The War for Free Speech

Hanukkah has officially come and gone, and while I will definitely be getting a post out about Hanukkah #2 at the Howe House, tonight I want to talk about something that is important to everyone: free speech and the media. To take it straight to the point, there are an awful lot of people being deplatformed right now, and frankly, I find it alarming.

A few months ago, the tech giants came for Alex Jones. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube simultaneously decided that he was peddling hate speech and that it was time for him to go. Twitter sort of danced a bit. First he was gone and then he was back, but in the end, Jones’s account had to die. He was the first casualty in what seems to have morphed into a mass banning effort that has started further to the outskirts of the right and is creeping ever more steadily towards the center.

 Many people didn’t seem to care much that Jones got banned. After all, he’s just a whacko conspiracy theorist who probably snorts an eight ball and gets in front of a microphone, right? And there was all of that ugly business with the Sandy Hook people. Alex Jones is dangerous, right? Libertarians shouldn’t care about him because he’s “not one of us.” He’s still a statist, right?

Well, first of all, I’m going to voice an unpopular opinion about Alex Jones, which is that libertarians owe him a debt of gratitude. What for, you might ask? Quite simply, Alex Jones gave Ron Paul a platform back when nobody else was willing to do so. Remember back in 2008 when the mainstream media wouldn’t give Dr. Paul the time of day? Remember the money bombs and YouTube videos? Remember the Alex Jones interviews? He supported Dr. Paul in 2012, too. And lest any single libertarian ever forget it, Alex Jones has never supported a war, at least not so far as I know. It’s fine to say that you don’t support everything or even most things that he says, but in my mind, it was a serious betrayal by everyone libertarian who didn’t at least stand up for his right to be Alex Jones in public.

There were others observing the event that saw something darker on the horizon. “First they came for Alex Jones, and I did nothing because I thought Alex Jones was bad. Then they came for…” In other words, they saw Alex Jones as a test of the waters, a first step in what would become a full-fledged war against free speech that would start with the least acceptable people online, at least according to the mainstream narrative.

I wish I could say that prediction had failed to come true, but the opposite has been my observation. It seems that there has been a steady deletion of “offensive” accounts that I fear is going to start snowballing. In the last month or so, Twitter has lost Meghan Murphy, Laura Loomer, Gavin McInnes, and Sargon of Akkad (Carl Benjamin). I’m sure that there are yet some out there who would be quick to say, “Gavin McInnes? You mean the Proud Boys guy?” or, “Laura Loomer? You mean that crazy Jewish chick who seems to dislike Muslims?” Yeah, those are the people I mean. Let’s talk about them one by one.

I have never been in Sargon of Akkad’s audience. I have heard him appear on a couple of programs as a guest, but I never found him sufficiently intriguing to want to watch his show, which is another way of saying that I find him neither insightful nor particularly interesting. He’s just not my cup of tea. The fact that I didn’t find anything he was saying to be of use and I didn’t find anything he was saying outlandish enough to be entertaining makes me think that, overall, he was probably just a fairly standard conservative.

 Sargon has officially been banned from Twitter and from Patreon. Patreon is a payment processing site that is similar to PayPal. It has become popular among Internet content providers. I believe Jordan Peterson, for example, has one of the largest Patreon accounts in the world.  Patreon purged Milo Yiannopolis as well, which doesn’t exactly bode well for a guy that I heard was already two million in debt.

 Gavin McInnes has suffered a similar fate and in amazingly short order. He is off of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube (two channels of content gone), Patreon, and CRTV. His income streams literally vanished overnight. He has been depersoned, as it were. I have heard, however, that he and several others have made their way to an alternate platform, SubscribeStar.

 From what I can see on Twitter, Jordan Peterson is debating whether or not to maintain his Patreon account or move to a different platform. Dave Rubin has posted a few tweets and a Periscope talking about the options and difficulties. He has, in the meantime, been encouraging direct donations as many of his followers have contacted him directly, expressing that, while they love his show and want to continue supporting him, they refuse to give any money to a company that they believe is anti-free speech.

 Laura Loomer is yet another controversial figure. The term “Loomered” happened because of this feisty young conservative. She shows up, catches people off-guard, and aggressively confronts them with questions that they usually don’t want to answer. Loomer is Jewish, conservative, pro-Israel, and she has zero use for pretty much anything related to Islam. In fact, many have labeled her Islamophobic. She got the boot from Twitter over a tweet about the newly-elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to the US federal legislature. Supposedly the tweet itself was Islamophobic, whatever that actually means. Having seen the tweet myself, while I can say that it was possibly libelous, it wasn’t bigoted or anything that was all that intense.

 Loomer chained herself to the front doors of the Twitter headquarters in Manhattan a couple of weeks ago. I watched it from almost the time it started on one Periscope, and then when it got bogged down and I heard Michael Malice was on his way, I switched over to his Periscope. It was highly enjoyable. She did end up getting arrested, but I don’t get the impression that it’s going to negatively affect her in any particular way. In fact, it was kind of hilarious that she was the biggest trend on the platform that unceremoniously banned her.

 Last but not least on my list of Twitter offenders is Meghan Murphy, a Canadian feminist who can hardly be described as anything close to libertarian. The one and only Tom Woods had her on his podcast on Friday for what turned out to be a genial, interesting conversation. Murphy’s sin? Daring to assert that there are only two genders. She has been repeatedly threatened for breaking the now popular narrative that men can be women and women can be men. I highly recommend listening to the Woods interview with her, as it was great proof that groups that don’t exactly agree on much can work together to keep dialogue open and free speech truly free. Murphy’s story is one that is more than worth hearing, and it is a testament to just how insane the Third Wave people have become.

 What I found most interesting in that interview, actually, was about how women and specifically female spaces are directly at risk because of the idea that we should place transgender feelings over safety. She cited a trans woman (that is, a man) in the UK who had successfully received transfer to a women’s prison facility and promptly assaulted four women. Indeed, there is a trans woman in my own community who is a registered sex offender back from when she was going by he.

 Murphy also made brief mention of the fact that Third Wave tends to be anti-sex workers, and I really would have liked to hear her speak more on that topic. Although I am not personally a fan of sex work, I think it is downright stupid to ban it, and I follow a few famous sex workers on Twitter who are tremendously intelligent and who provide interesting perspectives on topics about which I know relatively little.

 If you read about this situation from left-leaning outlets, you’ll no doubt see headlines like “Alt-Right Figure Banned” or “Patreon Seeks to Remove Alt-Right Figures.” Of course, this is all being done in the name of safety – protecting the world from the evil neo-Nazis and making sure that nobody’s feelings get hurt. If you don’t fit into a currently protected group, however, your feelings don’t matter. Of course, nobody’s feelings matter when it comes to free speech, but there are a lot of people who haven’t gotten that memo.

 So why is it important to protect the speech of those you don’t agree with and even those people whom you think are actually evil and dangerous? Simple. Because authority can easily move the goalposts for what is “acceptable,” and if free speech is limited to what is acceptable according to authority, we have a problem. It’s no longer a population opinion to have, but I am in favor of free speech for all: conservatives, liberals, libertarians, neo-Nazis, commies, and everyone in between. The only line I think it is reasonable to draw is at the threat of direct violence.

 There are lots of people I disagree with and dislike on the Internet. Louis Farrakhan is a ridiculous anti-Semite who has long been allowed to have a Twitter account despite his crazy, offensive comments about Jews. You know what? Unlike a lot of people, I say let him carry on. Most people that know about him think he’s batshit, and the more he talks, the more it shows. Let him keep talking!

 There are communist morons all over the place. They talk about revolution and punching Nazis and all kinds of crazy shit, and you know what? Let them talk. The Antifa types are also batshit crazy, and I say let the crazy hang out! Far more people see it and realize how nuts they are than think, “Boy, this is someone I should follow!”

 It seems clear to me that there is a “mainstream” agenda now about what is acceptable vs. unacceptable. Iterating the idea that there are only two genders is taboo now. It is, in fact, part of Twitter’s hate speech platform to declare that there are only men and women. It also seems to be taboo to discuss the idea that having men in women’s bathrooms, rape crisis centers, homeless shelters, or on their sports teams could possibly be a danger to women. It’s taboo to discuss the reality that gender dysphoria is still listed as a mental illness. One might view that as a problem in and of itself, but it seems self-evident to me that believing yourself to be a female trapped in a man’s body or vice versa is absurd. The long-term studies that I know of that are currently available to do not support the idea that transitioning improves outcomes, either.

 Another touchy subject these days is the idea of so-called Islamophobia. There is no such thing as Islamophobia. I’m writing this on Word, and it does not recognize Islamophobia as a real word. Fear of Islam? So fear of an ideology then. There is no fear of Christianity, Judaism, libertarianism, communism, etc. This sounds to me like a new word for “racism.” Islam, of course, is not a race. Muslims don’t belong to any particular race. There are Arab, Persian, black, white, and Asian Muslims. Dislike of an ideology can hardly be mistaken for racism, if we’re looking at this rationally, but as far as I can tell, that seems to be the objective with this sort of language because racism is the ultimate charge against someone’s character, right?

 The Left, in its stupor to pigeonhole people into groups of oppressors and oppressed, has failed to realize how flagrant its own racism has become. It falsely equates all Muslims to brown people. It falsely equates all blacks and Hispanics to low-income, inner city hovel dwellers desperately in need of some over-privileged white savior. The sad truth is that the people pushing this narrative desperately want to be saviors in their own cult, but the sad truth is that most of them can’t even save themselves. All their memes talk about how depressed they are, how they shy away from human interaction, and how they prefer playing on their phone to talking face to face.

 The sorts of people who are pushing this narrative desire zero pushback. They have zero interest in broadening their intellectual horizons because they have it all figured out. They know what’s best for everyone else. The funniest part of all is that they have no idea what ridiculous tropes they are.

 But in the meantime, the zone of free speech is narrowing, and it is shrinking fast. I suspect Jordan Peterson will be in the sights before too long, even though he is pretty mainstream these days, as far as I can tell. Eric Weinstein has been deliberately poking the bear, so it will be interesting to see if Twitter takes the bait. I don’t think they will, but I’m willing to be wrong.

 I do think we’re going to see smaller commentators start to get disappeared. I remember Michael Malice saying once that he knew how to get around it, and I can’t remember if he was referencing the algorithm or the reviewers or what it was. I honestly have the feeling that he’s going to get taken out, at some point, and I suspect it will be closer to the time that his book comes out in the spring. He’s been vocally defending the rights of some of these less savory types, and I think eventually they’ll try to make him pay for it, and that would make me sad.

 I also think we’ll see more women who don’t fall in line start to go. Sex workers. Feminists who don’t buy the Third Wave line. Mouthy chicks in general. I also think gay men who don’t toe the line will be disappeared off of these platforms.

 For my part, I will be around Twitter for as long as it remains a place where I can follow the interesting folks that I like, and for as long as either I remain uncontroversial enough to fly under the radar or they just purge all libertarian-leaning types completely. I don’t think the trend of getting rid of the undesirables is going to change, and I do think that the goalposts are going to continue moving.

 I may not like the communists. I may not like the noisy Third Wave weirdoes. I may think Islamists are awful. I may think Sargon is uninteresting and Loomer is, well, Loomer. Still, I will stand up and say that Alex Jones should have the right to shout about gay frogs into a bullhorn. I will continue to say, “If you don’t want to listen to that person, block them. Boom. Done.” But for heaven’s sake, give them their say.