. They can be kind, gentle, and tolerant of differing ideas or they can be unreasonable assholes seeking to enforce and intellectual orthodoxy.

If that offends you, don’t use Facebook, or Twitter or YouTube. You don’t have a right to a social media platform that works exactly the way you want it to unless you build it yourself. Anyone who advocates in any way for the government to step in and force these companies to operate the way they want to is advocating for less liberty and less freedom.

Leave companies free to ban anyone and everyone they wish. And leave individuals free to deal with that as they may.

Author: Stephen Macklin

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