I Was Banned for Life From Twitter

I became persona non grata after a heated exchange over the media’s complicity with the government. The mob won.

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So starts Peter Van Buren’s article complaining about being banned from Twitter. I completely agree with most of what he writes, and I have written or thought the same for a long time, and had written something on this very subject this week. Namely that as modern communication becomes increasingly mediated by the Internet/phones, when the corporations who own these media/technologies censor you, they effectively prohibit you from interacting with others, and violate your freedom of speech. Thus, it’s plain to see, that the government is only one of the actors who can exercise censorship and curtail freedom of speech in modern society.

My first reaction to his complaint, ‘I Was Banned for Life From Twitter’, was: just Twitter? Try so many sites/platforms that you even start a blog just to list all the sites you were banned from (Censored at First Things), which is what I did, and basically abandoned it after awhile, because it’s too much work, and the problem is so widespread, and, more importantly, it robs my energy and time from other more important things. Although, since I didn’t use my real name on Twitter, I *only* had two accounts banned and then stopped using the platform altogether. I guess I might not be in the “banned for life” category, but that’s most likely because they don’t read this blog! 😉

Very ironically, I have also been banned from The American Conservative. More egregiously, by none other than Rod Dreher, the Christian hypocrite (supports homosexual perversion and violence, unless it’s perpetrated by Catholic priests).

So Mr. Van Buren, welcome to the club! Yes, the magazine for which you write is no different than Twitter. While you probably have nothing to do with my being banned there, it’s just comical to read your complaint about Twitter.

So here are a few points about his article.

Mr. Van Buren, trying to raise support for his plight, starts his article by making a nationalist appeal, which, by the way, is totally untrue: “Speech in America is an inalienable right, and runs as deep into our free society as any idea can”.

Americans never had free speech, there are countless examples of how the powerful (whether in the government or non government category) persecuted and silenced the powerless, while they all blabbered about free speech. And I should mention here anything that falls under “national security” – for which Americans want absolute censorship, no transparency, and no accountability.

But Van Buren knows that Americans love to tell themselves lies about their own country, and “having free speech in America” is one of their favorites.

He then says something very important:

“The government remains a real threat to free speech. But there is another menace now: corporate censorship, often dressed up in NewSpeak terms like “deplatforming,” restricting “hate speech” and “fake news,” and “terms of service.” This isn’t entirely new: corporations have always done as they please with speech.”

In a nutshell, that’s it. Then he continues with a big lie:

‘Our protection against corporate overreach used to rely on an idea Americans once held dear, best expressed as “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.” This ethos was core to our democracy: everyone supports the right of others to throw their ideas into the marketplace, where an informed people push bad ideas away with good ones. That system more or less worked for 240 years.’

No, it never worked, but it worked more for privileged people like Mr. Van Buren. Power always spoke and the weak and oppressed were forced into silence, by all kinds of  tactics, whether overt or covert, non violent or violent. The “marketplace” was always dominated by the speech of the powerful, who claimed that, because they didn’t completely murder and silence *all* dissent, it meant they had this incredibly rosy unrestrained system of free speech. If there is one thing about Americans is that they are always lying, especially about their own country.

Van Buren further adds about recent changes in American society:

“Large numbers of Americans [liberals] began not just to tolerate, but to demand censorship.”

Yes, for liberals this is a new development, I’ll agree. And an important one, because they control many of these communication platform corporations, plus the media, plus higher ed, and many legislatures.

Van Buren:

“So in 2018, whenever old tweets clash with modern-day definitions of racism and sexism, companies fire employees. Under public pressure, Amazon recently removed “Nazi paraphernalia and other far-right junk” from its store. This was just some nasty Halloween gear and Confederate flag merchandise, but the issue is not the value of the products—that’s part of any free speech debate—it’s corporate censorship being used to stifle debate by, in this case, literally pulling items out of the marketplace. Alex Jones’ InfoWars was deplatformed from networks where it had been available for years, including Apple, YouTube (owned by Google), Spotify, and Amazon. The Huffington Post wondered why even more platforms haven’t done away with Jones.

“Hate speech,” clearly not prohibited according to the Supreme Court, is an umbrella term used by censorship advocates to describe anything they don’t want others to be able to listen to or watch. It is very flexible and thus very dangerous.

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The part about “hate speech” being “very flexible and thus very dangerous” is one of the best points of his article. Indeed, that’s exactly what it is – just in-your-face, old-fashioned censorship, the unabashed silencing of dissent.

In a heterogeneous society that is born out of the horribly dysfunctional European model, power will always decide who will win the freedom of speech game.

Van Buren: ‘As during the McCarthy-era in the 1950s when one needed only to label something “communist” to have it banned, so it is today with the new mark of “hate speech.”’

Yes, it’s the most base exercise of power, completely anti-democratic, and an exercise in domination.

Van Buren describes the problem correctly:

“Once upon a time an easy solution to corporate censorship was to take one’s business elsewhere. In 2018, the platforms in question are near-global monopolies. Pretending Amazon, which owns the Washington Post and can influence elections, is just another company that sells things, is to pretend the role of unfettered debate in a free society is outdated. Censored on Twitter? Try Myspace, and maybe Bing will notice you. Technology and market dominance have changed the nature of censorship so that free speech is as much about finding an audience as it is about finding a place to speak. Corporate censorship is at the cutting edge of a reality targeting both speakers (Twitter suspends someone) and listeners (Apple won’t post that person’s videos made off-platform). Ideas need to be discoverable to enter the debate. In 1776, you went to the town square; in 2018, it’s Twitter.

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Let me end on a personal note. I was this week permanently suspended from my Twitter account, @wemeantwell. […] Twitter sent an auto-response to me saying that what I wrote “harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence someone else’s voice.” I don’t think I did any of that, and I wish you didn’t have to accept my word for it. I wish instead you could have read my words and decided for yourself. But Twitter won’t allow it. They have eliminated everything I wrote there over the past seven years, all down the Memory Hole. That’s why censorship is wrong: it takes the power to decide what is right and wrong away from you and gives it to someone else.”

 

Indeed, and The American Conservative does exactly the same thing. I also wish that TAC readers could decide on their own the merit of my views, but that is not happening. So Van Buren, welcome to the club – Twitter and TAC are no different when it come to the censorship game.

As if often happens on TAC, there were a few excellent comments:

Will Harrington says:

Solving the problem of corporate censorship is really pretty easy. Break up the monopolies and declare the means to send and receive signals to be public utilities, thereby bringing the internet under first amendment protections. That, of course, would be easy if we had a democracy.

Think about it: worldwide, corporations lobby for international legislation that removes democratic accountability of government to their own country’s citizens, replacing it with global corporate elitist rule and veto over what voters decide. These people hate populism and democracy, as it hobbles their quest for profit above all else. No wonder the corporate model is to censor, and claim that the First Amendment is of no legal account to how they order lives in a privatized public square. They have bought the politicians, and buy the laws that favor them,

polistra says:

“But the biggest issue is that companies exist to make money. ”

No, you’re wrong, and this is exactly the problem. These tech companies exist to RAISE SHARE VALUE, which is negatively correlated with profit.

Small or privately held companies seek profit, which guides them to seek the maximum number of customers through good products and good service. They want more customers, so they don’t arbitrarily shut the door on large categories of buyers.

Tech corporations seek to draw in more shareholders. Shareholders have the same values as Deepstate. Global is good, secular is good, religion is bad, nationalist is horrible.

The best way to raise share value is to eliminate the wrong sort of customers. This cuts profits, but profits are IRRELEVANT to a share-based firm.

Kent says:

This writer is finally finding out about corporate censorship? It’s been that way sense the founding. It’s by design. In the early years, only the rich could afford a printing press, so debate was only topics important to the rich. Later, and today, only the rich can afford the kind of mass media that influences elections.

This is a republic, not a democracy. Only the wealthy and well-educated get real input, not the rabble. Getting banned from twitter lets you know in which category you fall.