Lazy Sunday LXV: Techno-Weirdos II

The New Year is chugging along, with Democratic primaries and caucuses mere weeks away.  Early voting has already started, as I noted yesterday.  “Tom Steyer’s Belt” continues to drive surreal amounts of traffic, which I suppose is one metric for the ubiquity of his ads.

Perhaps the greatest ally the eventual Democratic nominee will have is Big Tech.  We’re already witnessing the preemptive deplatforming of various conservative and anti-Leftist figures.  Attempts to weed out “fake” news—which to the Left is any news not reflexively critical of Trump—and to “fact check” conservatives are going to pick up as the election approaches.

Tech censorship raises a number of thorny questions that our traditional understanding of rights and obligations struggles to answer.  The question of free speech is particularly tricky, as it does seem that the monopolistic power—and the active collusion between them!—of Big Tech companies effectively strangles dissent.

That might be constitutional in a strictly literal sense—at least it’s not the government infringing on our rights—but it certainly violates the spirit of freedom of speech.  And, seriously, who doesn’t think the apparatchiks in The Swamp aren’t eagerly working hand-in-iron-fist with Google to keep tabs on us?

Does anyone have a copy of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act sitting around?  Maybe we should dust that off.  Trump would make a good trust-buster, as would Attorney General Bill Barr.  I’d sure love to see a political cartoon of the ursiline Barr swinging a club at a computer screen.

With that, here are two recent pieces I’ve written on tech companies and censorship:

  • Free Speech in the Private Sector” – This post looked at a lengthy essay from science-fiction author Cory Doctorow, in which he argued that our traditional understanding of freedom of speech is insufficient in addressing tech censorship.  The old libertarian canard that “a private company can set whatever limits on speech it wants” is a worthy ideal, but when the “private company” dominates the public square and effectively makes some forms of expression or some ideas unspeakable, then do we really have free speech?
  • Mailchimp Monkeys with Molyneux” – As if on cue, Mailchimp obligingly proved Doctorow’s point when it deplatformed Stefan Molyneux in a Twitter-induced panic.  Mailchimp might not be monopolistic in the way, say, Google is, but it’s all part of that cabal of freedom-hating e-litists.  Molyneux is a bit grandiose, to be sure, but he’s been maligned as being all sorts of unacceptable -isms and -ists that he simply isn’t.

That’s it for this week, folks.  Here’s to another week of selling our data to faceless technocratic overlords.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

4 thoughts on “Lazy Sunday LXV: Techno-Weirdos II

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