I have mixed feelings about the counter-media site Natural News, run by Mike Adams (not the deceased UNCCH professor). While it frequently reposts important news and analysis, and often has thought-provoking commentary, it seems to too often be sensational and willing to grab and run with improbable stories that exaggerate fears.
But usually, it doesn’t actually advocate outright tyranny. Yet this is what Adams did recently, in a article demanding that the US DOJ seize Twitter, Facebook, and other media. Why? Because these media giants have censored news and opinion. Most recently, of course, the censoring of even links or references to the New York Post story on the corruption of Hunter Biden.
I fully understand the anger of many people about the high-hat behavior of Twitter and Facebook and their ilk. But urging the FedGov to actually seize (nationalize) them is truly burning down the barn to get rid of the mice. Fighting tyranny by corporations – no matter how big – is important. Essential. Using another tyrant (or would-be tyrant) to fight that first tyranny is sometimes called a good tactic. Personally, I see it as an incredibly stupid and short-sighted action. (Consider how the Soviets were Allies in the war against Hitler’s Third Reich, and the long-term results of that!) Especially when it is a “ally” like the FedGov.
It is truly insane to try to get the FedGov to seize Twitter and Facebook, no matter how biased those outlets are. No matter how they become “essential” to communications. No matter how much like governments these corporations are behaving.
It is NOT just that they are privately-owned. Nor that they have become monopolies – at least in the eyes and experience of most people. It is the additional power we assume government has – or that we want to let it have. That way lies not less but more tyranny.
Let me expand a bit.
I am not a person who, as a lover of liberty, believes that human rights stop at boundary lines – nor property boundaries. I realize that this is a difficult subject for Libertarians, libertarians, free-market anarchists, and people of similar minds. Mama Liberty and I disagreed quite a bit over this issue.
The major issue had been whether or not a private property owner could morally deny visitors/guests on their property the right of self-defense. Simply, can a business prohibit the carrying of weapons on their property? Or in part of their property (like inside the store, if not at the fuel pumps? Is their right to private property superior to their customer’s right to bear arms? The same situation applies to a rental apartment or house: does the right of ownership of the property owner and landlord allow them to deny the right to keep and bear arms to a tenant?
I have often considered that conundrum by applying it other basic human rights: particularly those that involve a fundamental, foundational right: self-ownership. For example, can a businessman or landlord prohibit their customers/tenants from free speech? Even some part of free speech?
Or more starkly, can a private business impose involuntary servitude on their private property? Bluntly, can a business practice slavery as long as it is on their property?
This column is not the place to argue those issues, but this discussion is germane to the question at hand. Is the censorship of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media so outrageous, such a violation of human rights, that collective action is justified? That the force, the threat of violent action, which government can apply, is legitimate? So bad that we are willing to replace “private” tyranny (even if connected to the deep state) with more government tyranny?
In 21st Century America, there are all sorts of “rights” and “privileges” that society has accepted as being enforceable by using government force. We have decided (or accepted) that the threat of force and actual force by the government can be used to prevent or correct racial discrimination in housing. Renting or selling property. To prevent sexual or racial or religious discrimination in employment. Even though these actions are clearly protected by the constitutional guarantee of “freedom of association.” I think the FedGov, and the States and People of these Fifty States, are wrong to use government to enforce these things.
Now, I am not arguing that such discrimination is immoral – just questioning whether they require government power to enforce. And whether it is appropriate. I believe it is the same when we look at the issue of free expression on private property. Whether it is a church building, a shopping mall, or the ether.
In my view, every violation of rights does NOT demand the same reaction, the same response. While some denials of rights might justify an active self-defense using deadly force, not all denials do. Especially not where and when there are less-deadly responses. We have a moral obligation to respond in a reasonable and appropriate manner. Especially when we consider the danger which can (and often does) ensue when we get government agents involved.
Summary? The risks of accepting – and demanding – that government should respond to social media denial of the right of free speech are great. Far greater than the damage caused by Twitter, Facebook, and comrades. And there are alternatives to deal with these companies, just as there are with other businesses who deny rights. But even if there are not, the danger is too high to ever encourage government to do so.
If we are truly lovers of liberty, supporters of freedom, we will NEVER advocate increasing the power of government for ANY reason.