A Crisis in Communication

French president Emmanuel Macron recently called for a ban of "fake news."  What this would do, effectively, is suppress any news outlet that doesn't adhere to the state's version of the "news," and any non-conforming news from outside sources would be made inaccessible to the French people.  In France, Islamic apologist outlets are not out of favor.  However, it is extremely risky to criticize or report news unsympathetic to Islam.

Americans should review the story in light of what has been happening here recently.  Last week, Alex Jones was swept off pretty much every platform there is, including a holdout, Twitter, which caved to pressure from account-holders to silence him.  This happened within a day.  Now you see him; now you don't.

You might not be an Alex Jones fan.  But whenever we silence someone deemed "nuts" by the mainstream or by a majority of people, we also risk shutting down other sources – sources that are reliable but out of favor with the establishment.  Voilà: suddenly we have Macron's France.

Now Robert Spencer's been taken down from his brand new Patreon account.  Spencer had acquired a television studio and was planning on streaming information.  He got as far as a short promotional message when he was informed by Patreon that his account had been closed.  No explanation was given other than that Patreon's owner, MasterCard, didn't approve of him.  This is chilling.  Spencer is a major scholar in the area of Islam and history.  He is the author of many books, widely acclaimed.  Despite hate spewed at his reporting, his facts aren't disputed.  His right to speak has been, however.

We are in danger of taking this in stride.  It's the modus operandi when someone steps outside the line to make him disappear rather than take him on in debate or discussion.  Statists find it easier to silence arguments than answer them.

What's good for the dictator is not so good for us.  As has been said often – by John Stuart Mill and others – when you silence the speaker, you deprive not only the speaker, but more importantly, those who would hear him speak.  When those who don't like the news or opinions they hear desire to shut them down rather than discuss them, we become like North Koreans.  The less they know of the outside world, the better for Kim Jong-un.  The less the French know, the better for Emmanuel Macron.  The less we hear from Tommy Robinson, the better for Theresa May and her corrupt and evil government.  The less we hear from Robert Spencer...or Alex Jones or Michael Savage or Pamela Geller or Lauren Southern or Ezra Levant or Mark Steyn...well, you get the point.

We are already being denied information.  If we have it, we may examine it, discuss it, debate it, reject it, accept it, ignore it, or act upon it.  It may enlighten us or not as the case may be.  We can dispute its authenticity, its source, its importance, or whatever we might wish to dispute – but not if we are denied access to it.

Chief among those who would censor our speech and the flow of information are those connected with Islam. Their design is to establish a caliphate.  This means "take us over, defeat us, establish sharia."  There are many reasons to oppose this, but if we aren't allowed to talk about them, we will be defeated, our culture lost, our freedom with it.

We have, according to our Constitution, absolute freedom of speech.  We are alone in the world with this right, embedded in our national heritage and our law, our First Amendment.  We also have free enterprise.  We respect – or should respect – the property rights of owners.  Private ownership is the foundation of freedom.  But today we have a crisis of conflicting principles.  Privately owned internet platforms are collaborating with one another to deny specific political positions and commentary access – or, more accurately, to deny the people access to information from others.  This is dangerous.  If you doubt this, ask anyone who saw Hitler's Germany up close.  Had the German people had full access to unlimited information, they might well have determined a different course for their country.  If North Koreans had a clue about what is going on in the world – say, for instance, that the rest of us do not have to eat grass to stay alive, or that Kim is not God – they might determine a better course for their people.

What do we do about this?  In the early 20th century, we had another crisis, of less import, but great enough for people to demand action.  Monopolies were strangling commerce.  Teddy Roosevelt became known as the "Trust-Buster" for his efforts to correct this problem.  Antitrust laws were designed to protect competition in the marketplace.

What we have now is a de facto conspiracy among private owners to deny the public access to news and opinion.  YouTube, Facebook, et al. work in tandem to block any thoughts or ideas the left finds troubling.  It is mind control.  We need to begin immediately to seek a solution.  The FCC, for example, is by law not allowed to prevent the broadcasting of opinion.  (There are some limits to this freedom, but the FCC is necessarily sparing.  One cannot broadcast child porn, for example, or presumably teach a class in do-it-yourself bomb-building.)  FCC regulations seem to be silent regarding privately owned or quasi-privately owned outlets censoring or blocking our access to each other's information.

This "unofficial censorship" is causing yet another damaging phenomenon.  We are self-censoring.  We are taking preventative measures to avoid being either criticized or censored ourselves.  This de facto censorship is possibly even worse than the traditional kind.

It is ironic that we now have the technology to know instantly what is going on, whether in New Mexico, London, Beijing, or Mumbai.  We should not hobble ourselves now with censorship at the whim of a mogul who owns a platform.  Maybe this is something a Ted Cruz or a Rand Paul could look at, someone who cares about and understands the Constitution and knows how to find the fundamental solutions.  There is no reason to cheer when anyone is silenced.  Every day we lose, we are impairing out ability to survive in a dangerous world.

Sally Morris is a regular contributor to The Dakota Beacon.

French president Emmanuel Macron recently called for a ban of "fake news."  What this would do, effectively, is suppress any news outlet that doesn't adhere to the state's version of the "news," and any non-conforming news from outside sources would be made inaccessible to the French people.  In France, Islamic apologist outlets are not out of favor.  However, it is extremely risky to criticize or report news unsympathetic to Islam.

Americans should review the story in light of what has been happening here recently.  Last week, Alex Jones was swept off pretty much every platform there is, including a holdout, Twitter, which caved to pressure from account-holders to silence him.  This happened within a day.  Now you see him; now you don't.

You might not be an Alex Jones fan.  But whenever we silence someone deemed "nuts" by the mainstream or by a majority of people, we also risk shutting down other sources – sources that are reliable but out of favor with the establishment.  Voilà: suddenly we have Macron's France.

Now Robert Spencer's been taken down from his brand new Patreon account.  Spencer had acquired a television studio and was planning on streaming information.  He got as far as a short promotional message when he was informed by Patreon that his account had been closed.  No explanation was given other than that Patreon's owner, MasterCard, didn't approve of him.  This is chilling.  Spencer is a major scholar in the area of Islam and history.  He is the author of many books, widely acclaimed.  Despite hate spewed at his reporting, his facts aren't disputed.  His right to speak has been, however.

We are in danger of taking this in stride.  It's the modus operandi when someone steps outside the line to make him disappear rather than take him on in debate or discussion.  Statists find it easier to silence arguments than answer them.

What's good for the dictator is not so good for us.  As has been said often – by John Stuart Mill and others – when you silence the speaker, you deprive not only the speaker, but more importantly, those who would hear him speak.  When those who don't like the news or opinions they hear desire to shut them down rather than discuss them, we become like North Koreans.  The less they know of the outside world, the better for Kim Jong-un.  The less the French know, the better for Emmanuel Macron.  The less we hear from Tommy Robinson, the better for Theresa May and her corrupt and evil government.  The less we hear from Robert Spencer...or Alex Jones or Michael Savage or Pamela Geller or Lauren Southern or Ezra Levant or Mark Steyn...well, you get the point.

We are already being denied information.  If we have it, we may examine it, discuss it, debate it, reject it, accept it, ignore it, or act upon it.  It may enlighten us or not as the case may be.  We can dispute its authenticity, its source, its importance, or whatever we might wish to dispute – but not if we are denied access to it.

Chief among those who would censor our speech and the flow of information are those connected with Islam. Their design is to establish a caliphate.  This means "take us over, defeat us, establish sharia."  There are many reasons to oppose this, but if we aren't allowed to talk about them, we will be defeated, our culture lost, our freedom with it.

We have, according to our Constitution, absolute freedom of speech.  We are alone in the world with this right, embedded in our national heritage and our law, our First Amendment.  We also have free enterprise.  We respect – or should respect – the property rights of owners.  Private ownership is the foundation of freedom.  But today we have a crisis of conflicting principles.  Privately owned internet platforms are collaborating with one another to deny specific political positions and commentary access – or, more accurately, to deny the people access to information from others.  This is dangerous.  If you doubt this, ask anyone who saw Hitler's Germany up close.  Had the German people had full access to unlimited information, they might well have determined a different course for their country.  If North Koreans had a clue about what is going on in the world – say, for instance, that the rest of us do not have to eat grass to stay alive, or that Kim is not God – they might determine a better course for their people.

What do we do about this?  In the early 20th century, we had another crisis, of less import, but great enough for people to demand action.  Monopolies were strangling commerce.  Teddy Roosevelt became known as the "Trust-Buster" for his efforts to correct this problem.  Antitrust laws were designed to protect competition in the marketplace.

What we have now is a de facto conspiracy among private owners to deny the public access to news and opinion.  YouTube, Facebook, et al. work in tandem to block any thoughts or ideas the left finds troubling.  It is mind control.  We need to begin immediately to seek a solution.  The FCC, for example, is by law not allowed to prevent the broadcasting of opinion.  (There are some limits to this freedom, but the FCC is necessarily sparing.  One cannot broadcast child porn, for example, or presumably teach a class in do-it-yourself bomb-building.)  FCC regulations seem to be silent regarding privately owned or quasi-privately owned outlets censoring or blocking our access to each other's information.

This "unofficial censorship" is causing yet another damaging phenomenon.  We are self-censoring.  We are taking preventative measures to avoid being either criticized or censored ourselves.  This de facto censorship is possibly even worse than the traditional kind.

It is ironic that we now have the technology to know instantly what is going on, whether in New Mexico, London, Beijing, or Mumbai.  We should not hobble ourselves now with censorship at the whim of a mogul who owns a platform.  Maybe this is something a Ted Cruz or a Rand Paul could look at, someone who cares about and understands the Constitution and knows how to find the fundamental solutions.  There is no reason to cheer when anyone is silenced.  Every day we lose, we are impairing out ability to survive in a dangerous world.

Sally Morris is a regular contributor to The Dakota Beacon.