Editor’s note: Since the publication of this article, more information has surfaced about the threatening nature of the posts, which seem to be a clear violation of Gab’s terms of service. PJ Media condemns violent threats in the strongest possible terms. See update below.
Microsoft Azure, the web hosting provider for Gab, has given the company 48 hours to delete some anti-Semitic posts or face a Big Tech shut-down. Gab is a Twitter alternative that claims to protect the right to free speech. It’s not a very good alternative, as the numbers just aren’t there to keep it interesting. Most of the time it’s just righties and ultra-righties fighting amongst themselves. But Gab’s claim to fame is that they won’t kick people off for having unpopular views or engaging in insult trading that morons refer to as “hate speech.” For some, that’s a worthwhile promise.
It should be noted that in America the term “hate speech” is not a legal one, at least according to the Supreme Court. So-called “hate speech,” be it racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic or just plain mean, is protected as reaffirmed in Matal v. Tam in 2017. “Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate,'” wrote Justice Alito.
It is, therefore, maddening when tech companies attempt to infringe on the public’s right to speak (acting like the government) based on a specious “hate speech” claim, which is whatever they say it is because there is no legal definition. In America, speech that is obscene or incites violence is the only speech that is unprotected. Microsoft laughably claimed that the posts in question were “incitement to violence.” While not pleasant, when I read them I had the urge to point and laugh at him, not hurt anyone. The Gab poster who caused all this uproar is some kind of stunted jackanape who stands out on the street corner with signs about how the bad Jooos hurt him or something. Really, who has time for this? But at the same time, why do we care? Why are we even giving this person air time? Oh, that’s right… because Microsoft put him in the spotlight instead of ignoring him and letting him fade away into obscurity where they found him. Thanks, Microsoft!
I’ll not be naming the blundering fool here because no one should give him any attention. It’s enough to say he has the right to have the opinions most of us don’t share and be done with it. Do we really have to analyze what he said to decide if he has the right to say it? Whatever it was, he can lose his job if his employer doesn’t like it or suffer social consequences like everyone else who posts dumb things. But Microsoft has decided that an entire website can be taken offline because their gatekeepers don’t like some posts a user made. How is this Microsoft’s business? Gab pays for the hosting service from Microsoft Azure. How Gab runs its business is not up for discussion by Microsoft (or it shouldn’t be). How do we know Big Tech isn’t colluding and conspiring to get rid of competition? Has Microsoft has ever threatened Twitter?
Gab isn’t the only company suffering from Big Tech censorship. Freestartr, a free speech crowdfunding site, is still shut down after losing its payment processor for similar reasons. According to founder Charles Johnson, Wells Fargo is behind the shuttering of conservative sites like his because the bank uses the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” lists to discriminate against the people the SPLC tells them to. The SPLC’s lists have already gotten people shot. Wells Fargo has not responded to attempts to contact them.
There is far more evidence that restricting free expression harms more people than it helps. One need only look to the United Kingdom, where people are going to jail for posting joke memes. Once you allow some party to decide what is “hate speech,” no one and nothing is safe (not even your stupid dog tricks).
The offender has removed his posts, so Microsoft may not shut down Gab, but the threat is there, nonetheless. After Alex Jones was deleted from social media, we are all on notice that at any moment others will disappear too. If it isn’t Gab, it will be someone else and then probably you. It’s far past time for this nonsense to stop. Where is the ACLU? I remember years ago they fought on behalf of actual neo-Nazis who wanted to march through the Jewish neighborhood of Skokie, Illinois. That wasn’t pleasant, but we all agreed it was the right thing to do back then. If neo-Nazis are kept out of the public square, then anyone, including your favorite group of fine, upstanding citizens can be too.
Does #Resistance not see that they could be next? The precedent this is setting isn’t going to stay one-sided. When technology oligarchs shift to the right (which is inevitable at some point) they will have every right to just start deleting their enemies on a whim. Where is Congress? Are they back from vacation yet? Someone needs to let them know they have monopolies to bust and tyrants to regulate.
Update 11:05 a.m. PST: An additional post that threatens Holocaust memorials has come to my attention since this article was published. This appears to be the insane ramblings of a hateful moron. The post violates Gab’s terms of service and should be removed. He should probably be investigated by the D.C. police for that threat as well.