Censorship Is Here. What to Do About It?

The dark night of censorship isn’t just threatening, it is already here. The most recent case–one of hundreds, if not thousands–is that of Dave Rubin, a popular conservative commentator with a large following on Twitter. Rubin tweeted this:

They want a federal vaccine mandate for vaccines which are clearly not working as promised just weeks ago. People are getting and transmitting Covid despite vax. Plus now they’re prepping us for booster shots. A sane society would take a pause. We do not live in a sane society.

Rubin’s statements of fact were, I think, entirely correct. We were told that if we got vaccinated, we were home free. No masks, no worry about covid. Therefore everyone should get vaccinated. In a matter of weeks, that turned around. Now we are told that, contrary to the CDC’s expectation, vaccinated people are getting and transmitting covid in substantial numbers. I am not sure whether that is true, but it is the rationale for another round of hysteria, with mask mandates and shutdowns in the offing.

To those true statements, Rubin added the opinion that our society should “take a pause.” The exact meaning of “take a pause” is not clear, but presumably it refers to a step back from hysteria and renewed destructive mandates. That is an opinion that, in all likelihood, a majority of Americans share.

But Twitter blocked Rubin’s ability to recite those facts and add his opinion:

Twitter declared that to be a violation of its policy “on spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”

As always, Twitter simply refuses to explain its censorship decision beyond these generalized, categorical statements. It is not clear if Twitter is calling these facts misinformation or objecting to Rubin’s opinion about a pause. It does not matter. Twitter does not like his viewpoint and does not want others to read it or discuss it.

As Tyler Durden points out at the link, this censorship is exactly what Democratic politicians have been urging Twitter, Facebook et al to do in Congressional hearings and other forums. In suppressing facts and opinions that diverge from the Democratic Party line, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and other tech companies are reprising the contemptible role played by Pravda, Tass, FARS, Granma, Xinhua News and other state-run or state-dominated organs of censorship in totalitarian countries.

The idea that censorship by Twitter et al. is beyond remedy because they are private companies is ridiculous. When they cut off communications at the behest of the government, they are state actors subject to the First Amendment.

Moreover, the monolithically left-wing tech companies–Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft–control a large majority of the venues in which Americans communicate about current affairs. Still, their control is not quite complete. But that could change. The far Left is awash with cash; it could buy up all of the telecom companies and ban conservatives from talking on the telephone. Would that be acceptable? Similarly, the Left’s money bags would easily pay for all of America’s printing presses. Would it be OK for leftists to buy up all the presses and refuse to print anything that diverges from the Biden administration line?

Our freedoms are under threat as they have not been in a very long time. The question is, what to do about it. Private action is appropriate; we should support non-leftist alternatives to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, for example. But that is not going to be good enough. The major platforms may be natural monopolies on account of network effects, and I don’t know how individual action can create alternatives to Amazon’s web hosting dominance or the Apple-Google duopoly.

We need to bring government action to bear while we still can. Specifically, we need to encourage as many states as possible to legislate against internet censorship. In my opinion, the best way to do that is through state legislation that creates a private cause of action when a tech platform discriminates on the basis of political or philosophical viewpoint. I won’t elaborate on this idea at length; I have drafted legislation to that effect which I embedded here. The basic idea of that proposed law is to ban discrimination in the moderation of content on social media sites on the basis of race, sex, religion, or political orientation. The bill was introduced in the Minnesota legislature and triggered a panic on the part of the tech giants, who mobilized to oppose it.

More about that legislative concept here, here and here. Others have suggested alternative legislative frameworks that may also be useful. Regardless, a sense of urgency is mandatory. Our freedoms are slipping away, and we need to move aggressively to reclaim them.

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