Free Speech

Why I'm Happy That We're on Parler

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Parler users have a reputation for being more conservative than users on other platforms, and more conservative than we are. It's hard to know for certain, since it's hard to experience a whole platform; and I'm sure many Parler readers (at least the ones who would read our posts there) are pretty similar to many of our current readers. But let's stipulate to Parler's being more conservative. Let's even stipulate that there are some people on Parler who have views that I not only disagree with, but outright revile.

I'm still very glad to have our blog posts automatically echoed there (where we have, at least notionally, over 90,000 subscribers), as they are on Twitter (both at @VolokhC). That's true for three related reasons.

[1.] I publish this blog because I want to spread our ideas. I'm not terribly picky about who reads us; generally speaking, the more readers, the merrier. (I do think the comments at Parler so far haven't been as substantive as the best of our comments here, but my experience has been that the Parler echoing hasn't substantially affected the Reason comment threads.)

And indeed I want us to be read by people who don't agree with us. Say there are some people on Parler who have what we view as benighted ideas on this or that. Say some of them are racists or anti-Semites or ignorant of the right views (from any particular co-blogger's perspective) on free speech or criminal justice or gay rights or Vice-President Harris's eligibility for office or what have you.

What if something we say actually persuades them? Indeed, people are more likely to be persuaded by those who are generally seen as being on their side of the aisle; and our sense is that we have a reputation as being conservative-friendly, even if we aren't hard-core conservatives.

Some other conservatives (and some libertarians, who are also present on Parler) may read us and change their views, even if slightly. I'd love to persuade moderates, liberals, progressives, or even outright Socialists or further left as well; but with conservatives and libertarians, we might be able to persuade where some others won't be listened to.

Of course, I know that the odds of changing any particular reader's mind are small. You can't always, or even usually, persuade people by talking to them.

But what's more likely: persuading people by talking to them, or by refusing to talk to them?

[2.] Monopolies and near-monopolies tend to produce arrogance by the monopolist, and poor service for customers. If Twitter has more competition, that will be better for Twitter users as well as for their competitors' users. (I'd also love to have us automatically echoed on MeWe, as we are on Facebook, but MeWe apparently doesn't yet have a way of automatically posting items to a page via an RSS feed or a service such as dlvr.it.)

[3.] Some people complain that Parler doesn't do enough to block bad people who use their service, whether to spread falsehoods or evil ideas or plans for criminal conduct. But I'm skeptical that this should be Parler's job.

The post office doesn't stop mailings by print magazine publishers because their magazines contain evil ideas or fake news. (They do investigate some mail frauds, but that's a fairly narrow category, and in any event they do this using governmental law enforcement procedures.)

Telephone companies (landline or cellular) don't cancel the KKK's phone number, or shut down phone service or text messaging service to people whom someone accuses of planning riots. And that's not just a matter of privacy: They don't do this even when the contents of the magazine are well known, or the KKK publicly announces that some phone number is its recruitment line. I think on balance we're better off when the post office and phone companies aren't policing the viewpoints or factual assertions their customers express.

Now the post office is generally under a First Amendment obligation not to restrict our mailings (unless our speech has been found to be constitutionally unprotected, generally in some governmental proceeding). Telephone companies are likewise common carriers, who generally are legally barred from canceling service because they don't like what their customers are saying. Parler does have the legal right to police the content of speech that uses their services, just as Twitter has that right.

But I don't think it has a moral obligation to do so (just as I don't think Google has a moral obligation to cut off Gmail accounts of people who send messages to friends that someone reports as "misleading" or "defaming," which technically violates Google Terms of Service, or Microsoft has a moral obligation to cut off Outlook accounts of people who "communicat[e] hate speech" or "advocat[e] violence against others"). I think it can reasonably choose to generally leave most content judgments to their users, and enforcement of most laws to law enforcement—just as the legal system has chosen to impose that approach on the post office and phone companies.

NEXT: The Facebook "Oversight" Board

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  1. I like to remind people that the Federalist Papers were publish anonymously — that the men who wrote them had legitimate reasons (other than libel & defamation) to not want to have their names on them.

    I wish Parler the best, but I’m not posting my social security number on the internet – and that essentially is what they want you to do.

    1. Are you suggesting that Parler in particular is asking people to post their SSN on the internet? If so, cite required.

      The complaints against Parler that got them “canceled” were not just lack of any moderation, but that their users were too anonymous.

      1. Only takes a phone number to sign up. A verification badge requires a picture of your ID. At least it used to, things might have changed recently.

      2. Which is weird, since Facebook and Twitter have no identity verification AT ALL, either…

      3. Yeah, just pretext. The real complaint was that Parler wasn’t going along with industry demands that it deplatform anybody FB or Twitter did.

    2. I signed up for Parler, they asked me for an email or phone number. I gave them my burner email, the one I use for things I don’t need to monitor, so I’m not getting notifications all the time.

      It’s no more of a privacy threat than the Reason commenting system or Discus.

    3. Dr. Ed, do you have any inkling what their actual reasons for publishing anonymously were, or why you know their names now?

      Hint: It was not a reason that applies to you, or to anyone else commenting on this blog.

      1. Are you confusing the Federalist papers, (Promoting the Constitution.) with the Declaration of Independence?

        1. I assume Stephen’s point was that the authors of the Federalist papers published them anonymously because they figured their arguments in favour of the new constitution would be more convincing if they didn’t come from the people who wrote the new constitution.

          1. It was apparently kind of a fad at the time, the idea being that if you didn’t know who the author was, you’d be forced to evaluate what they’d written on the basis of what they’d written, instead of dismissing OR accepting it because of the author.

            I expect this came about, though, because for a long while earlier if you wrote something people in power didn’t like, they might physically retaliate against you.

            So you might say that modern internet anonymity is finally returning to it’s original purpose, protecting the life of the author.

  2. If an idea is good, it will spread. One in 100 ideas is good. One in 100 good ideas succeeds. One in 100 successful ideas makes any difference. One path to success is a lot of ideas. Another is talent which cannot be obtained.

    Otherwise, people are resistant to ideas. They have rent seeking self interests. Some ideas are taking money away. They are presentist, and that feature is wired in. If you hurt your interests today, your interests tomorrow will be greatly served. No. People cannot do that.

    1. Sure, but I think Professor Volokh’s statement here is true.

      And indeed I want us to be read by people who don’t agree with us. Say there are some people on Parler who have what we view as benighted ideas on this or that. Say some of them are racists or anti-Semites or ignorant of the right views (from any particular co-blogger’s perspective) on free speech or criminal justice or gay rights or Vice-President Harris’s eligibility for office or what have you.

      What if something we say actually persuades them?

      Here’s an example that liberals might get, from history. The New Deal couldn’t have happened without the support of some white racist Southern Democrat segregationists. They supplied needed votes. And they supplied those votes because people they might have totally disagreed with on race and civil rights made arguments that persuaded them on things like Social Security.

      But I could use conservative examples as well. One from my own life- I don’t buy much of what the gun rights movement argues, but they actually did persuade me on something pretty significant. I remember reading a piece, somewhere, that laid out the argument that most “assault weapons bans” really don’t ban more dangerous guns, just guns with certain cosmetic features. It was well argued and totally persuasive. And as a result, I am very skeptical of assault weapons bans.

      The point is, we really should talk to each other. It’s possible to hear an argument from the other side and say “that actually makes sense, I agree with that”. But you have to keep channels of communication open.

      1. “… the gun rights movement … actually did persuade me on something … ‘assault weapons bans’ really don’t ban more dangerous guns, just guns with certain cosmetic features … as a result, I am very skeptical of assault weapons bans.”

        That’s the pattern of gun control. Gun controllers are mostly completely ignorant of guns. As ignorance is replaced with knowledge, fear is replaced with understanding . Maybe eventually tolerance and acceptance, but even without tolerance and acceptance a reasonable person could decide that sending police after 75 million people for exercising what is arguably a constitutionally protected right is unwise.

        Same story for other prohibitions. Same story for anything else that CNN/NBC/NYTimes/etc. tells you to be afraid of.

        1. Dilan: I think left and right need to reach out more to each other, progress can be made. To offer an example, after talking with those on the right I changed my mind on a gun control issue.

          Ben: Yeah, the leftist media is so dumb.

          The least self aware human on the planet, folks.

          1. This comment is about as accurate on Ben’s position as the leftist media is on guns. Good think Dilan is listening to the actual arguments.

          2. Yeah. Imagine that. I replied to a post about meaningless media-hyped scare terminology with a comment that suggests that the news media is known for hyping and trying to scare people on various topics.

            I don’t know who said it first, but anyone with expertise in a technical topic will have had the experience of seeing a news media report in their area of expertise that completely misunderstands the topic on a basic level. Lawyers have no doubt seen this in news stories about legal topics. Reporters don’t really know what they’re talking about sometimes and get very basic things wrong and draw incorrect conclusions based on their misunderstanding.

            Then those lawyers or technical experts who just saw reporters writing or saying complete nonsense see the next news story on some other topic outside their expertise — and they believe it for some reason. That willingness to believe the news media isn’t as common as it used to be though.

            1. Michael Crichton coined the term “Gell-Mann amnesia effect”. Named after physicist Murray Gell-Mann based on a conversation Crichton had with him. A more detailed explanation can be found on Crichton’s Wikipedia page.

            2. “I don’t know who said it first, but anyone with expertise in a technical topic will have had the experience of seeing a news media report in their area of expertise that completely misunderstands the topic on a basic level.”

              Betcha who said it first was the first guy to read a news media report about their area of expertise.

      2. Right now, all media are the David Duke website. Hate speech propaganda outlets for their tech billionaire owners. They all lie by omission. David Duke is honest. He hates jews and Blacks. He does not lie on his website. He just finds negative stories about these groups. Duke is not a journalist. He is head of a hate group.

        Journalism ethics requires presentation of both sides of a story. Only C-SPAN is complying with journalism ethics, and presenting both sides. The problem you described, of not getting all information on a problem, is gigantic.

      3. But you have to keep channels of communication open.

        ^^^^ This ^^^^

        That is the real challenge for today.

      4. I remember reading a piece, somewhere, that laid out the argument that most “assault weapons bans” really don’t ban more dangerous guns, just guns with certain cosmetic features. It was well argued and totally persuasive. And as a result, I am very skeptical of assault weapons bans.

        That is sort of true, because badly drafted “assault weapons bans,” have tended to focus on irrelevancies. It’s the, “as a result,” part where the argument led you astray. In short, it’s a shame you were persuaded by such a well argued bad argument.

        I have been listening to those same arguments for years—experience which convinced me they must have been made up by PR guys, working for the gun industry. Apparently, they used customary PR techniques to infuse those arguments into the low-information, less-experienced part of the pro-gun bloc.

        That kind of gun advocate is only too glad to try out the talking points on trusting folks in the anti-gun movement who have even less experience. Have you ever noticed how delighted pro-gunners are to lord over others their superior, “knowledge.” It’s a tic. It’s a sign of insecurity. And it’s a sign they know less than they think they do. That’s mostly because they got all that “knowledge,” from an advocacy press they should have been skeptical about.

        I probably heard some of the arguments that convinced you, so permit me to pick off a few of them, and then mention a few points that maybe got left out. See how I do.

        1. You were probably told, accurately, that the typical cartridge for a civilian semi-auto is notably less powerful, not more powerful, than a typical hunting cartridge used for American big game. There may have been mumbo jumbo about foot-pounds to back it up. All true, as far as it goes. Knowledge like that goes a long way to make gun advocates proud of themselves, and also to make them likely to denigrate others who don’t share the knowledge. But in any argument but gun pedantry, ballistic power measured in foot-pounds is mostly irrelevant.

        Despite the difference in numbers, smaller cartridges used in semi-auto rifles are reliable killers. They kill close up, and they kill out to 500 yards or more, as they did on a mass scale in Las Vegas. The military would not have abandoned the bigger rounds and substituted the smaller ones if that were not true. And the smaller rounds come with an assortment of extra killing advantages. Here are a few to consider:

        2. Recoil from the smaller rounds is far less. That is a huge advantage in fully automatic fire, and a significant advantage for semi-automatics. It is even an advantage for marksmen who fire one shot at a time. When using the old .308 NATO, many shooters—anticipating a painful punch in the shoulder—would tend to flinch when they pulled the trigger, making their shots inaccurate. Not so with the 5.56 NATO, the most-used modern semi-automatic round. Typical shooters can fire the 5.56 with notably more accuracy, both because they find the recoil negligible, and don’t flinch, and because repeated shots on target are easier to get off quickly, because heavy recoil is not disrupting aim so much with each shot.

        3. You were probably told that comparison to military stye rifles is wrong, because the military rifles are fully automatic, and the civilian rifles semi-automatic. Sort of true, but more comparative nonsense. A light-recoil cartridge enables a high rate of accurate fire in semi-automatic mode—so fast that semi-automatic fire is often a more practical choice in combat than fully automatic. And no doubt you have heard about bump-stocks. Plus which, with many semi-autos in civilian hands, the possibility and implications of widespread fully automatic conversions should not be dismissed.

        4. You may have been told that more-powerful cartridges enable longer ranges—implying a public safety advantage for smaller semi-auto rounds. Again, sort of true, but again comparative nonsense. Typical marksmen are challenged to hit a human-sized target at 300 yards. Out to that range, the higher-velocity 5.56 round is more accurate, because it shoots flatter (higher bullet velocity means less bullet drop to account for when aiming). Results beyond that range matter mostly to specially equipped and trained snipers. Gun enthusiasts who boast of their prowess at extremely long ranges—greater than 400 yards—are not talking about practical shooting capabilities which typical shooters deliver under real combat conditions. Being able to do something unusual is what makes the boasters boastful.

        For ordinary mass shooters, an ability to kill 60-plus people in a crowd at 500 yards, while wounding hundreds more, is really all they require of a gun. Fully automatic, or semi-automatic, no other kind of gun delivers that capability as well as the modern assault rifle firing the 5.56 NATO round.

        So you see, the argument that the 5.56 NATO round is less powerful is bunk, no matter what numbers a gun pedant shows you to support it. Here is a comparison that might help. You may have heard about the awesome power of the .44 magnum pistol, favored by Dirty Harry. In terms of ballistic energy numbers the gun pedants love to quote, the 5.56 NATO cartridge is a good deal more powerful than the .44 magnum. That’s enough killing power. More is mostly wasted. Forget the numbers, it is practical killing capacity which matters, and that capacity varies according to multiple factors, not just one.

        Now, just a few other points that maybe escaped mention in the persuasive argument you heard. The 5.56 cartridge gets the same killing job done as a larger cartridge like 7.62 NATO, but 5.56 NATO cartridges weigh half as much. That means a would-be killer can carry twice as many. What goes for weight goes also for expense. Which means your local militia’s insurrection budget can be reduced, or ammo supplies on the same budget can be doubled. And, you can shoot these lighter-recoil cartridges from lighter-weight rifles, to ease fatigue during those long days at the insurrection.

        See, somehow all the advantages which made the military want this, “less powerful,” cartridge, show up as disadvantages in the context of civil disorder and insurrection. A fact which should surprise no one.

        Finally, it is a mistake to break the argument down as we have been doing, without considering how combining these factors affects all the comparisons. Each axis of comparison, by itself, gives a bit of wiggle room to the gun advocates. But semi-automatic assault-type weapons are not being sold axis by axis. They come fully assembled. What the shooter gets is a light-weight weapon which integrates a high rate of fire from a semi-automatic action, shooting deadly low-recoil bullets, supplied from high-capacity interchangeable magazines, backed up by a reliable, easily transported, low-cost ammo supply.

        It is that combination of characteristics which sets these weapons apart, and makes them especially dangerous to civil safety and civil order. That combination makes the military want these weapons. It is what makes would-be insurrectionists want them too.

        Anyone who tries to convince you that weapons of this sort are less dangerous than others is either ignorant about weapons, or lying to you. Save for fully-automatic assault rifles, these semi-automatics are the most dangerous weapons made. The danger difference between semi-auto and full-auto is not much. That gap is smaller than the gap between such semi-autos and every other kind of rifle on the market.

        1. It’s funny that you bring out these talking points and then fail miserably at being accurate about several of them. Your hubris leads you right into the same path as everyone else who knows not enough about fire arms, though you do a better job of presenting it. I’m amused by your dismissal of explanations as “It’s a tic. It’s a sign of insecurity. And it’s a sign they know less than they think they do. That’s mostly because they got all that “knowledge,” from an advocacy press they should have been skeptical about.” You seem to have fallen into your own dismissal.

          1) You’re right but for the wrong reasons. One of the biggest killers in ammunition size is the .22 which is one of the smallest available rounds. Why? Because it moves around in the body and can’t be found and removed prior to it reaching a critical location and killing the person. Not because of mass trauma from round penetration as would be the norm for larger rounds.

          The reality is that any round which penetrates the body is at best going to severely wound you, at worst kill you. For most people the power and size of the round is irrelevant altogether for the purpose of killing or wounding someone.

          What you seem to fail to understand is that rounds with less power are actually less dangerous, but only to individuals other than the person who was shot. This is also one of the purposes behind hollow point ammunition. My guess is that you view hollow point ammunition much like New Jersy does, without the understanding that standard rounds are worse if only because they will penetrate through a body entirely and endanger others who may have nothing to do with the individual being shot.

          You also seem to have no idea regarding the difference between area targets and point targets. There are no ‘extra’ advantages to smaller rounds. There is only one and that is weight. This is because for those trained (you mentioned the military) recoil means very little in terms of combat. It is true that less recoil means more accuracy on follow up shots, but your reasoning is wrong because the military did not abandon bigger rounds over accuracy. They still use bigger rounds in several applications of rifles (as well as all kinds of other weapons but we’re talking about rifles here).

          2) Recoil is determined by more than just round size. You make reference to the .308 (7.62 is a military round, .308 is a civilian round) in regards to marksmen. Except marksmen making accurate shots use that size round regularly. It’s the standard for any round meant for a point target at a range greater than 500 yards. At that the only military outfit that uses 500 yards as a standard range for the smaller 5.56 is the Marines. Every other outfit only tests the smaller rounds to 300 yards as a standard.

          Marksmen (and your average gun toting military member) train themselves specifically not to flinch. Non trained shooters will likely flinch, but that reasoning isn’t why the 5.56 is used at all. Flinching isn’t the reason, at all for any of this. It’s recoil reduction for follow up rounds down range and overall weight of the rounds. Round size also isn’t the reason for recoil reduction. It’s powder content in the casing.

          The 38 and 357 are fired through the same barrel meaning they are the same size, yet the 357 has a much higher kick. Of note 357 was originally designed as a rifle round. But the amount of powder in the casing of the 357 is greater and thus the higher kick.

          Recoil reduction is also a function built into the fire arm, at least the ones you’re thinking of when you talk about this subject.

          3) Again you are right, sort of. Which is the same claim to fame you make regarding the ‘other side’. Military studies showed that ammo was being wasted in automatic fire because of the innacuracy of automatic fire. They stopped using automatic fire weapons as general issue weapons a long time ago. The weapons now used are called select fire which allows a 3 round burst per trigger pull along with the semi auto fire option. I would say that anyone who uses ‘full auto’ as the argument does indeed not know what they’re talking about.

          As for the ‘so fast that semi-automatic fire is often a more practical choice in combat than fully automatic’ that’s a completely misleading statement. The only times automatic fire is ‘practical’ in combat is for cover fire or large groups, at least from the perspective of an individual in a fire fight (I’m not talking about air support fire here if anyone wants to get pedantic). This also begs the question “What part of combat is practical?”

          At that, if it were so absolutely practical why would the military even use select fire rifles? Why wouldn’t they just use semi-auto rifles? Why would they even have automatic rifles issued at all? They don’t, because in combat it’s not practical. Just as combat isn’t practical.

          Very few semi auto fire arms can be converted to fully automatic. All of said conversions are illegal already, and have been for a long time; longer than I’ve been involved with guns and I’m no spring chicken. But your implications here are that anyone who has these is just a criminal waiting to happen. To use your trope, “It’s a tic. It’s a sign of insecurity. And it’s a sign they know less than they think they do. That’s mostly because they got all that “knowledge,” from an advocacy press they should have been skeptical about.”

          4) Again you understand just enough to be dangerously wrong. The trajectory is equal parts round size AND powder behind the rond. Trajectory only matters in aiming and proper distance measurement. Your assertion that a 5.56 is more accurate because of a flatter trajectory at 300 yards is not at all how any of this works. As long as one knows of and is aware of the trajectory, the accuracy is affected more by wind and the barrel than it is the round. If you’re argument were based in fact there are multiple rounds which would be more practical and accurate than the 5.56.

          Your reference to the Las Vegas incident as ‘ordinary mass shooters’ is ludicrous because that’s a single incident. Your bias is showing severely here and we’re back to the trope you used against pro-gunners. Did the Las Vegas shooter choose the weapons best suited to what we think his goals were? Yes. But cherry picking a single incident of it’s kind and acting like that’s the standard is definitely an exercise in logical fallacy.

          Most mass shootings occur at ranges 50 yards or less. Because most mass shooters aren’t sufficiently trained to hit anything much further and doing so would waste valuable time and effort in aiming. Or because they pick targets that are trapped in enclosed spaces for the same purpose. There are a multitude of weapons which are lighter in weight, with lighter rounds, which can shoot just as fast and accurately at close range than the ones which handle the 5.56.

          You bring up killing power again, an argument I already address with the .22 comparison and explained why.

          And now you’re back to the idea that the only people who would care about this are insurrectionists. No one presented it as a ‘disadvantage’, though it is often as misrepresented as you’ve also done in the opposite direction. It is less powerful than hunting rounds, but that’s irrelevant when someone is shot with the round because it is still deadly.

          And then you get into the argument that because some criminals can get their hands on these types of weapons, anyone who has one is a criminal. Guess what the m-14 is? Ever seen one? It’s not on the list from the pedantic anti-gun legislation because it doesn’t have all of the scary features of the AR. Except for every other practical purpose it’s the exact same gun. It fires the same round in the same fashion, but isn’t on their lists.

          By your logically fallacious argument anyone who has a car is a drunk driver waiting to happen. But they aren’t, are they?

          Again you have done a great job at presenting a bunch of information, but you fell into your own dismissal of the other side. Rather quickly, face first, no bracing for impact.

  3. Now the post office is generally under a First Amendment obligation not to restrict our mailings (unless our speech has been found to be constitutionally unprotected, generally in some governmental proceeding). Telephone companies are likewise common carriers, who generally are legally barred from canceling service because they don’t like what their customers are saying.

    And this in a nutshell is what’s wrong with how we are implementing Section 230, from a non-lawyer’s point of view. We seem to be giving these tech companies the legal benefits of being a common carrier, but we aren’t demanding that they actually carry everything.

    1. The last sentence is exactly correct: Tech companies have the immunities (from liability for defamation, invasion of privacy, etc. by their users) of a phone company, while having the selection powers of a bookstore or a newsstand. That is indeed how courts have interpreted sec. 230, and I think how Congress likely intended sec. 230 to operate (see https://reason.com/volokh/2020/05/28/47-u-s-c-%C2%A7-230-and-the-publisher-distributor-platform-distinction/ for more).

      Whether that’s good or bad is a separate question. But DaveM’s last sentence, viewed as descriptive rather than normative, captures the actual legal rule quite well.

      1. I don’t think Congress intended them to have quite THIS much freedom as to moderation. There is that list of basis for moderating, which one would think ejusdem generis applied to. And a requirement that moderation be in good faith.

        A book store has no good faith requirement in deciding whether to carry a book, nor an externally supplied list of basis for rejecting books.

        1. Certainly “censor harrassment, or we will cancel 230, and we coincidentally point out our political opponents’ tweets are harrassing” is hardly good faith with respect to the first amendment.

      2. What’s the alternative, really? Websites don’t have the means to fully audit their user submissions for potentially libelous or whatever content. Only possibly the biggest companies could do that, and they’d have to err on the side of caution.

        On the other end, if you can’t moderate to eliminate antissocial behavior or any form of undesired content, you generally can’t build communities. That might possibly work for Twitter, but it would never work for a mailing list, a newsgroup, or reddit, or stackoverflow for that matter. They have to scrub off topic or just low quality content otherwise people would leave as it becomes impossible to have any kind of interesting discussion.

      3. And I think it’s bad law. If they want the immunities of a phone company, they need the responsibilities. If they want the freedoms of a newspaper editor, they need the liabilities.

        Giving huge quasi-monopoly corporations that pretty much control people’s ability to communicate in the modern age total freedom with no responsibilities or liabilities is bad policy and not in the public interest.

    2. There is a rather interesting fight happening in Australia right now between Facebook, Australian media, and the Australian government. In a nutshell it’s that the media companies are upset that Facebook has appropriated a large chunk of the media’s revenue stream so they want government regulation requiring that Facebook pay a regulated licensing fee for Australian media content either posted or shared to Facebook by users, or the media companies themselves, or Facebook algorithms in newsfeeds.

      Facebook in a preemptive strike has blocked all Australian media content on it’s platform.

      “Under its new rules, Facebook said Australian users would not be able read or share news content on the platform, while Australian news publishers would be restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook pages.

      “Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted,” it said.”

      This is a rather interesting take included in the BBC article:
      “By censoring Australian publishers to maintain its advertising revenue, Facebook has shown it is a threat to democracies worldwide,”

      1. It’s also interesting that Google has taken a different tack, rather than block all publishers they’ve come up with a licensing agreement with Rupert Murdoch, which is hardly the result that will please a lot of media critics.

        Wow, I hope this means the end to the paywalls on Tim Blair’s and Andrew Bolt’s blogs, I certainly miss them in my daily blog rotation.

      2. Australia’s law bans even the posting of links to news stories without Facebook being charged for them. As conservative economists have been trying to explain for years: when you tax something, you get less of it.

    3. >We seem to be giving these tech companies the legal benefits of being a common carrier, but we aren’t demanding that they actually carry everything.

      It’s even worse than that. Tech companies are also allowed to promote an editorial viewpoint when it suits them.

  4. It’s cool that you’re standing up to the bullying. It’s too bad you won’t take a stronger position against it.

    Also, I’d suggest the more conservative/less conservative framing of people is quite outdated. People who stand against bullying and totalitarianism and who don’t sympathize with anti-American grievance politics aren’t really “conservative”.

    1. No. At least in recent years/decades they’re typically liberals.

  5. I think on balance we’re better off when the post office and phone companies aren’t policing the viewpoints or factual assertions their customers express.

    Look out Eugene! The NYT is coming after you next for your lack of outrage over “unfettered conversation”!
    Anyway, I really liked Parler before the shut down, now it’s glitchy as hell but gradually improving.
    @Flection if anyone wants to follow.

  6. I put this in the comments last night, but it also belongs here.
    I don’t think VC has should be there. Parler is a vile, hate filled site and it degrades the respectability of VC. It is not a place for serious discussions. Think a concentration of the craziest comments on Reason, but worse.

    1. Yes, you haters have said that before. You have also gotten all the haters removed from other platforms; where else are they supposed to go?

      Pro tip: when you have no principles, banning those you hate means the places which won’t do your bidding are the ones filled with people you hate.

      1. Complaining about partisan banishment at a right-wing blog that engages in partisan banishment (and repeatedly imposes broader content-driven censorship)?

        Why are conservatives impervious to self-awareness?

        1. “Complaining about partisan banishment at a right-wing blog that engages in partisan banishment (and repeatedly imposes broader content-driven censorship)?”

          Banning one Artie (but not the person behind Artie) for some bullshit spewed 10 years ago equals PArtiSaN BaNIshmENt.

          Thus spake the Reverend of “Reason and Logic”.

          1. [Insert here gif of soccer coach blowing a cold air machine down the pants buttside of a player with fresh grassburn.]

            10 years for a nose flick of a rude comment, wow.

            1. No comment on 1 person supposedly being banned (technically, not even a person, but one fake BS account run by 1 person) equating to “partisan banishment”? No?

          2. “Banning one Artie”

            Who even knows if this is true. POS like him can’t be taken at face value ever.

            1. Lol. What distinguishes your comments from Arthur’s?

        2. The lawyer profession needs to be cancelled.

      2. “[W]here else are they supposed to go?”

        To a place of thoughtful self-reflection where they come out on the other side a more reasonable, empathetic, and moral person who doesn’t live to say outrageous and hateful things to troll people?

        1. Great! Can we send all the socialists and Marxians there? They believe in impossible things, and hate everybody who thinks for themselves.

          1. You walk right into every trap set for you.

        2. You sound like a girl.

          1. Do you think that’s supposed to be insulting or something?

          2. An example of misogyny that we never used to see in the days of the independent VC. Of course, none of the conservative commenters here will call him on it.

      3. You have been RALKed!

    2. they practice witchcraft and consort with Lucifer!

      Not like us Good People who want to censor and name-call and blacklist and bully — and ultimately arrest and imprison — anyone who isn’t like us.

    3. Well, I put this in the post today, but it also belongs here. I’m doing something to try to bring people on Parler around to what I think are sound views. What are you doing? Calling them vile haters? Does that tend to work well?

      I should also add that, in my experience, I’ve found there to be a mix of people on Parler. Some, like anywhere else, are likely hard to reach, at least with the arguments that I tend to make. Some, on the other hand, are quite open to our views. We have over 90,000 subscribers there, who have specifically chosen to follow us, and are thus presumably a bit interested in our way of thinking. If we can persuade 1% of them, I’ll count that as a success.

      1. I think there are very few people on Parler who are both a) not already a follower of VC here and b) have an open mind. Parler is not a place that people with open minds flock to. In my view the limited amount of time that the busy VC contributors have would be more effectively spend interacting with the commentators on this site.

        You ask what am I doing? I try to engage the comment section on this site in a thoughtful and meaningful manner. I do not always succeed and sometimes get drawn in by the trolls, but I do try.

        1. I am fairly certain you cannot think rationally or logically.

          1. Walked right into her trap!

            1. “Walked right into her trap!”

              Hahahahahahahaha… yeah, ok.

        2. I’m waiting for your first thoughtful and meaningful post.

          1. Walked right into her trap!

      2. I have said, all PC is case. If you wish to influence, you should litigate. People see ruinous litigation, learn from it, comply. PC is defined by litigation.

        That is why the lawyer profession is the most toxic in the nation, 10 times more toxic than organized crime. It must be stopped to save our nation, perhaps through litigation. All self dealt immunities including those of judges must be ended by statutes or by violence.

      3. Professor Volokh…You only need to persuade one. And then it will have been worth it. You won’t know all the good that comes of that, but there will be.

    4. Are you a Parler user?

      If so, why are you on a vile, hate filled site?

      And if not, whose word are you taking that it is?

      1. (I am not a Parler user, because I don’t need another social network, let alone a niche one.

        But I’m also not accusing it of anything – because I know I have no firsthand information, and too many of the secondhand ones are selling me a viewpoint, not analysis.)

        1. I avoid almost all social media because I don’t want algorithms picking my content streams for me.

          But I did sign up for Parler precisely because it was banned by Google, Apple, and Amazon. Anything they don’t want me to see that badly must be pretty good.

      2. I am a Parler browser, mostly for curiosity.

    5. That’s okay because we think you’re a vile, hate-filled bigot who demonizes entire populations based on the actions of a few (admittedly kooky) members. Note that you are one the authors of those “craziest comments on Reason” though I have no doubt that you are unable to see how insane some of your comments are.

    6. That’s funny. I feel the same way about your Democrat Party talking points, vile, hate filled, crazy, devoid of any credibility.

    7. Don’t worry, some of them aren’t genuine and are probably just government agents who borrowed “Operation Trust” from the Soviets and named it Q Anon.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Trust

  7. Anyone who looks back on the comments from VC’s independent days, and compares with them now at Reason, will notice the sharp dropoff in thoughtfulness, civility and respect. It’s not unusual to find unapologetically racist and misogynist comments here. In fact almost the only thoughtful commenters now are the liberals. With the Parler crowd on board it will undoubtedly get even worse.

    1. Style guide says you’re supposed to list thought crime grievances in groups of 3. Here’s a suggestion:
      racist, misogynist, and homophobic

      1. I don’t think Style guide applies when your point is that overt racism and misogyny is unpleasant to be around, kind of like people who fart near other people. Or that the same lack of intellectual rigor that leads to racism and misogyny in the first place tends to lead to not-thoughtful comments in general.

        1. “I don’t think Style guide applies when your point is that overt racism and misogyny is unpleasant to be around, kind of like people who fart near other people. Or that the same lack of intellectual rigor that leads to racism and misogyny in the first place tends to lead to not-thoughtful comments in general.”

          Too bad everyone not exactly like you is automatically presumed guilty of racism and misogyny then. And too bad you’ve decided to have that particular emotional reaction to progressive-religion-sinners you see lurking everywhere.

          Decide to feel bad about sinners, see sinners anywhere and everywhere falling short of your personal virtue and piety, and viola! you get to feel bad all the time. Progress!

          1. Show me where I said that everyone not like me is automatically presumed guilty of racism and misogyny.

            1. That’s the part you had a problem with?

              The precise quantity of progressive-religion-sinners you can’t stomach the presence of is in dispute. Might not be everyone who isn’t exactly like you.

              1. That’s the part I stopped reading at since it’s so ridiculous it disqualified whatever else you met have said from serious consideration.

    2. ” It’s not unusual to find unapologetically racist and misogynist comments here. ”

      THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY
      This movement conservative
      blog has operated for
      THREE (3) DAYS
      without gratuitous use of
      a vile racial slur and for
      663 DAYS
      without imposing partisan,
      viewpoint-driven censorship.

      Congratulations, I guess.

      1. Arthur, did you have to immediately present yourself as a counter-example to captcrisis’ comment that the thoughtful commenters here are the liberals? As your fellow liberal, I implore you: Your non stop insults aren’t helpful, and they make us look bad. Please stop.

        1. Not to critique a fellow commentator ( Dr. Ed 2 excepted ), but a certain bitterness seems to have crept into our carefree Rev of old.

          Remember : It’s all good, dude! Victory in the Culture Wars is assured!

          Also, I bring up the passing of Mr. Limbaugh just to prove I never speak ill of the recently deceased. May he rest in peace….

          1. Limbaugh always reminded me of the old joke about the two boys up on the Florida panhandle who were walking through a cemetery. They saw a stone that said, “He is not dead, but sleeping.” One of the boys turned to the other and said, “He ain’t foolin nobody but himself.”

        2. Arthur is the sole exception to my observation. I too which he’d stop.

          1. Only Artie, huh?

            1. aktenberg78 regularly comments on the mental inferiority of nonwhites. I never see any of our conservative commenters tell him to stop.

              1. That’s on his better days. Sometimes he’s advocating mass murder. He once admitted he had a list, but didn’t want to share out of “respect” for the blog.

          2. First, this blog seems to have diminished its censorship since I began to mention the record.

            With respect to liberals and libertarians, I have not been asked to refrain from using certain words when describing conservatives — ‘sl@ck-j@aw,’ for example — for nearly two years, so far as I can recall. It has been longer than that since Prof. Volokh deleted my comments for using terms such as ‘c_p succ_r.’

            Conservatives, meanwhile, are welcome to use vile racial slurs (frequently and gratuitously), call for liberal judges to be gassed, advocate Zyklon showers for mainstreams — all without being banned or censored by the Volokh Conspiracy.

            Perhaps my references to the Volokh Conspiracy’s viewpoint-driven censorship have precipitated a diminution in censorship (all flavors) at this blog.

            Second, different people are welcome to handle bigots in different ways. I prefer the ‘no free swings’ and ‘call a bigot a bigot’ approaches. Others are free to advocate or pursue different paths, such as Ted Cruz-style appeasement. May the better ideas win.

            1. Arthur, just because somebody else behaves badly doesn’t mean you have to.

            2. Hi, Artie. You have a bad temper.

            3. “First, this blog seems to have diminished its censorship since I began to mention the record.”

              Do you think the diminished censorship is because you’ve been bowdlerizing the term, “slack-jaw” or because Prof. Volokh is concerned that if he deletes a post with the term “cop succor” his 663 days will go back down to 0?

              1. “since I began to mention the record”

                Kirkland is a legend in his own mind. The more he mentions this supposed censorship, the less likely it is to be real.

    3. [A]lmost the only thoughtful commenters now are the liberals.

      Perception bias? (If you don’t think like I do, you aren’t thoughtful.)

      1. I don’t think he’s saying that if you don’t think like him you aren’t thoughtful, or that conservatives aren’t or can’t be thoughtful. Rather, that if you look at the comments here, a lot of the ones from conservatives are nothing more than name calling, personal attacks, overt bigotry, conspiracy theories and know-nothingism. Which is not a commentary on conservatism in general; just on the comments on this particular blog.

        1. A lot of the ones from “conservatives” are just as likely to be Artie pretending to be exactly what you want to think “conservatives” behave like (again).

          I have doubts that several of the most vile commenters here hold the views that they claim.

          1. So you’re saying the overt racists and misogynists are really sock puppets for Arthur?

            1. I think it’s possible that at least 1 of those, caricatures of “conservatives” who act exactly like how people like Artie claim “conservatives” act and point to as proof of how “conservatives” act, is Artie in drag. Yes.

              I don’t think they are all him. But I do think that the worst offenders are more likely to be fake than not.

              1. And yet no conservatives ever ask the “racist” and “misogynist” commenters to stop it. What’s with that?

                1. I just ignore them and don’t engage them at all, if you wrestle with a pig you just get muddy and the pig likes it.

                2. I don’t know about what conservatives do, or should do, but I ignore them.

                  Especially since I think they’re likely fake, it isn’t worth engaging the trolls. Trolling people who sincerely believe the lefty religion (while denigrating religion generally) is vastly more fun.

              2. I have used two names at the Volokh Conspiracy:

                Arthur L. Kirkland (sometimes with “Reverend” or “Rev.” attached, to position the cause of liberal-libertarian reason to benefit from the limitless special privilege for superstition advocated by right-wing blogs)

                Artie Ray Lee Wayne Jim-Bob Kirkland (which some of the more perspicacious readers accurately divined to be associated with Arthur Kirkland, overcoming my strenuous efforts to mask the relationship).

              3. All right, I don’t know if those other accounts are Arthur in drag or not. I do know that people with those views do actually exist, since those are the people I grew up with. I don’t think they are representative of conservatives or that it’s fair to paint all conservatives with that brush. But they do exist.

              4. VinniUSMC : “…. (tin-foil-hat stuff)….Artie in drag. Yes.”

                Do you really believe that ?!? Here’s a way to test your theory : go to any conservative site that permits comments – from Breibart to Fox to the National Review even. Guess what? You’ll find those exact same caricatures of “conservatives” in all those places. Is the Rev ubiquitous, conquering all restraints of space & time?

                What you’re not accounting for, Vinnie, is that conservatives enjoy being caricatures in the cozy anonymity of internet-world. The same phenomena is kinda true of libs among their tribe, even if I don’t think it’s to an equal degree. After all, the Right gave us Trump – whose entire persona and governing strategy was pure caricature.

                (That’s why MAGA-sorts found President Troll so entertaining)

                1. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

                  “Do you really believe that ?!? Here’s a way to test your theory : go to any conservative site that permits comments – from Breibart to Fox to the National Review even. Guess what? You’ll find those exact same caricatures of “conservatives” in all those places. Is the Rev ubiquitous, conquering all restraints of space & time?”

                  I don’t know what Reason’s comment section looked like prior to VC moving here, but, VCs comment section at WaPo had a noticable lefty bent. And, I only have a few months of experience with VC before WaPo, but from what I’ve seen, most of these caricatures showed up here, at Reason. Either Reason already had these kooks, or (as occurs constantly here) people post with satirical alternate accounts, which is something that Artie is known to have previously done. Hardly a conspiracy. I have never commented at any of those other places, and I don’t doubt, at all, that those people do exist. I just think it’s awfully convenient for the boogeymen to have shown up.

                  Having already posted that I think Artie might be responsible for 1 of them, I can’t imagine why your tortured logic would extend my belief to some world outside of the Reason comment section.

    4. captcrisis, yeah, the remnant of that earlier VC ethos is why I still comment here. I wish EV would steer back that way. No chance would I waste time rummaging around Reason’s godawful funhouse mirror.

      From time to time, memory challenges me with Samuel Johnson’s famous remark: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” I wonder how much longer I can justify behaving like a blockhead.

    5. “Anyone who looks back on the comments from VC’s independent days, and compares with them now at Reason, will notice the sharp dropoff in thoughtfulness, civility and respect.”

      A big reason for that is that the bloggers spent loads of time and effort engaging in the activity that Kirkland logs on here every day to whine about. All of the unapologetically racist and misogynist comments, and many that were lacking in civility and respect were deleted.

      So the VC of the old days came at a rather heavy cost to the bloggers.

      1. They still do some of that. It’s even more fun when it’s a response to Artie that gets axed. (Note, I am not complaining about those comments being axed. They weren’t nice comments. They were exactly the type of comment that Artie deserves, and which got Artie banned anyway.)

    6. “almost the only thoughtful commenters now are the liberals”

      My side good, your side bad.

      1. But Bob, isn’t that what you believe about your own side?

        1. That’s what everybody believes about their own side. Even my, and my side is very small, just me, myself and I.

          And me and myself are getting suspicious of I. 🙂

    7. Agreed, the VC comment section was much better when it was a stand alone site before it was part of the WP.

    8. Volokh banned people like me, for pointing out the common law was plagiarized from the catechism of 1275 AD and unlawful in our secular nation. Maybe that was the civility you miss so much.

    9. I agree, but I don’t think the hosting platform is the cause. Public discourse has generally coarsened, and the VC comments section has suffered the same as everyone else.

  8. Only a racist would think this way.

    QED

    1. ^ The beginning and end of leftist thought on every subject.

    2. Those who call others racist are called race whores. Zero tolerance for race whores.

  9. Parler users have a reputation for being more conservative than users on other platforms, and more conservative than we are.

    Professor Volokh, do you really believe that the kind of commentary characteristic of Parler has anything to do with conservatism? If so, I ask what points of similarity you think it shows with any other conservative ideology established enough to enjoy a following, or attract notice.

    1. Parler might satisfy Cleek’s law:

      “Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.”

      And I can’t find the original source for this adage, but it might also fit:

      Conservativism is about owning the libs, the more it owns the libs, the more conservativer it is.

      1. “This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance: The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy, from having nothing to whip.

        1. I remember hearing an interview with a gent (can’t remember his name) who was the Socialist party candidate for president back in the mid 1910’s. When asked how he felt about how the country had fared since, he laughed – saying that 95% of their platform had been adopted into law with the Democrats full-throatedly approving and Republicans only slightly less so.

          There is no “owning of libs” going on in American politics. Temporary victories at best.

    2. Have you used Parler, or are you relying on second and third hand accounts about what kind of commentary is “characteristic of Parler?

  10. The truth is like water – eventually it escapes confinement. And those who fearfully censor others know the weakness of their own views. And the truth will escape.

    1. There is a lot of censorship of Holocaust Denial in Germany, I don’t think they’re doing that because they fear the weakness of the view that the Holocaust happened and are worried the “truth” will escape.

      1. Perhaps they just don’t want the rest of the world to know how popular Holocaust denial actually is in Germany? Besides, if nobody is around denying it, you don’t have to think about it at all.

        1. I don’t think that’s it at all. They ban it because denialism tends to be rampant among extremist groups, and spreading it creates more extremists who would eventually commit similar crimes if they ever came to power.

          My point was that censoring views isn’t necessarily a good indicator that the censor fears the weakness of their views and is worried about the truth escaping. They might be genuinely concerned that a false idea is actually really harmful if believed by enough people.

          Perhaps a better example is regulating commercial speech. Governments don’t ban tobacco advertising because they’re worried that their anti-tobacco views are weak and are worried about “the truth” about tobacco escaping. They’re worried that advertising will encourage more people to smoke which will cause lots of negative health outcomes.

      2. Actually I’m reading right now a book by Holocaust denier David Irving, “Churchill’s War”, which tries to make the case that Churchill pushed Britain into an unnecessary war with Hitler because of his well known financial problems and he was being paid off by the Jews and the Czechs.

        It’s interesting because most of the case he is making is precisely the case that many of the isolationists were making prior to Munich. And as a Churchill fan it’s interesting to see all the snide quotes he digs up from Churchill’s contemporaries like former PM Arthur Balfour describing Churchill’s WWI history “World Crises” as “Winston’s brilliant autobiography disguised as a history of the Universe”.

        It’s no secret that Churchill was considered reactionary and dangerous during his wilderness years so Irving has lots of material to make his case with no need for embellishment, which makes an interesting read to see how wrong they all were.

        1. I’m currently reading a book about the siege of Delhi in 1857. To each his interests, I guess.

  11. But what’s more likely: persuading people by talking to them, or by refusing to talk to them?

    The unstated assumption is the the intent is to persuade instead of dominate. I have my doubts, based on fences and armed troops.

  12. As a former CEO I will defend the right of service providers to publish and enforce Terms of Service. Coincidentally I wrote about Rumble Video earlier today.

    As for hate speech, as a gay Jew I am twice “blessed.” If I take time out from wrecking marriage it is to conspire with the nefarious actors who secretly control the Fed.

    I really do not care what people say about me. As something of an LGBTQ activist I am concerned for what is eventually heard by sexually-diverse children and their parents.

    I have always learned the most from people with whom I disagree – as long as they are intellectually honest.

    Bigotry is never intellectually honest. We will have to see what Parler will ultimately tolerate. (The Trump base leans towards Christian conservatism.)

    What I am uncertain about is the promotion of conspiracy theories. Social media allowed Trump to convince many millions of Americans that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. The fact that the claims were baseless did not deter their acceptance due to confirmation bias.

    Some of that damage is permanent. There exists no means of convincing many people that President Biden legitimately prevailed.

    Parler might allow people to reinforce a false narrative. Nevertheless, I agree with Prof. Volokh. This outlet has always been careful to separate opinion from fact and it has always been a source of truth. Promoting that content on Parler has no downside whatsoever and considerable upside potential.

    1. Why is it required to worry about the bogeyman of the day: “conspiracy theories”?

      Remember when news media was repeating their story about Russian collusion in the 2016 election? And how they kept at it for years, inviting known liars like John Brennan to make allegations on news shows? Was that conspiracy theory bad? Just wondering.

    2. Thanks for the well written and obviously sincere comment, David. I must say, though, that it seems to me that you are suffering from the same kind of biased thinking, and adoption of a false narrative, of which you accuse others.

      You stated:
      “What I am uncertain about is the promotion of conspiracy theories. ”
      You seem quite selective about which supposed conspiracy theories you are uncertain of. What about the Russian collusion conspiracy, which has been proven to be false, and during which its promulgation many laws were broken and liberties violated?

      “Social media allowed Trump to convince many millions of Americans that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. The fact that the claims were baseless did not deter their acceptance due to confirmation bias.”

      I am one of those who believes the election was stolen, and it is not at all baseless. In many ways, too, it is obvious. (There is much more evidence of this than there ever was for the Trump Russian collusion narrative.) And, don’t you find it more troubling that the mainstream media allowed Clinton and the DNC convince millions of the Trump Russian collusion narrative? And persists in it, even now?

      “Some of that damage is permanent. There exists no means of convincing many people that President Biden legitimately prevailed.”

      Likewise for Clinton’s lies.

    3. “bigotry will never be intellectually honest”

      I don’t know about that, I consider this statement rather bigoted, but I also think it’s intellectually honest, brutally honest:

      ” The worst enemy that the Negro have is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros and calling himself a liberal, and it is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have.

      If the Negro wasn’t taken, tricked or deceived by the white liberal, then Negros would get together and solve our own problems. I only cite these things to show you that in America, the history of the white liberal has been nothing but a series of trickery designed to make Negros think that the white liberal was going to solve our problems. Our problems will never be solved by the white man.”

      – Malcolm X

      1. Dunno, that doesn’t sound bigoted to me. OMMV.

  13. EV is here restating by implication a familiar point of faith—that the remedy for bad speech is more speech. The unedited internet has given that one a beating.

    Problem is, the remedy mentioned is ideological, but the remedies needed are too often concrete. Once bad speech does actual damage, either damage to particular persons, or damage to useful social norms and institutions, mere ideological reckoning can fall short. Damaged persons likely don’t get a remedy; the fate of particular damaged norms and institutions remains iffy.

    A troublesome aspect of the modern internet is manifest in the frequency with which its users weaponize bad speech on purpose. They don’t give a damn about speech quality, they’ve got targets in their sights. The last thing they want is an available remedy for the damage they intend to inflict.

    That is a real-world phenomenon somewhat at odds with EV’s abstract ideal. I don’t suggest EV ought to give up the ideal, but it would help if he also gave thoughtful attention to the particulars.

    1. There are two, count ’em, two reasons for restricting the remedy for bad speech to being more speech.

      The first is a faith that the truth will eventually win out in a free market of ideas. If it isn’t, we might ask, is our market of ideas as free as we like to think? Perhaps we should answer that question before declaring defeat.

      The second, however, is a concern that every other tool for beating down a lie is as effective for beating down the truth, if that’s what the people doing the beating down want to do.

      Only free discussion has the possibility of systematically favoring the truth. Every other approach favors the opinions of those in power, whether truth or lie.

      And that’s a pretty big deal.

      1. The second, however, is a concern that every other tool for beating down a lie is as effective for beating down the truth, if that’s what the people doing the beating down want to do.

        This is, more or less, the reason that makes sense to me. The first is feel-good stuff – everyone would like to believe it, but the evidence is weak.

        I simply don’t trust anyone to decide what is and is not acceptable speech.

        That said, I have no problem with Facebook and other private organizations removing content as they wish, deciding what is acceptable on their own site. If they don’t want to be a conduit for what they consider lies, or calls for violence, or whatever, that surely must be their privilege. Let parler handle it.

        I comment regularly on a site that deals with a hobby of mine. The moderators will quickly remove OT comments, especially political ones, and I can’t imagine what the objection to this could be.

        1. I’m a member of a brewing forum that does the same. They have a particular corner for OT discussions, any politics gets diverted there pretty quick. Everything stays pretty much on topic elsewhere.

          This works because pretty much everybody there is on the same page, we’re there to discuss various aspects of brewing. (In my case, mead.)

          The problem at sites like Facebook, is that everybody isn’t on the same page. The site doesn’t exist for the purpose of everybody being on the same page! It’s less like a club, than the universe of all clubs. A bunch of different pages for people to be on. Then the management decides they don’t LIKE some of the pages people want to be on…

          When I was on Facebook, I had my public timeline, which was just my communicating with various relatives and friends I don’t get to see in person due to having had to move to get a new job. Pretty bland stuff for the most part, even during the election. Holiday pictures, recipes, who’s getting married.

          I was also a member of a private group, a bunch of old foggies who’d known and argued with each other since the earliest days of BBS systems, and just kept finding each other again on new platforms. We’d have no holds barred discussions of this and that, and, sure, we trended conservative/liberal, but we had our left-wing members, too.

          We left facebook when they started reaching into that private group to censor posts there, and the moderator was notified that either he started censoring the discussions more heavily, or the group would be shut down.

          And none of us are neo-Nazis, or anything like that. We’re just people who like arguing, and have thick skins. Thicker than FB was willing to tolerate.

          I think what really pisses people off about FB, (And Twitter) is the strong element of bait and switch. It didn’t originally sell itself as a censored, curated clubhouse for anything a thin skinned liberal wouldn’t take offense at. It sold itself as just a way for people to stay in contact with each other. And on that basis became a relied upon tool by people all over the political spectrum.

          Then it changed. And worse, insisted that nobody be permitted to offer what it had originally been. Actively conspired with other sites and businesses to help shut down anybody who tried to offer what it had been.

          Nobody feels betrayed by my brew forum being a brew forum, because it always has been a brew forum; It didn’t grow by offering one thing, and then insist on becoming something quite different once it was a success. FB did. It betrayed a large part of its user base by up and deciding to change a free forum into a biased and censored one.

          It’s that betrayal that has people mad.

          1. Look at Ravelry, the knitting forum. Just a forum for people to discuss knitting, and share patterns. Then they up and got political. You could post a pattern for a ‘pussy’ hat, (Geeze, these people don’t know their anatomy!) or an Antifa scarf, but you could be banned for a MAGA sweater.

            The site changed. It didn’t start political, it grew apolitical, then exploited its size for political purposes.

            A bait and switch. It wouldn’t have been controversial if they’d been political all along.

      2. A third reason is that sending the police after people is evil. Arresting a person and locking them up is an evil thing to do to someone. It should be reserved for when it’s clearly the lesser evil or when it’s a necessary evil.

        It’s necessary in fraud instances because people will seek private justice otherwise. It’s is almost never necessary in other instances of speech.

        That’s one of the problems with the totalitarian left: they are eager to use violence and looking for new opportunities to use it.

    2. SL: No, you don’t get to be the gatekeeper of what may be read. Sorry, you are not a “top man” anymore.

      1. The “top man” at this blog has decreed that the terms ‘c_p succ_r’ and ‘sl_ck-j_w’ are not to be used here, at least not when used to describe conservatives, although frequent vile racial slurs are welcome and calling for liberals to be placed face-down in landfills, to be gassed, to be shot as they open their front doors, and to be sent to Zyklon showers are acceptable.

        The Conspirators’ playground, the Conspirators’ rules.

        1. Why are you still here?

      2. Vinni, what are you going on about? This, “top man,” stuff is crap.

        I am talking about private publishing. Freedom of the press. Are you against that? I never would have thought so. What is hierarchical about a system you are as free to engage in as I am? And on the same terms.

        Were I an editor with power to accept or reject contributions just as I pleased, I would remember that I have never seen you post anything that I thought unworthy of publication. Assuming you were on topic, I would probably publish everything you have to contribute, and be glad to have it.

        If I am a private publisher of a private blog, does it gall you if I presume to judge whether your own would-be contribution is worthy or unworthy of publication by my blog? How could you presume to deny me that freedom of the press?

        If I judged my efforts to make money by publishing contributions would be harmed by something you proposed for me to publish, on what basis do you think it would be wrong for me to exclude that item, and encourage you to offer something else? If you wore out my patience, and I told you to look elsewhere, how have I harmed you?

        I propose a system you can engage in on the same terms as I can, or anyone else can. What about that makes you think I aspire to be a, “top man,” whatever that is?

        1. Yes, you’re pining for the days when you were the one who decided what would be published or not. Sorry, but no thanks.

    3. The remedy for bad speech is more speech, not censorship.

      This isn’t because it is easy or entirely successful. It’s because, of the estimated 90 billion people who have ever lived, the vast majority lived miserably under dictatorship that survived by silencing opposition.

      1. The remedy for bad speech is more speech, not censorship.

        I’m far from convinced that there is a remedy. I’m just unwilling to trust government with the power to censor, which can easily make the bad/good ratio worse.

        1. I think there might be a remedy: Better education. Education that focuses on teaching people how to think, not what to think.

          The problem is, to apply the remedy, you need to get by people who are happy with things as they are, or where they’re trending. Education has been captured by people who WANT education to be indoctrination. Who see indoctrination as the highest goal of education.

          The last thing they want is for the schools to teach people how to think for themselves, they might end up thinking the wrong things!

          1. Ironically, if you were better educated about (in this case) human psychology, you would be aware that this view is contradicted by literally decades of research. Better education, however defined or measured, does not make people less susceptible to conspiracy theories and other misinformation. On the contrary.

            1. More does not equal “better”.

  14. All of the above complaining can be summarized as “blah blah white supremacist blah blah white supremacist blah blah…”

    1. Great comment at a right-wing blog where the racial slurs flow like water.

      1. Says Artie the Bigot.

  15. It is good you are there to share your wisdom with the benighted, but I am disturbed that you label the frequently rude, bigoted, right-wing reactionary statism splashed across its pages “conservative.” There is nothing conservative about that sort of ugliness.

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