#FreeStacy — But From What? In Defense of Free Speech Legalism

You should regard anything I say about Robert Stacy McCain with skepticism, because I hate him.

My loathing for him is sincere and entire. My revulsion for him is both conscious and subconscious, like a Donald Trump perforated with asymmetrical holes

That said, I don't regret — not even a little — speaking out for his First Amendment rights in the face of vexatious litigation by unrepentant domestic terrorists and their lickspittles. That's the deal in America, or is supposed to be. We defend the rights of people we hate. We defend the First Amendment from frivolous, censorious litigation — even in favor of unserious hypocrites who advocate frivolous censorious litigation themselves. My only regret about arguing for Robert Stacy McCain's free speech rights is if I passed up any opportunity to say that I feel for him a transport of uncordiality.

Over the last 24 hours the rightward side of Twitter has been in an uproar — captured by the #FreeStacy hashtag — about Twitter's suspension of McCain's main account, @rsmccain. Many see it as a trend in Twitter disproportionately and arbitrarily disciplining conservative voices, as Marc argued last month. Though I've questioned that proposition, it's grown considerably more persuasive since Twitter appointed a "Trust and Safety Council" that appears calculated to have a narrow view of legitimate speech and a broad view of "harassment" (at least insofar as it is uttered by the wrong people.)

I don't know what McCain did (or is alleged to have done) to be suspended, and as far as I can tell nobody else does either. I've seen him say some pretty despicable things, either sincerely or mastubatorilly, so I'm not presuming that the suspension was based on nothing. Nor do I presume that any report of his conduct was honest, nor that any analysis of his actions was rational or principled.

So do I shout #FreeStacy?

Sort of.

When I say #FreeStacy, I mean "Twitter, you've providing an increasingly shitty product, I'm expecting to be banned from it arbitrarily soon, and I've been thinking for some time about where to focus social media attention instead." Or "Twitter, before I thought this was mostly about low-level employees acting on their own biases. But I'm increasingly convinced by the argument that you've decided to offer a product aimed at a specific political group." Or "Twitter, you sell yourself as separating harassment from free speech, but you don't deliver."

In other words, rather than indulging in cries that Twitter is engaged in fascism, or book-burning, or Nazism, or totalitarianism (all of which I've seen said today), I'm saying that Twitter is engaging in a mix of private speech and product development that I don't like, and demonstrating that its marketing patter about free expression has traveled beyond the realm of acceptable sales puffery into the noisome Kingdom of Bullshit.

Some people say this is pedantic. Some currently popular ideas are premised on blurring the distinction between state action and private action against speech: "cultural libertarianism," "thick liberty," "free speech values."

They're wrong.

The right to free speech is America's most important right because it's how we identify and defend all rights. But you can't defend a right you don't understand or can't define. Distorting or blurring the definition of a right undermines it. In short: free speech legalism matters.

You think that Twitter has a civic or moral obligation to uphold "values of free speech"? Fine. How do you distinguish that from people arguing that Twitter has a moral and civic obligation to defend people from offense? If you say that Twitter ought to uphold "American values" of diversity of views and the freedom to utter unpopular views, how do you respond to the argument that Twitter ought to uphold "American values" of equality and "decency"?

To quote a noted food critic quoting a Roman emperor, of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does a private business do? It makes money and advances the agendas of its owners and/or leaders. They act according to two conservative principles: caveat emptor and there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Blurring the classification of things leads to exactly the sort of nonsense that Robert Stacy McCain normally rails against. Take a university. Is it a thing that teaches students? Or is it a place that empowers social justice? Is it a place for young adults, or is it a place for children in need of protection from mean ideas? Or take it up a few levels: do governments exist to impose their will upon us, or do they exist for us to impose our will upon them?

I classify Twitter's action as bad customer service and as private speech I don't like because of my conservative views. Those views include the following: private companies (which are individuals organized to do things as efficiently and safely as possible) have a right to free speech and free association. Corporations are people! They don't lose those rights because they get too big or because someone thinks they look like public entities if you squint. It's okay for corporations to sell products, or engage in speech, that people hate. People and corporations don't owe you anything: not a free lunch, not a free platform. You're responsible for reading the contracts you sign, physically or digitally. Whether or not you support anti-discrimination laws governing private entities, they can't be reconciled completely with free speech and free association rights. Or, put in law-professor-speech, anti-discrimination values and free speech values are in tension.

At least I thought those were conservative views. I mean, how can you argue that a bakery shouldn't have to make a gay marriage cake, but Twitter should have to offer a platform to someone they think (not unreasonably) is a total douche?

So, will I say #FreeStacy? Absolutely! For every hour McCain is gone, some feminist remains unfrothed-at. For every absent moment, there's a dead black kid whose Facebook page hasn't been thoroughly vetted. So #FreeStacy. By which I mean: free him from your foolish marketing decision to adopt a suspension system that predictably leads to arbitrary suspensions, because it's bad business and I'm a customer who doesn't like it. Free him by repenting your ill-considered and destructive expression in the form of a "Trust and Safety Council" that looks like a bad SNL skit. Free him from a system that — whether it's a marketing tool or a sincere gesture of opposition to harassment — will lead inevitably to button-mashing abuse of your report systems and endless (and unprofitable) internecine warfare amongst your very worst customers (or products, whatever). While you're at it, if you can, free him and his supporters from the Bernie-Sanderseque delusion implied by their rhetoric: that they have a right to speak on your platform that supersedes your right to run it the way you want. If you convince enough of them, maybe one will invent a good alternative I can seek out the day you suspend me.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Chris Jenkins says

    The biggest problem with the titans of social media is that a combination of private speech rules (as is the right of any corporation) with being a predominant means of (potentially) mass communication, means that it's easy to censor free speech in practice, if not by law. You are free to say whatever you want to say, but no one will hear it. Yay, first amendment!

    Our laws haven't kept up with the technology, and there is no right of redress against the stifling of speech by private entities. Arguably, there shouldn't be, but when that becomes a common method of end running the first amendment, it's a conversation that needs to be had.

  2. says

    The biggest problem with the titans of social media is that a combination of private speech rules (as is the right of any corporation) with being a predominant means of (potentially) mass communication, means that it's easy to censor free speech in practice, if not by law.

    Respectfully, Chris, this is begging the question — it presumes the speech in question is "free speech" in the first place. The fact that nobody wants me to belch the theme from Golden Girls in their living room does not mean that my "free speech" is impaired in any meaningful wait.

    You are free to say whatever you want to say, but no one will hear it. Yay, first amendment!

    Well, yes. Because imposing an obligation to listen to you or give you a platform is not reconcilable with freedom.

    At what point in human history were people more free to have their opinions heard by more people?

  3. Dawnsblood says

    My biggest problem with all of this is that I have no way to judge the situation. Twitter is so non-transparent when it comes to offenses and punishments that there is no clear way to know if it was anywhere near deserved.

    Twitter is saying 'trust me' and I have no good reason to except that I have not been file 13'ed yet. Did McCain just say things that @Jack didn't like or did he DM death threats at someone? Something in the middle? We will probably never know and that makes more than a few a bit worried.

    I guess I have to say that as a private entity, they have the right to do as their little hearts desire. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

  4. says

    Ken, I know you feel more strongly about McCain than I do (I simply dislike him), but I think there's a bit of strawman at the heart of this post. I haven't seen anything from McCain, or his more prominent supporters, suggesting that he has a legal right to a Twitter account, or even a moral right. I'm sure we can dredge up some mouthbreather who thinks the First Amendment is in play, but what's the point?

    I'm far more disappointed in Twitter, which used to handle these sorts of things with a lighter hand than Facebook. I resent their forcing me to defend McCain as a matter of principle.

    As you know, I had my own run-in with some Twitter bigfoot on the parody account that Derrick and I run, @DPRK_News, which might have escalated if some of the people (with much larger audiences than we have) who are now defending McCain hadn't stepped in to embarrass her.

    Twitter's getting too Orwellian for my tastes. No fun. I'll be damned if I stick around if they're going to let the likes of Arthur Chu and Anita Sarkeesian decide who gets voted off the island.

  5. says

    Patrick: We have an ongoing dispute about whether or not vivid rhetoric implies (totalitarianism! nazis! book-burning!) an assertion of rights. My position is that it does, or at least deliberately blurs the nature of the assertion, and attempts to capture the moral weight of rights and import it into criticism of private speech and action.

    In that spirit, I'd rather compare Twitter to Tyrell Corporation or Weyland-Yutani than to Orwell's imagined society.

  6. Alex Godofsky says

    Ken: does your ongoing dispute over the appropriateness of "Orwellian" really affect any of the underlying claims Patrick's making? Even if you strip that word out, his post still seems to be a legitimate criticism of Twitter.

  7. Lulex7 says

    I agree wholeheartedly rights are not implicated. However, I think there is something important about 'free speech' here in so far as the arguments that are winning on the internet.

    Since 2010 and the rise of the blogosphere, we are witnessing a sea change in people that believe opposing and hideous views create a 'silencing' effect on women and minorities. Reddit supported this reasoning, so now has Twitter, and *surprise* OCR has expressed it may too.

    I could understand the silencing argument if this were not a social media platform. There are reasons for the state to step in when someone is shouting down someone else and that person cannot physically be heard.

    But on social media I just can't get the argument. Nobody has the ability to speak loud enough to completely silence your voice–it isn't technically possible. On Reddit, the argument became over it's upvote and downvote, but who has a right to be heard or upvoted? The post still exists, it can still be read, no different than the 100's of 1,000's of posts made daily that are tossed aside or downvoted. Self-censorship is always part courage issue, not one that a authority can or should structurally end.

    These arguments do have free speech ramifications because they poke at the theory that underlies free speech and the belief some third part administrator must step in between citizens to thwart a harm. But yes, should Twitter provide a safespace for it's users–probably. However, it is alarming they have not stepped back from their support of free speech, that's how this moral v. legal confusion happens and rights may be implicated in the future (not likely now given the heavy traditionalism of free speech in the US).

  8. BC says

    Yeah, I pretty much come down on this on the same side as you:

    (1) McCain is a Galaxy-class asswipe.
    (2) Twitter has no moral or legal obligation to provide him a soapbox.
    (3) Twitter has, however, yammered quite a lot about being a platform for free expression, and a seemingly-arbitrary ban of even a Galaxy-class asswipe is inconsistent with that.
    (4) Ergo, as a customer of Twitter who wants it to be the platform for free expression as advertised, I'm increasingly disappointed.

  9. Alex Godofsky says

    Sorry, I misread the context and so my above comment doesn't really make sense. Never mind.

  10. Castaigne says

    What does a private business do? It makes money and advances the agendas of its owners and/or leaders. They act according to two conservative principles: caveat emptor and there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

    People and corporations don't owe you anything: not a free lunch, not a free platform. You're responsible for reading the contracts you sign, physically or digitally. Whether or not you support anti-discrimination laws governing private entities, they can't be reconciled completely with free speech and free association rights. Or, put in law-professor-speech, anti-discrimination values and free speech values are in tension.

    Preach it.

    While you're at it, if you can, free him and his supporters from the Bernie-Sanderseque delusion implied by their rhetoric: that they have a right to speak on your platform that supersedes your right to run it the way you want.

    That's the "no-platforming" issue that seems to have become a worrisome trend in conservatism. Apparently, it is now a conservative value that all platforms must be forced to allow whatever speech the speechifiers want, be they public or private. And it's forcing the private that I have an extreme problem with, because the only solution that can be practically developed are federal laws that force the private to be obedient in this matter. Or to nationalize the internet and all mass communication. I want to see neither happen.

  11. Castaigne says

    @Chris Jenkins:

    Our laws haven't kept up with the technology, and there is no right of redress against the stifling of speech by private entities.

    You do realize, I hope, that there are one of two options available to you:
    1) Issue federal legislation and either assign it to a federal department (or create a new one) to enforce it.
    2) Nationalize companies like Twitter in the name of free speech.

    I don't like either of those two options. If you have a different option available, I'd be happy to hear it.

    ===

    @Dawnsblood:

    Twitter is so non-transparent when it comes to offenses and punishments that there is no clear way to know if it was anywhere near deserved.

    I would argue that it doesn't matter. There is no requirement for any corporation to be more transparent than what the law requires.

    I guess I have to say that as a private entity, they have the right to do as their little hearts desire. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

    Correct. And the solution is always the same; take our money elsewhere.

  12. Chris Jenkins says

    Respectfully, Chris, this is begging the question — it presumes the speech in question is "free speech" in the first place. The fact that nobody wants me to belch the theme from Golden Girls in their living room does not mean that my "free speech" is impaired in any meaningful wait.

    I recognize the difficulties in my stance, which is why I suggested a conversation versus a solution. Here's what I struggle with:

    In the 1700's, there was a public village commons where in someone could reasonably practice their speech and reach a reasonable portion of the population, via public speaking or flyering. Many of the notable works of satire and rebellion were distributed in this fashion. If someone were removed from speaking in the public commons by force of law over their speech, that would arguably impinge upon their right of free speech, no? Do we not agree that the first amendment was written from that perspective?

    In modern times, the public commons has been replaced by the private mass comm channels. This, in practice, puts private controls on what are otherwise perceived (yes, I know, incorrectly) as public communication spaces. While I agree that there is no intrinsic right to be heard, I disagree that there wasn't some expectation of such when the amendment was penned.

  13. Tomblvd says

    @Castaigne

    Apparently, it is now a conservative value that all platforms must be forced to allow whatever speech the speechifiers want, be they public or private.

    Who is saying that?

  14. En Passant says

    My only regret about arguing for Robert Stacy McCain's free speech rights is if I passed up any opportunity to say that I feel for him a transport of uncordiality.

    I never met this fellow, attended or alone. But I'll take your word for it.

    If you convince enough of them, maybe one will invent a good alternative I can seek out the day you suspend me.

    Yep. The only obstacle to an alternative is zero at the ROI.

  15. says

    I follow Stacy McCain all the time and he did not do anything to warrant suspension or banning. So the #FreeStacy is totally warranted. I am sure his outspokenness to certain feminists got them to petition Twitter to issue this ban. His criticism of radical feminism has been spot on and done in a happy warrior sort of style that has completely unhinged them (although they were pretty unhinged to start with).

    I am wondering why you hate him?

  16. says

    And Twitter is a private platform. It can ban or allow anyone it wants. But if it is going to purport to be open to all, then be open to all. I have seen Twitter ban people not because they misbehaved, but because their beliefs did not fit with what some in Twitter believe. And that should be called out.

    We are talking just basic conservative stuff, not racism or anything objectively offensive.

    So people like WJJ Hoge, Milo, and now Robert Stacy McCain are being banned or restricted. All it takes is a few SJWs complaining to Twitter and the ban hammer comes down and you have to prove your innocence.

  17. says

    Patrick: We have an ongoing dispute about whether or not vivid rhetoric implies (totalitarianism! nazis! book-burning!) an assertion of rights. My position is that it does, or at least deliberately blurs the nature of the assertion, and attempts to capture the moral weight of rights and import it into criticism of private speech and action.

    What you're saying here is that any time I use "vivid rhetoric" in criticizing a private party's decision to mute speech, it is justified for someone to accuse me of asserting the muted party's "right" to be heard — even though that accusation is, in my case (and the case of many others), false. May I ask you for your rulebook of permitted rhetoric, so that I may learn which rhetoric is too vivid, and which rhetoric is acceptably non-vivid?

  18. Scott Jacobs says

    But if it is going to purport to be open to all, then be open to all But if it is going to purport to be open to all, then be open to all.

    So those bakeries have to make cakes for everyone?

  19. says

    Apparently, it is now a conservative value that all platforms must be forced to allow whatever speech the speechifiers want, be they public or private.

    If this is so apparent, I would appreciate a pointer to specific comments by conservatives making that argument.

  20. says

    Instapundit here uses the phrase "Twitter Star Chamber" to describe what Twitter is doing here. Too "vivid"? Can we now claim that he doesn't understand the distinction between the legal ability of private entities and government to restrict speech they don't like? On the one hand, he's a law professor who has written extensively on the topic and has shown beyond cavil that he knows the difference. On the other hand, "Twitter Star Chamber!" amirite?

    So, based on the strength of his rhetoric, can we now feel justified in hurling spurious accusations at Prof. Reynolds that he is implying McCain has a right to speak on Twitter? I think he needs a copy of Ken's rhetoric rulebook too.

  21. Frank Ch. Eigler says

    "So those bakeries have to make cakes for everyone?"

    If they explicitly advertise themselves as making cakes for anyone, and then default on that, there is a case.

  22. Ted H. says

    Ken, no platforming done democratically through blocking mechanisms sure, but top down from the medium controller isn't in line with free speech values. No one has to listen to anyone on Twitter–they can block/mute. Sure Twitter can do what they want but it doesn't make them right to do so.

  23. En Passant says

    Scott Jacobs says February 20, 2016 at 4:11 pm:

    So those bakeries have to make cakes for everyone?

    Is there some part of "if it is going to purport to be open to all" that isn't clear?

    If you claim that you will bake cakes for everyone, then it's no infringement of your rights to hold you to your claim.

  24. says

    Final point for now: I think this tactic — of using the vividness of opponents' rhetoric to argue that they are "implying" things they never said and never meant to say — is so useful that I don't think it should be restricted to this narrow context. I can think of many other situations where I would like to attribute to my opponents opinions that they never said, and justify my accusation by reference to the strength of their rhetoric. For example, if someone says a judge has a special place in hell waiting for her because of an autocratic and unfair sentence the judge gave, isn't it "implied by their rhetoric" that they would like to kill the judge, or at the very least would applaud the murder of the judge? Sure, they never said it, but as long as we remember that we are entitled to argue the existence of implied opinions hidden within any criticism that is worded in a sufficiently forceful manner, we need not bother with trivial questions such as the fact that the speaker never said any such thing.

    OK, now I'm done.

  25. John Pomeroy says

    @Scott Jacobs
    "So those bakeries have to make cakes for everyone?"

    Well, at least in Oregon and Washington State (with the florist), yes, The government has said they must bake cakes or arrange flowers for everyone. Even if there is another baker or florist or whatever available.

  26. tehy says

    when we say 'free speech' we mean:

    yes, Twitter has the right to behave in any manner they choose, doesn't mean that we cannot think it is deeply and morally wrong to do so, and protest that they have done so, and violated a cherished moral principle, that of free speech

    also – I do agree with people who term social media as a sort of public square. in these days, everyone has a personal public square, and unfortunately, some are denied it. legally, since it's a privately owned public square, but I would love to see that change in some fashion – can't imagine what fashion though D:

    By the way, why don't you like stacy mccain?

  27. Eric The Fruit Bat says

    When you sign up to use Twitter you agree to be bound by their Terms and Services agreement. No one is putting a gun to to these slezaebag's heads to use Twitter. If you do not agree to the TOS, then don't use Twitter. I find it rather hysterical that many who have been screaming about CENSORSHIP!1!1! and at the same time glaoting over Twitter's stock dropping like a rock haven't been able to put two and two together to buy a significant amount of stock to get a seat on Twitter's Board of Directors to effect the change that they believe needs to happen. It seems to me that the howlers here and no different than the Bundy clan-they're nothing more than welfare parasites and aren't willing to put their capital on the line to fight what they believe is an attack on their rights, when the reality is their rights aren't being abused at all.

  28. Tomblvd says

    Fun animal fact: Fruit bats are physically incapable of reading and understanding an entire article before commenting.

  29. says

    to fight what they believe is an attack on their rights

    Who said it is an "attack on their rights"? This point of view, that conservatives are saying their "rights" are being infringed, is being repeated again and again. Yet I can't seem to find anyone who can provide evidence of anyone saying it's an attack on their "rights."

  30. Eric The Fruit Bat says

    Tomblvd's 'analysis' of my post shows how the Commanding Self is capable of showing how one's heedlessness can be destructive. Thankfully, that's his problem, not mine.

  31. Tomblvd says

    Tomblvd's 'analysis' of my post shows how the Commanding Self is capable of showing how one's heedlessness can be destructive. Thankfully, that's his problem, not mine.

    I'm getting tired of pointing out that nobody on the right that I'm aware of is saying their rights are being denied or "screaming about CENSORSHIP!1!1!". Ken and Patrick have both managed to spell out the grievances with Twitter. And no, they don't involve the First Amendment. If you had bothered to read the article, you would have realized that.

    Or not, I'm an optimist.

  32. Peter Gerdes says

    Ken White,

    You seem to suggest in the article that there is a sharp distinction between private and governmental punishment of speech and that it's only important to be free of governmental interference. However, surely what's important isn't under what description society acts to punish disfavored ideas but whether unacceptable coercion is being used to prevent certain viewpoints.

    Of course in the decentralized tolerant society we are used to, it's only the government who truly has coercive power. Various groups who feel poorly treated may whine about being "silenced" but mere social disapproval or mean comments aren't even close to what we mean by unacceptable coercion.

    However, imagine if virtually everyone religious and they refused to engage in any commerce with anyone who the grandpooba declared guilty heretical ideas (or who broke ranks and engaged in commerce with them). Even though this would be purely private action (legal and no force) it would amount to a sentence of death by starvation for anyone who voiced support for atheism or other heresies. This surely would be the kind of unacceptable coercion those of us who support free speech want to avoid (and would be even if they provided gruel and a homeless shelter to live in rather than letting you starve).

    The point is that with sufficient coordination legal private responses to speech can amount to censorship. Therefore, while I certainly don't think we are there, one can at least imagine a situation in which certain private platforms become so central to modern living that revoking accounts (or maybe just suppressing certain content) for speech they disagree with really does amount to censorship. This could happen even if many people on those platforms don't like this as long as enough customers want censorship and network/lock-in effects make it too costly to switch over.

    Certainly twitter isn't at this stage but I just wanted to point out it's not always a clear line between government and private action that picks out what threatens free speech.

  33. Karmakin says

    To me this is very troubling, although I'll take an entirely different tack on this, something much broader. Speaking as a leftist, I'm actually concerned about how stuff like this affects the more overall political climate. Of course Twitter has a right to do whatever they want to do. But I think creating what look like such overwhelmingly biased control mechanisms is a MASSIVE problem. To memify it….Do you want Trumps? That's how you get Trumps.

    Although, I'm going to get more granular…this isn't exactly a leftist/feminist thing exactly. This is a collectivist feminist thing. (Many of who quite frankly I tend to seriously doubt economic leftist bona fides sometimes) And speaking as an individualist feminist, I think there's lots that needs to be criticized in collectivist feminist…it has the same problems with sexism/racism as other forms of collectivism.

  34. King Squirrel says

    @Patterico –

    What you're saying here is that any time I use "vivid rhetoric" in criticizing a private party's decision to mute speech, it is justified for someone to accuse me of asserting the muted party's "right" to be heard — even though that accusation is, in my case (and the case of many others), false.

    Of course.

    They would also be justified in asserting you are hysterical, shrill, or silly. For that matter, they are justified in asserting your point is brilliant and will truly smash the system. Your listener is justified in judging you in any way they see fit. Would you have it any other way?

    For example, in my judgement your sneer quotes on the word "right" undercuts what you are trying to say rather badly. My judgement may be wrong, but – from present facts and absent telepathy – my brain gave me the go ahead to assert this.

    So I did.

  35. WarEagle82 says

    I don't use Twitter and I don't use Facebook. They increasingly block view points they and their allies don't like while professing to be an open platform for a free exchange of ideas AS LONG AS THEY LIKE WHAT YOU SAID.

    I don't want to help these two entities make money while, in Facebook's case, they squelch free speech and aid governments in suppressing the rights of their citizens as Facebook has clearly done at the behest of Angela Merkel. Aiding a government suppress the speech of their citizens is about as clearly fascist as you can get. Twitter doesn't seem to have gone that far yet, but it is not clear we will ever know exactly what Twitter bans or why.

  36. Austin says

    The distinction you've made in the past between your personal blog, where you can write whatever you want because it's yours, and Twitter, a private company that can run their service however they choose, doesn't seem as clear to me as it is to you.

    A simple whois look up on your domain shows that you use Dreamhost, so you aren't running this blog on a web server out of your office. Dreamhost owns the hardware that runs your site, and they provide you with sysadmin services so that you don't have to muck around with Apache, Debian, and Xen yourself. Dreamhost is a private company, and they're no more obliged to provide you with services than Twitter is.

    Why stop there though? Your ISP is also a private company, and they are under no obligation to offer you access to the internet. ISPs already disconnect people, permanently, for persistent torrenting of copyrighted material. That's their prerogative.

    Sure, you would still retain the copyright to your blog posts, but to paraphrase Agent Smith: "how will anyone read your blog, if you are unable to find a hosting company or an ISP?"

    It may seem unrealistic to imagine that every hosting company and every ISP would blacklist you, but there's not legal reason I know of why they could not do so. Visa and Mastercard's 2010 decision to block payments to Wikileaks is an illustrative example. It doesn't really matter whether or not you like Wikileaks. No one can seriously argue that Visa or Mastercard are obligated to serve any particular customer, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that it's quite creepy when they choose to cut someone out for political reasons.

    Why is the "no fly list" a terrible, unaccountable infringement on our civil liberties and due process rights if you don't have a right to fly in a passenger airplane? If all of the major airplanes decide that they will not have you as a customer, who are you to complain? The founding fathers didn't write anything about the right to fly on airplanes in the constitution. We're all strict constructionists here, right?

    There are other examples. You don't have a right to protest in a mall; it's private property. I happen to live in a major city where there are plenty of public spaces for people to hold protests, but many people live in exurbs where the only common space is a mall. As a result, they have no meaningful right to legal public assembly.

    I'm not saying that you are wrong to claim that Twitter can ban whomever they chose to ban (although, if they consistently disregard their own policies, someone could probably have a go at suing them for unfair and deceptive trade practices), I just think that you are putting yourself in a pretty weak position with respect to your rights to speak online. Everything from the network to your webserver and all of the platforms you use to reach others online are all owned by private entities.

    Of course, if all of these things were taken away from you, you could still stand on a soap box and tell people about the importance of free speech with a megaphone… until the cops show up and tell you that you are violating municipal ordinances prohibiting amplified sound, as well as loitering, and that the sidewalk you are standing on is actually private property owned by the mall you are standing beside… and who are you to deny them their right to run their mall how they see fit? It's a free country, after all.

  37. Frank says

    Conservatives don't believe the government should force someone to produce something that it does not want to, ie bakers. The same for Twitter. Conservatives are not asking government to force Twitter to not be censorious.

  38. cthulhu says

    I have no opinion on Robert Stacy McCain. I do agree with what Ken (and, if I've interpreted him correctly, Patrick) are saying about Twitter's crassness and hypocrisy here; here's hoping that Twitter will encounter the Streisand Effect (or its equivalent for large well-known Internet fools) soon. I definitely agree that, as odious and pusillanimous as it is, this is not censorship in the 1st Amendment context, and that is itself an important point.

    When I set up my ad blocker recently, I decided to leave Twitter widgets enabled, as I sometimes see interesting stuff there. I may need to revisit that decision…(I do not have a Twitter account myself)

  39. Czernobog says

    Well, Austin and Peter have used a slippery slope fallacy to make the argument that Patterico claims no-one is making. And tehy has brought in the concept of a "cherished moral principle" which is totally not the same as a right, so we can complain about it's violation.

  40. Abe says

    Twitter is indeed a sewer run by incompetents, but the idea that the company owes spouters an audience is preposterous. It is impossible to get mainstream advertisers to place their products next to the likes of Stacy, Nero, many of their ilk, because these are disgusting figures and the disgust rubs off on the advertised brand. Median users, consumers, don't have the stomach for vile that defense attorneys develop.

    As for the absurd persecution complex that now typifies conservative discourse: let him eat unbaked cakes. The complex leads to "NRxia" and "cuckservutopia" because it represents nothing more than a giant chip on shoulder. Bad For Business Bigotries are not and should not be rewarded by the free market, but that market loss doesn't make conservatives into moral victims, merely into market losers.

  41. says

    Well, Austin and Peter have used a slippery slope fallacy to make the argument that Patterico claims no-one is making.

    I don't recall saying "no-one" was making that argument. I said I had not seen conservatives (especially on Twitter) making it. I don't know Austin or Peter, but I can easily see leftists making the (IMO silly) argument they are making — and if I had to bet, I would bet on them being leftists (most likely left-libertarians, which I consider kind of an oxymoron but never mind that now), and not conservatives.

    It's usually leftists who posit these absurd scenarios where everyone in society goes utterly crazy such that the market could not possibly find a solution — yet we could rely on the good graces of government to magically set everything right.

    Usually these are the same people you find screaming in favor of Net Neutrality. It's the same mindset. The big bad corporations will screw us, but it's OK because the fine people in government bureaucracy will save the day! If Austin and Peter aren't big Net Neutrality advocates I'll be very surprised.

  42. says

    They would also be justified in asserting you are hysterical, shrill, or silly. For that matter, they are justified in asserting your point is brilliant and will truly smash the system. Your listener is justified in judging you in any way they see fit. Would you have it any other way?

    Apparently we have different views of the proper use of the word "justified." I would say people have the right to criticize me in any way they see fit, but their criticisms are justified only if they are correct.

  43. Boblipton says

    Does anyone know ifTwitter has used the "common carrer" defense in legal filings? that it is not by its nature responsible for what its users tweet? Use of one would seem to argue against the latter; by arguing that they have a mechanism toprevent harassment and using it, are they not responsible every time some incompetent moron has his feelings hurt?

    Bob

  44. Moneyrunner says

    Can we discuss this issue in view of the passage of the civil rights laws which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations? Is Ken White in favor of forcing the small restaurant owning racist bigot to accommodate people who he hates, but Big Media – that invites everyone to join – can ban people it hates for any reason? Is it time for a lawsuit that expands the civil rights laws? Or, Ken, should we repeal the civil rights laws? How Libertarian are we?

  45. Czernobog says

    Pat, Patters, Pattsy, pattykins, you're moving the goalposts.

    You only brought the right/left wing distinction into play after several rants on the subject of rhetoric, and even then you wrote "Yet I can't seem to find anyone who can provide evidence of anyone saying it's an attack on their "rights.""

  46. Sartr says

    A lot of people seem to be very self-satisfied that since Twitter's actions are legally within their rights, it's okay to do this. I wonder how tolerant they would be if one of the biggest forms of communication in the world decided to delete them and everyone who agreed with them. During an election year, which I'm sure is total coincidence.

  47. Mel says

    What Chris Jenkins said.

    Somebody has described corporations as "private governments." Governments in the sense that they act in society at a scale and with a scope far greater than any natural person's; private in that they aren't held accountable in the ways public governments are in a democracy. So when corporations implement some of our major social functions: public speech in this case, there will be complications. We have a kind of unspoken, uncontracted, public/private partnership here. A contract would be required to regulate this partnership. What to put in the contract? Well. Here we are.

  48. SDN says

    Can we discuss this issue in view of the passage of the civil rights laws which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations? Is Ken White in favor of forcing the small restaurant owning racist bigot to accommodate people who he hates, but Big Media – that invites everyone to join – can ban people it hates for any reason? Is it time for a lawsuit that expands the civil rights laws? Or, Ken, should we repeal the civil rights laws? How Libertarian are we?

    THIS * 1000. If it acceptable for the government to coerce some in the name of Holy Diversity, then others should be coerced for the same refusal to provide services. Otherwise, the bakers, florists, etc. are owed an apology, and full restitution including court costs and attorney fees.

  49. Jerry says

    Continuing along the lines of @Austin: Except in the dreams of pure libertarian theory, the line between public and private is and always has been somewhat squishy. In a world in which there are no public roads, what's to prevent me from buying all the land surrounding your house – a 1-foot-deep ring will do – and denying you the right to cross in or out? How is your starvation my problem?

    OK, that's silly theory; let's talk reality. Does the telephone company – a private corporation – have the right to determine what you can say over their wires? Or just not give you access at all, because they don't like you? We long ago decided that the answer is no: We made up a classification of "common carriers" and told them they must serve everyone equally. The justification was two-fold: (a) They provide a service necessary to living in modern society; (b) the service they provide is a natural monopoly, and it's unrealistic to suppose that market forces will ensure the kind of universal access that we believe is necessary.

    Are various Internet services at the point where they can legitimately be regulated in this way? We're clearly moving in that direction. Initially, it's at the level of pure access. We've pretty much reached the point where (a) is satisfied. Searching for a job, searching for a place to live, gaining access to various government services – you can still usually manage to do that without Internet access, but it's become increasingly inconvenient – and in some cases impossible. The jury is still out on (b), but natural or otherwise, most people face a monopoly or at best a duopoly when it comes to Internet service.

    As you move to higher level services, the story is much more mixed. Some people can certainly live without Twitter or Facebook – I have an account I pretty much never use on the former and none on the latter – but try telling that to a college student (at least with respect to Facebook). Companies like Twitter and Facebook are textbook examples of natural monopolies: Their cost per customer goes down, and their value to each customer goes up, as they grow larger and control a greater percentage of the market. That Facebook displaced MySpace is irrelevant: MySpace in its day had as much of a natural monopoly (of a tiny part of the market) as Facebook does now. The fact that one natural monopolist may replace another doesn't change the nature of the underlying situation. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    Now, I'm not at all arguing that Facebook or Twitter or any other existing service is at the point where regulating them as something like common carriers would be justified. I don't think that's the case – though the European regulators seem to be close to deciding that it is. We have to keep our minds open to the possibility – if not today, then some time in the future. "Public" and "private" are not completely separate categories, with no room for some compromise in the middle. Treating corporations as people is a fine shortcut and helps preserve rights – except when it doesn't, and it's time to approach things differently.

    And, yes, I understand that in today's polarized world, "compromise" is a dirty word. and my call from it has forever foreclosed a run for office. :-)

    — Jerry

  50. JohnMc says

    Fundamentally the IT community has forgotten the very basics of what any physical business must deal with — Don't discriminate. Its the olde saw, "don't like the content? Change the hash tag."

    The SJWs are in for a rude awakening in life. — "It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong."
    — Richard P. Feynman.

  51. King Squirrel says

    @Patterico

    Apparently we have different views of the proper use of the word "justified." I would say people have the right to criticize me in any way they see fit, but their criticisms are justified only if they are correct.

    Yes, the context in which you used the word "justified" did *imply* that was the meaning you had in mind.

  52. Kiwanda says

    Just to note that Ken's argument has a faulty premise, and therefore needs reconsideration and revision, at minimum. There exists at least one person, no doubt many more, who would very much like to hear him belch the theme from Golden Girls in their living room.

  53. Marta says

    Why do so many of these comments begin with, "Twitter is a business so it has the right to . . . but . . . ."

    Twitter can define itself any way it likes. It can alter its business model, fail to live up to its business model, or just generally clang two cymbals together every time you hit "post". It can be a forum for "social justice warriors", a forum for "social justice warrior" bashers, or it can put on its boots and metaphorically stomp all over your tongue.

    Yes? And? Good god, the complaining! You don't like the service you're getting–for free, I might add? Demand your money back! (The reason I'm familiar with this argument is because of its frequent use here at Popehat–an argument I enthusiastically endorse.)

    It baffles me, this conversation. If you start with the premise that Twitter is a private platform which has no obligation of any kind to provide its free users with a damn thing, how does this not make every word that comes after the premise completely irrelevant?

  54. G Joubert says

    You should regard anything I say about Robert Stacy McCain with skepticism, because I hate him.

    My loathing for him is sincere and entire. My revulsion for him is both conscious and subconscious, like a Donald Trump perforated with asymmetrical holes

    So. In other words, on top of being a blustering egomaniac, you're also self-admitting to being a hater and a hack. Good to know. Naturally, it will inform my view of the rest of whatever you have to say, as you apparently wish.

  55. says

    My argument with the two Patricks is an old one.

    Put it this way. Say that a bakery refused to make a cake for a same-sex marriage, and critics called it tyranny and totalitarianism and Nazism and oppression and injustice.

    Wouldn't you say that rhetoric was implying a judgment about the baker's moral and social obligations, if not his legal ones?

  56. says

    I keep asking the anti-McCain sorts to cite, specifically, the post(s) where McCain has clearly violated Twitter's Terms of Service. Thus far they have failed to do so.

    Unless Twitter slipped "Though shalt not offend a Social justice Warrior" or "Though shalt not attack Anita Sarkeesian" into their TOS while I wasn't looking.

  57. Dawnsblood says

    It baffles me, this conversation. If you start with the premise that Twitter is a private platform which has no obligation of any kind to provide its free users with a damn thing, how does this not make every word that comes after the premise completely irrelevant?
    —————–
    None of this is really that hard. If I hook an antenna to my TV I can get CBS for free. CBS has a right to air (mostly because FCC) whatever tripe they wish. I have a right to complain about the crap they offer if I like. There is a basic concept most people I know agree with. Regardless of the price of a service publicly discussing its shortcomings has a chance of improving the service.

    I do not understand (even a little bit) this premise I keep hearing: 'Use the service if you like it. Don't use the service if you do not. But for God's sake NEVER criticize it because someone else owns it." I'm not a fan of fast food. I do occasionally eat it. I often complain about the quality ect. So why must I shut up about it and just vote with my wallet.

    So I will say again. Twitter is not owned by myself. They have the right to run it as they wish. I do use it. I am not a fan of all this non-transparent, ham-handed 'discipline' of people for no discernible reason. I also believe I not only have the right to criticize them, I believe it could actually make the service better.

  58. says

    My argument with the two Patricks is an old one.

    Your argument with this Patrick is an objection to his use of the term "Orwellian." Given that one of the topics under discussion is Twitter's TRUST AND SAFETY Council, Ken, I think the shoe fits. It's a Newspeak term, meaning its opposite. It produces neither trust, nor safety.

    Orwell was a critic of language in addition to a teller of parables. As for Patrick Frey, I agree with him that based on the evidence we have, Twitter is targeting conservatives for the same type of language and behavior for which its more progressive users get a pass.

    I can't imagine Wil Wheaton, or George Takei to choose another progressive b-list star, getting suspended for the same sort of behavior that got Adamn Baldwin suspended.

  59. Carl Pham says

    because it's bad business and I'm a customer who doesn't like it

    Ah the inevitable narcissist delusion with respect to business rises up. You may not like it, but of course a priori that says dick about whether it's bad business, and in fact it seems quite likely that it's not — that you are very much in the minority. As a rule, H. sapiens values solid feelings of tribal unity and allegiance far more than than preservation of an ability to quixotically dissent.

    That's why we assigned care of the principle of "free speech" to government — the only nonfree institution we have, the arm of compulsion and force. It's not something people do voluntarily, as a rule.

    You're right to argue Twitter should not be compelled to honor notions of free speech, for all the excellent custodiet ipsos custodes reasons you give. But it's delusion to think they will alter their policies on the basis of customer backlash. There won't be any. Or, if there is, it will be short-lived and inconsistent, and lead ultimately to nothing more than silly ritualism.

    The correct approach is to vigorously argue for a business climate that gives the best chance for competitors to Twitter, with different aims and different tribal loyalties, to emerge. Madison was right: our liberty rests not on any delusional belief that all men can learn to altruistically and gracefully concede it to each other, ha ha, but in the cacaphony of competing attempts at grubby mutual moral imperialism, in the melee of which individual would-be imperialists will reluctantly agree to respect certain boundaries out of naked fear for their own existence, more or less a stew of Molotov-Ribbentrop pacts.

  60. SarahW says

    I'm just upset that RsMCcain was playing by rules, is still playing by rules, and now two places that should do better are guilty of implying he was not and/or is not.

    I've never seen him do anything contrary to Twitter's terms or that could be classified even subjectively by a rational observer as harassing or abusive, within that particular platform of expression. He was also as blockable as anyone (or moreso if you count in the number of twitter users who use socks or whack-a-mole approach to accounts on purpose in order to pester.) No one had to speak to him or answer him, or view his posts.

    I read what he had to say about the ban – and what I saw was he is philosophical about the view-point driven ban and does not claim his rights are being trampled, as Ken implied with his own rhetorical tweakery.

    I'm more worried than RsMcCain is about specific controversial opinions being blocked to protect others from engagement or critical remarks – protected from his contrary opinion on or arguments against their agenda.

    Twitter is the poorer for the ban. I can't think of it as an open forum any longer, and I don't want to play on twitter if some flavor of the month justice project will be elevated to "untouchable" – too sacred to pull to pieces.

    RsMcCain does not always impress me with his opinions, but he has always impressed me with his directness, his honesty, integrity and thoughtfulness and willingness to engage. He doesn't hide the foundation for his ideas and he tends to be prepared to discuss the topic he takes on. Sometimes he's flat wrong or shouldn't be drawing the conclusions he does based on what he knows, but he does share the foundation for his arguments. I expect he is at his most enraging *when he is arguing with some sense* in a way that opposes the way I think. He is fairly unflappable and makes points that poke through the cherished notions. I presume the impulse is to shut him up fast to alleviate the irritation of that.

  61. says

    Your argument with this Patrick is an objection to his use of the term "Orwellian." Given that one of the topics under discussion is Twitter's TRUST AND SAFETY Council, Ken, I think the shoe fits. It's a Newspeak term, meaning its opposite. It produces neither trust, nor safety.

    Calling it Newspeak is perfectly fair.

    My point about "Orwellian" and similar terms is this. The terms we use can have multiple meanings and messages. Sometimes they are used to import the legal, moral, and historical weight of one situation into another. You may not be doing so, but I think that many people criticizing private business/speech decisions use vivid terms to try to import the historical/moral/legal weight of arguments about government censorship into a discussion of private speech. I object to that because I think it distorts the already tenuous national concept of rights to the detriment of those rights. In other words, saying "Twitter is totalitarian to silence conservatives" weakens us to the argument "Twitter is totalitarian to let conservatives harass us."

  62. Marta says

    I do not understand (even a little bit) this premise I keep hearing: 'Use the service if you like it. Don't use the service if you do not. But for God's sake NEVER criticize it because someone else owns it." I'm not a fan of fast food. I do occasionally eat it. I often complain about the quality ect. So why must I shut up about it and just vote with my wallet.

    You can criticize Twitter all you like. Ain't nobody said it should never be criticized. Maybe it will make Twitter better; there's nothing like a good, public shaming to focus a company's attention. But that isn't the point, which is that Twitter is a private platform, free to its users, having no obligations to its users, who are utterly free to go pound sand if they're unhappy. Its users can complain, and will, but their complaints are ultimately irrelevant as to whether or not Twitter should ban, block or bojo any user not to their liking, for any reason they choose.

    Now, your complaint about the fast food you pay for is a horse of another flavor, being as how the company is obliged to give you consideration for your money, and there may (or may not be) some sort of implied warranty that attaches to the exchange.

  63. Psmith says

    If you guys haven't heard about GnuSocial yet, might be worth checking out. It's mostly weirdos right now, as you might expect, but it has potential.

  64. Dan Weber says

    I'm closer to Patrick than to Ken on the "free speech values" thing.

    However, I understood where Ken was coming for a lot better after I read some of the Brett Kimberlin court filings, which was filled to the brim with "poor me, don't I have a right to say things" tripe.

    It's hard to stand for important rights, like the ability to not be punished by the government for speech or without due process, when people muddle everything else in the same right. And while a lot of us deal with the second-string rights, Ken does deal with the more important stop-government-from-punishing-you-for-speech fight.

  65. ZK says

    You may not be doing so, but I think that many people criticizing private business/speech decisions use vivid terms to try to import the historical/moral/legal weight of arguments about government censorship into a discussion of private speech. I object to that because I think it distorts the already tenuous national concept of rights to the detriment of those rights.

    I think fighting about this hasn't accomplished what you'd hoped, but has instead confused people about the legitimacy of government censorship. I hear the phrase "freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences" a lot these days, but more and more often when it is actually government consequences being discussed. You can't get through a discussion about campus speech codes at public schools without this being brought up.

    I'm not saying that we should just start pretending that private action is actually precluded by the First Amendment, but I am saying that strategically, this isn't the hill we should be fighting on. I don't think it's helping.

  66. birdboy2000 says

    I think companies with user bases the size of countries which present themselves as discussion platforms and grew to their current size by acting in that manner shouldn't be able to arbitrarily restrict speech.

    Unlike Ken, I am not a conservative, and believe sensible restrictions on corporate power are an important tool to preserve a practical right to free speech for the rest of us, who can't afford to own a website the size of twitter.

    Robert Stacy McCain and many of his fans may very well, given their worldview, be hypocrites for complaining. But as a leftist who also uses twitter to disseminate unpopular speech, I'm very disturbed by Twitter's moves.

    Twitter is not the local grocery store. It's not your living room. It's one of the largest sites on the web, and it should be regulated in a manner appropriate for that sort of size and influence – and if preserving the free speech rights of twitter's users restricts its "rights" as a wealthy corporation to ban people, that's a trade-off I'm more than willing to make.

  67. Patrick Maupin says

    I don't know who McCain is, and I don't use twitter, and Ken's post resonates.

    To all you screaming "Show me a conservative claiming it's censorship!" I'll go, I suppose, even farther than Ken. When everybody's screaming #FreeStacy, I wonder where twitter has him locked up, and why the fuck the SWAT team hasn't showed up yet.

    You're free to simultaneously use the hash tag and claim you're not doing anything that could be construed as claiming twitter is infringing your rights. From my perspective, that's just silly, until you add in the claim that you're a conservative. Then it becomes hilarious.

  68. Zoodle. says

    I don't Twitter should be forced by law to do anything, just like I don't think a cake bakery should be forced by law to bake a cake for gays.

    BUT I do believe that both should have feedback, even harsh feedback from their customers that ought to be persuasive, maybe even angry, and also plead for change.

    Another difference is that Twitter hailed itself in its early days as a free speech platform so removing speech they don't like any longer feels like a bait and switch. Kind of like Crystal Pepsi.

    The cake bakery never pled to be an egalitarian. It just bakes cakes. If it baked shitty cakes suddenly, or changed to a gluten free formula THEN its an apt comparison

  69. says

    Its users can complain, and will, but their complaints are ultimately irrelevant as to whether or not Twitter should ban, block or bojo any user not to their liking, for any reason they choose.

    There's a subtle point here that I think you're missing. As a preliminary, I'm assuming that in this context "should" means "is this the best way to serve Twitter's chosen goals"; if that was not your intent, the rest of my comment is irrelevant and you may wish to stop reading now.

    It is true that user feedback does not affect whether or not that statement is actually true. But since there isn't any way for Twitter to know a priori whether the statement is true or not, user feedback is a critical piece of data that any rational business "should" take into consideration.

    In other words, Twitter is indeed entitled to ignore these complaints. But unless their chosen goal is "let's see how quickly we can go bankrupt!" it is probably foolish for them to do so.

  70. says

    Right now conservatives lack a compelling way to say what they really want which is "hey twitter, don't be a jerk and let people speak". Since Twitter is being a jerk, it's an understandable sentiment.

    By a compelling way, I mean something that Twitter would be obligated to disclose to current and prospective shareholders as a legitimate business risk. Witty, loud, obnoxious, and serious analytical texts aren't compelling in this sense. A fund to put internet connected servers up to run a twitter clone and pay for advertisements to steal away all of twitter's customers would be compelling.

    I would suggest that conservatives are or would be interested if they'd ever heard of it, to update and implement a modern equivalent to the Usenet Death Penalty (UDP) against Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and any other social platform that is giving in to the SJW crybullies. Turnabout is fair play of course as the SJW people are using what is essentially an updated UDP strategy against conservatives at present.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet_Death_Penalty

  71. Joe says

    It's interesting that no-one seems willing to engage Jerry's argument, up above, which is on point and very substantive. Much easier to feel very virtuous about losing, I guess.

    KW: "Whether or not you support anti-discrimination laws governing private entities, they can't be reconciled completely with free speech and free association rights."

    True. Aaaaand, here's our case in point. The solution to laws that are used to target political dissidents is… to whine about being targeted, and never use or extend the established laws in ways that would create either deterrence or repeal.

    Newsflash: a political grouping that will not protect its members from attack will cease to exist. This isn't part of the law, but it's part of the human substrate upon which law rests – and depends.

    Karamkin and birdboy have an intuitive understanding of this last truth, because leftism teaches it: "solidarity." Conservatives pretend it doesn't/ shouldn't exist, then can't understand why they always lose (aside: The last conservative who got this was Reagan – a union leader. Not coincidence). And the stakes for those losses are rising, creating an anxiety level that can break traditional loyalties. If you're an unreliable, backbiting ally, don't be surprised when people look elsewhere for political allies. Twitter isn't the only one damaging its future prospects here.

    Ken, you are setting conservatism (and libertarianism) up to be replaced by things that a wise person should fear – and if it happens, it will be because they're doing the job that Americans like yourself aren't willing to do.

  72. Abe says

    I came back to read the comments on this essay after mine was posted above, and am astounded, not least because:
    1) no mention of the fact that Twitter has never made a penny in profits and investors are running out of patience (see share drop)
    2) Twitter user base is actually shrinking as of 4Q15, kiss of death if this becomes a trend
    3) the Twitter product only succeeds commercially in markets where controversial speech is severely curtailed either by decorum (Japan) or force of terror (Saudi)
    4) protecting Bad For Business Bigotries will not be a priority for a company struggling to survive

    It's almost as if libertaryans reject the free market and feel entitled to free twitter.

  73. Adrian Lopez says

    "They're wrong."

    You are conflating separate issues even as you accuse others of doing the same. While the First Amendment involves freedom of speech, the reverse need not be true. You are either free to speak, or you are not. Outside of the special rules of the courtroom, whether one is free to speak depends both on lack of interference from the government and access to a platform on which to speak. That platform may be the town square or a privately owned website on which inane thoughts are shared 140 characters at a time, but the platform is required.

    Rather than "blurring the distinction between state action and private action against speech", recognizing that the owners of private platforms are free to deny others the freedom to speak is to recognize the difference between the two. In a world that is increasingly dominated by private gatekeepers, this distinction can be incredibly important, even as a starting point for the creation of more inclusive platforms.

  74. Patrick Maupin says

    @Joe:

    You conflate rights with laws, and you conflate twitter's refusal to transmit messages with an "attack", and you think that to maintain our liberties, we need to make others surrender theirs. You couldn't be more wrong on all accounts.

    @Adrian Lopez:

    Great speech emanating from a great speaker creates its own platform. The rest of us just have to muddle through somehow, I suppose.

  75. Castaigne says

    @Tomblvd:

    Who is saying that?

    The current so-called "alt-right", who are the new arbiters of conservatism in the USA.

    ===

    @Patterico:

    If this is so apparent, I would appreciate a pointer to specific comments by conservatives making that argument.

    Just see the writings of Theodore Beale, Milo Yiannopoulos, John C. Wright, Dean Esmay, Nick Griffin, Daryush Valizydeh, Jerry Coyne, David Thompson – you know, the voices of the New Young Conservatism. If you really need a bunch of quotes quickly, just head on over to Breitbart. Lots and lots to say about no-platforming.

    I would say people have the right to criticize me in any way they see fit, but their criticisms are justified only if they are correct.

    I would say that you deciding what is a correct criticism about yourself is…self-serving to say the least. All you would have to do is declare all criticism to be incorrect, and thus you have a fait accompli. After all, the rules you set down have been followed.

    ===

    @Careless:

    Castaigne has had quite the sequence of amoral/sociopathic/trolling posts this month

    Just amoral. I choose a public stance of amorality because I feel that choosing a public stance of what is and is not moral/ethical obligates me to force people to obey it. So it's either "I have no stance on what is right and wrong for all people." or "I will make everyone be obedient to what I think is right and wrong for all people."

    I think it's the better part of public policy to stick with the former, and merely go by what is legal or illegal. Morality and ethics are for the private sphere, unless one wants to institute the theocracy.

    ===

    @Austin:

    Why is the "no fly list" a terrible, unaccountable infringement on our civil liberties and due process rights if you don't have a right to fly in a passenger airplane?

    I would say that it infringes since the "no fly list" is created, operated by, and enforced by the government, without input or choice by the private airlines as to whether they wish to follow it. Now, if the private airlines did it, I suppose that would be within their right to do so. But that isn't the case.

    I happen to live in a major city where there are plenty of public spaces for people to hold protests, but many people live in exurbs where the only common space is a mall. As a result, they have no meaningful right to legal public assembly.

    Then they should change the law(s) in their exurb/county/small town to create public spaces they can use for assembly.

  76. TimothyAWiseman says

    @Ken White Well said. I agree that as a private entity, Twitter has the right to censor speech on its service whether for reasons I consider appropriate (actually preventing harassment) or any other reason they like. But, as a customer, I do not like the way they are handling it currently and the direction they are heading in. If they continue moving in that direction, I will likely leave the service and instead pursue alternatives.

    @Chris Jenkins

    I sympathize with your position. In practice, platforms such as twitter and facebook hold enormous amounts of power over what speech is able to actually get out there. But, they have that right and they are also not monopolies. If I disagree with Twitter, I can focus my attention on Google+ or Facebook. If I dislike all of those, there are yet other social networks available, some of which at least make efforts to bake free speech into their architecture.

  77. says

    Fair enough point Ken. Although what I want is either twitter to abide by their stated support of free speech or explicate new rules.

    I used twitter as a means of conversing with "fake internet friends" if the bargain has changed such that I'm not subject to a flurry of rules prior to doing so, let me know, clearly, so I can reassess if this is a relationship I want to continue with.

    As of now twitter is trying to have it both ways, claiming to be a free speech platform, while clearly also shaping things towards their preferred speech. At best that makes them hypocritical, at worst I'd argue it is akin to breaking their promises to users.

  78. says

    You know, my own stance on free speech on my Internet properties is not entirely unlike Twitter's. In fact, what I say is:

    There may be free speech, but there is no free lunch. You want to make a speech, get your own blog; I run and pay for this one. I reserve the right, at all times, to delete any comment if I choose not to want it here.

    However, I'm not a public company with the implicit purpose of maximizing revenue to provide return to shareholders; Twitter is. And I don't recall hearing that Twitter had chartered itself as a "public benefit corporation" which would justify the kind of stance it's taking as serving some larger goal than maximizing shareholder returns.

    Twitter would do well to remember that America is roughly half-liberal and half-conservative…and it doesn't take much to turn the current "up and coming" Internet service into the next AOL, Compuserve, or MySpace.

  79. Marta says

    Just see the writings of Theodore Beale, Milo Yiannopoulos, John C. Wright, Dean Esmay, Nick Griffin, Daryush Valizydeh, Jerry Coyne, David Thompson – you know, the voices of the New Young Conservatism. If you really need a bunch of quotes quickly, just head on over to Breitbart. Lots and lots to say about no-platforming.

    There is much to disagree with what Jerry Coyne writes, and his full throated support of a few his friends who are well-known public figures can be knicker twisting, but he is, by no means, a Vox Day or Roosh V, and including him in the same set as these knuckleheads is a smear (which I suspect you know.)

    Generally, I learn some from the stuff you write, Castaigne, but that bit above is not your finest.

  80. Abe says

    Lol delusional. America is not half alt-right racist misogynist trash. Twitter needs to ban more garbage not less if it intends to survive

  81. Castaigne says

    @Abe:

    Lol delusional. America is not half alt-right racist misogynist trash.

    I have been advised that it's not racist, but "racial realism" and "human biological diversity". I have also been advised that it's not misogynist, but "anti-Dworkinist", "traditionalist" and "gender egalitarianism". Your mileage may vary.

    But I should point out that if the so-called "alt-right" isn't the current voice of conservatism, why is Trump, their selected leader, currently projected to win both the Republican nomination AND the general election, with at least 60% of the popular vote? I don't know; maybe the statisticians are wrong. Time will tell.

    ===

    @Marta:

    There is much to disagree with what Jerry Coyne writes, and his full throated support of a few his friends who are well-known public figures can be knicker twisting, but he is, by no means, a Vox Day or Roosh V, and including him in the same set as these knuckleheads is a smear (which I suspect you know.)

    It's not a smear. Theodore and Daryush are well-known as luminaries of the "alt-right", eclipsing even Moldbug in popularity and plaudits. Coyne has now entered that particular field as well, decrying the Regressive Left and championing alt-right political stances. "Knuckleheads"? No, I'd say they are the "Top Men" of their particular bailiwick.

    Generally, I learn some from the stuff you write, Castaigne, but that bit above is not your finest.

    I honestly don't know why you'd be learning anything as I a) have nothing to teach and b) say nothing that hasn't already been said by someone somewhere else at another time. I suggest you pay more attention to what Ken and Patrick say; they're the real teachers.

  82. Marta says

    It's not a smear. Theodore and Daryush are well-known as luminaries of the "alt-right", eclipsing even Moldbug in popularity and plaudits. Coyne has now entered that particular field as well, decrying the Regressive Left and championing alt-right political stances. "Knuckleheads"? No, I'd say they are the "Top Men" of their particular bailiwick.

    "Decrying the Regressive Left" does not put someone in the same set as Vox Day or Roosh V. This is the sort of binary thinking up with which I will not put. Also, too, it makes everyone a little bit dumber.

    I honestly don't know why you'd be learning anything as I a) have nothing to teach and b) say nothing that hasn't already been said by someone somewhere else at another time. I suggest you pay more attention to what Ken and Patrick say; they're the real teachers.

    Again with the binary thinking. I'm here, ain't I–learning from Ken and Patrick? Else wise, I guess I'd just piss off and go play MineCraft, or something. Why would you conclude that because I said I learned from reading your comments, it meant I wasn't learning from other people, too? Like I said. Binary.

  83. Echo says

    Very few of the comments here are worth engaging, since most of the conversation seems to be "left wing trolls and those socially inept enough to respond to them".

    But Ken, remember what "Orwellian" actually means to anyone who read more than 1984.
    Remember his essays about coming home from the Spanish civil war to find privately owned left newspapers calling his dead anarchist comrades "fascists" simply because the Stalinist English Left supported a different faction of communists.
    Remember his horror at the English left's instant shifts between rabid warmongering and absolute "principled" pacifism (and back again) simply because the Soviet Union signed and broke a pact with Hitler.

    1984 was a pretty crap book. But "Orwellianism" is about political cults torturing language and meaning for the sake of propaganda, not boots stamping on human faces forever.
    And the New Left that Twitter seems to be embracing are almost identical to the Old Left whose behaviour Orwell was writing about.

    As an aside, consider a claim like "America is not half alt-right racist misogynist trash" against the trending narrative that all Americans are racist misoggynist trash, and the left's habit of using those slurs against anyone who disagrees with them for any reason.
    By that standard, I would say that a large majority of Americans count as "racist misoggynist trash". Karmakin is right: this behaviour is how you get Trumps.

  84. Castaigne says

    @Marta:

    "Decrying the Regressive Left" does not put someone in the same set as Vox Day or Roosh V.

    Same speech, same political motivation, not in the same set? Er, OK. I mean, he even uses the same "crybully" lingo that Beale invented.
    To me that's like saying Lyndon Larouche is not part of the Left. He IS part of the Left, and thus indivisible from it, since he has not been expelled from the Left.

    This is the sort of binary thinking up with which I will not put.

    It's not binary. It's "Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck." Let's say for instance that I seriously say the following sentence (yes, an extreme example, used only to highlight): These effete fags who don’t even lift clutch their pearls when Trump channels the spirit of his blood and soil White Warriors and speaks in the MASCULINE language of the Tribe Realtalk. Anyone who DIDN'T regard me as being part of the New Conservatism would be a fool, considering the amount of jargon and in-talk that I use there.

    Again with the binary thinking. I'm here, ain't I–learning from Ken and Patrick? Else wise, I guess I'd just piss off and go play MineCraft, or something. Why would you conclude that because I said I learned from reading your comments, it meant I wasn't learning from other people, too? Like I said. Binary.

    I think you mistook my attempt at politeness and modesty the wrong way. Let me be more blunt – there is nothing I have to teach and no reason why you should learn anything from my comments, as I do not have the credentials and status that Ken White and Patrick and Randazza do. Therefore, do not. There is no point in learning from inferiors.

  85. Echo says

    By 1937 the whole of the intelligentsia was mentally at war. Left-wing thought had narrowed down to ‘anti-Fascism’, i.e. to a negative, and a torrent of hate-literature directed against Germany and the politicians supposedly friendly to Germany was pouring from the Press. The thing that, to me, was truly frightening about the war in Spain was not such violence as I witnessed, nor even the party feuds behind the lines, but the immediate reappearance in left-wing circles of the mental atmosphere of the Great War. The very people who for twenty years had sniggered over their own superiority to war hysteria were the ones who rushed straight back into the mental slum of 1915. All the familiar wartime idiocies, spy-hunting, orthodoxy-sniffing (Sniff, sniff. Are you a good anti-Fascist?), the retailing of atrocity stories, came back into vogue as though the intervening years had never happened…
    On the whole the literary history of the thirties seems to justify the opinion that a writer does well to keep out of politics. For any writer who accepts or partially accepts the discipline of a political party is sooner or later faced with the alternative: toe the line, or shut up. It is, of course, possible to toe the line and go on writing — after a fashion. Any Marxist can demonstrate with the greatest of ease that ‘bourgeois’ liberty of thought is an illusion. But when he has finished his demonstration there remains the psychological fact that without this ‘bourgeois’ liberty the creative powers wither away.

    Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Sounds like leftist tech journalists calling for "antifa" mobs to root out and murder conservatives working in San Francisco. Sounds like the constant witch-hunts and chanting of meaningless stock phrases.
    I'd say "Orwellian" is an excellent term to describe the Twitter "Committee for Public Safety".
    I'd say to replace "fascist" with "racist-misoggynist", but you almost don't need to–they use them interchangeably.

  86. says

    All media outlets have a bias. Traditional media, i.e., newspapers, magazines, radio and tv channels, project a specific corporate image, mission or slant. (E.g., FOX is conservative; MSNBC, liberal.)

    Social media is no different. Top management's perspective will be reflected in the posts censored.

    Those looking to post "freely" ought to consider producing their own blog. Otherwise, the market will test the social media venue and either conform to that site's slant or move on to another forum that is more compatible with the individual's philosophy.

    Often, however, breaking news occurs first on sites like Twitter and the like. Many people also socialize through these sites. It's entirely foreseeable that social sites are evolving into the neighborhood corner bar. If one expects Twitter to be more than that, disappointment is sure to follow.

  87. Marta says

    Er, OK. I mean, he even uses the same "crybully" lingo that Beale invented.

    Show me.

    I read his blog every day. He has a strong point of view about speech, but in no way is he a racist, misogynist, homophobe. The same cannot be said for Day and Roosh.

    The subject of speech on and by the Left could not be more contentious or divisive, but tarring those on the Left who have vigorous and outspoken views about what can be said, by whom, and on which platform as just like Vox Day or Roosh V is complete crap.

  88. libarbarian says

    I'm pretty sure that Twitter did some market research before it started moving in this direction and that the results of that market research convinced them that they stood to lose more by letting a small number of people spark these Twitter "Insult Mobs" than they do by shutting them down.

  89. Castaigne says

    @Marta:

    Show me.

    Take a look at his recent post The Authoritarian Left reaches rock bottom: The “no-platforming” of Peter Tatchell in the UK. I honestly cannot see any difference between this and an article on similar no-platforming over at Vox Popoli, such as this one. They are both written politely and eruditely; they both use the lingo. They could be transplanted without anyone noticing a difference.

    The subject of speech on and by the Left could not be more contentious or divisive, but tarring those on the Left who have vigorous and outspoken views about what can be said, by whom, and on which platform as just like Vox Day or Roosh V is complete crap.

    I would submit that Coyne is no longer on the Left, but has instead joined New Conservatism, even if not by choice. It is agreed that Leftism is SJWism, and those who do not propose SJWism are not Leftists. Thus the expelling of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, etc., from the Left.

    Although I would submit that we're getting rather far afield from the OP by continuing on this tangent.

  90. joshuaism says

    I look at this #freestacy cause as a big bucket of meh. Just as you say, they hold the keys to their private platform. He who pays the piper calls the tune. If you don't like twitter's stance you are free to leave. I doubt you will because:

    1. It's too big of a market not to publish in
    2. You agree more with twitter than you do with Stacy
    3. They will always allow your respectable disagreement with their policies

    Even if the malcontents of the twitterverse band together to make an alternative service it won't be worth your time to use it. Look at 8chan, the Gamergate answer to being banned from 4chan. It has a very narrow audience and will never build the cache of 4chan. 4chan didn't ban all ugly speech. Just the worst of it. Its the same here. If you are so insufferable that you get banned from an outrage forum (such as 4chan or twitter) then clearly you have a problem, not the platform. The only useful exercise is to consider what to call your failed alternative. Dodo? Hawkr? Ryft? Twaddle?

  91. Abe says

    @Castaigne: Trump has not been banned by Twitter, no GOP candidate has. Disgusting RS McCain has rightly been suspended because the Twitter product cannot survive commercially as a sewer of racist misogynist spouting. There is no moral or legal issue at play here, just business.

  92. Jackson says

    Actually, I'm pretty sure Twitter has no idea what consumers want or how to make money.

    Don't assume their management knows what they are doing – this is a company that is not profitable, has not been profitable, and probably will not be profitable. In many ways, Facebook is the outlier for social media; Twitter is far more likely to collapse under its own weight and fail as it alienates people than it is to have found the magic "just exclude all the mean people" formula (which is not what worked for Facebook, but rather having concentric circles in which those mean people were found) that makes all the monies.

    Broadly speaking, Twitter is entitled to their dumb policies and people are entitled not to give Twitter the time of day because of their dumb policies. In reality, we either need to have a mature discussion about if it's time to start regulating social media like we do the telephone companies, or anyone who disagrees with Twitter should just stop using it, delete their accounts, and block anything twitter-related.

    Twitter will find a liberal echo chamber is not profitable at the scale they need for a public firm on social media (my prediction), or they will. And if they do, that means a conservative one is also possible. Then we would have our MSNBCitter and Foxitter all over again.

  93. Castaigne says

    @Marta: I had replied to your comment, but it appears to have been deleted. I'm taking it as a hint to cease on this particular tangent.

  94. Argentina Orange says

    The current so-called "alt-right", who are the new arbiters of conservatism in the USA.

    Lay off the Ryulongwiki. It's aggravating your Cruetzfeldt-Jakob.

  95. says

    This is more or less a response to the entire comment thread, I enjoy debates, and I particularly enjoy trying to discover other peoples' core axioms and principles – and I disagree with some of the analyses of others' principles presented here.

    Castaigne's wrote:

    Apparently, it is now a conservative value that all platforms must be forced to allow whatever speech the speechifiers want, be they public or private.

    I think this (and most of the debate on what's being seen as conservative hypocrisy in the defense of McCain) is unhelpfully broad.

    When questioned by Patterico on this statement, Castaigne pointed to a number of people, only one of which I am actually familiar with off-hand: Vox Day. From what I've read of his blog, he thinks like a war-gamer, all the time. His observations – including of such behaviors as Twitter's – have taught him a lesson, and given his perspective it's not about public/private censorship. He's observed speech as not being the 'environment' for the battle of ideas, but as a weapon in that battle. From that view, 'hypocrisy' on free-speech is no more problematic than, oh, U.S. having nukes but trying to prevent Iran from doing the same. Indeed, I suspect he'd see such criticism as amusing and a sign of victory.

    Since I'm talking about Vox Day here, I'd like to reply on Joe's comment on the lack of conservatives to handle the concept of solidarity. In keeping with Vox Day's mentality of gleefully using what he sees as his enemies' tactics, he takes great pride in his sarcastically named "Vile Faceless Minions" – volunteers ready to do whatever Vox Day decides is useful and/or funny. While he isn't a typical conservative by anybody's definition, I'd still move on to argue that 'solidarity' is not actually foreign to conservatives, it's just put on a different pedestal (and labelled differently). As far as I can tell, the theory of social conservatism is that a well-ordered social fabric obviates many current government functions, and that a welfare state is a moral hazard that encourages dissolution of that 'social solidarity' with unpleasant consequences. If the left claims unions and worker solidarity and a unified government, the right claims the solidarity of family and small towns.

    But back to free speech: people like Vox Day aren't the only defenders of this McCain guy. I mean, we could just lump them all together and call all discontinuities 'hypocrisy', but given Ken White is also a (muted, admittedly) defender of McCain here, that's ridiculous, so I strongly disagree with Castaigne's 'conservative principle' line. As usual in political things, there are many players all with their own motives, confused by the U.S. political system's tendency to limit discussions to two labels.

    Here's a stereotypical 'conservative principle' – law and order. Suppose a lot of fairly moderate conservatives are grumpily admitting defeat (at least legally, at least temporarily) on, oh, gay marriage, marijuana legalization, the ACA, and whatever else. Based on the wedding cake and florist precedents cited by several others already, perhaps they should be forgiven for thinking that 'platforms must be forced to allow whatever speech' as Castaigne put it. In short, quite a lot of the conservative complaints about the treatment of McCain are not rightist hypocrisy as much as accusations of leftist hypocrisy.

    Frank defines Conservatives as those who don't agree with government forcing Twitter to change behavior (smells like No True Scotsman to me), but ensuring the opposition suffers from the policy you don't like can be a high-minded defense of legal equality (and as such, independent of the platform argument) or a tactical step to encourage the policy's repeal via general acclaim, neither of which are necessarily contrary to conservative principles.

    As for the other party, I do feel Twitter is being hypocritical here. I still remember how they crowed about enabling the free-speech that led to the fall of censorious Middle-Easter autocracies.

  96. Eric The Fruit Bat says

    It should be noted that Mr. McCain's ban appears quite permanent-his other account was suspended within the last 12 hours. Of course, he didn't help himself by saying "This is Robnert Stacy McCain" in a Tweet on that other account….

  97. AH says

    "It should be noted that Mr. McCain's ban appears quite permanent-his other account was suspended within the last 12 hours. Of course, he didn't help himself by saying "This is Robnert Stacy McCain" in a Tweet on that other account…."

    If people think it's really a problem, they now know how to show solidarity with him. Enough "I'm Brian, and my wife is too" posts and even the twits at twitter my reconsider.

    (by they way, am I supposed to know who the hell he is?)

  98. MDC says

    The fact that nobody wants me to belch the theme from Golden Girls in their living room does not mean that my "free speech" is impaired in any meaningful wait.

    Ken, I would be quite interested in having you belch the theme from the Golden Girls in my living room, along with any other selections you might be able to belch out.

    Does that change your argument any?

  99. Narad says

    I would suggest that conservatives are or would be interested if they'd ever heard of it, to update and implement a modern equivalent to the Usenet Death Penalty (UDP) against Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and any other social platform that is giving in to the SJW crybullies.

    Yah. Small problem: you don't carry their traffic. Of course, you could switch back to UUCP. Expect a noticeable performance hit.

  100. says

    Ah again with the Nazism. What is this fascination really all about? Did the shock value of the death stick wear off and now the propaganda is all about how each and everyone of us (except Jews) should now profit or at a minimum be able to claim Nazi persecution? Nazi persecution was about inferiority to commit theft. It certainly wasn't about the fascist need to dominate others out of entitlement much like the legal community in the US most certainly is afflicted by. You happen to be part of a team who attempts to benefit by calling Jews that have lost hundreds of relatives to the Nazis. You have aligned yourself with more than one who wishes to erase a bloodline.

    Just like the Romans who killed Eashoa' M'sheekha, forced Jewish artists to depict him over and over again on the death stick, and now as you do, create one false propaganda machine after the next because your too stupid to just sit the fuck down and come up with your own product you have to steal from others.

    I have taken it upon myself to declare to declare my speech against you and the speech of others against you as religious freedom. Your depressed because your evil and know it. You and yours I am sure can't handle the phone calls where you do get a big customer that then asks "You be Joo?"

    And then we have your Sicilian hero. You know because Sicilians have always respected human rights above money making schemes (not) and your continued efforts to support the hijacking of human rights (freedom of speech and freedom from false persecution) in your own get rich off hate and dissension internet schemes. You have for the most part joined the denizens of legal trash by claiming your buddies are doing pro boning work while they charge to sell clients out. You want compassion for your difficulties with depression while you support the calling of someone whose family was targeted, possibly above other families for extermination by the Nazi's as a Nazi. To me it's like you all have this strange mirror of defense where you do to others exactly what you claim they are doing to you. Did you know the very people Hitler wanted to recreate he feared were already in existence?

    You are the G-dless Nazi. You resent that you couldn't figure out how to cash in. You and yours will rape and resent the world because of your own feelings of moral inferiority and inability to be honest. Poor Hitler was depressed too I'm sure when he sucked after all his art work got deemed shit. Evil Jew conspiracy of course to not accept a copy.

    You and yours , who call themselves men, who aren't actually men, that get pleasure out of dominating gay men and women who they perceive as vulnerable or as targets, at this point should be placed in front of a firing squad. Especially shit bag attorney's whoring out freedom of speech. Be depressed Ken be very depressed. Your a fucked in the head evil Nazi yourself and know it. Your fucked in the head for supporting the terrorizing of someone whose family was wiped court by Nazi's. I'm not the only Jew you morons have tried to wipe out recently. The K family were targeted by the way for being the highest known Catti's. You know the ones who destroyed Rome and who Hitler wanted to be? I would brace myself for some biblical smiting if I were you. You have multitudes praying for it.

    Be careful who you call ignoble. Some people have been breed for more than one millennium in the name of trust and humanity. You one the other hand have become the but boy or "receptacle" of a money making scheme. Your just the whore of another Hitler. Hello inferiority race whore who must declare"I too have had my rights infringed upon by Nazi's."

    Seems to me to be the biggest rape hoax possible closet queen.

    You and yours are the Hitlers.

  101. says

    One last thing. Why don't you tell more Mexicans Donald Trump will put you in boxcars and gas you while your friends do that to the families that really happened to? Pander pander pander Marc Randazza receptacle.

  102. says

    What about the Bennett family? So many great scholars that were women came from that family. Now the men have to make public notice they themselves rule over the woman they are with. The channel of inferiority evil you all refuse to recognize only emasculates you more. Your all cowardly unless acting in a gang.

    Gays, who are actually more persecuted than any other group besides women, are stronger than your type because honesty is important to them. Please do the world a favor and jump. You and your friends wanted me to and instead you got my gay brother. I won't be forgetting anytime soon how you and yours have stolen years from my life. Interestingly enough you all have attacked a distant cousin of mine as well.

    My life on earth should be as heavenly as I can make it. Trash like you and yours has no right to scam, hold me up and profit off my suffering. You and yours will rot beyond your wildest imaginations this year.

    Don't ask G-d to hear you. Enough of us have prayed your name is blotted out.

    It's a holy war and most defiantly! Your kind against mine. Try to win by calling us Nazi's just like before when you called us Christ killers. Profit from what you did to Jesus yourselves and what from what Hitler did us, not you again and again.

    Who will care when phony baloney Ken's fweeewings are hurt and he's depressed. People don't like people who call women receptacles. That comment alone, that you made publicly, should have gotten you disbarred. But then your worse than the whores you claim cry false rape. You want privileges because your a depressed attorney who can't make a buck so the depression forces you to scam. I wish I could call you a fairy but fairies are better men.

    It must be hard to be a white- non Jewish straight attorney. Good luck with the depression angle while you ruthlessly ruin others while crying for understanding. Yellow belly crumb snatcher! (Idaho thing you probably also don't know since your also Anaheim CA trash)

  103. T says

    ^ B+
    Extra credit for the your/you're conflations, but you lost points on your transparent lack of passion.

  104. Matthew Cline says

    @Mariann Bacharach :

    Your fucked in the head for supporting the terrorizing of someone whose family was wiped court by Nazi's.

    Who exactly are you talking about?

    What about the Bennett family?

    Which Bennett family are you talking about?

    Also, what exactly are you going on about Ken being anti-gay?

  105. AH says

    @Victor Milán: Good, it wasn't just me. I thought maybe I was hit in the head and had a concussion bad enough I had forgotten about it.

  106. King Squirrel says

    Are new bloggers for Popehat assigned a Tara Carreon on orientation day, or are they expected to provide their own?

  107. Samuel says

    I can recall those days when our Marianns were sequestered in "mental institutions."

    Good times…

  108. Castaigne says

    @Samuel:

    I can recall those days when our Marianns were sequestered in "mental institutions."
    Good times…

    Costs taxpayer money, thus not in the conservative/libertarian interest. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." and all that.

  109. Narad says

    Your just the whore of another Hitler. Hello inferiority race whore who must declare"I too

    Having not looked closely at the design of the minuscule, I was initially quite confused what the invocation of 'livrakha' was doing there.

  110. Narad says

    Extra credit for the your/you're conflations, but you lost points on your transparent lack of passion.

    Doesn't failing to stick the flounce count for anything these days?

  111. NickM says

    @Castaigne

    Costs taxpayer money, thus not in the conservative/libertarian interest. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." and all that.

    I don't think David Bazelon was out to save taxpayer money.

  112. That Anonymous Coward says

    I'm on the twitters, I interact with people who don't share my opinions, apparently I have better big boy pants than others.

    When I encounter asshats there is this great block button. I don't stay up at night worried that I will miss them saying something I disagree with. I'm sure that I've gotten blocked for any number of reasons, but I find the ability to keep tweeting. I've not had to block that many people, mostly bots, but the few I did have to block where those who decided it was their job to punish me for not holding their views. I also don't work down a list of people to follow just so they can offend me & I can make bank out of explaining why they are wrong.

    Twitter can have whatever policies they want, but they aren't allowed to call a penguin a duck. The lopsided removal of targets of one side or the other is a dumb move. Pretending it is for the greater good is stupid. The opacity of what is happening adds fuel to a fire, and the petty stunt of removing hashtag completions makes the point they have picked a side.

    I've seen accounts tweeting that others should be raped, killed, and all sorts of things for days without Twitter lifting a finger… yet we see removals of those we can't find any "crimes" reaching that level. They are playing an optics game, appealing to a small number of very loud people who have to be right. Harassment on Twitter is HUGE, but we fixed it by removing those our team disagree with. The problem is threats of rape & murder continue… this didn't do anything but polarize different sides to feel empowered or slighted. This will in turn encourage more BS as each side tries to score points to win, ignoring the wake of scorched earth that used to be a decent platform. This is the I can't tell you what harassment is but I'll know it when I see it. Without any clear definitions its easy to suggest that even mentioning someone is harassment worthy of exile.

    I'm going to ride the pony ride until it crashes and burns under its growing burden of appeasing one side over the other. Its a reflection of the world we live in, it is no longer acceptable to agree to disagree you have to take on my view or be purged. One can see the "winners" of this round behaving in the same manner they decry others for doing, and if you dare to mention that you get the heretic brand. They'd brand me a heretic but as one of teh gays I am already oppressed and that leaves them in a conundrum.

    One can only hope they get their shit together before it crashes, there aren't many other places where I can interact with this many people at once and engage in debate & sharing snarky comments. It'll be far to boring if everyone just has to have the same enforced viewpoints or be exiled.

  113. Llamaherder says

    I'm expecting point-by-point refutations of Mariann's posts from each person claiming we should take all speech equally seriously.

  114. Castaigne says

    @Llamaherder:

    I'm expecting point-by-point refutations of Mariann's posts from each person claiming we should take all speech equally seriously.

    I'd love to, but I'm having trouble parsing her. It's worse than trying to wade through Moldbug when he's on his Finnegan's Wake kick.

  115. Castaigne says

    @NickM:

    I don't think David Bazelon was out to save taxpayer money.

    I wasn't quoting Bazelon. I was quoting Norquist. And what would Bazelon have to do with anything? He was already out of office by the time of Reagan's deinstitutionalization drive of the USA in the 80s.

  116. Blake says

    Is this not relevant?

    "However, I feel it necessary to remind our Loyal Commenters of the First Rule of Troll Feeding here at The Other McCain, and that rule is DON’T. Most of you have been here long enough that I shouldn’t have to remind you, but evidently I must. The second rule, of course, is to let me know I need to bring the banhammer and the mop to the comments. Thanks, by the way, to Loyal Commenter (or lurker, who knows) R*H*, who did a great job of calling in the fire support today."

    http://theothermccain.com/2015/07/29/a-moderately-gentle-reminder-to-the-commentariat/

  117. Dan Weber says

    I miss the old Popehat comment section. Not just because I'm a curmudgeon, but because there was more interest in discussing things than in assigning motivations to other people.

  118. Echo says

    Dan, I'm pretty sure this was inevitable once Ken decided to "grow his brand" with petty Twitter shitflinging.
    Old popehat is dead and not coming back. A comment section takes its cues from the host.

  119. glasnost says

    There's a real argument lurking buried in here that others have made, which is that the effect of granting private corporations total control over the speech they allow in their domain can have a vastly different net impact on the availability of speech overall than it did in 1789. A handful of oligopolic media companies have the power to make it, on a practical level, very difficult or almost impossible to communicate ideas at any significant scale. And the market for replacing those companies works badly. Facebook, for example, due to network effects, is overwhelmingly difficult to replace.

    I find it particularly amusing to see this argument being made by Stacy McCain fans, though, because it's been a liberal argument for about one hundred years. If you follow it far enough, you come out in favor of campaign finance reform, because money doesn't equal speech – speech out of your voice box is inherently egaliatarian while buying communication is vastly oligoplic in today's market – and you come out in favor of, for example, the Fairness Doctrine, which the Reaganites cheered about tearing down.

    I look forward to the government forcing Fox News to give Rachel Maddow a time slot. :-D. No, actually, I have mixed feelings about that, even as a liberal. But coordinated private oligoplic censorship in modern media is a severe problem. The solution part is harder, but aggressive anti-trust behavior is probably a good start.

  120. T says

    There's a real argument lurking buried in here that others have made, which is that the effect of granting private corporations total control over the speech they allow in their domain can have a vastly different net impact on the availability of speech overall than it did in 1789.

    Vastly differed indeed: it is incalculably less worrisome given the broad array of forums for speech that have been facilitated by technological advancement.

  121. Jerry says

    @T: This is a nice idea, but the reality is much messier. Yes, anyone can start a blog, or yet another social network. Gathering an audience, though … that's still difficult. Often very difficult.

    Back at the dawn of history, when I was in college, there was a student-run daily newspaper which pretty much everyone read. There were various "alternative" newspapers that would show up on campus, and would be widely read. You could put up posters around campus and people would read them. It was quite easy to reach everyone on campus.

    My daughter is in college. You'd think that reaching everyone on campus today would be much easier. You'd be wrong. The student newspaper comes out infrequently, and sits in piles at a few places on campus. It has a web site, but no one seems to read it. There are official university-sponsored (and completely controlled) sites, and people do read those regularly, because that's where important information is published. But good luck getting your own message there. Similarly, there are mailing lists that reach everyone on campus – but they are restricted to "official use".

    There are Facebook pages, there's Yik Yak, and number of other sites and apps – but getting the word out about a new one is a slow process with uncertain results. And none of the existing ones have a really broad coverage. (Yik Yak may be the closest at this point.) Ironically, it's the very easy availability of new mechanisms that leads to a large number of small communities, and no effective way to build large communities. You could try the older methods – postings, alternative papers – but people have lost the habit of looking at them, so you'll get nowhere. Whatever the reasons, the results – to this child of the '60's and '70's – are clear: There's little sense of large-scale shared community beyond the officially-curated versions, news of interest seems to make it out of smaller communities much more slowly than it once did, and in general officialdom has a much easier time controlling the message than they once did.

    This is at a small college (a couple of thousand students). Scale up and the problems scale up. The rise in electronic communication has led to a decline in physical presence. This has many good features – but it has negative ones as well. Trying to organize a union where the employees never physically come together is an extremely difficult undertaking, for example – the company is not about to share its employee mailing lists.

    When I was in college, there was a student-published telephone book of everyone's room telephone. I ran the organization one year, and expanded the phone book to include graduate students – and all faculty and administrative offices. The former was just for convenience; the latter was a deliberate attempt on my part to give students access to the university power structures: I had learned from experience that simply being able to reach the right offices and people easily could solve many problems. Today, no one has a phone in their dorm room, and we never had white pages or directory assistance for cell phones. The phone numbers for faculty and university offices are on university-controlled web pages – where people can be carefully channelled to where officialdom wants them to go, often to fill-in Web forms that cover only carefully controlled situations. Students have university-assigned email addresses – but there's no easy mapping from names to email addresses, and of course no directory. (Not that college students today use email all that much among themselves anyway.)

    Don't read this as a call to return to "the good old days". I rely heavily on electronic forms of communication, and they've brought many benefits. Many of their side-effects have been both unexpected and helpful. But we need to look at the benefits – and the costs – and in particular the real effects with open eyes. We built a free, open Internet – and got spam and tracking and intrusive advertising. We made it easy to build immense communities, at scales way beyond anything that ever existed in the past – and they ended up (a) being controlled by a small number of huge organizations; (b) often making it harder to build small communities. Technologies and the way they interact with people are driven by a logic of their own, and often don't go where you expect or want them to. Wishing it were otherwise is pointless. Understanding and dealing with the realities is hard but the only way forward.

    — Jerry

  122. Achillea says

    So it's legally and/or morally perfectly okay (even laudable, if I recall the positions of certain individuals here correctly) for the government to force a private business (say, a bakery) to provide their service to people its owners find objectionable … except when it's Twitter engaging in such discriminatory behavior. Got it.

  123. Dan Weber says

    I like @Jerry's comment. As all the things in our life get "smarter," there are a lot more shenanigans that can be played.

    Imagine writing a letter to the editor of the newspaper criticizing them, and it shows up in your newspaper the next day. You think that your voice has been heard. But, it was only printed in your copy of the day's newspaper.

    That would be completely impractical a generation ago, but it's very easy to do today.

  124. Rich Rostrom says

    "do governments exist to impose their will upon us, or do they exist for us to impose our will upon them?"

    Neither. Governments exist to impose the will of the ruling class on the whole society. There have been societies where the ruling class was the top of the government, but I don't know of any society where the ruling class was coterminous with the government.

    In a dictatorship, the ruling class is the dictator and his cronies; in a monarchy, the king and his family and vassals; in an oligarchy, a set of elite families. In a democracy, such as the U.S., it is a majority of the people.

    Our government is how we, collectively, impose our will on us, individually. It is arguable that the government imposes things on us as individuals which we collectively never asked for – but AFAICT, these things are willed by elements outside the government, such as rent-seeking special interests, or elite academic opinion. I do not see our government willing anything on its own impulse.

  125. says

    So what's the difference between this point of view and the "free speech values" point of view? I mean is anyone really saying someone should force twitter to set their policy in a more broadly-accepting-of-different-kinds-of-speach way? Isn't the whole "free speech values" crowd just saying, "hey, we object to it when internet companies censor stuff, and we're going to complain about it and maybe take our business elsewhere, but of course the have a right to do it"?

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