By The Signal Editorial Board
Large corporations colluding with political leaders and government to shut down ideas and speech they don’t agree with. Eliminating communication among the citizenry of any ideas or thoughts opposing the acceptable point of view. Retraining centers to align thought to the “approved” point of view. Mob shaming and canceling of anyone who does not fall in line with group thought. Eliminating companies that don’t fall in line, blacklisting those who differ in thought and keeping them from working again.
Are we describing George Orwell’s book “1984”?
Well yes… But that’s not what we’re referring to. We are talking about right now in current time.
Oh, you mean Communist China where the government controls its people in what they can say and how they act and all their movements by banning ideas they don’t like?
Well yes… But again that’s not what we are referring to.
We are talking about right here and right now in 2021 in the United States of America.
In the last week there has been an assault on the First Amendment and free speech rights. It started with Twitter deleting and banning President Donald Trump’s account, followed by Facebook.
They also deleted content he posted from the official White House account. Facebook and Twitter don’t like the president or what he says, so now that President-elect Joe Biden has been certified, it’s safe to ban Trump. After all, Mark Zuckerberg the majority owner and founder of Facebook, gave $500 million to Democratic workers in swing counties to elect Biden.
So it seems there is another social media platform, or at least there used to be, called Parler. Parler allows you to say what you want, even if they don’t agree with it. People evidently started shifting to Parler as it was the No. 1 download last Saturday with more than 1.5 million downloads — until Google and Apple banned it from their stores, making it impossible to download the application. You could still get it by going to the website… until Amazon decided to try to destroy the company by closing its servers and not hosting Parler anymore.
A billion-dollar company, gone in a day.
In the last week, Big Tech companies have also silenced thousands of people they did not agree with by changing their search results and deleting followers. Thousands of followers were deleted overnight. They are doing this under the guise of reaction to the Capitol Hill riot that occurred on Jan. 6.
The Signal, along with almost every other American, condemns the violence at the Capitol, just as we condemned the violence at Black Lives Matter protests all summer. Those who perpetrated the violence must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This violence, just like the BLM violence, is conducted by a few radicals and does not represent the majority of the people in either movement.
These Big Tech companies know this, but they are exploiting the situation to become state actors. In a free market system, companies have the right to do what they want, but they do not have the right to take away other people’s rights.
Now don’t get us wrong. We believe in private property rights. These companies — Facebook, Twitter, Google — are all private companies and they should have the right to publish who they want, but they claim they are not publishers, they are platforms, and they don’t pick and choose who they allow to speak in their platforms. Because they are recognized as “platforms,” they are awarded certain rights, like not being held liable for anything they publish under United States law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
It basically gives them the right to publish whatever they want without being sued, which made these monoliths monopolies.
If they get protected by Section 230 they should live up to that standard and be an open forum as they claim they are, for all ideas and speech, not just what they agree with.
Big Tech companies have colluded to help a candidate by suppressing negative news stories of the person they want elected — including the New York Post’s accurate reports about the questionable business dealings of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter — and suppressing positive news stories about the person they don’t want elected — Donald Trump.
Because they have been protected under Section 230, they have grown so big that they have become monopolies and when they collude for a common viewpoint that they agree on, they are killing free speech and our open society — and quite possibly violating federal antitrust law.
If this sounds like Communist China, it might be because these Big Tech companies have ties to China and are certainly behaving the way China wants them to.
This newspaper has the right to choose who we publish. Our policy is to make our opinion pages an open community forum with a free and open exchange of ideas from all viewpoints. That is why we choose to print all letters to the editor — not just the ones we agree with — and we have columnists, both guests and recurring, from all political spectrums.
There are many letters and columns we print that we do not agree with, but we print them because we believe in the First Amendment, open debate, and that people should have the right to express their views. We even printed a column this week from someone saying not all perspectives are legitimate — we assume he thinks only his is — and others’ ideas should be “canceled.”
We couldn’t disagree more.
Everyone should have the right to say what they want, but they do not have the right to impose their views on anyone else or shut down their speech.
We all must remember that the speech that’s most worth defending is the speech you despise the most — or we’ll all remain in our own real-life version of Orwell’s 1984.