Monday, 06 May 2019 04:03 PM
Just as the 2020 election season is getting underway, social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are attacking freedom of speech by silencing anyone having political opinions which they find offensive.
And some mainstream media outlets, which should be at the spearhead sounding the alarm, are fine with it — they even applaud it.
"We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today."
On Thursday Facebook and its partner platform Instagram banned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, gonzo journalist Laura Loomer, gay conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, the conspiracy theory-ridden website Infowars, its founder Alex Jones, its commentator Paul Joseph Watson, and Paul Nehlen, an anti-Semite who made two unsuccessful congressional bids.
With the exception of Farrakhan, who’s enjoyed the support of mainstream Democrats for decades, all the banned individuals and sites were far-right.
In an earlier move, Twitter banned outspoken conservative actor James Woods.
Rather than express outrage, mainstream media figures were delighted — giddy even.
MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked NBC colleague Ben Collins why Facebook was taking this step now. Rather than comment on the rapidly heating political season, Collins replied, “It’s a good question as to why they waited this long.” Tur chuckled and agreed, “Exactly!”
When the subject came up on ABC’s “The View,” Sunny Hostin was the only panelist having reservations with Facebook’s decision.
“It makes the lawyer in me uncomfortable,” the Notre Dame law grad said.
CNN contributor Ana Navarro, who was also on the panel and claims to be a conservative, disagreed.
“I want them shut down, I want them silenced, I want them muted,” she said of the banned sites and individuals. “I think they are horrible for our society.”
Navarro should know better. She was born in Nicaragua, a country with a history of cracking down on news outlets and instructing them what they can and cannot report.
There’s no question that Alex Jones and Infowars push over-the-top, often hateful conspiracy theories, and that Farrakhan routinely spews anti-white, anti-Semitic rhetoric.
However, offensive speech is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect — especially political speech. Benign, inoffensive speech doesn’t require protection.
Differing opinions challenge our beliefs, they force us to think, reassess, dig deeper, and either edit our beliefs or reaffirm them.
In addition, Facebook announced that anyone posting anything from a banned site or individual will also be banned, unless it’s accompanied by a statement condemning the thoughts, words, or ideas contained within the banned post.
Stated differently, Facebook is telling its users which political opinions they’re allowed to harbor and which they are not.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey what standards were being used to censor content.
“How is it that @RealJamesWoods is currently being banned on Twitter, but @JimCarrey is not?” he asked. “It’s certainly not any standard based on ‘hate.’ Carrey’s latest Twitter ‘art’ shows Bill Barr drowning in a sea of vomit. @Jack - how ‘bout we let everybody speak and the People decide?”
As private companies, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest aren’t restricted by the First Amendment’s provisions — they only apply to the government.
But, like “The View’s” Hostin, censorship should make not just any lawyer uneasy, but should make anyone concerned with personal freedom feel threatened as well.
Social media was designed as a cyber-meeting place for friends and family to catch up with one another, share in successes and offer support during times of failure or grief.
But it’s evolved into much more — a forum to exchange and debate thoughts and ideas.
Emmy award-winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson remarked that the move toward censorship was leading us down a path we’d best avoid.
“When did we decide, as Americans, that it's ok fo govt & 3d parties to censor/ curate our info?” she asked. “That we cannot be trusted with unfiltered info? That we shd only be able to find info that *they* tell us is true on matters that are opinion or in legitimate dispute. #SlipperySlope”
George Orwell wrote in his dark, futuristic novel “1984,” that “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Today’s society requires more, not fewer, such revolutionary acts. And “Big Brother” has no place in a free society, whether it’s government taking that role, or cyber giants like Facebook and Twitter.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.