Social Media Common Carrier

Channeling Your Inner Dissenter from Your Inner Majority


A commenter on one of my Social Media Platforms as Common Carriers? posts suggested (not positively, I think) that I was "discovering my inner Noam Chomsky" in my criticisms of social media platform power. Well, I wouldn't go so far as that—but of course in one of the posts, I was quite expressly channeling my inner Justice Stevens, writing in an opinion (Citizens United) in which I actually disagreed with him on the bottom line.

And I think all of us need to have an inner Justice Stevens and Rehnquist and Brennan and Scalia (all at once) and more. Even if we mostly disagree with them, some of the time they might well be right. Or even if we disagree with how their arguments play out in a particular case, the arguments may still be well worth considering in other cases.

As the blog subheading notes, we're "Often Libertarian." But I'm not always libertarian, and I certainly don't want a precommitment to libertarianism to keep me from seeing where liberals or conservatives or someone else might have a better view. (I hope the same is true of our liberal and conservative readers as well.) In particular, liberals have long had some important observations about the dangers of private power, and the need to use government power to restrain such private power. I tend to disagree with them in many situations; but some of the time (perhaps with regard to some of the most powerful of private entities), they're likely right.

Some commenters have also suggested (or outright asserted) that I'm departing from the libertarian approach here because it's people on the Right (and thus generally on my side of the political aisle) whose speech has been blocked most prominently by some social media platforms. And of course that's certainly possible, human nature being what it is. Maybe my reaction would have been different if Big Tech had been most prominently blocking people from the Left. Maybe the reaction of some of the current defenders of Big Tech blocking decisions would have been different, too. I try hard to avoid such biases, but I'm sure I fall prey to them some of the time; who doesn't?

But that's why I wrote 75 pages explaining why I think my position is correct. "Show all work," my math teachers said, and I listened. Either my arguments are right, in which case it doesn't matter whether I might have been biased. Or my arguments are wrong, in which case it doesn't matter whether I might have been scrupulously objective.  So have a look at them, and tell me where I've erred, or how I can make my analysis more sound.

NEXT: The Parable of the Soldier at the Bank

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  1. As I mentioned, I thought the article was quite well thought out and done. A couple minor tweaks were suggested, but that was all.

    The one area that potentially could be expanded upon, as mentioned, was how common carrier or other laws could effectively protect the large social media corporations from undue influence from foreign government influence.

    Libertarian ideology is wonderful, but on occasion needs to be tempered, especially in the wake of large foreign actors who don’t necessarily utilize the same rules and may abuse Libertarian ideals in a neighboring country. Understanding this is key.

  2. Prof V, this is a key observation that seems lost in the over-reliance on emotional response versus rational thought and social media-fication of in-group biases and in-group ‘knowledge.’ The out-group may be correct, and is certainly capable of stating facts. This is not to say that wrongheadedness on 95+% of the issues makes one any more likely to want to winnow through trollish and smug comments from some commenters on the Reason boards looking for the occasional good faith fact. More to the point, I am finding your argument re common carrier interesting, thank you.

  3. My advice: Pay no attention to comments that refer to you personally. Bloggers (and especially Youtubers) are easily sidetracked into responding to the comments and suggestions of commentors.

    Especially don’t take advice from any comment that begins with “My advice:” 🙂

  4. It is far harder than the mentally deficient lawyer profession thinks. Remedies do not have philosophical consistencies. Within each remedy is a dose response curve that has to be worked out empirically. Then that curve has to apply to the host situation, applicable in some jurisdictions, not in others. In the dose response curve, too little of the remedy does not work; too much is toxic. Too little hurts victims, too much hurts all of society.

    All other occupations have embraced empiricism and competence. Auto mechanics with the performance of the criminal law bar would be arrested. Repair only 1 in 10 broken cars. When the repair is done, 20% of the time, it is to the wrong car, using the wrong repair.

    Three reasons the lawyer profession sucks so much are, that it has supernatural doctrines, indoctrinated in 1L; its failures are shielded from accountability by its self dealt immunities; no one wants to replace the lawyer profession, because the job is so horrible.

  5. I am mostly libertarian. But I also think rabid libertarians often ignore the real world. This is one example. Network effects are real, and really do lead to monopolies. Monopolies are bad in a whole lot of ways. A lot of libertarian ideas are grounded in idealistic and naive concepts of perfect competition and property rights, which don’t exist in reality.

    Would breaking up InstaFaceTwit really work? Sometimes splitting monopolies works, sometimes it doesn’t. The only way it would work is if all my friends who go to the competing platform can see my posts and vice versa. Oligopolies and cartels are often just as bad as monopolies. There are a lot of examples of real world monopolies, and there is a reason a whole body of law related to common carriers and monopolies has developed.

    Censorship is just one downside of social media monopolies. Lack of innovation is another, which is harder to measure since you can’t know what you wouldn’t have. Politicians using the power of monopolistic social media platforms to push their agenda is even more insidious.

    Monopolistic social media corporations do need to be regulated. The question is how.

    1. And I appreciate the posts on common carriers, because it might not be a bad alternative to the FTC breaking them up, which I am skeptical will actually work. The regulation of social media platforms is really a menu of “less bad” alternatives.

    2. If you just broke these dominant platforms into pieces, and nothing more, you’d just get multiple copies engaging in the same behavior, and coordinating on the sly. As they already do when they feel like taking down an upstart.

      Ideally, you want to separate the back end and the front end, with interoperability. This is how the internet as a whole works: Multiple ISPs, DNS’s, and websites. But the web sites pretty much all use some form of html, and the back ends the same communications protocols, and you can pick an ISP and DNS independently, doing so doesn’t exile you to some isolated ghetto internet. You can send emails from gmail to yahoo, anybody can chose to use google or duckduckgo.

      If you had social media working the same way, then going with Facebook wouldn’t cut you off from people posting on MeWe, and visa versa, and you could use competing front AND back ends.

      But I don’t see a reasonable way to get there without stalling technical progress. Maybe just require the platforms to maintain easy data access for users to permit them to switch platforms without losing a decade of data.

      I’ve got some ideas for a distributed social media platform that doesn’t require central servers that can be used as a censorship bottleneck, perhaps I should develop them further.

      1. Facebook {or Twitter etc.} could just make their interface that allows posting and send notifications open source. They all use html, buts it’s really the interoperability that matters, the code that allows posting and received notifications of posting. The real hurdle is that Facebook et al probably would have to separate that from the algorithms that generate ad revenue. Yes, they feed your posts into a huge algorithm to generate ads for “you.”

        As you say, I am skeptical this would work. Oligopolies (which is what you get when you split companies) can be just as bad. Also, there is the issue of research. Monopolies do have upsides. A lot of them pursue research that the government is too risk averse to pursue, without getting embedded in politics and shifting administrations. Google (and before that ATT) spend a lot of their monopoly profit on research. Google is spending a truckload on pure quantum engineering research. They don’t have to worry as much about cost pressures. Before AT&T was broken up, AT&T Bell Laboratories did a lot of really good fundamental physics research, which Google is now picking up. I am unconvinced breaking up AT&T was a good idea. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are plowing a whole lot of their monopoly money into space research and reusable rockets. Something NASA basically gave up. They became risk averse and political, esp after Challenger. When governments do research, they tend to focus on things like AI to implement drone swarms to kill things.

        I dont think that the answer is as simple as “break them up” or “regulate them.” There are trade offs with either approach, we have do decide which are most palatable.

        1. Transparency and interoperability would solve most of it. The major platforms have made themselves sticky ghettoes, your information goes in and gives them value, but it’s really hard to leave because getting your data back out is really hard. And the platforms actively avoid being interoperable with competitors, which would allow people to easily switch platforms if annoyed. Leaving FB cost me contact with a lot of relatives, because being on MeWe doesn’t allow me to interact with them.

          1. Leaving FB cost me contact with a lot of relatives. . . .

            Too bad the telephone, e-mail, in-person visits, IMs, Skype, snail mail, etc., haven’t been invented yet.

            But you and your relatives hang in there!

            1. Why do you need a phone line or internet anyway? You can just talk to the people…

              Why do you need to be let into a hotel? You can always sleep in your car.

          2. “Leaving FB cost me contact with a lot of relatives, because being on MeWe doesn’t allow me to interact with them.”

            Aren’t you just saying that the people you want to communicate with don’t want to communicate with you on MeWe?

            1. They’d be fine with communicating with me on MeWe, if communicating from Facebook to MeWe were as transparent as communicating from Sprint to Verizon.

              Suppose the phone carrier with the most users (Verizon) decided that they wouldn’t connect calls to phones on T Mobile. Suddenly a third of phones would become inaccessible to T Mobile users, while Verizon users would only lose access to a tenth of phones.

              T Mobile subscriptions would collapse. Then Verizon could cut off the next network. Eventually they’d end up as much of a monopoly as Facebook is now. And anybody new who tried to challenge them would have a lot of trouble, because they couldn’t reach most people on the phone.

              That’s how Facebook got and keeps it’s near total lock on the market. By denying interoperability.

              1. There’s a lot here. First, let’s take your hyperventilating example. The assumption is that without regulation Verizon and T Mobile would engage with each other with such hostility that they would literally refuse to connect users. If your instinct was correct about those entities, that would be an argument against breaking up monopolies, since you’d want one provider. (Put differently, you’re complaining about competition.)

                Second, it’s doubtful that T Mobile and Verizon would engage so sharply. While that might have been true in the dawn of the telephone era, the network effects are too important for T Mobile and Verizon to refuse to connect each others’ customers. It’s easy to demonstrate. Phone companies are not treated as common carriers for text messages. Yet I routinely receive text messages from customers who use other cell service providers. How can that be, Brett?

                Third, Facebook does not have a “near total lock on the market”. You still won’t define the market, and you keep inadvertently showing that there is no such lock, since you’re using MeWe. There are dozens of social media platforms besides Facebook. And even that “market” is pointlessly narrowing things. Facebook competes with other internet sites that are not “social media platforms”. If the “infrastructure” that Facebook has is “ability to communicate on the internet”, there’s not even an argument that it has a monopoly. The only way to make Facebook a monopoly is to so narrowly define the market that you’re basically left saying “Facebook has a monopoly on Facebook posts”.

                1. Yes, Facebook does have a near total lock on the market, if you define the market to be the sort of product Facebook offers.

                  Not 140 character comments. Not sharing videos. Facebook is a type of product, the same type of product as MeWe, and for their type of product, they have near 100% market share.

                  Facebook has 190M users in the US. Mewe a few million.

                  1. Next thing you’re going to tell me that Nissan has a monopoly on Nissans.

                    1. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that a company having 95% of the automobile market wouldn’t be a monopoly so long as there was another company selling a few percent as many mobility scooters.

                    2. @Brett,

                      I would tell you that if a manufacturer in an industry that had zero barriers to entry had 95% market share, that might be evidence of consumer-beneficial market dominance, as opposed to an anti-consumer monopoly. Of course the barriers to entry in the car manufacturing industry and the posting shit online industries are not the same.

                      All humans can shitpost on 4chan. There is literally no barrier to entry for shitposting online. It can be done for free, instantly, from any computer in the world with a internet connection, so long as there is no government interference with what users can do online.

                    3. Network effects ARE a barrier to entry. So is your hosting service cutting you off if you try to do something different from the monopolist, to distinguish yourself in the market. So is your IT security firm shutting off your service and letting a hacker group know, when you annoy the monopolist. So is the bank cutting you off when you annoy the monopolist. So is your law firm abandoning you when you’re in litigation against the monopolist.

                      There are all sorts of barriers to entry in place, if you’re thinking of challenging Facebook or Twitter. If you’re planning on being a hilariously doomed 2nd rate copycat, they’ll leave you alone.

                    4. @Brett,

                      “Network effects ARE a barrier to entry.”

                      Gibberish. A barrier to entry prevents others from entering. There have been dozens of new entrants in the social media market in the past few years. You use one of them. GETTR announced its release three days ago.

                      “So is your hosting service cutting you off…”

                      This is your conspiracy theory about everyone out to get Parler, a service that is still available. That has nothing to do with whether Twitter has market power. Let it go already.

                      “If you’re planning on being a hilariously doomed 2nd rate copycat, they’ll leave you alone.”

                      So how did Facebook prevent Twitter from growing? How is Facebook preventing Youtube from growing? What specific platforms have Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube successfully killed?

                    5. “So how did Facebook prevent Twitter from growing?”

                      It’s your claim that Facebook and Twitter are selling the same product. Not mine. I’ve looked at both, and that claim is absurd.

      2. “If you had social media working the same way, then going with Facebook wouldn’t cut you off from people posting on MeWe, and visa versa, and you could use competing front AND back ends.”

        Going on Facebook does not cut you off from posting on MeWe. Nor does posting on MeWe cut you off from posting on Facebook.

        1. He’s talking about being able to see and post content on multiple platforms in one portal.

          1. I know. My issue is with the words he used. Not having one platform no more “cut[s] you off from people posting on” other platforms, than McDonalds cuts you off from ordering Taco Bell, because they don’t sell Taco Bell’s food at McDonalds.

      3. “Maybe just require the platforms to maintain easy data access for users to permit them to switch platforms without losing a decade of data.”

        Right. I’ve long said that you need to have some mechanism where you can switch to a different social media platform while seamlessly bringing all your data and friends etc.

        1. Data requires easy data access. “And friends” pretty much requires interoperability.

          1. You can’t host a website in which you and your friends share data?

            1. I certainly can. I could also set up my own phone network, if Verizon started censoring phone calls.

              1. You have the resources to set up a phone service that will connect you to people in Alaska? This strikes me as an outrageous claim, even for you.

                Set that aside. Do you think it would be easier and cheaper for you to set up a phone network that connects customers from Alaska to Florida, than it would be for you to host a website that is accessible anywhere in the world for internet users? My suspicion is that you’d be more likely to be able to do the latter.

                1. Ham radio, NToJ. I could set up a local phone network that was accessible from anywhere in the world. Might not get four bars most of the time, and only a small number of people would ever bother with it, but I could do it.

                  The point here is that network effects are real. When it comes to communications, once a platform, be it a phone network, or a social media site, achieves a certain level of dominance, it’s all over, there’s no going back, because they’ve got an advantage nobody else can match: The existing customer base.

                  That means if they decide to censor a viewpoint, it is under a serious disadvantage, which can not actually be escaped by switching to a different platform with a tiny user base.

                  Some products exhibit network effects, some products don’t. The ones that do, tend towards monopoly.

                  1. “That means if they decide to censor a viewpoint, it is under a serious disadvantage, which can not actually be escaped by switching to a different platform with a tiny user base.”

                    If the alternative platform is open to the general public, the censored viewpoint has as much access to being distributed worldwide as before. It may not be as effective at doing so, but that’s always going to be true of unpopular viewpoints. People who aren’t interested in hearing viewpoints they disagree with, aren’t going to hear them.

                    You also make assumptions about things that the market will answer. Network effects matter. But Facebook was never going to achieve network effects if Stormfront had a meaningful presence on the website. It’s probably the case that the market will never tolerate a large, universal social media platform that allows all fringe opinions. 4chan is not at risk of taking over Facebook. Reddit was not going to tolerate subreddit ChapoTrapHouse because it hurt their brand. It may be in the market that only because of censorship that some provider can achieve network effects. And markets are going to determine where that line is drawn more efficiently than federal regulatory agencies.

                    1. “But Facebook was never going to achieve network effects if Stormfront had a meaningful presence on the website.”

                      I guess that depends on what you mean by “meaningful” presence. I mean, Facebook was never going to achieve network effects if people trading lutefisk recipes had a meaningful presence on the website, either. To say nothing about Bronnies or people obsessed with ee cummings.

                      The thing about a site like Facebook, is that you don’t experience lutefisk enthusiasts having a presence on the site, IF YOU DON’T GO LOOKING FOR THEM! They just sit there off by the side talking to each other about stinking fermented fish, and you never have to interact with them. Kind of like the phone system or the mail in that regard. People can communicate all manner of things which would disturb you, and they don’t actually disturb you if you don’t obsessively hunt them down.

                      The people being offended by these things, rather like gays demanding cakes of Masterpiece Bakery, went looking to be offended, because they were offended by the idea that people they disagreed with were allowed to communicate with each other.

                      And, sure, in theory lutefisk enthusiasts could invade knitting circles and kit plane groups, the same as they could mail out junk mail, or make random cold calls. But, typically they don’t.

                      Which is why FB actually had to give a bunch of busybodies with too much time on their hands special authority to invade private groups, so they could go on a hunt for people who weren’t bothering anybody else.

                      And that’s the truth of the matter: Facebook isn’t dealing with people being offended by intruders. They’ve created a surveillance machine to hunt down dissidents. People they had to hunt down, because they WEREN’T bothering other people!

                    2. @Brett,

                      “I mean, Facebook was never going to achieve network effects if people trading lutefisk recipes had a meaningful presence on the website, either.”

                      The problem with Stormfront is that if they have access to a consumer platform, other consumers won’t use it. Nobody fucking cares if Grandma Martha is trading her lutefisk recipes. Are you pretending that liking poetry and bad nordic food are the same as being a white supremacist? Can you not understand why there are more people who would care about that sort of thing?

                      “The people being offended by these things, rather like gays demanding cakes of Masterpiece Bakery, went looking to be offended…”

                      Right, because they’re humans. Brett Bellmore, full-time offended person, is complaining about other humans being offended by stuff? WTF? Anyway, if you have a product that depends on a lot of people adopting its use, you’re not going to want to have extraordinarily fringe views on your platform, because it is a fact that millions of consumers go “looking to be offended”. You have to sell to those people. How do you think Hobby Lobby’s core consumer groups would respond if it started selling dildos and abortifacients?

                    3. “The problem with Stormfront is that if they have access to a consumer platform, other consumers won’t use it.”

                      In the same way people don’t use the internet, telephones, the mail, or the public roads? All of which Stormfront has access to?

                      There is absolutely no evidence of your claim. It’s just a totally unsupported assertion. It’s like claiming people will desert a neighborhood, leave it a desolate wasteland, if somebody secretly puts up a poster of Hitler on a wall in their house.

                      The truth is, if some people you don’t like have a private group on a platform like FB, you don’t know it. You have no exposure to them.

                      That’s why FB had to actually institute surveillance measures, give volunteers special privileges to poke around in private groups, in order to even FIND people like Stormfront. They’re invisible, otherwise.

                      They’re not driving people off, they’re invisible, people had to hunt them down to be offended!

    3. One thing to consider is whether regulating social media will result in the kind of regulation you want to see. Remember the Democrats want to regulate not because they think Facebook is engaging in too much censorship, but because they think its not censoring enough

      1. That’s a fairly gross mischaracterization. I’m quite certain that most people here, Republicans and Democrats alike, would be just fine with Facebook censoring organized pedophiles, ISIS and Taliban recruiters, and pyramid scam artists. So the knee jerk reaction “censorship bad, and the Democrats are in favor of it” misses the mark. The question is “what kind” of censorship is Facebook engaging in.

        I personally think Facebook has gone a bit far, but I’m not going to fault them for wanting a more civil society by shutting down actual racists and professional hatemongers. There’s an awful lot of political conservatism still to be found on Facebook. As best as I can tell, mainstream conservatism is still welcome there. It’s the cuckoo wing of the conservative movement that’s being shown the door.

        1. No, for 6 years the left and the Dems have been constantly calling for censorship of “fake news” and all content they deem either objectionable or false or misleading. You’re just not paying attention or you’re choosing to believe what you like.

          1. And I think that’s a fairly sweeping generalization. On specifics, the claim that the 2020 election was stolen is both (a) demonstrably false and (b) one of the causes (there were others) of the January 6 riot at the Capitol. There may be some things that are called fake news that aren’t, but there’s also stuff that truly is fake news and sufficiently damaging to justify a deplatform, at least by a private entity like Facebook.

            1. No, it’s an accurate statement. They have been doing this for 5-6 years, loudly and fervently, practically screaming. This doesn’t mean every individual on the left feels the same way.

              1. Repeating it and not engaging Krycheck doesn’t make it accurate.

                Oh, I know you think the election is stolen and don’t want to admit it, since that undercuts your argument about what’s being censored.

                1. That is a serious allegation. Are you a ‘stolen election’ kook, M L? Are you gullible and bigoted enough to swallow Trump-QAnon-clinger nonsense?

            2. I suppose it depends on how you define “stolen”. There’s a fairly good argument that Trump would have won the electoral college if Democrats hadn’t succeeded in getting election rules overturned in certain large cities. He was, after all, about 43K votes, properly distributed, away from having a second term.

              Is enhancing Democratic turnout by violating election laws “stealing” an election? Sure, by some definitions of “stealing”, and they’re not totally crazy.

              If Trump had won by virtue of shutting the polls down early in those very same cities, you’d have called the election stolen. I don’t see why election law violations that favor Democrats are any less “stealing”.

              1. Except that there have been multiple exhaustive investigations and nobody found irregularities, including Republicans who were looking hard. At this point, the idea that the election was stolen is a conspiracy theory on the same level as J. Edgar Hoover being responsible for JFK’s murder.

                By the way, having an electoral college in the first place arguably steals the election from the majority. Get back to me when you care as much about that kind of election stealing.

                1. “and nobody found irregularities,”

                  We’re talking past each other. You’re saying fraud wasn’t found, and I’m saying election law violations were found.

                  Fraud isn’t the only way to steal an election.

                  1. “I’m saying election law violations were found.”

                    The sixty lawsuits LOL’d out of court by judges left and right, including many Trump appointees, says you’re mistaken.

                    1. Birther Brett is also Stolen Election Brett.

                      I stand by my decision to mock him.

                  2. Brett, as has been explained to you here over and over again, you disagreeing with the reasoning of a legal opinion is not an election law violation.

                    1. No, it’s the legal opinion disagreeing with the actual content of the law that’s the violation, not it being noticed by people.

        2. “but I’m not going to fault them for wanting a more civil society by shutting down actual racists and professional hatemongers.”

          I wouldn’t fault them too much for that, if that were actually what they were doing. The problem is, I don’t think that’s what they’re doing. It’s a combination of pretext, and maybe genuinely not being able to distinguish between “actual racists and professional hatemongers” and fairly mainstream positions.

          And there’s a rapidly diminishing amount of political conservatism on Facebook.

        3. “actual racists and professional hatemongers”

          Like Iran’s supreme fuehrer?

          On facebook and twitter.

          1. I’d be happy deplatforming him too.

            You’ll always be able to find someone else who should also have been shown the door, but that doesn’t answer the question of whether those that are being shown the door should be.

            1. You can be happy about deplatforming, because it’s your allies doing it, so you can be confident it won’t go too far.

              Conservatives can’t be, because it’s their enemies doing it, and they can actually be reasonably confident it WILL go too far.

              1. So your solution is that nobody gets deplatformed ever for any reason? If ISIS and the Taliban want to openly use Facebook to recruit suicide bombers, Facebook should do nothing about it? Ditto organized pedophiles? Because if that’s your position, I think it’s nuts. And if that’s not your position, then what alternative would you propose for what Facebook is actually doing?

                1. Yup, if I had to pick between a half to a third of the political spectrum in this country being deplatformed, (Which is where this is headed, given how Democrats define “extremist”.) and nobody being deplatformed? I’d go with nobody in a heartbeat.

                  What’s the matter with that? It’s not like you HAVE to follow David Duke or Louis Farakann on Facebook. Just ignore them. Let them talk about what they want where anybody who wants to can see it.

                  Are you that afraid that, with unfettered free speech, you’d lose important arguments? I think you are!

                  1. Your paranoia about your caricatures of Democrats aside, the issue isn’t winning or losing arguments at this point. Nobody seriously believes Trump’s bullshit except the already converted.

                    It’s more like if I shouted outside your house through a bullhorn that your wife and mother are both whores, the problem is not whether anybody would believe me. Probably nobody would. The problem, rather, is that there is something to be said for civil discourse.

                    1. Yeah, it’s like that, only without the bullhorn and me being outside your door.

            2. “I’d be happy deplatforming him too.”


              But facebook and twitter don’t so your “actual racists and professional hatemongers” is not whom the targets are.

              Its mainstream conservatives and populists, the alleged “actual racists and professional hatemongers” is just cover, otherwise Al Sharpton [who led an actual pogrom] and Nation of Islam would not be on either.

      2. And on that theme, can someone explain to me why mainstream, not-crazy, otherwise rational conservatives are so eager to stand up for the nuts, racists and lunatics on the fringe? I would think that, i.e., non-racist conservatives would be just as glad to silence the racists as the rest of us.

        1. Setting aside that whole “My extremists are eccentric, your extremists are dangerous lunatics” dynamic, that has Democrats laughing at communists after over 100 million dead in the last century?

          1) Mainstream conservatives have no confidence AT ALL in the left’s capacity or interest in distinguishing between mainstream conservatives and “nuts, racists, and lunatics”.

          2) This lack of confidence is justified by the fact that the left view perfectly mainstream positions such as opposition to racial preferences, (Which demonstrably is a majority position even in California!) as “racist”.

          3) There is ALWAYS a fringe. If you cut off the fringe, the people who were adjacent to the fringe before find themselves the new fringe. As they say, “rinse and repeat”. Once the left can dictate which right-wingers are beyond the pale, we will ALL, rather predictably, end up there by and by.

          1. Oh, there are plenty of extremist nuts on the left too, and I’ve never claimed otherwise. The thing is, though, that if Louis Farrakhan got deplatformed, I’d cheer. I would not embrace him and grouse about how his free speech rights are being violated.

            And the practical problem the GOP has is that it has largely been taken over by the nuts. I don’t think those nuts fairly represent all or even most Republicans, but they are the ones now running the party.

            1. “And the practical problem the GOP has is that it has largely been taken over by the nuts.”

              See what I mean? Once your definition of “nuts” is that expansive, normal mainstream Republicans are perfectly justified in ignoring demands from the left that they silence the “nuts”, because the left means the majority of conservatives.

              You’re just too broad in how you define “extremist”.

              1. Well, the GOP is currently being run by people who think the election was stolen and Trump will be president again in August; that Covid is a hoax and vaccines are a conspiracy; that school shootings are a false flag operation; and that Donald Trump tells the truth on twitter (or did, before he got deplatformed). Some of them are now telling us that the January 6 rioting didn’t even happen. How would you characterize those beliefs?

                1. “GOP is currently being run by people who think the election was stolen and Trump will be president again in August”

                  Really? Name some of these people.

                  Let’s see some proof of GOP leaders who “school shootings are a false flag ”

                  You are getting into Mossad did 9/11 territory here.

                  1. Name one? Trump.

                    This is like shooting dumbass fish in a bigoted barrel.

              2. By the way, you did notice that I qualified my statement by saying that I don’t think the nuts represent all or most Republicans, didn’t you?

                1. The only reason your “nuts” are running anything, is that they’ve got the backing of a lot of voters. So, yes, you really are objecting to a large fraction of the Republican base, and vaguely enough defined that it might eventually encompass all of it.

                  Like I said, there’s always a fringe. If you cut off the current fringe, the people who were previously merely fringe adjacent become the new fringe. Then you cut THEM off. Rinse and repeat, until you’re deplatforming people you’d today call reasonable.

                  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and if you can see where that journey ends, and want nothing to do with it, you refuse to take that first step.

                  1. No, the reason the nuts are running the asylum is because of anti-Democratic institutions that allow Sheepdip, Wyoming to cancel Manhattan. If we had a presidency decided by popular vote, and population-proportionate Senate representation, the nuts may have succeeded in nominating Trump, but they’d promptly have had their heads handed to them in November. Those anti-democratic institutions you love so much made governance by nuts possible.

        2. In general because they see the big picture better than you. The primary reason to stand up for nuts, racists and lunatics is the existence of people just like yourself. In the hands of dishonest, motivated thought, the definitions of things shift and change and language is weaponized to obtain the desired results.

          As a consequence, we have racists that don’t believe in racial superiority, white supremacists who don’t believe in white supremacy and Nazi’s who despise the tenants of National Socialism. They are just labeled as such to push a narrative. This isn’t a new thing. Who knows what is going to be dishonestly relabeled in the future ?

          Knowing that this sort of dishonesty is intrinsic in a good portion of the human race, how do you combat it ? A good way is to espouse a bright line rule. You may not regulate speech. Period. True, this sometimes allows vile speech, but is a small price to pay to hobble the truly dangerous and self-righteous totalitarian types.

          1. This, a thousand times.

            1. I suppose it is nice when disaffected losers can cuddle together for a bit of warmth as society tramples them.

          2. And if we’re talking about the government, I agree with you. Facebook as a private entity has the right to decide that it won’t platform all speech.

            1. I am not going to disagree that Facebook as a private entity has the right to exclude whomever they wish, but then, that’s not the argument that is being discussed is it ?

              Facebook can always choose to decide to publish what ever they want. The discussion is about whether or not Facebook should receive special immunity against specific types of lawsuits.

      3. Kevin Smith – well said.

    4. “Network effects are real, and really do lead to monopolies…. Would breaking up InstaFaceTwit really work?”

      Was this unintentional?

      “The only way it would work is if all my friends who go to the competing platform can see my posts and vice versa.”

      If you go to competing platforms, your friends can see your posts. For instance, your friends can see your posts on Facebook, on Gab, on 4chan, on Twitter, etc. Why do you think Facebook, for example, is a monopoly?

      1. Right, right. And if Verizon refused to complete calls to AT&T phones, no problemo: You could just have a half dozen phones and phone numbers, and use whichever you needed to call whoever. Easy peasy!

        1. You’ve perfectly demonstrated why Facebook isn’t like a telephone company. Verizon and AT&T transmit information on shared infrastructure. If AT&T and Verizon aren’t forced to cooperate, people in Florida cannot talk to people in Alaska. That’s not how Facebook works at all. It doesn’t take information from Twitter and then transmit it to users in another state. Facebook hosts information on its own servers that are accessible from internet users the world over. If Facebook censors a user, that user’s ability to communicate on the internet is unaffected. He still has a voice on the internet, instantly, to the world. He can go post on 4chan!

          By the way, why limit the analogy to social media platforms? Websites are places where people post information to others. Should websites be treated as common carriers? Why do you think is different from Is it also the case that if RedState turns off its comment section, you’d maintain the same telephone provider analogy?

          1. Facebook uses a shared infrastructure, too: The internet.

            What’s the difference? Market share combined with network effects. Facebook has over 3/4 of the market for all types of social media combined, including products that are radically different, like snapchat or twitter.

            1. “Facebook uses a shared infrastructure, too: The internet.”

              The truth will set you free!

              “Facebook has over 3/4 of the market for all types of social media combined…”

              Can you provide a source that has Facebook at >75% “market” and explains what “market” is being measured here? Is it “share of visits”? “Time spent per day”? “Number of users”?

              1. OK, 71.8. Too many numbers today to keep them straight. More than two thirds, and the next biggest platform is tiny by comparison.

                Leading social media websites in the United States in May 2021, based on share of visits

                1. For antitrust law, market share is a necessary but by itself insufficient condition to show anti-consumer behavior that requires regulation. And between 50 and 75 market share is inconclusive under current law.

                  That would be the case even if “share of visits” captures the right market to demonstrate consumer harm. But why do you think it does? This regulation is not aimed at Facebook’s purported censorship of Stacy posting her super awesome photos from Spring Break so her friend Amber can like them. If X% of Facebook “visits” have nothing to do with transmitting, say, political speech, you’d want to factor that in to the market share as well. Maybe Facebook gets more site visits but less actual time spent on the platform. Or maybe Facebook has more time spent on the platform but less engagements than, say, Twitter.

                  Relatedly, another problem is trying to apply antitrust law (which is intended to prevent monopolist pricing) that was created to address finite objects sold in the real world, with virtual products that are functionally infinite. If there are only 100 widgets produced in a year, a monopolist manufacturer can achieve monopoly pricing by reducing its own supply. Facebook can’t do that. If Facebook bans Y users, it can’t increase its own sales price for advertisements. As Judge Easterbrook pointed out when he argued NCAA v. Univ. of Oklahoma, advertising simply isn’t the sort of product that a seller can achieve monopoly pricing for by decreasing supply. Advertisers are selling something that is necessarily priced on a per unit basis in a way that widgets are not. If an impression from a cereal commercial increases sales by Y percent of a cent, you can’t increase Y by decreasing the number of impressions. In other words, impressions don’t become more valuable based on scarcity in the same way that widgets do.

          2. You’ve perfectly demonstrated why Facebook isn’t like a telephone company. Verizon and AT&T transmit information on shared infrastructure. If AT&T and Verizon aren’t forced to cooperate, people in Florida cannot talk to people in Alaska. That’s not how Facebook works at all. It doesn’t take information from Twitter and then transmit it to users in another state. Facebook hosts information on its own servers that are accessible from internet users the world over. If Facebook censors a user, that user’s ability to communicate on the internet is unaffected. He still has a voice on the internet, instantly, to the world. He can go post on 4chan!

            You don’t understand. He would have to pay six times as much as he currently does for accounts on six different social media sites. It’s just like buying six phones!

        2. Brett,
          The burner is your friend.

  6. Just so long as we don’t have to have an inner Kennedy.

  7. ” And I think all of us need to have an inner Justice Stevens and Rehnquist and Brennan and Scalia (all at once) and more. ”

    Any room for someone nominated by a Democrat?

    1. Does it really matter who nominated Justice Stevens?

      1. Or Brennan?

        1. If the Volokh Conspiracy is anything, it is reliably partisan. Conservative and Republican. Owning the libs, from the disaffected fringe.

          Moderates, liberals, libertarians, mainstreamers, and RINOS have no place here.

          1. You really don’t know who Brennan is, or his ideology, do you.

            Tell us Rev, what’s your stance on China?

            1. Artie is a self appointed defender and agent of Chinese Commie Party interests, as is the Biden administration.

              Trump should become Speaker of the House, and impeach Biden every month.

            2. I still use a mug Justice Brennan gave to me.

              It has not held up nearly as well as my other favorite mug — which my daughter sent to me from Disney World 15 years ago, a craftsmanship marvel that has been used at least thrice weekly since then, yet still looks as vibrant as new — but I still like my simple gold-and-black Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States mug, even in its worn condition, because it reminds me of one of the great leaders who helped to shape America’s continuing progress.

              1. A mugshot isn’t the same thing as a mug, Kirkland.

              2. I still use a mug Justice Brennan gave to me.

                Wow, you must have run across a particularly potent batch of psilocybin today in your mother’s basement. Have enough to share?

                1. He is constantly claiming some close connection to somebody famous, earlier this week it was Joe Paterno trying to get him fired.

                  I bet he’s married to Morgan Fairchild too.


                  1. It was not a close connection. One of my law school professors roomed with a Supreme Court clerk and arranged a tour of the Court for some law students to watch oral argument and walk backstage. We visited Justice Brennan’s chambers. When he learned I had been a reporter, he handed me a mug. I treasure it because he was a great justice. If anyone around here is young enough to explain how to post a photograph in a comment, I will let everyone enjoy it.

                    Joe Paterno tried to get me fired from a job as a sports reporter covering college football. Paterno sometimes hated the truth and liked to throw his weight around when he could. I despised Joe Paterno because he was a bully and a phony. In my judgment, being a Penn State fan these days — after the revelations — is just as much an indicator of low character as being a fan of the Republican Party or of the Catholic Church.

                    1. The issue is how, when Prof. Volokh is attempting to appeal to ecumenicalism and bipartisanship by suggesting we think of four Supreme Court justices, he reels off . . . four Republican nominees.

                    2. I despised Joe Paterno because he was a bully and a phony.

                      Then you, sir, are a living tribute to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “You become what you think about all day long.”

                    3. That’s a silly criticism Rev. He could have named Byron White too!

                    4. But he did not.

  8. I suspect more people favor practicality over ideology, but too few charitably interpret the word choice of strangers. Appreciate Mr. Volokh’s attempt to increase the non prescriptivist approach.

  9. I often think many people should consider Oliver Cromwell’s statement:

    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.

    Or at least Randy Newman’s lyric (from It’s a Jungle Out There)

    I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so!

    1. Or the old umpire comment to an angry batter he just called out:
      “Yesterday it might’ve been a ball.
      Tomorrow it might’ve been a ball.
      But today it’s a strike!”

  10. That was my comment. I certainly think that to discover your inner dissenter when it’s your ox being suddenly being gored is not to your credit. The purpose of an inner dissenter is to help you see the other side’s complaints.

    1. I agree with this good comment.

    2. The purpose of an inner dissenter is to help you see the other side’s complaints.

      I am curious: which conservative complaints has your inner dissenter helped you see?

      1. Queenie cannot even see the genomic expression of its chromosomes, every day in the mirror. Forget any view that differs from the Chinese Commie Party line.

      2. I have pointed this out before, but despite being quite to the left, conservatives do occasionally convince me of something when they make good arguments. One example is “assault weapons” bans. I don’t agree with gun rights types on the ultimate issue of how to deal with dangerous weapons, but the gun rights side also pointed out that these bans, in practice, don’t ban the most dangerous weapons, they just ban weapons that look dangerous. E.g., they ban weapons with things like flash suppressors and special grips that make the weapon LOOK more menacing, but which have nothing to do with any measure of dangerousness.

        And as a result, I don’t support assault weapons bans and think the gun control side needs to make a better effort to identify which weapons are actually the most dangerous rather than focusing on cosmetic “military-style” features. The right convinced me on that.

        1. Well, congratulations on being wrong in a more coherent way. Say, isn’t the very purpose of guns to be, in the relevant sense, “dangerous”? Kind of like the whole point of knives is to be sharp?

          I mean, they’re weapons. Being dangerous is the point.

          1. A nuclear Davy Crocket rifle is more dangerous than a pellet gun. The notion of “dangerousness” is not incoherent.

  11. I think some of Twitter’s and Facebook’s post restrictions were ill-conceived, many of the ones you mentioned qualify. Though I’m more willing to consider those a faulty application of a sound policy then application of a fundamentally unsound policy.

    It’s also clear to me that there should be a line where posts and content should be blocked, even when those claims are short of clear illegality (structure harassment or promoting violence) and I’m not sure where you allow for that moderation.

    I’m also unconvinced by the claim that “No First Amendment right not to host”, nor that one can reject “the claim that compelled hosting is a form of compelled association”.

    Twitter started stepping up its enforcement of bans precisely because extremists were giving the platform itself a very negative reputation and moderate users were leaving the platform. To take those claims at face value suggests that Twitter would be compelled to let itself become Parler.

    As for AWS deplatforming Parler, Parler’s core user base was involved in planning and supporting a violent insurrection against the US and Parler encouraged them if anything. If you can boot an app/service for offering itself as a hub for terrorist activity I don’t see why you can’t do the same for violent domestic extremists.

    1. Paragraph 5 is false, and paragraph 4 is untrue, but other than that, good job.

      1-3 seem to be about your state of mind, so who knows?

    2. “Parler’s core user base was involved in planning and supporting a violent insurrection against the US and Parler encouraged them if anything.” I had not previously read that Parler itself encouraged violence, so am interested to see more on that. Beyond the insurrection mischaracterization, are you conflating plans to protest with the relatively smaller group of violent rioters? I recall other platforms being used to a greater extent for both the Capitol riot as well as the more widespread riots of last summer, but am troubled by government or corporate actions to stop organization of protests or juvenile internet warrior bravado.

      1. Parler started as a platform for right wing extremists and remains so. The rioters may have done most of their chatting on Facebook, but Parler users were heavily over represented among those rioters, and the subset of the population who planned and supported the riot really are the core of Parler’s user base, so I believe my statement stands.

        1. Nope, still untrue.

        2. Nope. Parler started as a platform for people being censored. Since the dominant platforms were censoring right-wingers, Parler’s dominant market was right-wingers. But they’ve always been open to anybody who objected to being censored.

          1. That’s just nonsense. Parler has always had user guidelines, rather long ones actually, that included prohibitions against “promoting marijuana”. It initially prohibited “obscenity” but had to back-off that. And then of course when Parler realized its bread was buttered by right-wingers, it started just banning liberals. I’ll let its CEO speak for himself:

            “I hope you don’t mind that I’m eating: I haven’t eaten all day,” says Parler founder John Matze, devouring a late lunch. His social media app—a new favorite of President Trump’s and other GOP leaders—has been under siege for the past few hours. “I’m sitting here like, banning trolls.”

            By trolls he means teenage leftists who’ve flooded onto Parler after the Trump campaign publicly declared on Wednesday that it might decamp from Facebook and Twitter and refocus its efforts through Parler. Matze knows the leftists’ ages of the trolls, as he calls them, because some verified their accounts, coughing up selfies and driver’s licenses or passports (a set of highly unusual requirements for proving identity and registering for an online account). They’re comment-raiding Parler posts—swamping them with messages that make it unpleasant for the app’s conservative users to post and interact with each other. “They’re trying to get people to have a bad experience and leave,” he says. “We’ve got a big army of volunteers to help take care of this. It’s going to be handled within 48 hours.”

            1. So, what you’re saying is that trolling is an inherent part of being a left-winger, such that they couldn’t just join Parler to talk to each other without being censored? (The way the right-wingers had?)

              It’s literally part of the ‘liberal’ identity that, having joined, they had to make anybody who disagreed with them miserable, instead?

              Well, OK, I guess you do have somewhat of a point, after all. That does sound plausible.

              1. The entire premise is ludicrous, but it sounds like you’re agreeing with me so I’m not going to talk you out of it. The class of people “who objected to being censored” includes trolls (of whatever political ilk).

    3. “It’s also clear to me that there should be a line where posts and content should be blocked”

      Almost all humans have a built in mechanism to block content, it’s called your eyelids. Look in the mirror, discover the old school technology.

      1. And also, in case your eyelids are too slow to block content, you have a backup mechanism called your cerebral cortex. Using your cerebral cortex, you get to decide how those accidentally seen posts influence your actions.

    4. “Parler’s core user base was involved in planning and supporting a violent insurrection against the US and Parler encouraged them if anything.”

      “If They Won’t Hear Us, They Will Fear Us”: How The Capitol Assault Was Planned On Facebook

      In fact, most of the coordination was done on facebook. Parler was deplatformed because it was refusing to cooperate in implementing ideological censorship. They were only willing to take down threats, obscenity, and illegal content, and nothing more.

  12. Libertarianism isn’t a suicide pact. Nor is there any need to be “consistent” to satisfy totalitarians or other jerks pointing fingers from the gallery.

    Government is for when you need it. It’s not for never. But it also shouldn’t be used to satisfy whims or your emotional needs or for social climbing or to promote your (traditional or woke/Marxist) religion like so many would do.

  13. How many of the “often libertarian” Volokh Conspirators are academic advisors with respect to the complaint Donald Trump elite strike force lawyers filed against Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others today, complaining that those mainstream entities have been mean to right-wingers?

    1. Any judge that dismisses the suit should be run out of state, if not forced to move to Venezuela.

  14. Professor,

    In footnote 12 you state:

    “Social media platforms today aren’t common carriers under some traditional definitions of the term, because they don’t hold themselves out as ‘neutral conduits of information.’ . . . But cases such as Rumsfeld v. FAIR and Turner Broadcasting v. FCC show that access mandates may be imposed even on institutions–such as universities and cable operators–that are far from neutral conduits in many of their operations (e.g., defining their curriculum, hiring faculty, organizing conferences, or selecting what channels to include) and that may seek to be nonneutral in further ways (say, in selecting who may recruit on campus).”

    Respectfully, this entire analysis feels jumbled. You start with a premise about common carriers and then jump to more generalized “access mandates” invoking a case (Rumsfeld) that has nothing to do with common carriers. And Rumsfeld has nothing to do with a discussion about social media platforms’ First Amendment rights, since it involved institutions that accepted federal funding, and what the feds can do to condition those federal funds.

    With respect to Turner (II), the case relied on Red Lion, which narrowed the rule to broadcast because “without government control, the medium would be of little use because of the cacophony of competing voices, none of which could be clearly and predictably heard.” If two competitors are blasting broadcasts at the same location, they will interfere with each other’s ability to speak. Red Lion and Turner (II) were both wrongly decided, but have nothing to do with social media platforms. Facebook can’t scramble Twitter’s feed by increasing its own hosting services.

    1. . And Rumsfeld has nothing to do with a discussion about social media platforms’ First Amendment rights, since it involved institutions that accepted federal funding, and what the feds can do to condition those federal funds.

      Yes. Though to be fair, the Court said in dicta that Congress could have enacted these requirements even without making them a condition of receiving federal funds. (But the Court’s reasoning was that Congress could have done so under its power to raise armies. As dubious as that argument is, it obviously has no larger implications about must carry requirements.)

  15. Professor,

    On page 8 I would consider changing your heading at I.A. to use a more active voice. Instead of “Economic Power Being Leveraged” you should consider identifying the subject (who is doing the leveraging). It would tie in better with I as well (which hints at the subject: “Platform”). Otherwise the heading opens you up to criticism that you’re trying to obscure a salient issue by conflating speech limitations by government with speech limitations by private entities.

    Relatedly, The framing in the third paragraph strikes me as odd. It says: “We don’t want large business corporations deciding what Americans can say in a particular medium of public communication.” That assumes the conclusion. It is equally accurate (in this context) to say: “We don’t want private corporations deciding what Americans can say in the medium controlled by the private corporation.” Why dance around the medium? “a particular medium”? Don’t you mean their medium? And if the “communication” is held at all times on the servers of Facebook, why is it “public” to begin with?

  16. So have a look at them, and tell me where I’ve erred, or how I can make my analysis more sound.

    1. You can explain why practical impunity for libel can be reckoned a net plus in a common carrier scenario.

    2. You can try to find some way to show similarity between an actual common carrier business model and an internet-publishing-platform-dressed-up-as-a-common-carrier business model.

    3. Explain why the revenue for the platform comes from advertising sales—a typical revenue source for publishers, but revenue for common carriers comes mostly from customer use, and only rarely and trivially from publishing activity.

    4. Explain why the users of any common carrier are its customers, but the customers of the platform are not typically its users.

    5. Explain why users/customers of common carriers pay fees to use their services, but users of platforms pay nothing.

    6. Explain whether it matters that platforms engage in the constitutionally protected activity of publishing as a principal part of their business, but common carriers typically do not do that, and can thus be regulated with less concern about constitutional burdens.

    7. Explain why creating a specially-privileged class of publisher, and calling it a common carrier, while it actually competes with other publishers, depriving the others of revenue, is a fair thing to do.

    8. Explain why a net reckoning of costs and benefits for a common carrier platform model should not include among its costs the striking reduction in national news gathering capacity which the platform model inflicted on the nation, and on competing publishers.

    9. Explain in detail the implications of long-customary legal distinctions between speech freedom and press freedom. Give particular attention to the role of joint liability among publishers and contributors, and the historic effects that joint liability had on what got published and what did not. Compare that to the more recent effects on what gets published, now that joint liability no longer applies to online publishing.

    10. Explain why a platform designated a common carrier would not continue to be a publisher in fact, if it continued to use publishing as a principal mode of doing business. And if it did continue to be a publisher, explain why the 1A would not still require full protection for the press freedom of the platform’s owners.

    11. If there is some reason why number 10 above does allow less constitutional protection for a common carrier/publisher, explain why laws which burden the press freedom of the common carrier/publisher would not likewise burden other publishers who are not common carriers.

    1. I’ve been trying to figure out why the no-limits-on-posts crowd wants to hold social media platforms liable for users’ defamations. Plus all the questions you raise.

      1. Because right now, FB can defame whoever it wants, by allowing defamation of the people it doesn’t like, while protecting the people it does like from defamation. It’s not a level playing field.

        1. 1) That’s not Facebook defaming people; that’s its users.
          2) An argument that says “It’s not fair that I don’t get to defame people” is a fundamentally unserious one.

          The person who has a complaint in that scenario is the one who has been defamed — and he has a remedy (against the person defaming him) — not the person whose defamatory comments were deleted.

  17. The Federalist Society-Heritage Foundation-Republican Party-Trump-Olin-Bradley consortium seems extraordinarily agitated with respect to this issue, which seems to have been precipitated mainly by responsible companies’ disinclination to be associated with delusional, bigoted lies from Trump and his reprehensible fans.

    What’s the next target along the American mainstream for these disaffected clingers? ‘It is no fair that liberals and the mainstream have all of the strongest colleges, research facilities, cultural institutions, newsgathering organizations. So we need to break up the Ivy League, shackle the laboratories, and let the conservative teachers and ‘scientists’ — the ‘teach the controversy clingers,’ the White supremacists and other bigots, the science-suppressing hayseeds, the dogma-enforcing faithful, and the superstitious, reason-disdaining rubes — operate and teach at half of those institutions.

    ‘Also, we need fair representation of conservative and faith-based students on all of our campuses. No school should reject an applicant to a graduate geology program just because of a conviction that the Earth is a few thousand years old, or an applicant to a physics or biology program who contends scripture trumps science, or a political science candidate who argues that White nationalists should be running American society and ejecting everyone else, especially Blacks and immigrants?’

    1. He shouldn’t be rejected because of a belief the Earth is 8000 years old.

      He should, however, be required to regurgitate the actual age, and why it is thought so, on tests, to graduate as a geologist. Anyone who wishes to hire him as a geologist should make sure he can use the math and science in that job, even if he believes it mystical and unreal, the way physicists use math involving the square root of -1 to get things done.

      1. There are schools where Young Earthers (I thought they figured Earth is 6,000 years old, but I don’t pay enough attention to them for precision) belong.

        Those schools are downscale, right-wing religious schools, which I gather would welcome Young Earth creationists and other dopes. No Young Earther should be teaching any subject that relies on reason at a strong, mainstream school, any more than anyone who believes four and three equals seventeen should be a student or teacher at a legitimate school.

        A school that teaches Young Earth creationism — like a school that teaches that other fairy tales are true, or that storks deliver babies, or that two plus two equals nine — should not be respected by mainstream American society or accredited by mainstream American academia.

  18. I, for one, have always been impressed by Prof. Volokh’s excellent command of grammar.

  19. ‘ As the blog subheading notes, we’re “Often Libertarian.” ‘

    That’s the type of lie conservatives are worried Facebook and Twitter might not like.

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