I’m a ‘tech’ guy. I got hooked on PCs back in college, and shortly thereafter shelled out $4k for one of the first IBM PCs. I built websites back when “Notepad” was the only thing you could use to build ’em. And if you really wanna go hardcore, I still remember how to use EDLIN. As such, I’m not a nerd-come-lately to the Wonderful World of Technology. I’m also a small business owner (who depends on technology for my livelihood), a Capitalist/Entrepreneur, and a Conservative (with Libertarian leanings, or what at one time was considered a “Classical Liberal”). I’m in the “less government is better/lower taxes/reduce debt/the fewer rules and laws the better” bunch. Which is why the recent trend towards censorship and bans scares the ever-lovin’ crap out of me.
People cite books like 1984 and Atlas Shrugged as examples of the world in which we now live. I’d like to add one more to the reading list: Animal Farm. It’s a deceptively simple book that goes from barnyard parable to a chilling indictment of Communism, Socialism, and human nature. And there are many parallels between it and the behavior of Big Tech Oligarchs.
America is supposed to be the land of the free, right? The First Amendment guarantees free speech. But the price of free speech is that there’s going to be some of it you find offensive. I don’t like skinheads, Neo-Nazis, Fascists, and white supremacists. At all. Ever. Ditto for those who hate Jews, Muslims, Christians, or any other group you might cite. But the price we pay to enjoy expressing our opinions openly is to allow groups we find abhorrent to have their moment on the soapbox, so to speak.
Should all speech be permitted? No. There are some limits. Some. The classic example is that the Supreme Court held it was NOT free speech to yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. And I believe ANY speech that is calling for violence should be prohibited. But that means they’d have to block all the “Death to America” stuff right along with the “Kill all the politicians” posts, regardless of the source.
What about incitement of violence? When D-List pseudo-celeb Kathy Griffin held up a fake, severed head of President Trump, I found it offensive and inappropriate. I also remember her ‘joking’ about wanting to see Trump dead. That’s not joking. That’s not humor. That’s suggesting that someone commit murder, assassinating a President. If President Trump had suggested that any of his followers harm any opponent, he would have been guilty of the same thing. But he did not. He has NEVER done that. So why are Big Tech companies lining up to punish him for something he didn’t do?
Part of it is media hysteria. When you believe their lies, it’s easy to run away the narrative and leap to unfounded conclusions. Part of it is the echo chamber of the Left. It amplifies every negative thing they hear and blots out any positive messages. But a good part of this is the virulent hatred they have for the man. But as Trump himself has observed, it’s not so much him that they hate, but Conservatives. He’s just in their way of coming down on us.
So what happened to free speech? Well in the Age of Information at Your Fingertips, it’s a fluid concept. Leftists believe (and I use the word believe in a very real and specific way here) that what they believe is Truth, and what anyone else believes are lies. There are a large number of insular, self-congratulating Leftists that truly believe anyone who dares disagree with them is evil, a Nazi, and should be silenced. And when those smug Leftists are in positions of authority with Big Tech companies, the result are headlines like “Apple and Google remove Parler app from their stores,” or “Amazon kicks Parler off their AWS servers.” Parler is being crucified for not catching some posts made by bad people. Yet I don’t see anybody banning Twitter or Facebook for the exact same offense. Well, almost the exact same offense. But in the case of Facebook and Twitter, the posts they allow that promote violence are advocating violence against the Right. Apparently they think the rules are different for thee, than me.
So where do we go from here? I don’t know. I think it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. Until I know that Apple won’t erase my free speech apps from my devices, I’m not updating the operating system. I’m looking for alternatives to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like – alternative apps that will not track me and/or censor me. I think – I hope the American people will not put up with this, and will refuse to allow these Technobullies to tell us what to think. And if they do, I believe that recalling another quote from our past, a quote made in reference to patriotic Americans in WWII made by Admiral Yamamoto of Japan, may be on the minds of these CEOs soon.
I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
I’m awake now. Are you?