Cancel Culture

Self-Cancellation, Deplatforming, and Censorship

A taxonomy of cancel culture.

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In an age of cancel culture, it's perhaps fitting that the death of a free speech hero would receive little fanfare. So when the poet, publisher, and provocateur Lawrence Ferlinghetti shuffled off this mortal coil in February at the grand old age of 101, there were dutiful obituaries in The New York Times and elsewhere but the respects were hardly commensurate with the debt owed the man. By publishing Allen Ginsberg's fuck-filled poem Howl in 1956, Ferlinghetti risked jail and financial ruin—and did as much as any single individual to end not just government censorship but a stultifyingly repressive American intellectual culture. When Ferlinghetti was hauled into court, legitimate U.S. publishers wouldn't touch books such as Lady Chatterley's Lover and Tropic of Cancer for fear of being charged with obscenity. He helped create the period of increasingly free and open expression that moral scolds, increasingly in the name of progressive visions of "anti-racism," are challenging today.

The obits reported that Ferlinghetti, who skippered a submarine chaser during World War II and returned from service an ardent pacifist, died of interstitial lung disease. But on a mythopoetic level, I prefer to think that he gave up the ghost because he knew his brand of free expression was no longer welcome in the country for which he fought so bravely in wartime and peacetime. "I am signaling you through the flames," he wrote in "Poetry as Insurgent Art," one of his later works. "You can conquer the conquerors with words." Not if words themselves are the problem.

How should defenders of free speech think about "cancel culture," that hotly contested yet vague concept that defines the current moment like flappers and bathtub gin defined the 1920s, communist scares and juvenile delinquency defined the 1950s, and leisure suits and encounter groups defined the 1970s? Author Jonathan Rauch distinguishes canceling from mere criticism in that its practitioners seek "to organize and manipulate the social or media environment in order to isolate, deplatform or intimidate ideological opponents." Cancel culture isn't about seeking truth, he writes; it's "about shaping the information battlefield" in order to "coerce conformity and reduce the scope for forms of criticism that are not sanctioned by the prevailing consensus of some local majority."

Somebody calling you a jackass on Twitter is criticism. Somebody organizing a mob to get you kicked off of Twitter, fired from your job, and put out on a figurative ice floe is cancel culture. Former President Donald Trump, himself a target of social media cancellation, exemplified cancel culture in 2018 when he called on the NFL to fire players who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem and mused aloud about deporting truculent athletes too. "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there," he told Fox & Friends. "Maybe you shouldn't be in the country." At a 2017 rally, he told a crowd that he'd "love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired.'"

Cancel culture operates on at least three different levels: the personal, the corporate, and the political. Each is more troubling than the next, because each casts a broader net and eliminates more and more options. It's one thing for me to cancel my Twitter account after being attacked as morally obtuse, worse to be permanently kicked off the site because its moderators have decided I am beyond redemption, and more troubling still to have the government shut down Twitter because it allowed my awful speech.

It's tempting to single out that last level because the other two involve individuals or private entities who ultimately should be free to do whatever they want. Only the government can engage in true censorship, surely. But the three layers work synergistically to increase the cultural and political regulation of thought and expression. To build as free and open a society as possible, we need to challenge the precepts of cancel culture at all levels.

Self-Cancellation

Self-cancellations, in which individuals take the initiative to put themselves out of the public's misery, are in many ways the purest manifestation of cancel culture, because they reveal the religious-cum-totalitarian sensibility undergirding the process. From the Spanish Inquisition through Mao's struggle sessions, it wasn't enough simply to damn the accused. The goal was to make them testify to their moral and ideological failings, to show they were "doing the work" and owning their sins.

This move was on display when the banjoist for the fading hipster-retro band Mumford & Sons announced in March that he "was taking time away from the band to examine [his] blindspots" after he unforgivably endorsed a book that purports to unmask "antifa's radical plan to destroy democracy." Winston Marshall's crime was to tweet "Finally had the time to read your important book. You're a brave man" at the controversial journalist Andy Ngo, whose Unmasked spent time on the New York Times bestseller list and is still available for purchase at Amazon, the new arbiter of what is and isn't hate speech. "I have offended not only a lot of people I don't know," wrote Marshall, "but also those closest to me, including my bandmates and for that I am truly sorry." I'll come back to Marshall, who announced in June that he was leaving Mumford & Sons for good. For now, let's just note that when he apologized for his wrongthink, he felt a need to insist he was not just sorry, but truly sorry.

Around the same time as Marshall was doing the work of owning his sins, the estate of Dr. Seuss announced it was ceasing publication of a half-dozen of the author's lesser-known works because they "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong." For the first time since 1937, when Seuss first published And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, with its depiction of a yellow-skinned, pigtail-wearing "Chinaman who eats with sticks," we could all sleep better knowing that McElligot's Pool, The Cat's Quizzer, and other titles so obscure they "haven't sold in years through the retailers BookScan tracks," according to The New York Times, would be even more completely ignored. And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, the canceled volume people are most likely to have heard of, sold about 5,000 copies last year, compared to 513,000 for Seuss' better-known Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Then there was the case of The Test Kitchen, a Gimlet Media podcast that self-exploded faster than a SpaceX rocket while aiming to expose a grotesquely racially toxic workplace at the Condé Nast magazine Bon Appétit. The series was so woke that its host, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, explained to listeners that while she had talked with white supervisors at Bon Appétit while reporting the story, she wouldn't deign to air their privileged voices. But the podcasters themselves were canceled just two episodes in for supposedly creating a "toxic dynamic" at their own workplace—one that a former employee said was "near identical" to the reportedly white supremacist one they were exposing at Condé Nast. Pinnamaneni's white boss, the studiously politically correct A.J. Vogt, copped to failing to sufficiently support a unionization effort "largely led by young producers of color" and "asked for the team's permission to step away." (It was graciously granted and he departed.) Though herself an ethnic minority, Pinnamaneni resigned after confessing publicly she "did not pay enough attention to the people of color at Gimlet with less power and I should have used my power to support and elevate them further."

And then there was the curious case of Captain Underpants, the popular gross-out series for kids, which topped the American Library Association's annual list of "most challenged" titles in 2012 and 2013 and still regularly makes the top 10 for "offensive language" and "violence." The publisher and author abjectly apologized for a different book, called The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, because it "perpetuates passive racism." "We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake," read the joint statement from Scholastic Books and Dav Pilkey, who further begged his readers, like a repentant, drunken murderer issuing his last words on the gallows, to "forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism is [sic] harmful to everyone."

This is life today in these United States, where a seemingly infinite supply of such incidents appears on a seemingly hourly basis, like automated bursts of super-concentrated air freshener in airport bathrooms. They are furiously discussed and disputed on MSNBC and Fox News and even in the halls of Congress, and then are forgotten as promptly and completely as the Great Murder Hornet Scare of 10 minutes ago. It's cancel culture as Doritos, junk-food snacks we wolf down even as they make us feel guilty, a little queasy, and still hungry. As Jay Leno once counseled, "Crunch all you want, we'll make more."

Such self-cancellation episodes are often funny. Not always, of course, as in the case of Neil Golightly, a communications executive at Boeing who resigned his position after his 1987 article opposed to letting women fight in combat reappeared like a deadly old girlfriend in a Robert Mitchum film noir. He was 29 years old when the offending article was published, and he had reversed his position decades before he joined Boeing. That's not in the least funny, but only someone with a heart of stone could fail to laugh when the people responsible for the Test Kitchen podcast were hoisted on their own petard. The good news is that these things are usually more The Chocolate War than Lord of the Flies. No literal blood is spilled when Teen Vogue, a hyper-woke publication that toggles between gushing profiles of Karl Marx and guides to anal sex, fires its incoming editor in chief, a 27-year-old African American, for having made insensitive tweets about Asian Americans and gay people when she was herself a teen.

Yet these cancellations reveal something profoundly depressing about the state of discourse in our society. It's one thing to cop to mistakes in judgment, behavior, and belief, take your lumps, and disappear for at least a long weekend (as did social media celebrity Chrissy Teigen after being revealed as an online troll who at one point urged a 16-year-old girl to commit suicide). It's another to figuratively don a dunce cap like a victim in China's Cultural Revolution, get pushed down the virtual street by an online throng, and beg forgiveness from total strangers (a lot of people I don't know) while employing intensifier words (to be deeply sorry for serious mistakes) that work only to call into question the speaker's integrity. If you're truly sorry this time around, it suggests you were faking it all those other times you said it before. Such rhetoric smacks of a hostage who will tell captors anything to avoid torture or be set free, of a schoolkid in detention running through every act of contrition he can recall, of a Manson Family member trying to hit the right combination of verbiage and sad-sack visage in front of the parole board.

Deplatforming

If the stakes in any given self-cancellation episode are vanishingly small in the grand scheme of things, the overall effect is not. Each new case drains another drop of blood from a body politic that's already bone-dry from a thousand cuts.

The incidents are also distracting from more serious threats to freedom of expression, particularly the continuous narrowing of acceptable discourse on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and shopping platforms such as Amazon and eBay. After the Dr. Seuss Foundation made its announcement, for instance, Amazon and eBay quickly banned sales of used copies of the canceled Seuss books, the sort of prohibition more commonly applied to Nazi memoribilia. What kind of simulation are we living in where Mein Kampf is easier to purchase than McElligot's Pool?

Last fall, mere weeks before the election, both Twitter and Facebook suppressed a controversial New York Post story about then-candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter's business dealings. That is disturbing, even if the ensuing publicity about the action led more people to read the story than might have otherwise. This year each site issued permanent bans on Trump, citing continuous breaches of their terms of service. In February, Amazon banned When Harry Became Sally (Encounter Books), a 2018 book critical of the transgender movement. In an act that can be charitably characterized as bullying, four Republican senators demanded to know Amazon's thinking. "We carefully consider the content we make available in our stores, and we review our approach regularly," Amazon responded. "We have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness."

From a strict libertarian perspective, such decisions don't violate anyone's rights. In fact, they illustrate the exercise of them. Private individuals and businesses should have broad—some would say limitless—discretion on how they conduct their affairs, especially those related to voluntary association. Part of Amazon's defense is the simple, elegant declaration that "we reserve the right not to sell certain content. All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we." And they do have every right to do that. Yet such decisions are eminently open to criticism from customers too, and not simply because Amazon once aspired to sell every book in print. Internet platforms that prided themselves on vastly expanding the marketplace of ideas (and consumer goods such as books) are now narrowing it instead.

This trend toward suppression is not lost on progressives, at least not older ones, such as Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and Thomas Frank, all of whom are over 50 and increasingly find themselves at odds with a woke left that has little use for hosannas about free speech and that valorizes ethnic identity over class struggle. "In liberal circles these days there is a palpable horror of the uncurated world, of thought spaces flourishing outside the consensus, of unauthorized voices blabbing freely in some arena where there is no moderator to whom someone might be turned in," writes Frank, whose 2004 volume What's The Matter With Kansas? became the bible for left-wingers desperate to rescue the country from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and neoliberalism. Mocking a call in The New York Times for a "reality czar" who would help end the spread of "misinformation," Frank concludes acidly: "The remedy for bad speech, we now believe, is not more speech, as per Justice Brandeis's famous formula, but an 'extremism expert' shushing the world."

When they are not simply asserting a naked will to power, progressives trying to shut down speech often employ bad-faith arguments. Over the past few years, whenever Twitter or Facebook or YouTube or whatever platform banned an account for politically correct reasons, people on the left would cynically invoke the libertarian property rights argument they rejected when, say, reactionary religious bakers refused to decorate same-sex wedding cakes. The same people who would not only force a baker to "bake the damn cake" but assign him to mandatory sensitivity training suddenly started sounding like Murray Rothbard on Viagra when it came to voluntary association. If you don't like Twitter or Facebook or YouTube, goes this line of eminently reasonable argumentation, go build your own.

But when some admittedly tech-challenged conservatives did just that, by launching a new platform called Parler, Amazon Web Services stopped hosting it, and Apple and Google refused to carry the app version in their online stores, sometimes citing technical issues but mostly because they believed the service tolerated, as an Apple statement put it, "threats of violence and illegal activity [and had] not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people's safety." The right-wingers behind Parler had basically built their own Twitter, and the major players in the internet—well within their rights, to be sure—did what they could to cut off access, to try to exile the new platform to the far quadrants of cyberspace, where no one can hear you scream about stopping the steal, Hunter Biden's crack binges, or Chinese lab-engineered viruses. After several weeks of controversy and changes to some of its technical and content-moderation policies, Parler found a new web host and was readmitted to Apple's App Store, though as of this writing it has yet to be reinstated at Google's Play Store.

Progressives hardly have a monopoly on self-righteous, bad-faith calls for cancellation using market forces and social media. As befits a champion college debater, Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) is always ready, willing, and able to defend any side of a conflict with equal verve, passion, and seeming commitment to principle. In 2019, Nike withdrew its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneaker, which featured the iconic 13-star flag designed by Betsy Ross, from the market after critics claimed the design glorified an era in which slavery was practiced (yes, really). Cruz called for a boycott of Nike, tweeting "I respect Free Speech & I'm exerting mine: until @Nike ends its contempt for those values, I WILL NO LONGER PURCHASE NIKE PRODUCTS. #WalkAwayFromNike RT if you agree." A year later, when left-wingers called for a boycott of Goya products after the company's CEO praised Trump, Cruz leapt into the fray, saying such an action was nothing less than an attempt "to cancel Hispanic culture and silence free speech."

Again, none of this violates the letter of any laws, especially libertarian ones, but it's deeply worrying, especially for those of us who are ancient enough to remember the rise of cyberspace as a new and exciting landscape of ALL CAPS flame wars, loudmouthed argumentation, and promiscuous ideological mixing. "We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity," declared the late techno-optimist John Perry Barlow in his "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace," which, though written only 25 years ago, in many ways seems more archaic than the 1776 text that inspired it. "In our world," he crowed, "all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat." These days, it sometimes feels like all the major platforms are working to purify the air of any thought pollution.

Indeed, in June, the combination of bots and humans patrolling YouTube for "medical misinformation" saw fit to remove a 16-month-old Reason video about DIY biohackers who were trying to come up with homegrown COVID-19 vaccines at a time when mainstream experts were saying cures might take as long as five years to develop and deliver. The video, wrote its producer, Zach Weissmueller, "remains a snapshot of an early longshot effort to prepare for a frightening and uncertain pandemic, and it continues to raise questions about whether the future of science needs to be as centrally managed as it has been for the past century. It's a factual report, not misinformation." Well, not according to YouTube, which took it down and rejected Reason's appeal. The video remains up at Facebook, where it apparently hasn't provoked the site's overseers, and at our own website, whose content we control.

As stupid, dictatorial, and unthinking as they can be, the ideological HEPA filters at Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and elsewhere are not the worst part of today's marketplace of ideas. They pale in comparison to—and distract scarce attention from—the fact that government actors at all levels are marching on free speech, and free enterprise, like Birnam Wood on Dunsinane, poorly disguised but seemingly impossible to stop.

Censorship

In March—almost a year to the day after Louisville police officers killed Breonna Taylor during a monstrous, indefensible raid on her home—the Republican-majority Kentucky Senate passed a bill that makes it a crime to insult and taunt cops. Under its language, you could get three months in jail and a $250 fine for flipping off the fuzz in a way "that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person." The journey from the police killing an innocent emergency room technician to legislation limiting a police-violence protester's ability to tell cops to go fuck themselves is a strange one and almost as deeply offensive as Taylor's execution. The bill stalled in the Bluegrass State's lower chamber, due to outrage not just at its content but at its timing.

It's just one of a slew of new or proposed laws that would chill free speech as we fret or laugh over the fate of banjoists and old books hidden in plain sight among millions of others on the cybershelves of online retailers. Freethinkers are rightly outraged when private platforms crack down on speech for political reasons, but the much graver threat always comes from governments seeking to ban or compel speech, often in the guise of securing privacy rights or "fair" competition. According to a May New York Times tally, lawmakers in at least 38 states "have introduced more than 100 bills to protect people's data privacy, regulate speech policies and encourage tech competition." Even the bills that don't directly deal with speech policies aim to regulate platforms' business models and ultimately their content.

Put slightly differently: I think it's stupid Amazon won't stock When Harry Became Sally, but its author and publisher can still hawk it at Barnes & Noble, at the publisher's own site, and at the author's. When the government says you can't do something, by contrast, where else are you going to go?

Even before they desecrated the memory of Breonna Taylor, lawmakers in Kentucky introduced legislation this year that "would make a user entitled to damages if a social media platform deletes or 'censors' religious or political posts." Conservatives who endorse such bills, like the progressives against whom they define themselves, are engaging in bad-faith arguments they reject in other circumstances. They are more than happy to tell people how to run their business when the desired outcome suits them.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott averred, without citing anything approaching actual evidence, that conservative viewpoints are being systematically silenced. "Pretty soon," he promised this year, such social media policies are "going to be against the law in the state of Texas." That law, S.B. 12, easily passed in the state Senate before dying in the lower chamber in May.

That same month in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that banned Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms from suspending or moderating the accounts of political candidates. (The one exception was for messages deemed "obscene.") In a nod to the squelching of the New York Post's pre-election story about Hunter Biden trading on his father's name, the law also banned blocking information about a candidate and prohibited flagging posts by a "journalistic enterprise" as unverified or sketchy. Offenders would face fines of up to $250,000 a day, and regular users would be able to sue platforms if they feel they've been treated unfairly. The law was set to take effect on July 1 but was struck down by Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, who wrote, "The legislation compels providers to host speech that violates their standards—speech they otherwise would not host—and forbids providers from speaking as they otherwise would."

Back in the pre-internet days, you could count on conservative Republicans to shriek about the alleged need to regulate sex and drugs on cable TV and in music, but these days they seem to want social media companies to do no moderating of content. (Maybe we should just take progress where we find it, put it quietly in our pocket like a $20 bill found on the ground, and walk on by.)

At the same time, liberal Democrats, who themselves used to scream about violent video games and cable TV programming, are pushing for more regulation of speech they don't like. In Colorado, a proposed law (Senate Bill 132) would create a "digital communications commission" that would force online providers to register with the state and investigate platforms to make sure they don't allow "hate speech," "undermine election integrity," or "disseminate intentional disinformation, conspiracy theories, or fake news"—vague terms that lawmakers can't even be bothered to define in the legislation. The commission would have the ability to order changes in the way platforms operate. After advancing out of a minor committee, the bill fell apart; its sponsors are now rewriting the proposal.

At the national level, two congressional Democrats—Rep. Anna Eshoo (D–Calif.) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D–Calif.)—have sent letters to the heads of Comcast, Verizon, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies demanding to know why such private services dare carry Fox News, Newsmax, and other supposed purveyors of "misinformation." As Reason's Robby Soave put it, sending the letter "was an act of intimidation." So was the letter by Sens. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.), Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), Mike Braun (R–Ind.), and Mike Lee (R–Utah) to Amazon demanding answers about why the company declined to sell When Harry Became Sally. "In its decision to remove Mr. Anderson's book from its platforms, Amazon has openly signaled to conservative Americans that their views are not welcome on its platforms," the supposed small-government conservatives wrote. Since when should a company's decisions on what to stock on its shelves be a matter for politicians?

Those letters came just a few weeks before the latest round of House hearings about all things internet. Over Zoom, the heads of Facebook, Twitter, and Google (which is already being sued by the federal government and 11 states on antitrust grounds) were ritualistically taken to the woodshed for facilitating the January 6 riot; for allowing too much hate speech or using hate speech as a pretext for deplatforming people; for allowing too much or too little information, misinformation, and disinformation about voting, COVID-19, global warming, and more.

CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai are by now old hands at such show trials. Going back to at least 2018, all three have called for their own industry to be regulated, which inevitably means suppressing speech. In 2018, Zuck was musing on CNN that "the question is more what is the right regulation rather than 'Yes or no, should we be regulated?'"

The tenor of the hearings—and the larger mood in Washington—was summed up in a statement by Rep. Mike Doyle (D–Pa.): "The power of this technology is awesome and terrifying, and each of you has failed to protect your users and the world from the worst consequences of your creations." The main point of the proceedings, offered The Washington Post, was to make plain "just how deep the desire in Washington goes to change how social media companies operate." After getting into a Twitter spat with Amazon's P.R. account, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) even vowed to "fight to break up Big Tech so you're not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets."

When not threatening to regulate content per se, federal lawmakers in both parties are pushing a series of antitrust actions against tech giants. A half-dozen proposals at various stages of progress would restrict the ability of large platforms (usually defined as those having over 500,000 monthly active users or a $600 billion market cap) to sell and promote house brands (such as Amazon Basics or even Amazon's streaming video), mandate data portability, or restructure privacy settings. That the Federal Trade Commission just lost an antitrust action against Facebook—a federal district court ruled the agency had failed to establish Facebook actually has a monopoly in "personal networking services"—is an encouraging sign that the courts will at least slow momentum for regulation.

But the threats will keep coming, because politicians of all stripes want to control speech in ways that favor their agendas. And they are drawing strength from the broader cancel culture that defines the current moment. Individuals are self-canceling, corporations and platforms are purifying their offerings, so why wouldn't politicians push in the same direction?

At the moment, progressives broadly believe that there is not enough moderation of content going on, while conservatives tend to think too much of the same is happening. This disagreement is less likely to end in stalemate than it is in some sort of heavy-handed regulation that will give each side something to cheer. Just as Republicans and Democrats always manage to overcome their differences to spend more and more money, they certainly can come together to make it easier to squelch speech that they find annoying, even if their reasons for being annoyed are diametrically opposed.

Laws seeking to control individuals and platforms have fared poorly in the courts, because the First Amendment makes it hard to compel or suppress the speech of private actors and because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act allows companies broad discretion in how they moderate online platforms. But Section 230, the law that allows online platforms, websites, and services to moderate content as they see fit and protects them from liability for most user-generated speech, is in everyone's crosshairs. At March's hearings, Facebook's Zuckerberg showed up with plans to revise Section 230 that would require platforms to act more quickly and transparently to remove "clearly illegal" content, including incendiary language and calls for violence. "It's time for updated internet regulations," intones a series of online and TV ads Facebook is running. "The internet has changed a lot in 25 years. But the last time comprehensive internet regulations were passed was in 1996. We want updated internet regulations to set clear guidelines for addressing today's toughest challenges."

The minute the conversation gets concrete, of course, the harder it becomes to create rules that clearly articulate what is permissible. The real goal here is for the government and the corporations to come to some sort of workable truce. "We are ready to work with you to move beyond hearings and get started on real reform," Zuckerberg told the lawmakers. The other CEOs didn't disagree. Why would they? If they can minimize political risks while locking in their current market positions, who's going to complain? As Zuck explained to Congress in 2018, "When you add more rules that companies need to follow, that's something that a larger company like ours inherently just has the resources to go do, and that just might be harder for a smaller company getting started to be able to comply with."

There are also indications that a judicial shift toward speech restrictions may be in the offing. Going back to the 1960s, the Supreme Court has been generally solid in expanding all speech rights, whether the case had to do with publishing supposed obscenity, striking down campaign finance laws that limited political expression, or nullifying virtually all of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which would have effectively regulated online speech like speech on broadcast radio or TV.

But it's also true that the Supreme Court follows broad sentiments in politics and culture rather than standing athwart them. As the legal scholar Mark Tushnet once told me, the Court may be slightly ahead or behind of where society is headed, but "10 years down the line, the society's going to be pretty much where it would've been even if the courts hadn't said a word about it."

So it's worrying that in a recent case involving then–President Trump blocking followers on Twitter, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the dominant social media platforms function as monopolies and thus should be treated as common carriers that can be forced to carry content they otherwise would not. Just as phone companies couldn't pick and choose who could and couldn't make a call on their systems, goes this line of thinking, Facebook or Twitter shouldn't be allowed to decide who gets to talk on their platforms. "That these companies have no comparable competitors highlights that the industries may have substantial barriers to entry," he wrote, making the case for stripping them of the right to run their businesses as they see fit. Thomas is usually a strong proponent of limiting government power, so this shift is worrisome.

As the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Jessica Melugin has noted, established platforms are actually "constantly having to compete with new market entries. Examples include Snapchat, Clubhouse, TikTok, and many more." And legal scholar Jeff Kosseff, author of a book on Section 230 called The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet, told NPR that platforms have fairly inviolable First Amendment rights to refuse speech they don't want. But he added that Thomas' remarks are "an invitation for plaintiffs' lawyers to bring cases challenging Section 230….And I would not be surprised if we would start seeing more states passing laws that attempt to regulate content moderation." Indeed, if Florida, Texas, Colorado, and other states are any indication, that's already happening. Thomas' reasoning is faulty on both empirical and legal grounds, but that may not matter, especially in this cancel-culture climate.

Voice and Exit

"Capitalists will sell us the rope we hang them with," goes a saying variously attributed to Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. A variant aimed at libertarians is that by supporting the rights of Big Tech platforms to ban and deplatform anyone who isn't some sort of woke paragon, we are defending the very people and systems that will make it impossible for us to continue to argue for free speech. That's hyperbolic and paranoid. If you think Twitter sucks when Jack Dorsey runs it, just wait until Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (or Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell) are calling the shots.

The solution to the current situation is, I think, found in Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, Albert O. Hirschman's 1970 treatise on "responses to declines in firms, organizations, and states." Hirschman discusses the different ways individuals can effect change. Sucking it up and becoming an uncritical organization man (loyalty) is one option that doesn't seem particularly attractive. Leaving to go elsewhere—exit—is the option John Perry Barlow limned so well back in 1996. You see it in the emergence of platforms such as Substack, Patreon, and Locals (a creator-content system that is far more decentralized than the other two). At the recent Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami, Dorsey himself said that he understood why people were upset by Twitter's moderation policies. He invoked the decentralized, peer-to-peer architecture that undergirds bitcoin to talk about new payment and messaging systems he is developing. "We're trying to do the same thing with Twitter, by creating a new platform, a new open-source standard called Blue Sky," he said. "It will have none of the restrictions that you see on Twitter. Inspired entirely by Bitcoin. We want to do the same thing for social media." Only time will tell if such claims are mere vaporware. "I know you aren't going to believe me," he said. "I know you're saying 'liar.' I'm going to prove it to you. And then we can have another conversation later."

Mumford & Sons' Winston Marshall chose a different form of exit a few months after his Twitter apology. In an essay on Medium, he announced he was leaving the band: "I've had plenty of abuse over the years. I'm a banjo player after all," he wrote. "But this was another level." He explained that his comment had "unleashed a black-hearted swarm" of hate on his bandmates and he seriously considered the notion that he had done something truly horrible. Ultimately, though, he felt a need to be true to his own vision of reality: "The truth is that my commenting on a book that documents the extreme Far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant Far-Right. The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave. I also feel that my previous apology in a small way participates in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good." In taking back his self-cancellation, he strikes a blow, however small, for some measure of honesty and integrity in public discussions, even as he likely faces a future of relative anonymity.

Complaining and working to change the system (voice) is also a powerful strategy, both in politics and in dealing with online platforms. We should loudly criticize platforms for kicking people off in arbitrary ways that diminish our ability to freely argue and disagree about politics and culture. We want more participation across the board, not less, even if we believe that businesses can rightly restrict expression however they see fit. We all need to make our presence known, both at platforms and in elections, as supporters of maximal free speech. That means we need to push the case for free expression not just when the government comes for our rights but when private companies delete content and individuals start flagellating themselves like devout Catholics in the Philippines on Good Friday.

Speaking of Catholicism, we would do well to celebrate free speech saints and martyrs, creating a pantheon of heroes we can turn to for inspiration and guidance, if not divine intervention. Lawrence Ferlinghetti is one such saint. So is Frank Kameny, another World War II veteran who, like Ferlinghetti, fought not just literal Nazis but American hostility to open expression.

Kameny lost his job with the U.S. Army Map Service because he was gay. He exhausted legal proceedings to get his job back and, in the early 1960s, led some of the country's first public demonstrations for gay rights, marching in front of the White House and Independence Hall, holding signs that read "Denial of equality of opportunity is immoral" and "Private consenting sexual conduct by adults is NOT the government's concern," among other slogans. Kameny was a staunch opponent of restricting speech, even the hate speech that was regularly launched in his direction. He wrote, in a court brief that failed to get the Supreme Court to let gay people work for the federal civil service, "petitioner did not hesitate to fight the Germans, with bullets, in order to help preserve his rights and freedoms and liberties, and those of others. In 1960, it is ironically necessary that he fight the Americans, with words, in order to preserve, against a tyrannical government, some of those same rights, freedoms and liberties, for himself and others."

Kameny's story had a happy ending. By the time he died in 2011, he had received an official apology from the federal government for being fired and, far more important, he had seen enormous legal and cultural progress for gays and lesbians, virtually all of it gained via robust public debate rather than shutting down discourse.

Contemporary cancel culture can take on left and right flavorings, and it can be enforced by governments, corporations, or individuals. But it all works to reduce our ability not just to talk freely but to live freely. And that is reason enough to contest it at every level.

NEXT: Brickbat: Throw Some More Rights on the Barbie

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  1. So, the solution is to completely ban Twigger and Fakebook. I can agree with this.

    Slightly more seriously (they could just go, that’d be great)… What else do you expect when these cupcakes are sheltered from any contrary words and given achievement ribbons their whole lives? These children were never made ready to be adults, yet here they are… Voting.
    Cancel culture starts with nanny governments and helicopter parents. It grows on curated groupthink and emotions. There is nothing remotely Libertarian about this denial of others rights to exist as something you may not like.

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    2. Its called perpetual childhood. Too many young people, woke or not, want it, and too many politicians and corporate leaders are willing to provide it.

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  2. Only the government can engage in true censorship, surely.

    I suppose this depends on whether you believe George Orwell and 1984 were more prescient than Aldous Huxley and Brave New World. I happen to believe Huxley was closer to the truth – when the dictatorship comes we will be enthusiastically supporting it.

    1. Only the government can engage in true censorship, surely.

      Now ask this brain damaged arrested adolescent if the Hollywood blacklist was “censorship”.

      1. “But that’s different because communists good, conservatives bad!”

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      2. Joseph McCarthy was on “Team R”, and so it was all OK!

        1. Except that Fonzie’s retarded little brother has spoken out against the Hollywood blacklist, created and enforced by private movie studios, while defending censorship and blacklists created and enforced by private tech companies. That whooshing sound you heard is not just the air blowing through the empty space between your ears, it was the point sailing over your head. Fucking drunk off your ass at 7 AM already, eh sarcasmic? Good thing every day’s a holiday when you’re a hopeless alcoholic collecting welfare and living off section 8 housing.

          1. “…defending censorship and blacklists created and enforced by private tech companies.”

            If I support your right to get divorced (or to overdose on your favorite addictive substance), does that mean that I am defending (that I dearly love) divorces and ODs? You know, it IS possible to NOT support a given thing, while defending your freedom from Government Almighty! Including your right to do something (with YOUR body and YOUR property; “property” to include web sites) that I don’t like!

            I want YOUR cake-baking shop to bake me a “Blacklists Are Totes Cool” wedding cake! With YOUR bake-shop logo on it!

            Please broadcast under YOUR usual posting name, right here, that the private property ownership has NOTHING to do with the 1st Amendment (Government Almighty-driven freedom from Government Almighty, just as is also, Section 230) freedoms! Post that in YOUR name!

            If you won’t do those things, you are CENSORING me, and denying me my “inalienable right to free speech”!!!

            1. It’s refreshing to hear a real libertarian position presented. I feel like the cultural conservatives who post here constantly conflate supporting the *right* to do something with supporting the position itself.

              Richard Spencer is a terrible human who says and believes terrible things. But just because white nationalists are loathsome doesn’t mean their speech should be suppressed by the government.

              However, another cornerstone of libertarianism is free markets. Companies have the right to control their products. If their product isn’t desirable, a competitor will rise that fills the need that they aren’t filling. That’s capitalism, and it is a good thing.

              If you think that Facebook/Twitter/CommieSocialMedia isn’t providing a product you like, find a company that does. If you believe that Google or Facebook are too large and/or monopolistic, antitrust laws are available as a remedy.

              I understand that the fact that large social media and tech companies are responding to outside influence frustrates conservatives, but companies should always be allowed to choose how to tailor their products and who they want to target with them.

              The free exchange of ideas is a good thing, even if some of those ideas are awful. Capitalism is a good thing, even if companies don’t choose to make a product that you like.

              1. Thanks, Nelson, agreed!

                Also, if we try to outlaw the speech of Richard Spencer (for example), it just makes his words that much more enticing to those who want to believe what he says! The answer to wrong words (lies) is right words (truth), not force. Force, in this case (as in many cases), is badly counter-productive.

                1. Preach, brother, preach! LOL!

              2. Companies have the right to control their products. If their product isn’t desirable, a competitor will rise that fills the need that they aren’t filling. That’s capitalism, and it is a good thing.

                So if Facebook publishes a post defaming someone, it’s their property and they should be held liable for publishing it?

                Per SQRLSY One, it was their decision to publish it as part of their property:

                the property owners (the web site owners) should decide!

                “Website owners = property owners” – SQRLSY One

              3. “white nationalists are loathsome”

                So you hate white people. Especially those who believe in this country, and promote it’s interests. This is typical of progressives. Are you a progressive?

                1. Hitler was a white nationalist. If you hate Hitler-type thinking, you must hate white people! Got it!

                  (I hope that you know that Hitler and MANY of his top followers committed suicide. You might want to think about the road that you are on).

  3. Indeed. As soon as “social media” took hold, this country, and even the planet, began to devolve into egocentric self-indulgence where personal opinion outweighed public benefit or even fact. The “adults” today are fewer and fewer who can remember a time when nobody gave a shit about your current status or what you ate. A time when democracy meant “majority rule” and not “hijacked by special interest groups.” When getting information from an actual news source that was based on fact and didn’t have a political or personal agenda behind it. So very fucking sad…. and they don’t even know it.

    1. There were plenty of snowflakes before Reddit, but they sure spread faster after.

      1. Snowflakes should be melted.

  4. ALL social media platforms are simply that, platforms for people in society to speak freely in the town square of the 21st century.
    They should be sued no more that city hall should be sued when people demonstrate exercising 1a.

    If someone speaking breaks the law, just like a looter at a protest, that one person should be punished, not city hall and not the social speaking platform.

    Private companies can’t violate our inalienable rights that can’t be given or taken away or sold.

    There is no private place in this nation where we do not have the right to life.

    In places where people are invited to speak, like every social media platform, everyone has the right not to be censored. If they break the law, only then can they be punished.

    That’s what it means to have an inalienable right. If you disagree, fuck off to a shithole nation where there are none.

    SCOTUS has already ruled that town squares, even privately owned ones are obligated to respect 1a.

    There is a very interesting supreme court case that deals with the rights of a company that owns a town square to limit speech. Marsh vs Alabama. The ruling was that a company that owned a company town could not limit speech in that town. Here is a link to the ruling.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/326/501

    “ The more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it.”

    In other words, we carry our rights onto private property and everywhere we go.

    If you run a business which is open for the general public, you are obliged to respect ALL their human rights.

    1. Miserable Misek, I want YOUR cake-baking shop to bake me a “Holocaust was VERY REAL” wedding cake! With YOUR bake-shop logo on it!

      Rob Misek, please broadcast under YOUR usual posting name, right here, that the Holocaust was VERY REAL, and sponsored by Adolf Hitler and the NAZIs, who were hateful, racist, and EVIL! Post that in YOUR name!

      If you won’t do those things, you are CENSORING me, and denying me my “inalienable right to free speech”!!!

      1. Great example since you supported the prosecution of cake bakers, florists and photographers who wouldn’t accommodate fags yet believe that digital advertising and publishing companies should be treated entirely different from conventional advertising and publishing companies. An inquisitive person might suspect that you’re a drunken imbecilic simpleton poorly regurgitating talking points you picked up from Democratic Underground while constantly own-goaling yourself.

        1. “…you supported the prosecution of cake bakers, florists and photographers who wouldn’t accommodate fags…”

          Citation please, mendacious and evil liar!

        2. Take it easy on him, he has run so many socks he doesn’t know what he actually thinks.

        3. I’ve suspected all those things about him for years now. I also suspect he eats his own shot, and possibly the shit of others. Oh wait, he’s admitted that.

      2. The day that I can’t refute what I deny.

        The day that I can’t provide evidence of logic and science for what I say is true.

        That will be the day I recognize that I’m being irrational.

        For me, that day hasn’t arrived. Cite your proof if you believe otherwise.

        For you, that day came long ago.

        1. sarcasmic is a drunken fucking retard, but let’s not just gloss over the fact that you’re a fucking Holocaust denier. Probably best not to lean too heavily on your rationality, logic and scientific mind under the circumstances.

          1. You’re the fuckwit who isn’t refuting what you deny or providing evidence of logic and science for what you claim is true.

            Enjoy your bogeyman story.

            1. Any people, here have discredited the cherry picked nuggets of crap you call evidence. Just within the last week. You hate Jews like KAR hates Mormons.

              1. You’ll have no trouble linking to the article where you or anyone else refuted my statements then.

                Or you can refute it here and now.

                Crickets. I didn’t think so.

        2. Dude, my grandma, may she burn in hell, was literally Hitler youth and never outgrew it. She was proud of the racial cleansing and died waiting for the next Reich.

          It happened. Let’s not do it again.

          1. If what you claim is true, your blessed granny lived to experience the actions of Jews.

            Betraying Germany to dupe the US into WW1 in exchange for Palestine.

            Overthrowing the Russian monarchy to create communist Russia and the KGB.

            Forcing Germany into WW2 with global boycotts.

            Stealing Palestine creating the Middle East conflict and the apartheid state called Israel.

            I wonder how forgiving the Russians coerced by communism and the oppressed Palestinians thrown out of their homes are.

            You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            1. What the flying fuck is wrong with you? You actually believe Jews killed millions of their own to fabricate a narrative against Germans that saw them kicked out of the nation and relegated to a perpetual war state? Nazis were forced to attempt European conquest because of boycotts?

              This tops Flat Earth proponents by a mile.

              1. Millions of Jews never died in WW2.

                There is ZERO physical evidence to support that narrative.

                The Red Cross monitored ALL prison camps in WW2. The total dead they recorded for all camps was 271,000. They also recorded the causes of death and none were by gassing of any kind. They never mentioned any persecution of Jews PERIOD.

                This is a matter of record.

              2. Cite provided

                http://www.renegadetribune.com/international-red-cross-report-confirms-holocaust-six-million-jews-hoax/

                Refute that or admit that to deny what you can’t refute, just another irrational fuckwit.

                1. You linked that pile of shit the last time I rubbed your face in it;
                  one accounting which disputes what every other one states.
                  You’re level of “proof” pretty much confirms the low-IQ estimate.

                  1. You’ll have no trouble linking to the article where you refuted than then.

                    Or you can refute it here and now.

                    Crickets. I didn’t think so.

                    1. We’re not indulging you ever time you spout your bullshit. You apply discredited sophist arguments, like Chemjeff. And also like Chemjeff, you endlessly present those discredited sophist arguments as if they were not discredited.

                      It’s tiresome, and so are you. You’re a goddamn anti semite and a Nazi.

                      Hitler is dead. Get over it.

                    2. Well that’s convenient.

                      Every time you trolls claim you’ve refuted my statements you can’t be bothered to prove it.

                      You are tiresome.

                2. Your argument as to why the Holocaust is a hoax is because… trust the government records? From the camps the Nazis allowed them to visit?

                  You also trust Xi at face value? Joe’s transparant administration?

                  Fuckwit indeed.

                  1. My bad, not a fuckwit; Deus Dolt.

                  2. Like Aushwitz fuckwitz.

                    1. Yes, you are Commandant of Camp Fuckwitz.

        3. “For me, that day hasn’t arrived. Cite your proof if you believe otherwise.”

          I have done so, you pathetic piece of Nazi shit, and it is not my or our problem that you are either too fucking stupid to understand or too dishonest to recognize it.
          Lame bullshit like ‘well, the Brits didn’t catch them bragging about killing millions’ is “proof” that something did not happen only to those with IQs at the lower end of the two-digit range.

          1. His big proof is about as honest as Hanoi Jane. I want to punch this sack of Nazi shit harder than KAR.

          2. Then you’ll have no trouble linking to the article where you refuted anything I’ve said then.

            Or you can refute what I say here and now.

            Crickets. I didn’t think so.

            1. We all saw it. So just stop with your bullshit.

              1. Then you’ll have no trouble linking to the article where you or anyone else refuted my statements.

                Crickets. I didn’t think so.

              2. Patriotic Guy, patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels! You have the nerve to get on Miserable Misek’s shit, while the two of you should be BBFFFFs (Best Butt-Fucking Friends Forever), adoring Hitler together! Peas in a pod, you are! On this VERY same thread here, you wrote the below…

                Patriotic Guy
                September.8.2021 at 4:06 am

                “white nationalists are loathsome” (other person, Nelson, wrote)

                So you hate white people.

                (Nelson wrote “Richard Spencer is a terrible human…”) … See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_B._Spencer

                So you clearly equate Hitler-like racism with “hating white people”. You might as well go get married to Rob Misek, so you 2 lovebirds can consummate your hatred together, and maybe bother the rest of us a bit less.

      3. A bakery shop is not a public square. Clumsy cheap shot.

        1. FaceBoooo isn’t a public square either. Or Twitter, etc. They are owned by the stockholders. You want to tell them what to do? Buy 51% of the stock, instead of crying to Big Mamma Government Almighty, to get Big Mamma to MAKE them stop HURTING Your Precious Baby Feelings!

    2. That’s an interesting case that seems to parallel the “virtual town square” of social media pretty closely.

      That said, infringements on property rights make me very nervous. Look at eminent domain and its expansion to allow the government taking private property and give it to a different private entity.

      1. Nobody is forcing anyone to establish businesses that act as town squares.

        If they don’t respect inalienable rights, they’re in the wrong business.

        If anything, censorship is more of a burden on business than letting people exercise free speech is.

        Stand up for your fucking rights.

    3. In other words, we carry our rights onto private property and everywhere we go.

      Walk into a bank with a gun.

      1. Free speech is not intended to allow you to harass others until they agree with you.

        Not all places of business are appropriate town squares either. Social media platforms are and exist to allow people to speak freely.

        I would argue that all places including banks are safer when legal gun owners carry guns.

        1. In other words, we carry our rights onto private property and everywhere we go.

          Walk into a bank with a gun.

          1. Yes. What’s your point?

    4. They should be sued no more that city hall should be sued when people demonstrate exercising 1a.

      Again, depending on your city hall, that’s up to a dozen times a year or more. Of course, that’s not typical for all city halls because not all of them have or claim to have anywhere near 3B users.

      1. What’s your point, that inalienable rights aren’t worth the effort?

    5. “In other words, we carry our rights onto private property and everywhere we go.”

      Well, most of them at any rate. There is that matter of private property rights, many which include businesses.

      1. Inalienable rights that can’t be given or taken away, bought or sold. We carry them all.

        If you or any business can’t respect that, don’t allow anyone onto your private property.

        Not the best social media business model.

        1. So, a business owner can’t stop a politician, who they despise, running for office to campaign for reelection in the foyer of your music store?

          And, a business owner has no say if someone wants to carry a firearm into their bakery?

          There are lots of reasons a person can ban you from their property that might “infringe” on your personal rights. A partial list:

          Being rude and obnoxious
          Being drunk
          Not wearing shoes or a shirt
          Being an asshole.
          Being a Democrat (/sarc — at least a bit 🙂 )

          1. Our rights are being violated all the time. It’s wrong.

            That being said, we can’t exercise all our rights all the time. There are cases, like breaking that our rights are temporarily suspended.

            Free speech is not intended to allow you to harass others until they agree with you.

            Not all places of business are appropriate town squares.

            Social media platforms are and exist to allow people to speak freely.

            If the censorship and deplatforming were in direct response to breaking an applicable law, then it might be reasonable.

            So if you want to censor misinformation, criminalize lying and suspend the right of liars to speak freely.

            1. Thanks Rob. That was pretty much the response for which I was looking.

              1. It is the logical conclusion to that area of discussion.

                Are we in agreement?

                1. Pretty much, I would say.

                  1. The illusion of a brief respite from being surrounded by insanity then.

                    1. 🙂

    6. Sooo…Does all this apply equally to Jews, Slavs, Roma, Poles, Africans, Homosexuals, the handicapped, the elderly, the mentally infirm, or any politcial viewpoint other than your own?

    7. Happy to violate the civil rights of private business owners in the meanwhile?

      Bake that cake, Deus Dolt. You only have liberty off the clock.

      1. Private business does not have the right to violate inalienable rights.

        If you deny this, provide constitutional evidence to support your denial.

        1. Private businesses, excepting under certain exceptions , which are spelled out in law (and which can vary between jurisdictions), do retain their right to freedom of association, as well as the right to not associate.

          1. That doesn’t refute that businesses cannot violate our inalienable rights.

            There must be rigid scrutiny in every case that someone intends to ostensibly violate another’s inalienable right.

            Like when you lose your right to life when I act in self defence.

            1. I agree, at least overall. We may disagree in particular cases, but, overall I agree. “Being Disruptive,” for instance, is a very malleable term. As illustrated below (true story):

              Two young, athletic-looking men entered a pet store dressed in fatigues and with holstered automatic pistols. They perused the isle until they located what they wanted.

              In one town in which I used to live, this would have probably resulted in immediate calls to 911 and customers crawling all over themselves to get out.

              Instead, nobody seemed to notice, including the proprietor, and the only thing that I asked my self was “What kind of guys go shopping for $90 cat beds?”

        2. Fuck you, you shitstain Nazi. You’re getting slapped down from all sides and acting like you’re not a clown.

          1. I refute what I deny.

            You deny what you can’t refute.

            Every time I rub your nose in it, you choke.

            Everyone sees this.

  5. At least we’re being protected from “potentially harmful content” like the US constitution.

    The alert now appears on many pages on the archives.org website, and links to a page entitled “NARA’s Statement on Potentially Harmful Content,” which they define as:

    • reflect racist, sexist, ableist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes;
    • be discriminatory towards or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, religion, and more;
    • include graphic content of historical events such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars/terrorist acts, natural disasters and more;
    • demonstrate bias and exclusion in institutional collecting and digitization policies.

    Bizarrely, the warning does not appear on a page about Jim Crow, which has no fewer than 6 uses of the word “n*gg*r.” Nor does it appear on a page with the word “k*ke.”

    1. Well, since the National Archives is part of the Federal Government that supposedly operates under that U.S. Constitution, they should all go out in the desert and mortify their flesh, wear sackcloth and ashes, and scourge themselves.

  6. “Such rhetoric smacks of a hostage who will tell captors anything to avoid torture or be set free, of a schoolkid in detention running through every act of contrition he can recall, of a Manson Family member trying to hit the right combination of verbiage and sad-sack visage in front of the parole board.”

    It is also reminiscent of the “Change of Mind” episode of The Prisoner, in which villagers deemed “disharmonious” are forced to make prepared public confessions to avoid being declared “un-mutual” and thereby banned from all social interaction. The opening scene in which an accused “disharmonious” villager is forced to repeat a canned “sincere” confession to the applause of fellow villagers, without ever really explaining what he did or what he was sorry for, is particularly apt.

    1. If they’d socially isolate you and then go away, that would be one thing, but they’re worse than Jehovah’s Witnesses!

      1. One would have to join the Jehovah’s Witness Protection Program.

    2. If they asked me for a confession or an apology, I’d say:

      “That would be telling. Be seeing you.”

      The bubble might suffocate me, but I’d go down screamng:

      “I AM NOT A NUMBER! I AM A FREE MAN!”

      Number 2: “HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!”

      1. It will be necessary to recommend you for the process known as Instant Social Conversion.

        1. Sooo…With this Instant Social Conversion, I take it there’s no Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner” or Bob Segar’s “I Feel Like A Number” playing on the stereo in the basement?

          Just a non-stop loop of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” and James Weldon Johnson’s “Dem Bones” for your dining, dancing, and electroshock pleasure! 🙂

          1. “Sooo…With this Instant Social Conversion, I take it there’s no Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner” or Bob Segar’s “I Feel Like A Number” playing on the stereo in the basement?”

            Sir,

            Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself.

            1. Oooh, you act the part so well! I’ll be in my flat oiling my Pennyfarthing bicycle and plotting my next escape. Just spray the knockout gas when you need me. 🙂

  7. ‘Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) even vowed to “fight to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets.”’

    She sounds like such a little bitch when she talks like that.

    1. Any time someone says something that roughly translates to “people shouldn’t say mean things to me” it makes me laugh. Politicians make me laugh on the regular.

    2. Yeah, she should quit Squall-ing!

  8. I have a take which I have seen nowhere else. In practical terms, I think common carrier status is the only way forward in this convoluted crony system we have.

    The real problem is that ordinary people have no way to hold the tech giants to their word. I believe that I or anyone else should be able to sue Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and all the others for breaching their own Terms of Service for blocking Dr Suess books or deplatforming Parler; but that would require loser pays and a legal system which doesn’t take years just to come to trial.

    I haven’t looked at any of their ToS in a long time, but I’d be willing to bet it is full of gotchas and inconsistencies that would hang them out to dry for what they have done. The problem is that our legal system does not allow ordinary end-users to hold them accountable. And that is why the only practical way to restore some kind of level playing field is to turn them into common carriers. I don’t like it; it’s a poor alternative to suing the crap out of them for violating their own ToS; but it beats every other alternative, including the status quo.

    1. ” I don’t like it; it’s a poor alternative to suing the crap out of them for violating their own ToS; but it beats every other alternative, including the status quo.”

      I am not disagreeing with you about the whether or not ToS agreements are violated or not — it would seem highly unlikely that NONE are, perhaps even most, but just as unlikely that ALL are.

      The problem I have with defining social media platforms as “common carriers” is that I cannot think of a single instance in which common carriers are not, ultimately, under some kind of government control, influence, or restraints of one kind of another. This does not sit well with me.

      1. The problem I have with defining social media platforms as “common carriers” is that I cannot think of a single instance in which common carriers are not, ultimately, under some kind of government control, influence, or restraints of one kind of another. This does not sit well with me.

        I’d argue it’s the endgame. You’ve got the choice between allowing us to take over social media via S230/FOSTA or forcing us to take over social media and make them common carriers.

        Common carrier is absolutely not a valid exchange for loser pays, S230 repeal, or even anti-trust. Even the latter would only apply to FB/Twitter and could/would be narrowly interpretted. Common carrier, especially for abstract media, would be determined at the whim of the FCC. It would be an even greater nose under the 1A tent.

        1. Sorry. I don’t agree. I will never look to the government to solve any “problem.”

          For that matter, I don’t consider that social media is any more of “problem” than those folks at political rally who get together to attempt to convince us of the “truth.” Likewise, the media, be it television networks (of whatever “stripe”), or any number of newspapers, do a very nice job of distorting information.

          Yeah, I am sort of hardcore on first amendment stuff (and not exactly “soft-core” on other rights, either.

          1. I think social media is the worst thing to happen to culture in a long time. But I don’t know what can be done. I’m pretty uncomfortable with many proposed government based solutions as well. What I’d like to see is the people in government who are colluding with these companies to engage in censorship being punished.

            1. The solution, overly-simplified, is “Smaller Federal Government.”
              Much, MUCH smaller.

    2. I certainly don’t like the Politically Correct/Wokeist/Cultural Revolution Tankie stance taken by Amazon, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and it seems like the entire IT industry. However, I see a real problem with treating social media platforms as “common carriers” or “public utilities.”

      If government could deem social media companies as “common carriers” and “public utilities” and force them to either say or not say or platform or not platform whatever government desires, couldn’t they equally do that with any business or piece of property that could serve as a communications medium?

      Would homeowners, apartment complexes, and private communities be forced to accept visits from LDS bicycle boys, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Antifa/BLM “mostly peaceful” protesters, or any other propagandists wbo go door-to-door?

      Would motels and hotels be forced to accommodate the stereotypical rock band that “rocks and rolls all night and parties every day” and disturbs the other lodgers and trashes the rooms and throws TVs out the window?

      Would grocery stores and department stores be forced to let their facilities get littered with religious and pro-union tracts, pamphlets and flyers and be forced to give a store-sized soapbox to every screaming Karen and wannabe contestant in the latest talent reality TV show?

      Would professional sky-writers he forced to sky-write “Surrender, Dorothy” by any Witch that would scream “religious discrimination” or “lookism” if the sky-writer refuses?

      Would a Gay bar he forced to host a preach-in by Westboro Baptist Church or an Islamic religious service?

      Would bakers be forced to bake and decorate cakes for marriages with which they disagree? Oh, wait…

      You see where all this goes?

      The same warnings we hear all the time about well-intentioned Coercive Utopianism applies here too.

      A government powerful enough to force social media platforms to bow and scrape might one day force you to enscribe your doorway with “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Means Freedom”) or “To Keep You Is No Benefit! To Destroy You Is No Loss!” (The Khmer Rouge slogan.)

      I’ll put up with social media nitpicking before ever wanting government techniques for dealing with “lice.”

      1. How about the social media sites clearly state their rules on what can be posted, apply them consistently and offer clear explanations for why any particular thing is removed.

  9. I think the solution really is to restore protocols (eg email) and undermine proprietary platforms. It gets back to the original hopes for Web 1.0 – even with the precursor to social media called ‘online community’.

    1. Stop progress I want to get off!

  10. The same people who would not only force a baker to “bake the damn cake”

    *Reason enters the chat*

  11. Trump was wrong about exiling critics of a free society. But a free society only works for tolerant people. Perhaps a free society can only survive if it exiles intolerant people.

    1. “Trump was wrong about exiling critics of a free society. But a free society only works for tolerant people. Perhaps a free society can only survive if it exiles intolerant people.”

      Somehow, the government determining the meaning “tolerant” seems rather frightening. Everyone I know, of whatever stripe, seems unwilling to tolerate at least one thing or another.

  12. nothing remotely Libertarian…

    Well, absent erroneous but well-meaning legislation it is exactly libertarian philosophy implemented on a too-large scale – community voluntarily enforcing standards.

    On a smaller scale, Nevada capitalized on a number of opportunities to create (allow with limitations) the gambling industry to fill an enormous need when no other State would. That was libertarian(ish)

    On the local level, this same culture cancel looks like a scene from Deliverance — You boys hain’t from ‘roun’ heay, is you? If that offends try — What church do you attend?, or maybe — No-one wears white in the Hamptons after labor day, snifff!.

    No-one would believe that you took a random twenty-people from the phone book to invite to your coming-out party in the interest of diversity. People want to be with people who are like them. Hobbies, names, sports, number of wives, age-of consent. All of those are community level standards and if you don’t want people with Herpetaria in your community why should you be forced to have truck with them?

    Either way it is forced associations that have created the conflict and only exercising the first amendment right to freedom of association, to the death if necessary, can end the conflict.

    1. Yeah, I remember my parents were among the few in the town where I grew up who didn’t vote for Reagan but felt free to tell their friends who did why they didn’t like him and still remain friends. That would never happen now

  13. Excellent piece, Nick. “Interesting” to note that the “Volokh Conspiracy” is now hosting a legal website devoted to arguing about Section 230, with the obvious goal of destroying it a la Clarence Thomas, because Eugene Volokh is that rara avis, a Trump-lovin’ “libertarian”. Because Donald Trump will protect Israel and Joe Biden won’t. Go figure!

  14. This is a really good and thoughtful article, except that like most Reason articles, it pretends that there is a clear distinction between government and private entities. The truth is much murkier, and Reason downplays the blurriness of the distinction and the importance of things like:
    • Direct government seed funding.
    • Special conditions granted to favored companies.
    • Incentives like licensing that create barriers to entry and encourage conformity to government narratives.

    One solution is to reduce government involvement in business by reducing “public-private partnerships”, but without eliminating most or all of the ways government can nudge corporations to do its bidding, the future for free discourse is looking more and more unfavorable.

    1. Forgot to mention heavy reliance on government contracts.

      1. I agree with you fully but, shhhh! Ixnay on the overnment-Gay Ontracts-Cay!

        If you talk about them and all the billionaires like Bezos, Branson, and Musk who use them, certain members of this Forum will accuse you of hating rich people and think you’re an envious Commie.

        1. I thought more about the women and minority owned set-asides for less than optimal terms to prove that (they!) can succeed on their own merits.

          You went for the deserving rich, and I for the undeserving.

    2. I was mildly pleased that Nick at least took the time out to note (a year… more?) late that Zuckerberg is actively lobbying the government to step up regulations.

  15. If Twitter were to become a common carrier, then everything about it would be subject to regulation, such as message length and advertising.

  16. The truly concerning shift is Reason moving away from anti-trust and monopoly legislation. Everyone knows that abusing freedom is wrong. Just like you can use 1A to harass, 2A to murder, or 5A to omit the truth, you can abuse free markets to destroy free markets.

    Staggering lack of self awareness to note that Marxists know we’ll sell them the rope they intend to hang us with, yet not take any action against social media monopolies.

    People who do not respect freedom will never respect freedom. You either take a stand now while you still can or you become Australia.

    Sick and tired of this cuck logic and “if you kill your enemies, they win.” Using the force of government to stop people who intend to weaponize it to destroy your rights doesn’t mean you’re the same as them. You aren’t destroying their rights. You’re protecting everyone else’s.

    1. If the Big Tech companies used government force to keep out newcomer competition, then they would be monopolies and the solution would not be Antitrust laws, but repealing the law that created the coercive monopoly. The U.S. Postal Service is a real media monopoly on letter carrying backed by law that needs repealing.

      As it stands now, the Big Tech companies are not monopolies, just big. DuckDuckGo, Minds, Parler, Rumble, and many other companies listed on Alternatives dot to Web Site are competitors and any of them could easily overtake Big Tech at a blink of an eye if people gravitate to the competition.

      Remember BBSes, AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, AltaVista, Lycos, NetScape, Microsoft, MySpace? They, too, were once thought to be the “New, New Thing” that would eat up everything.

      All we need to do is keep gov3rnment out of the way of newcomer entry and the Big Tech problem will eventually shake out and be solved, along with the cancel culture that comes with it.

      1. Correction: The Web Site is AlternativeTodotnet

  17. Cancel culture isn’t about seeking truth, he writes; it’s “about shaping the information battlefield” in order to “coerce conformity and reduce the scope for forms of criticism that are not sanctioned by the prevailing consensus of some local majority.”

    Just to help you out a bit here, Nick, the self-appointed and self-described cancel culture warriors refer to it as “accountability”.

  18. Twatter and Fakebook exist to feed the desires of narcissists and if that were the only problem it would be easy to ignore, but it’s now clear they have been weaponized to affect elections. Those decisions to block negative press about Biden prior to the 2020 election were not done in a vacuum as private companies. Therefore the only conclusion is that the amoral billionaires running them were bought off and so their companies are functionally an extension of the bureaucracy who desperately wanted rid of Trump.

    Again, not some private company but trillion dollar valuations and multi national meaning they are not really beholden to any nation’s laws, but can be used by powerful politicians and an entrenched bureaucracy to push agitprop at will.

    Frankly most of the internet has allowed increasingly higher levels of authoritarianism, criminal activities, and social corrosion. It was not the libertarian freedom that was sold to us but a chain around our necks.

    1. It’s obvious that the companies are following politics. In what world does it make sense for a neutral Facebook to ban a gold-star mother?

  19. Only the government can engage in true censorship, surely.

    Wrong.

  20. “We have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

    So you can’t purchase a copy of the DSM-V on Amazon?

  21. Now that the horse is gone, let’s close the barn door!

    1. And burn that bitch to the ground just in case!

  22. Some computer in a Matthew Broderick movie had the right idea decades ago: “the only winning move, is not to play.” In current terms, this is the Tucker Carlson approach of never apologize, never resign, never capitulate. Say what you want to say and move on to the next day.

    1. SOF Rules –

      1. Never apologize; its a sign of weakness
      2. Make immediate counter-accusations
      3. Grow a beard, look badass

    2. And now you guys find yourself with a Democratic Congress, a Democratic President and Bernie Fucking Sanders as Chairman of the Senate Budget Cmte that just passed a 3 trillion dollar stimulus.

      How’s that strategy working out for you. As a socialist I say that you right-wingers should keep up your worship of a deeply unpopular one-term president. Keep it up and we’ll all be signing the rousing proletariat anthem “Oh How I Love My Collective Tractor” at the re-education camp I’m thinking of setting up. Some work building dams will help you doughy right-wingers out, I say.

      1. You seem to misunderstand. The strategy has not been employed, except for a very few select individuals here and there. Employing the strategy will turn the tide.

      2. Well, at least you are honest about socialism and it’s need for forced labor and punishing dissenting views.

      3. “…that just passed a 3 trillion dollar stimulus…”

        Stupid sumbitch can’t spell “pork”.

      4. Unpopular. No faggot, he was very popular. He got 12 million more voted for his re-election than his first election. And all without printing up phony ballots to cheat, like the democrats.

  23. Since when should a company’s decisions on what to stock on its shelves be a matter for politicians?

    When “a” company becomes THE company.

  24. It was a bitchy but basically ok article before I got to this…

    When they are not simply asserting a naked will to power, progressives trying to shut down speech often employ bad-faith arguments. Over the past few years, whenever Twitter or Facebook or YouTube or whatever platform banned an account for politically correct reasons, people on the left would cynically invoke the libertarian property rights argument they rejected when, say, reactionary religious bakers refused to decorate same-sex wedding cakes.

    …then I stopped as I’ve heard this argument before. Most of the Leftists I pay attention to had zero problems with bigots not baking cakes. Just don’t be surprised when you have protests at your door and shitty Yelp reviews. That’s called more speech— not cancelling.

    1. No, that’s actually exactly what people mean when they say “cancelling”.

  25. I rate this article 3 out of 5 stars. Decent, somewhat bloated, a few blind spots, and 6 years too late.

    Other than that, good piece.

  26. This is ignorant tripe. Cancel Culture is as ancient as humanity and is overwhelmingly conservative and conformist. The top targets in the USA are blacks like Kaepernick who speak up against caste. This mediocre article tries to blur that reality and make it appear that it’s all one blurry blob and everyone is equally oppressed and this is new.

    1. Kaepernick is the very embodiment of privilege you dummy.

      1. No I’d say the Manning’s brothers are to use another football example.

          1. I’m surprised the Mormon top he gimps for let him out of his box today.

    2. overwhelmingly conservative and conformist.

      well, only in the sense of community acceptance. The myriads cultures we are exhorted to cheer for and accept allows for japs binding wimmens feets, muslims still practicing slavery, homosexuality in greece (is this still a thing?), rejection of property rights and other assorted aberrations.

      All of those things are conservative and conformist in their cultures. In the world-view you write from, the conservatives and conformists you disparage are western civilization.

    3. You are right in some sense about the history. But you are pretty wrong about the main targets today, I’d say. Kaepernick was pretty much the opposite of cancelled for his stunt. Got way more attention than he would have just playing football. You may have noticed that Kaepernick’s position is now the mainstream one promoted by many governments and most large corporations and cultural and educational institutions. And that brings us back to you being right (sort of) again. People can’t be allowed to behave outside of the social norms. But what one typically thinks of as American conservatives aren’t setting those norms anymore.

  27. The canonical set of excuses is Jake’s: https://quotegeek.com/quotes-from-movies/the-blues-brothers/32/

    I ran out of gas! I got a flat tire! I didn’t have change for cab fare! I lost my tux at the cleaners! I locked my keys in the car! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!

  28. The analogy to gay wedding cakes is a dead horse and completely irrelevant to the situation at hand. There is no valid comparison to be made. The govt. was not coercing businesses into not making gay wedding cakes, it was a decision of their own, so no one had a right to challenge it in any other way than taking their business elsewhere. However big tech censorship is another animal all together. They subvert antitrust laws regularly in the worst possible way, but colluding with the government to suppress dissidents. They follow direct instructions from the regime in power when it comes to censorship. The whitehouse has admitted to telling FB what and who to censor. This makes big tech government actors, not private entities. The end result is point in fact state run media, no matter how you slice it and dice it.

  29. You rightly called out Trump for saying that sports players should be fired for taking a knew. But you must have forgotten about Biden:

    There was a report out saying that — for something like 45 percent of overwhelming disinformation on Facebook comes from 12 individuals. I said they’re killing people, those 12 individuals, that misinformation is going to kill people. Not a joke. Not a joke.
    President Joe Biden, July 2021

    1. No, the author was not right in calling out Trump on that because the author did not call out the cancel culture campaign against those who refused to take a knee. Also, Trump was already being bombarded by cancel culture attacks to such an extent at that point you really couldn’t blame him for taking off the gloves and fighting back. Everybody, including Trump knew they would not be fired. it was an empty gesture, likely to highlight to hypocrisy of cancel culture.

  30. Just yesterday the CEO of a game company, Tripwire, lost his job because he publicly supported the Texas abortion law (and the SC’s decision not to take the case)

    We’ve apparently reached a point where if you hold beliefs the represent about half the country, you no longer can hold a job. At least if you profess those beliefs publicly.

  31. The fact that parlor had to submit to a censorship paradigm not of their own making to get back on line says it all. Big tech companies are not effectively private businesses. They are hands of the new one party government at this point. They are government actors. Employers who mandate vaccines because Biden told them to are also government actors, not private businesses. These are blatantly obvious factors Reason tends to miss regularly.

    1. The only private commercial interest I can think of who don’t benefit from everyone getting vaccinated and the economy returning to normal are snake-oil peddlers with podcats.

  32. Reason has been self-censoring for years now, replacing libertarian analysis with progressive platitudes.

  33. I don’t know why Nick Gillespie doesn’t want people to read Thomas Frank’s article:
    “The remedy for bad speech, we now believe, is not more speech, as per Justice Brandeis’s famous formula, but an ‘extremism expert’ shushing the world.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/19/rightwing-misinformation-liberals

  34. I don’t like it when conservatards discover that they’re really big into government intervention in personal and corporate freedom the moment they feel their ox has been gored. They aren’t equipped with the deep theory necessary to properly organize the policy, since they’ve spent their whole life defending the notion that corporations get to do whatever the fuck they want, maybe even especially if it means excluding certain groups from social participation.

    Just sit this one out. You don’t know what you’re doing.

  35. Amazon is not a private company.

  36. Could you please provide the names of NFL players who lost their job or were kicked out of the country.

  37. The hilarious thing is I remember the time period from the 90s to the present day when the following things happened:

    “Neutral” national news sources were bullied relentlessly by the Republican party and its cultural tentacles into providing “fair and balanced” coverage that amounted to a whole bunch of journalistic affirmative action to Republicans.

    There would be no Dan Quayle, or George W. Bush, or Trump, or Marjorie Taylor Greene tolerated in the Democratic party. They were still held to the usual standards, like literacy.

    No, instead we got FOX News emerging to “correct” the “bias” in the other news outlets, and those news outlets added conservative slants anyway to meet the incessant bullying. This all had terrible results, as we have seen.

    Also, even before 9/11, the cultural oppression of conservatism was absolute. After, it got even worse for a time. Remember Janet Jackson? Remember the Dixie Chicks? Not to mention the mean-spirited anti-poor, anti-criminal, anti-gay politics that permeated all of culture.

    Nobody, and I mean nobody, could criticize the Iraq war for a time. That was a fucking censorious situation, and the Iraq war was self-evidently a terrible idea, as we have now seen.

    Y’all only think it’s getting bad because you’re so accustomed to having corporate America cater to your every whim. I’m so sorry there’s a slight pushback on that after 40 goddamn years and all the years before that too.

    1. What color is the sky in the world you live in. You described nothing remotely correct about the media or politics, and I am a close observer.

      1. He’s a fucktard. That’s about all the commentary he deserves.

      2. You don’t remember conservative spending the last 40 years whining about a liberal bias in the media?

        It was always curious considering most news outfits were simply reporting facts. Now we see the consequences. The internet has allowed you to have all the facts you want. You can go through life never encountering an actual aspect of the real world, if you like.

        Until you’re dying on a ventilator, of course. Keep listening to Tuck and Ben. See if they come to your funeral.

  38. First, while I am sort of defending Donald Trump in a very specific way, please understand I am no fan. But I would really like to know what the author’s thought process was when he decided to offer, as his introductory example of “cancel culture”, Trump’s public comments on NFL players kneeling.
    I can only imagine that this highly dubious example was used only to establish the author’s bona-fides as “even-handed” and someone who is unpersuaded that cancel culture is, in any way, a right-left issue. Maybe. But a politician expressing his personal views (or rantings, take your pick) on a controversial wedge issue may well be a problem as it relates to a general disrespect that Trump had for his office, but it really is a stretch to identify it as a part of cancel culture. For one thing, if it was, it certainly was ineffective as such things go. I simply cannot recall any NFL player who suffered from Trump’s comments in any way. Of course, I CAN recall some players having to recant on pain of being hit with real career effecting punishment, their own negative views on disrespecting the national anthem.
    Also, if one supposes for a moment that there are actually two or more sides to the controversy and that since the NFL is mostly entertainment for viewers, that viewers’ personal opinions regarding such a “show” are all equally legitimate. So it seems to me that, if one judges Trump as engaging in some form of “cancel culture” in this case, then one must see anyone who publicly supported the kneeling players as also engaging in such actions with the additional issue of actually having been successful in their efforts.
    BTW, “Cancel culture” is real, insidious and one of the saddest portents for the future of free speech and even small-L liberality and rationalism. It is, at least at this time, being driven very largely by a roughly united coalition that, while it may extend beyond the boundaries of many concepts of the “left”, is certainly NOT a product of the right. Of course, given time and circumstances the forces on the right might, like they eventually did regarding violent street protests, take a cue from the left. Like we say on Jan 6, it won’t be pretty.

    1. Kapernick didn’t have his career affected when the president entered the culture war treating him as the enemy?

  39. I would recommend a couple of additional perspectives on this.

    1). https://www.thebellows.org/the-left-has-become-a-guild/
    A great piece showing how the dynamics of progressive cancel culture have so tightly captured so much of western-educated culture.

    2) A book within a book most of us have read at some time: The “Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein, part of “1984” which explains the concepts of “thoughtcrime”, “crimestop” and other self-imposed mental somersaults practiced in totalitarian societies to make it possible to have a functioning group of literate people within an imposed irrationality.

  40. This all began in March 2017 when, under pressure from the usual suspects, Amazon delisted over 100 book titles that presented Holocaust history in a manner displeasing to our overlords, some of which (titles) they had carried for decades.

  41. I was thoroughly enjoying the article until I encountered the part where the author states unequivocally that the police raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment was totally without justification and that she was some kind of righteous, virtuous health care workers who just happened to get caught up in a raid for which she had no personal responsibility. I not only quit reading a generally positive article, but am now burning effigies of Reason and the author.
    Breonna Taylor was emphatically not an innocent bystander. She was holding cash for her drug dealing former boyfriend. She had loaned her car to the same former boyfriend when it was found parked at a drug house with a dead body in the trunk. She had exchanged text messages with the ex boyfriend and others regarding drop-offs at a stash house on several occasions and had not been employed in the health care field for months. The information here is readily available and the author should really have informed himself before joining the ranks of the rabid anti-police voices who continue to promote false narratives. Do Better.

  42. Did Amazon really ban sale used copies of ‘McElligot’s Pool’, as stated in this article? I don’t know, but today, the book (“new and used”) is for sale on Amazon.

  43. What would I say for that all above people opinions and I know it’s different also I agree for everyone.

    Thanks
    Trivanks

  44. Interestingly “Self cancellation” can include being honest, refusing to lie, then gathering evidence, that prove deception and dishonesty occurred. My former employer decided to import a foreign product, change label to “Made in USA” (this among other immoral and illegal activities) On top of this, same product was lied about to the customer. I will never purchase an automobile nor ride in one from the end user company. Once it was communicated to the auto manufacturer, this had been going on for almost a year (with documents and recordings), this manufacturer kicked in its reputation control. In the recording, they asked 5 times “Who else have you sent this information to?”
    https://www.minds.com/Dropoffdog/
    I own my actions, I will not back down, I will never own nor ride in one.

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