I’m not so sure “being blocked from FB hurts my profits” is a free speech stance

A blog called Chicks on the Right claims to be a very strong proponent of free speech on college campus, which, according to them, is being stifled by the leftists, who refuse to allow robust, vigorous debate in favor of protecting themselves from hateful speech that hurts their feelings. Oh, but they’re also celebrating that a professor who tweeted Irma was “instant karma” for Texas got fired for that remark. Apparently hateful speech is a bad thing, when it comes from liberals; their post on the topic makes no mention of the countless Bible-thumpers who’ve blamed past storms on The Gays, The Feminists, The Abortions (and I doubt the Chicks will freak out over them making the same claims for Irma).

This is why I’m invariably skeptical about right-wingers who claim a deep devotion to free speech: they’re frequently lying. The same people who loudly criticized the government under Clinton and Obama also condemned anyone who dared criticized George W. Bush — don’t they realize he’s our president? Criticizing him in a time of war is treason, so First Amendment doesn’t apply (note: questioning the president is not treason). And besides, liberals are evil, and we’re righteous, so it’s totally different if we do it!

In fairness, plenty of people on all sides feel there are limits to free speech. I’ve seen lots of liberals in recent weeks argue banning Nazi protests and speech is just fine with them. I disagree (with exceptions noted at the link). However lots of right-wing bloggers and pundits set limits based purely on who’s giving and receiving the speech. If liberals say the same things about a Republican Republicans said about Obama, that’s unacceptable. If they spit out their loathing for gays/feminists/immigrants, that’s fine, but it’s wrong to criticize them back. Or identify them as Nazis.

And as Facebook, Twitter and other social media try to do more to rein in trolls, people who normally defend the rights of private companies to do whatever they want have suddenly decided that if what they want is blocking right-wing bullshit and hate speech, that’s not fair! Maybe we should start regulating Facebook and Twitter as public utilities so they have to provide a fair platform for everyone! And Google too!

I do not believe, for a minute, they want a fair platform — they just want to cover their own asses. Which is why we have National Review‘s Jeremy Carl suggesting that “if I can’t get access to the 2 billion people on Facebook because Facebook doesn’t like my politics, my rights of free expression are greatly curtailed.” Um, no. Your chance to promote yourself and sell your books/articles/whatever would be greatly curtailed, but that’s not the same thing.

Don’t get me wrong, getting shut off from FB or Twitter is a big deal (Screen Rant gets most of its readers through FB). And it’s certainly possible it could be used against people who don’t deserve it. The power of Internet companies to shut down the Daily Stormer could likewise be abused. At the same time, businesses are free to discriminate, within the usual limits. They can’t refuse service based on race, gender, religion, disability, etc. but they can refuse people for being jerks, Nazis, liberals, conservatives, etc., etc. Likewise customers and employees can refuse to work for someone who supports David Duke. To say you can’t refuse anyone for any reason is a radical step, and completely opposite most right-wing/libertarian positions on free business!

But then of course, conservatives have been shrieking for years that government should Do Something about sex on TV, regardless of their normally stated belief that the market is always right. So this is nothing new. And I don’t believe for a minute they want the same protection for left-wing ideas or anything they disapprove of.

So they may bite me.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “I’m not so sure “being blocked from FB hurts my profits” is a free speech stance

  1. Zosimus the Heathen

    Something which happened recently that made me realize the American Right weren’t the great Free Speech Warriors they often portray themselves as was their nigh-on unanimous disavowal of that idiot Milo However-the-Hell-You-Spell-His-Surname – someone they’d hitherto had nothing but good things to say about – when it was discovered he’d made statements that could be interpreted as an endorsement of pedarasty. (Hypocritical as their actions arguably were, though, I couldn’t get too upset over them given that I understand Milo’s shtick is little more than acting like the (barely) grown-up version of the annoying little kid who’s always going, “I did something shocking! Look at me everyone! Look at me! [Stamps foot] LOOK AT ME!” A bit like Ann Coulter when I think about it (and, oh God, do I wish that the next time *she* launches into her latest tirade of bullshit, the liberal media would just say what the King of Spain apparently once said to Hugo Chavez when the last individual was engaging in some big rant and being generally tiresome: “Why don’t you shut up?”).)

    Speaking as an Australian, I’d have to say that freedom of speech is a bit of a funny thing here. It’s something everyone generally assumes they have (and for the most part they do), though as I understand it, it’s not actually enshrined in our constitution the way it is in yours, and people here probably don’t make quite as much of a big deal about it as many Americans do (similarly, we tend to find the US’s obsession with the whole Second Amendment thing all rather mystifying*). We’d probably have a little less tolerance for some of the more extreme examples of free speech that have come out of the US too – for example, I don’t think many of us would be all that enthusiastic about the idea of obnoxious religious bigots being allowed to protest at funerals. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing overall, though, I couldn’t say.

    Interestingly enough, a few years back, free speech became a hot topic of debate in my own city when a bunch of religious fundamentalists decided to “save” us all by setting up camp in the main shopping precinct of the CBD every day, and screaming abuse at everyone who walked past (in other words, behaving like religious fundamentalists pretty much everywhere). Not surprisingly, most people found this all rather objectionable**, and there was much spirited debate over whether the city council had the legal authority to tell the aforementioned fundamentalists to vamoose. I’m not sure how the situation was eventually resolved – I *think* the council was eventually able to get them banned on a technicality (ie they were using megaphones to spread their lovely message when they hadn’t gotten permission to do so). In any event, their leader – an individual with the delightfully bizarre name of Caleb Corneloup – eventually decided that the denizens of another Australian city were in greater need of salvation than we were, so he and his church buggered off there. Oh well. Our loss I suppose.

    *On the subject of the Second Amendment, I find it endlessly bizarre how those most in favour of American citizens’ rights to own whatever piece of weaponry they goddamned like (even stuff that really has no place outside an army) tend to be the very same individuals who think the government should ban everything they *don’t* like, be it gay sex, pornography, drugs, any religion that’s not their particular flavour of Christian fundamentalism, heavy metal music, Dungeons and Dragons or whatever.

    **A notable exception being the hordes of schoolchildren who seemed to find their tirades wonderful free entertainment during the school holidays!

    • A standard Second Amendment rallying cry is “I believe in all the parts of the Bill of Rights,” but as you point out, they rarely do. A friend of mine sees no conflict between claiming he supports the whole Bill of Rights and advocating the government spy on Muslims without warrants or probable cause to suspect wrongdoing.

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