In its ongoing effort to shut down the free speech of selected groups, Twitter has suspended several accounts associated with the controversial alt-right—a mixed-bag movement that has racist components.
Twitter, of course, is free to limit speech however it wants and according to its own policies. It’s a private company, and like it or not, First Amendment rights don’t apply to privately owned businesses. While your speech is protected in the public sphere—meaning the government can’t punish you for speaking your mind—it’s not protected when you step into the realm of private entities. Twitter is king of its own kingdom, and it can ban anyone it wants.
Such corporate power has often been criticized by people who advocate that First Amendment rights be guaranteed by the government in private places. Lewis Maltby, author of “Can They Do That?”, says there’s something “profoundly disturbing, almost schizophrenic, about our approach to human rights.”
We have fought wars, millions of us have served in the military, and several hundred thousand Americans have died, defending our country and protecting our freedom of speech and other rights. Yet we have created a legal system that leaves those rights in the wastebasket when we go to work.
Maltby goes on to say that this needs to change.
Over two hundred years ago, Americans decided that they were no longer going to allow the government to violate their human rights. That decision was a milestone in human history. It is time to make another historic decision: our employers must respect our rights as well.
With Twitter unfairly targeting conservatives and members of the “alt-right” while ignoring leftist social justice warriors, many might be tempted to join Maltby and others in their efforts to expand government power into the private sphere in the name of free speech.
This, however, would be a mistake. It would be a grave threat to freedom to allow the government (a means of force) to dictate to private entities. We have enough of that already with countless regulations. We need less of it, not more.
No one is forcing anyone to be on Twitter. Having a Twitter account is not a human right that needs to be protected. There are also other platforms one can use on the Internet to communicate your immediate thoughts and promote your work. If Twitter is going to act like corporate Stalinists, as Richard Spencer said, then those who don’t like it should leave and join Milo Yiannopoulos’s campaign to beat Twitter in the thunderdome of culture and the markets.
Yiannopoulos was slapped with a lifetime ban from Twitter for criticizing actress Leslie Jones and purportedly organizing a campaign of hate against her, something he denies. Spencer, who hasn’t tweeted anything that could be labeled “hate speech,” was simply suspended for his leadership role in the alt-right.
Twitter’s liberal bias is more than apparent in who it decides to ban from the site. Some say it’s not a bias at all, but merely a business decision because it’s seeing its value sink and has been unable to sell to corporations like Disney due to the “hate speech” so rampant on Twitter. While that might certainly be a motivation, it’s still being inequitable in how it has gone about “cleaning up” the platform.
If Twitter were truly concerned about purging hate from its ranks, it would make a clean sweep of extremist groups like Black Lives Matter and Muslim extremists who are using social media to spread real hate. I would even add that some elements of the LGBT and pro-abortion communities are also guilty of using hate speech to shut down those who disagree with them. I’ve experienced this first hand.
The concern I have about Twitter has less to do with a private company limiting free speech, and more to do with who it is limiting and for what purpose. Now that the Democratic Party has lost political power nationally and locally, liberals aren’t going to just give up. There’s no crying UNCLE from the Left. When they’re down, they fight even harder, using every weapon in their arsenal. And manipulating the power of private entities to impact public policy is one of the weapons they often use.
One prime example is House Bill 2 in North Carolina—also called the Bathroom Bill–in which the state made it clear that people are to use public bathrooms according to their biological sex, not according to how they identify themselves at any given moment. With a Republican legislature and governor, liberals who howled that this was discrimination had no political recourse.
Refusing to give up, they launched a campaign to punish North Carolina and force political change. Private businesses pulled out of North Carolina as well as sporting events, costing the state millions of dollars. The effort might have paid off as North Carolinians refused to give their Republican governor the support he needed to decidedly beat the Democrat challenger. The race has yet to be called, but the Democrat is in the lead despite North Carolina remaining red and voting for Donald Trump. The economic fall-out from HB2, no doubt, is one of the reasons.
My point is that liberals will use corporate power and intimidation to achieve their ends. Twitter clearly has a political agenda—that’s obvious by who they’re suspending and who they’re not. The goal—on face value—appears to be shutting down the speech of those on the Right, not to rid Twitter of hate speech to make it more palpable to sellers (or maybe it will, if those sellers also only want to limit speech on the right). Regardless, it’s a tactic employed by liberals in their strategy to win the culture and ultimately regain political power.
The response from the Right cannot be to surrender by curbing its speech, and it most certainly can’t be an abandonment of its commitment to allow private spheres to remain private, no matter how unfair that might seem. Its effort, instead, should be to focus on disempowering Twitter. Money is king for corporations. Don’t feed the monster by continuing to make money for it. Begin other platforms that will challenge the power of social media giants.
If you choose to remain there (and even if you don’t), speak out for fairness and make Twitter live up to its own rules. Keep the pressure on and don’t give up. If they’re going to suspend the alt-right, then they damn well should suspend the social justice warriors of the Left. Better yet, they should stop suspending all accounts because of “offensive language.” Leave that up to the individual. If someone is being hateful, block them. We have that power on Twitter. Let fellow citizens hold other citizens to account instead of the Twitter overlords shutting down all speech that’s even remotely deemed “offensive” by a loud and whiny minority.
However you choose to push back against liberal activism in the private sphere, one thing is essential for conservatives—remain vigilant and don’t be silent. Just because Republicans swept this election doesn’t mean the Left is defeated. It isn’t. It will use whatever means necessary to fight, suppress speech, intimidate, and incite conflict until the Right surrenders or is defeated.