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Monday, November 30, 2020

Free Speech

Silverfiddle Rant!

"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible." 
- George Orwell, The Principles of Newspeak 

One result of Election 2020 will be increased social media censorship of inconvenient speech.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc will please progressive government regulators by snuffing out speech that violates the progressive orthodoxy or morality of the moment.

What can we do?  Repealing Section 230 is not the answer.  Doing that would chill speech even more.

We The People established this government to protect our God-given rights. It does this by implementing laws and regulations, and we need a new statute that addresses the digital public square.

My proposed law would punish any social media corporation that violates our freedom of expression.  Some advocate an expansion of the Public Accomodation statutes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of political party and ideology, but I favor a federal statute that more broadly protects all speech.

Corporations now own the digital public square, so they should be declared public utilities under the law, and they should be compelled by law to respect our God given rights of free expression, and the Public Square Standards would be the same as an actual public square:  No vulgarity or pornography, no "fighting words," death threats, libel, slander, etc.

The law should be drawn to allow the widest latitude possible for all speech that does not violate the Public Square Standards. 

What would be the impact?  Would Fundamentalist Christian forums have to allow atheists free expression?  Must Muslim websites tolerate insults?  No.

If you have a forum dedicated to fly fishing, you can kick people off for talking politics, or cooking, or anything non-fly fishing related. Such on-line places would fall under the category of private club or religious organization as defined in the Public Accomodation statutes.

If you are a news outlet, you obviously have editorial standards and laws to follow, and none of us have the God-given right to compel a publication to publish our work or editorialize in our favor. The rights of a free press are well established and this would affect them not at all.

If you are a social media platform that entertains all kinds of speech, this federal regulation is for you!  You must honor the rights of everyone equally. You cannot establish your own community standards.  You cannot tell the street preacher to get off his orange crate and give the space to someone advocating the destruction of the internal combusion engine.  They both must be given the same opportunity to preach their message and attract adherents.

What say you?

Censorship:  The suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

Public Accommodation:  A place that offers goods and services to the general public such as a restaurant that is open to the public. Federal and state laws protect designated groups from discrimination in places of public accommodations, based on the premise that everyone is entitled to enjoy the goods and services of the public accommodation on an equal basis. 

Through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal government prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of the following: race, color, religion, national origin, and disability. The federal government does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. However, numerous states protect against age, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity discrimination.


  1. You posit repeal (I assume also moderation) of 230 would be disastrous, yet don't say why.

    1. If the social media corporations were legally liable for all content, they would rightly clamp down and severely restrict what people could post.

    2. They would not be liable as a platform.
      They are acting as publishers now by being selective. This makes them liable for content since they are already choosing.

    3. Ed,
      They are acting as publishers now by being selective. This makes them liable for content since they are already choosing.

      It seems that way to me, too.

    4. Ed, I agree. Our statements are not mutually exclusive.

    5. Most here seem to not want to abolish Section 230 [which I fully agree with], but it may apparently cause the NDAA to not be funded, if a certain POTUS has his way.

      Odd tactic.....

  2. You cannot establish your own community standards.

    Have you thought this part through? Or do you mean it in a less overly-broad way?

    I maintain that begging for government regulation of non-governmental venues is exactly the wrong direction to take.

    This appears to stem from [and correct me if I'm wrong] the fact that you perceive political discrimination from social media venues that you use [or want to use]...whereas there are indeed no shortage of venues that would cater to your alignment. Yes, they are smaller, at least for now.....but this smacks of attempting to coerce a company(s) to cater to you, rather than take your business to, or build, the competition.

    1. I hate to admit it, but I'm with CI on this one. Don't like YouTube's standards? Join Bitchute!

    2. Yeah, another case of asking the government to do for you what you are unwilling to do for yourself. Don't like a venue? Get the government to force it to comply with what you want it to be. I don't think so.

    3. What happens when the web hosting companies deplatform you?

    4. Somebody deplatforms me? If it is a service I am using, I guess that is their right. That just means I've got to find another way to get my word out. I don't see it as censoring me. Their service, their rules.

      The government doing it? That's another story.

      But let me ask you this... is there anything of an opinion nature that should be out of bounds, that the government might have an interest in banning, for instance Nazi propaganda in post war Germany?

      Or is everything just a free for all, an open forum for all ideas, even if it is untrue, libelous or slanderous?

    5. Open forum for lies, crackpot theories, etc. God gave us the powers of reason, logic and "testing the spirits."

      Libel and slander can invite lawsuits, so that is a check on it getting out of hand.

    6. Yep, we are supposed to be able to think for ourselves. People may publish whatever they wish. It is my responsibility to decide (research, evaluate) whether or not it is garbage.

    7. Dave,
      That just means I've got to find another way to get my word out.

      Easier said that done when "woke Silicon Valley" acts as one unit across so many online platforms.

      I have been noting how advertisements coordinate. I search for "dog crate" at Chewy or Amazon, and dog crate ads appear all over the various platforms I use for days on end. Sheesh.

    8. It isn't so very hard to host your own material. Easier than transmitting radio of printing a newsletter.

    9. Jez, Web hosting services do not have to provide you a platform.

    10. Jez, I shut down my paper and now have a radio show. :)

    11. I've just been reading the wikipedia entry for Cloudfare, a famously "content neutral" CDN. They famously hosted (and ended up pulling the plug on) notoriously vile sites The Daily Storm and 8chan.

      8chan is now hosted in Russia and The Daily Stormer is on the dark web. There's always a way. And it's worth noting that you wouldn't have to go to such lengths; those sites are *incredibly* vile & extreme. BTW, how do users of your proposed unmoderated social platform avoid content like this?

  3. What good is evidence if the media refuses to publish it?
    Lets face it We are a third world country now. If we cant have fair and honest elections then I'm sorry to say WE ARE DONE!

  4. What is MSDNC going to do on January 21st. They will no longer have a 24/7 attack trump station and for four years that is all they have had. NYT will try to solicit ad revenue to pay for their one sided coverage because who wants to read a love fest about a guy who sleeps all day in his basement.

    It was once all the news that's fit to print now it is only the news we agree with. 1984 arrived a little late but it did arrive.

    1. Skud...

      What are FOX News, OAN, RT and Newsmax going to do on January 21st. They will no longer have a 24/7 defend trump station and for four years that is all they have had. The NY Post and other pro Trump publications will try to solicit ad revenue to pay for their one sided coverage because who wants to read a love fest about a guy who is angry all day in his NY condo.

      It was once all the news that's fit to print now it is only the news we agree with. 1984 arrived a little late but it did arrive.

    2. Richard said that, "You will not have Richard Nixon to kick around any more." No problem, another one came along. Another one will come along after Trump. There is always one soul who is brave enough and stupid enough to go against the establishment, and the establishment will always tear that person to pieces lake a pack of rabid wolves.

    3. Make Mark Zuckerberg turn your rants into Shakespeare! 😛

  5. I worry that publish and be damned is incompatible with anonymous posts. Would social media platforms would have to be a lot more exacting about ability to identify users so that police could trace illegal messages?
    What social platform should I choose if I wish to avoid offensive (pornographic, racist diatribes, animal abuse, self mutilation videos etc)? Should I have to prove I am older than 21 in order to open a social media account?

    I'm not convinced that social media as you envisage it is an economically viable service.

    And of course social media is not just a filter, it actively promotes some material. Unattended algorithms making editorial decisions designed to maximise engagement end up boosting divisive, rage enduring messages and sealing us into separate echo chambers. The community standards / fact checking labels are a half-assed attempt to address this problem. We'd be better off fixing the problem at its root instead if applying an inneffective sticking plaster.

  6. We the People couldn’t spell government, let alone establish one. The best we can say about the founding of our government was that wiser men than “we” were smart enough to realize that independence from Great Britain would at least be as contentious as the Revolutionary War itself, which seems proved when Franklin sarcastically replied, “A Republic, if ye can keep it.” We only have a Bill of Rights because of the clatter that followed the Constitution’s first iteration when the ink was still wet. A couple of observations, if I may ...

    The Bill of Rights is a warranty that exists between the federal government and the people, but these ‘unalienable rights’ pertain only to the people’s relationship with the federal government and have no bearing on the people’s relationship with their state unless or until the state legislatures ‘incorporated them’ into state constitutions. Moreover, unless state constitutions expanded the people's rights to include their relationship with commercial institutions within those states, then that ‘warranty’ only applies to the agencies and offices of government. To confirm what I said, take a look at the California Constitution/Bill of Rights and multiply that mishmash times fifty.

    So, I conclude that the people have no right to free speech within privately held companies, whether on their real or intellectual properties, either as employees or clients of any of their services. Social media platforms are privately held properties; read their (far too complicated) terms of use, which everyone must agree to before gaining access to any social platform, and you’ll find no discussion about the right of free speech. What you will find are provisions that state quite unequivocally that the company shall decide what is, what is not appropriate for their forum. By agreeing to these terms of service, users understand that the company will censor them and that clients relinquish their right to say anything that the property owners may find offensive ... to them.

    What rights, then, do ‘the people’ have? They have the right not to join social media platforms. As an aside, in a somewhat similar way, some of ‘the people’ argue that our problem with congress is the absence of term limitations; in defeating such restrictions on the will of the people, the high court ruled that the people already have the right to limit congressional terms; they call it voting responsibly. People already have the freedom of free speech, of religious affiliation, of assembly, of the right to bear arms ... but they are not absolute rights —and they never were.


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