Free Speech, Media, recent, Social Media

How Free Speech Dies Online

Last year, I explained why it is wrong to consider weakening speech protections to allow bans on speech by the alt-right, neo-Nazis, or other far-Right groups: it is safer to let Nazis speak in a society that places high value on individual rights and has strong legal protections for those rights than it is to risk letting Nazis take control of institutional power in a society where protections on individual rights have been eroded. I explained, with specific examples, how easy it would be for a far-Right regime to turn restrictions on violent or hateful speech against its enemies.

However, since then, while free speech has remained a controversial topic, the focus of the debate has moved away from restrictions on speech by state actors, and toward the question of how corporate entities that privately control the platforms which host a great deal of our speech and debate should regulate and moderate their users.

These platforms are not bound by the US Constitution or by other legal regimes that protect private speech from state coercion, but their rule-making processes should be guided by the same principles that led all Western democracies to implement strong protections for speech—even speech that others may find offensive.

Control of Speech on Social Media

For most of modern history, states have been the only institutions with the coercive power to restrain speech, and so most policymaking related to free speech has focused on what the limitations on that state power should be.

In the United States, the Constitution permits almost no regulation of private speech by the government, with a few very narrow exceptions for defamation, “fighting words” or incitement to violence, obscenity, and regulation of commercial speech to prevent false advertising. Other Western states permit the regulation of some categories of hate speech, but most still have fairly robust free speech protections.

However, in the last decade, the public square has been privatized by social media networks. These companies—primarily Google (which owns YouTube), Facebook (which owns Instagram),  Apple (which controls access to lots of content through its App Store and its Podcast app), the crowdfunding platform Patreon, and Twitter—have offered platforms to billions of people and created media ecosystems that support the livelihoods of many content creators who may not have previously had the opportunity to be media professionals. But the livelihoods of people who professionally produce content disseminated over social media, as well as the smaller platforms of millions of other non-professional users of these networks, are now subject to the whims of these companies.

These networks have already demonstrated the power they can wield over the fortunes of content creators. The influence of figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones waxed as their follower and subscriber counts grew into seven figures on networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. But their reach waned considerably after those networks banned them and stripped them of access to their platforms. Yiannopoulos is now said to be millions of dollars in debt and peddling a self-published 96-page book entitled How to Be Poor. It’s a little simplistic to attribute the fall of Milo to the loss of his Twitter platform; while Milo’s influence may have begun to crumble after his Twitter ban, subsequent outrage over his statements about child abuse caused a conservative publishing imprint to cancel his book and CPAC to cancel his appearance, and public revelations of Milo’s connections to white nationalists caused the billionaire Republican fundraiser Robert Mercer to yank his support from Milo Inc. But in the wake of high-profile bans like Jones’s, numerous less-prominent creators have had their income streams disrupted by various YouTube demonetization waves, as a result of YouTube cracking down on content creators to assuage the fears of advertisers.

In 2018, Patreon banned anti-feminist YouTuber Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin, who had been earning $12,000 per month on the site, after he used a racial epithet to describe white-nationalists, who he said had assumed the negative qualities they impute to groups they hate.  Despite the fact that the epithet had not been directed at a black person, Patreon determined he had violated its rules. Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, and Jordan Peterson, who were all earning good money through the platform, left in protest. Peterson is launching a new platform called Thinkspot, which Rubin and Benjamin will be joining. However, they likely lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in income as a result of leaving the more popular Patreon platform.

Recently, Carlos Maza, a progressive host and producer of Strikethrough, a Vox media web show, complained that YouTube should punish the right-wing comedian Steven Crowder for harassment. Crowder had been uploading clips rebutting Maza’s Strikethrough videos, and Crowder often mocked Maza with schoolyard insults that referenced Maza’s sexuality and ethnicity. After YouTube determined that Crowder’s videos had not violated its policies, Google experienced extensive blowback from both social media users and mainstream media. In response, YouTube promulgated a new set of policies banning racist videos and denials of events like the Holocaust and the Sandy Hook massacre. They demonetized Crowder’s channel for linking to a merch store that sold a t-shirt with an offensive epithet printed on it.

Activists who sided with Maza weren’t satisfied with YouTube’s response, and have demanded more decisive action. And, fanning the flames of outrage, the New York Times ran a major feature contending that YouTube permits a flourishing ecosystem of far-Right creators on its platform, and that its recommendation algorithms push impressionable viewers toward extreme content. The implication is that YouTube should do something to change this.

Meanwhile, Twitter is conducting research into how white nationalists and other far right groups use its service in response to widespread calls for the service to ban Nazis.

Social Media’s Existing Rules

Social media platforms already have more restrictive speech codes than most Western states. All platforms have rules barring content that promotes violence or terrorism. Facebook and Instagram prohibit white nationalism, white supremacy, and hate groups. YouTube has a policy against threats of violence as well as harassment and cyberbullying that “crosses the line into malicious attack,” but does not remove videos that are merely “annoying or petty.” Twitter has anti-harassment rules which bar targeted harassment and “hateful conduct.”

Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter for harassment after he posted doctored screenshots of tweets that made it appear that Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones had said provocative things. These images incited angry mobs of his fans to brigade in Jones’s mentions and bombard her with racist invective.

After a video of the beheading of captured journalist James Foley was circulated on social media in 2014, social media platforms began cracking down on ISIS under policies barring terrorism and posts and tweets supporting terrorist groups. Twitter banned hundreds of thousands of ISIS-promoting accounts, and unleashed automated systems to purge terrorist accounts from its services. However, the algorithm hit a lot of false positives, including Arabic-language broadcasters, antiterror watchdog groups, and regular users who were flagged by the software for various reasons. This outcome was considered preferable to allowing terror groups to use the platform as a propaganda tool.

Some users and media outlets, as well as workers inside Twitter have argued that white nationalists should be considered a terror threat similar to ISIS in the wake of violent attacks by far-right activists in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Therefore, they believe it is appropriate for the auto-ban algorithms that Twitter used against ISIS to be deployed against the far-Right. A minor firestorm erupted in April 2019, when Vice’s Motherboard vertical reported that Twitter won’t turn on the algorithms to purge white nationalists the way it did for Islamic State terrorists because it fears some of the false positives will be Republican politicians.

But while the spin was that Twitter felt white nationalists were indistinguishable from Republicans, Twitter’s concern actually seemed to be that it is difficult to draw the line between the unacceptable far-Right and the acceptable mainstream Right in a way that a computer can understand. And, if the algorithm were turned loose, the same blunt tool would probably hit a bunch of mainstream media outlets as well.

For example, David Neiwert, a DailyKos reporter who covers the far-Right, was recently banned from Twitter over his book cover, which depicts the American flag with little Klan hoods on all the stars. Similarly, a history teacher whose channel contained archival footage of Nazi rallies from the 1940s, was banned from YouTube after the platform implemented new policies against hateful content in the wake of the Maza/Crowder dustup. These bans were implemented by human moderators, who are typically low-paid contract workers who must rigidly apply a detailed set of policies to the content they moderate with little leeway for discretion. If these platforms used algorithms to ban people, the false positives would likely increase.

And anyway, Twitter doesn’t need to deploy its algorithms to find prominent white nationalists and far-Right personalities like Richard Spencer, Faith Goldy, and Stefan Molyneux, because it knows exactly who they are and it allows them to remain on the platform. Why? Because, they aren’t breaking its rules.

So, to get rid of them, there will need to be new rules.

Ban Nazis. Then What?

The thing about Nazis is that they’re not all illiterates bellowing epithets at minorities and tweeting gas chamber memes at journalists. Many of the most prominent alt-right figures promulgate their ideologies without calling for violence, without targeting individuals for harassment, and without tweeting anything that explicitly runs afoul of the hateful content policies of Twitter and YouTube.

Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right,” has lately been calling for more explicit speech codes on Twitter and YouTube, so he can form a new “code or lingo” with which to spread his ideology under this new more restrictive regime. It makes sense that Spencer would be skeptical of the idea of free speech, because he holds the basic premises of liberalism in contempt. This is something he has in common with the people who want to ban him. Spencer accepts that those in power will restrict his speech, because if he were in their position, he’d do the same.

So Spencer invites speech codes because he prefers a rigid set of rules to a more nebulously-defined set of principles that will simply declare his ideology to be forbidden and ban him for being persona non-grata, without needing to find him responsible for any specific rules violation beyond just generally being Richard Spencer.

That’s what Facebook did in 2018 by banning “hate organizations.” It banned Spencer’s pages as well as those of other prominent white nationalists after journalists from Vice asked Facebook why a number of organizations branded as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) were still on the site. This is the rule a lot of activists would like to see implemented at Twitter, and the effects of such a rule seems to be what Twitter is currently “studying.”

But Twitter’s current approach is right, and Facebook’s is wrong. Spencer was banned from Facebook because his National Policy Institute was labeled a hate group by the SPLC. But the SPLC has credibility problems of its own. Its list of hate groups has included Christian organizations that oppose gay rights like the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian lawyers’ group. As a result of being labeled a hate group by SPLC, the ADF was barred from receiving charitable donations through the AmazonSmile program.

In 2018, the SPLC paid $3.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the counter-extremist Muslim organization Quilliam and its founder, Maajid Nawaz, after the SPLC erroneously included them on a list of anti-Muslim hate groups. That wasn’t the first time the SPLC had experienced such a controversy; in 2015, it named surgeon, former Republican presidential candidate, and current US Housing Secretary Ben Carson an “extremist.” The SPLC later removed Carson from its “Extremist File” and apologized to him. Even if the SPLC is right about Spencer’s organization, do we really want this group making arbitrary determinations about who can use social media?

And once the censors have finished prohibiting white nationalists, which other ideologies will they forbid? The people crying loudest for censorship have long lists of enemies. Once they deplatform the alt-right, they’ll certainly be coming for gender critical feminists, immigration and security hawks, Tucker Carlson, and probably Ben Shapiro, who is often erroneously labeled “alt-right” by progressives, even though the alt-right hates him because of his identity as an Orthodox Jew and because of his politics, which are opposed to white nationalism.

Here is where they get around to me: I’m Jewish, so I’m not a big fan of Nazis. But I’m also pretty skeptical of progressive activists, because when they can’t find a Nazi to punch, they often settle for punching Jews. You see, while the far-Left hates the alt-right, it also hates the state of Israel. Because of this, gay Jewish groups have been banned from LGBT marches, campus Jewish organizations have been aggressively protested, American Jews have been accused of dual loyalty by members of Congress, and NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis voted to boycott their university’s own satellite campus in Tel Aviv.

I believe Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state, and that is a hateful view to many progressive activists. They believe that Israel is an apartheid regime, that Palestine must be free from the river to the sea, and that, therefore, Jewish groups that support Israel are hate groups. All it takes to get Jews who support Jewish organizations like Hillel, B’nai Brith, Birthright Israel, and the Jewish Federation banned from Facebook is for some activists from Students for Justice in Palestine to go work at SPLC and get these organizations added to its hate list.

That may seem implausible; these are mainstream organizations, and support for Israel is a mainstream view. But progressive opinion on Israel has shifted dramatically in the last five years. It is common for progressives to view Zionism as synonymous with white supremacy, and progressive activists are already accusing mainstream Jewish charities of being hate groups.

Richard Spencer hates me. But in order to muzzle him, I’d have to grant censorious power to people who hate him, but who also hate me. And they won’t stop at the groups I’ve mentioned. They’ll go after mainstream conservatives, and they’ll go after center-Right people like New York Times columnists Bari Weiss, David Brooks, and Bret Stephens. They’ll cancel Joe Biden. They’ll deny a platform to everyone to the right of Chapo Trap House, because, like Richard Spencer, they do not believe in free speech and they do not value the rights of people who disagree with them. Their cause is righteous, everyone who stands against them is a villain, and their creed doesn’t permit tolerance of dissent.

It’s Not Worth It

In 1977, a group of Nazis decided to hold a march in Skokie, Illinois, a heavily Jewish Chicago suburb that was reputed to have more Holocaust survivors than any place outside of Israel. The planned march met with strong resistance, and state courts issued injunctions to prevent it from happening. But a Jewish lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union named David Goldberger took up the case to defend the Nazis’ right to speak and assemble. Members of the ACLU’s board quit in disgust over the organization’s decision to represent the Nazis, but Goldberger believed that free speech was free speech, even for the most revolting figures. His view prevailed in the Supreme Court, and the Nazis were allowed to march.

When the event finally occurred in 1978, only about 20 Nazis showed up, and they were met by 2,000 counter-protesters. They dispersed after about ten minutes. What was so dangerous about letting this small group of clowns march around for a few minutes, that it was worth compromising a fundamental liberty?

And, on the same note, is it so dangerous to let Richard Spencer shitpost on Twitter that stopping him is worth giving up on the idea of social media being a forum for the free exchange of opinion? His arguments do not seem to be gaining much traction. The 2016 convention of Spencer’s National Policy Institute, held less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s victory, drew a crowd of only about 275. The 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, one of the largest gatherings of far-Right activists in decades, which devolved into violent clashes during which a Nazi murdered a counter-protester with his car, had only about 500 attendees from a range of far-Right groups. And when the organizers of the Charlottesville rally decided to hold a second Unite the Right event in 2018, only a few dozen far-Right activists showed up. By contrast, Bronycon, the convention for adult men who are fans of the television program My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, drew a crowd of 5,500 attendees in 2018. For every Nazi in America, there are eleven Bronies. Media outlets that fixate on the far-Right are vastly overstating the influence of these groups.

Given that the alt-right is really just a handful of angry dudes who can’t gather enough people in one place to fill a medium-sized hotel ballroom, the only decent argument that they’re a real threat revolves around the idea that they groom and radicalize mass shooters and other terrorists. Alex Fields, the Unite the Right killer, was obviously affiliated with far-Right groups. Robert Bowers, the Tree of Life synagogue shooter, was obsessed with the idea that Jews were supporting illegal immigration as a way of fomenting “white genocide.” Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch shooter, left a 74-page manifesto full of racist rants and memes about “gorilla warfare,” which suggested he’d spent a lot of time on 4Chan.

But long before the alt-right or social media, violent lone psychos justified attacks with all sorts of fringe politics, and mass shootings in the past have been blamed on rap music, video games, and The Catcher in the Rye. If you ban every category of expression that might inspire some nutcase to do something violent, you don’t have individual rights anymore. If any of the far-Right voices on social media were directly connected to any act of violence, they would be guilty of crimes and they would be banned from social media under the existing rules (and probably sent to prison). But none of them calls for violence on any of these platforms and the evidence of a causal connection between far-Right YouTube videos and mass-shootings is tenuous. Political speech is the most important category of speech and it is the first category of speech authoritarians will seek to constrain as they consolidate power.

I say let the Nazis speak. There is no evidence that the alt-right’s propagandists can turn impressionable YouTube viewers into deranged mass-shooters. We have little to fear from open debate. Let the Nazis preach white separatism and white supremacy. Let them deny the Holocaust. Let everybody see how full of shit they are. Let them openly sell a product nobody wants. These ideas have been around for decades, and few people are persuaded by them. There is significant reason to believe that Twilight Sparkle will prevail over the alt-right in the marketplace of ideas.


Daniel Friedman is the Edgar Award-nominated author of Don’t Ever Get OldDon’t Ever Look Back, and Riot Most Uncouth. Follow him on Twitter @DanFriedman81


  1. codadmin says

    Jordon Peterson’s new site will only ban people when the government says they have broken the law.

    This elegant system should be forced onto all social media sites. That’s the only way to deal with this.

    • Klaus C. says

      Hmm, but if posters get more thumbs down than thumbs up, the comments will be hidden.

      Given that the great majority posting there will presumably be right-wingers, the result of that policy will be a fairly ironic version of “free speech”.

      • Jonny Sclerotic says

        Even though it’s frustrating at times, I prefer Quillette’s disavowal of upvoting/downvoting. It prevents the most visible posts (the ones at the top) from being an echo chamber of conformity.

        I do like Thinkspot’s proposed 50 word minimum though. Quillette should adopt that – seems like an effective way to crack down on wanton abuse, which tends to be short and stupid.

        • David of Kirkland says

          You can upvote/downvote without using those results to change the order of appearance. It just shows a general acceptance/rejection of the idea.

          • Jonny Sclerotic says

            @ DoK

            True, tho I find that the thumbs (up or down) distract me from the idea being put forward before I’ve had a chance to read. When the carrot and stick are both spared, the debate remains more intellectually honest.

    • David of Sydney says

      I do suspect the new site Thinkspot will be targeted by trolls of all ilk in an attempt to discredit it in the early days. I also suspect there will be an evolution of terms, conditions and functionality for the site due to this.

      Hope all develops well.

      • James says

        I see Thinkspot as a hopeful starting point not a final solution. I’m sure JBP & Co. intend it to evolve and it will be exciting to watch it develop. Entities ie., bitchute, parler, minds, gab, telegraph, signal that other things are developing as well which is also a positive sign. How could anybody be against freedom of speech? I think the tyrannical nerds of Sylicon have overplayed their hand.

    • The Grand Moff Tarkin, Governor of the Imperial Outland Regions says

      David Goldberger, the Jewish ACLU lawyer who represented the neo-NAZIS at Skokie taught political and civil rights at my law school. He was one of the best professors I had.

      Freedom of speech is hard to defend in practice, but the alternative is scary. Just who decides what content is “hate speech?”

  2. Denny Sinnoh says

    Peterson said that they are still working on that system. What % downvotes it takes to be hidden, etc.
    Likely they will have to adapt the rules over time in someway to stop insincere nonsense but allow for unpopular opinion to be viewed and debated.

    • Geary Johansen says

      Has anyone thought what the potential legal liability might be for Google/YouTube, for restricting access to Jordan Peterson’s work on YouTube. Because given that he has a pretty amazing track record of steering young people back from the brink of suicidality and drug addiction, the withdrawal of his work in suggestions might have unforeseen consequences. I said as much in a feedback comment to YouTube.

      I don’t have a crystal ball, but I believe that there is a far to moderate chance that we might be seeing distraught parents on our TV screen quite soon, tearfully explaining that their son had begun to make progress, only to slip back into despondency and despair…

      For legal reasons, I have obviously exercised extreme caution in phrasing this comment and I would advise anyone replying to do the same.

      • Jerjapan says

        what legal reasons? your post is reasonable, your fear is a false flag

  3. Trevor Machine says

    Good article, but he accepts too many smears from the Left. Saying Milo had ties to white nationalists linked to a Buzzfeed article by Joe Bernstein, a notorious harassment/activist journalists. Bernstein equates defense of western civilization to white supremacy.

    • bumble bee says

      @ Trevor, Buzzardfeed is all you had to mention. That website is the most pathetic bit of propaganda and mental atrophy, and the sad part is teenagers frequent the site.

    • Curle says

      He also accepts the NYT version of Charlottesberg.

      “the wake of violent attacks by far-right activists in Charlottesville, Virginia,”

      Which story is true? ‘Protestors’ when attacked by counter-protestors go to far or were convicted by kangaroo courts or ‘far-right activists’ are unusually violent without provocation? I tend to think the former a more coherent telling of the story.

      • Jerjapan says

        The NYT version is the accepted version by all legit commentators. Antifa types can be gross, alt-right types are much grosser. The idea that there are ‘fine people’ on the alt-right is akin to the idea that there are climate-change deniers who are worth listening to.

  4. codadmin says

    I think their ratio to thumbs up to down must will absolutely massive otherwise debate will literally be impossible. It’s not like 2 thumbs down will get a comment removed.

    But, I suspect such a system will be unworkable anyway as it’s too open to abuse.

    • Have you ever seen Disqus? They do a good job with comment voting and blocking.

      • codadmin says

        No, I’m not aware of their system. How do they manage to weed out obvious trolls while allowing dissenting comment to remain?

        • Peter from Oz says

          On Disqus you can bloack trolls yourself. It is a great system.

      • Although it is very long in the tooth and does have a few issues, I think one of the best commenting systems is slashcode on slashdot. It’s open source and available on sourceforge. Members gain karma, and become temp moderators for upvote and downvote based on time and post limits. Mods can not post in the same thread that they have modded. Peterson should have his geeks look at it.

  5. Farris says

    Great article. It looks like freedom of speech is “Right on”. It never ceases to amaze me how people can fear hearing stupid ideas. Their arguments are hanging curve balls, feel free to knock them out of the park and do a celebratory bat flip.

    • Heike says

      Well, you put your finger on the problem. The Left’s arguments are so fragile that they must not be allowed to be refuted. Look at all the commenters here who are routinely savaged because they have never heard the common counter arguments to their points. They’re very accustomed to living in a protected, censored environment.

      Heck, Quillette was founded in the first place because the Left had done such a good job stomping out independent thought. Here, and Areo, and that’s about it. And I bet Quillette has been penalized by Google to prevent it from appearing on page 1 of results, just like they did to all the other dissident thought sites.

      • Farris says


        You make a very good point. As Leftist move out from their protective university cocoons, they expect the same freedom (pardon the pun) from diverse opinions, they previously enjoyed. In essence an attempt to expand the echo chamber.

        • Jonny Sclerotic says

          @ Farris

          Our profound disagreement about what constitutes ‘limited government’ demonstrates how paramount the worldview is. It’s fascinating.

          When you posit that the limits of smaller government could be confined to strong military, lethal police force, the death penalty, and ‘a few others’, I’m speechless.

          This is the worldview chasm we need to bridge. It looks impossible!

      • Jonny Sclerotic says

        What is ‘The Left’? Serious question.

        The overall standard of comments here is higher than any other platform I visit regularly. Heike, your comments are generally salient even though I don’t always agree. There are countless other commenters who expend thought and research before posting comments.

        But this Left/Right dichotomy is a persistent blind spot. It drags the debate down to a level of arbitrary tribalism that serves nobody and makes us guilty of the same kinds of groupthink we purport to despise.

Based on my observations, this comments section regularly features posts from all corners of the globe. Australians, Brits, North Americans, Scandinavians, South Africans, Kiwis, Germans, other assorted Europeans. Viewpoints from Western Europe, the Anglosphere, and assorted Commonwealth countries have all been represented here.

        And yet the edges of the Overton Window are located in completely different places in all of these places. Sometimes there’s no overlap at all (eg free healthcare which most conservatives in Britain have no problem with, while so-called ‘socialists’ in the US have to dance around the concept, always with significant caveats).

        So when you say that ‘Leftists’ have never heard counter arguments, I’m curious to know which group of people you’re referring to. It just seems an unhelpfully broad term to denote anything meaningful.

        Heike, I only bring this up under your comment because it broke the camel’s back. It’s nothing personal. I expect this sort of casuistry to run rampant in MSM, but I occasionally hold out hope that it can be extinguished on a forum like this.

        If I’m wrong, I’d love to see a description of ‘The Left’ that accurately describes a global movement or ideology that you oppose, without the need for caveats. If I’m right, then it’s time to retire the Left and Right as useful boundaries for topics of international (or at least Anglospheric) concern.

        • Stephanie says

          Jonny, we need a way to quickly and easily distinguish between the main political philosophies. There is such a thing as the left and the right, and each have distinct personality profiles that draw them to their political allegiance. See Jonathan Haidt’s work on this to learn more.

          The set of policies are less important than the worldview. However, the goals of the left are the same in every country (collectivism), while the right is more heterogeneous and rooted in each country’s history.

          Jordan Peterson describes the right as those who defend the current structures and hierarchies, while the appropriate place of the left is to advocate for those dispossessed by it. A Leftist is one whose resentment for the current structure and hierarchy leads them to want to overthrow it.

          If you have a more useful way of naming those with fundamentally different political and personality inclinations, we’d all like to hear it. However, if you’re just saying we should pretend that there are no fundamental political and personality differences, that is not useful or practical, and you will need to disprove all the social science on this topic for that idea to merit consideration.

          • Jonny Sclerotic says

            “Jordan Peterson describes the right as those who defend the current structures and hierarchies, while the appropriate place of the left is to advocate for those dispossessed by it. A Leftist is one whose resentment for the current structure and hierarchy leads them to want to overthrow it.”

            Stephanie, surely you can see your biases at play here? Attributing traits like ‘defender’ to the right and ‘resentment’ to the left, as if one group is entirely motivated by bad faith and the other by virtue.

            And still, JP’s description simply doesn’t apply. I refer again to the NHS in the UK: this ‘current structure’ is defended by mainstream left and right, but the only people who want to ‘overthrow’ it are on the right.

            I fear you’re making a monstrous cartoon out of the Left while donning the rose-tinted specs for the Right. There is no definition of either tribe that holds true, everywhere, at all times. It’s a psychological game. Let’s throw the towel in on that game and treat people as individuals with different views on different things at different times,

          • Biologist says

            A Leftist is a person whose root moral intuition is the instinct to Envy, rationalized as a conviction that all good things are good fortune which Justice demands ought to be shared and enjoyed equally, and that all bad things are bad fortune Justice demands ought to be born and suffered equally. A Rightist is a person whose root moral intuition is the instinct to Jealousy, rationalized as a conviction that all good things are good works or good fortune which Justice demands ought to be possessed and enjoyed by those who have made or earned them or by those whom fortune favoured, and that all bad things are either bad works which Justice demands ought to be suffered by those who did them whether as a direct consequence of doing them or through being justly requited for them, or bad fortune which should lie where it falls subject to being ameliorated through the voluntary pity of the compassionate.

          • Stephanie says

            Jonny, why would I think that in a world where everyone has a bias, I am the only one free of that? Of course I have a bias. So do you. Noting that is uninteresting.

            Some things are unworthy of defending and some things merit resentment: there need not be a moral judgement on that. I would actually argue that the healthy left is primarily motivated by compassion, although their idealism often leads to solutions that do more harm than good. It is when the left becomes toxic that they hate the rich more than they love the poor.

            The UK is no exception to this pattern. You have a left that wants more collectivism and a right that is torn between defending the current amount of collectivism and undoing that recently imposed damage.

            You can treat people as individuals without ignoring their ideological affiliations. When talking about movements it is far more useful to talk about those ideological categories than to try to talk about the beliefs of particular individuals. How would you even do that?

        • Peter from Oz says

          You raise a very good point. I suspect that we use the terms left and right as guides. In essence, the difference is that the left is more concerned about novelty, collectivism and equality, the right is more concerned about tradition, liberty and individualism.

          • Farris says


            “Let’s throw the towel in on that game and treat people as individuals with different views on different things at different times,”

            I agree with your overall assessment. The angels and saints are not aligned on one side and the devils and demons on the other. However I do think there are viable definitions of Left and Right. Those on the Left prefer central planning while the Right prefers limited government. True there are shades of each defined by differing degrees of how much government management. You mentioned that some UK conservatives find government healthcare tolerable, while US conservatives do not. This is evidence of practicality with UK conservatives realizing the battle in opposition has been lost so they seek to minimize the influence. Whereas US conservatives still view victory or a reversal within their grasps. For instance some conservatives may prefer maintaining the gold standard but view its advocacy as a waste of time and effort. However the paradigm still holds as both UK and US conservatives are seeking to prevent, limit, control or manage government influence. Furthermore how an individual views the efficiency and desirability of government assistance can be is a reliable predictor of how that person will vote.

          • DNY says

            @Jonny Sclerotic

            Peterson is very perceptive and his analyses of what he perceives about humanity and society and prescriptions of problems he perceives are generally spot on, but I think his definition of “right” and “left” is going on a fool’s errand of trying to salvage a universally useful distinction from what has since at least the Bolshevik revolution been a distinction of use only to the Left. Yes, the Left has a coherent meaning: in all its guises since it got that name from the seating arrangement in the French national assembly has been the political tendency that makes its claim for power by purporting to champion the downtrodden, on which plea it seeks to expand the power of the state and weaken all non-state power structures — e.g. religion and family.

            “Right” does not, has never had, and never will any meaning more coherent than “opposed to the Left”, for which cause back when the downtrodden the Left purported to help were the workers of the world, meant that monarchists, classical liberals, Tories, Nazis, ultramontane clericalists, and anyone else whose activities were not objectively supportive of the Comintern was “right wing”. Now that the downtrodden the Left purports to help are a grab-bag of racial, sexual and religious minorities (can’t leave out the Muslims), one can be “right wing” by being a Second Wave Feminist (oh, excuse me a TERF) or by being what would be a perfect representative of the European center-left, save for having openly and accurately criticized illiberal aspects of sharia and opined that more Muslim immigration into Europe is ill-advised.

        • Azathoth says

          The ‘left’ can generally be categorized as having a penchant for the stability of a planned economy, a commitment to social justice and social responsibility. It tends to be VERY respectful of it’s authorities, and seeks an all-encompassing style of government.

          The ‘right’ can be categorized as preferring the laissez faire structure of a free market, a commitment to individual justice and responsibility, and a commitment to personal liberty and freedom. It tends to be wary of authority in any form and seeks a minimalist style of governance.

        • Geary Johansen says

          @ Jonny Sclerotic

          It used to be the Right that one worried about not accepting science, most notably on climate change (although, more worrying, there now seem to be a growing number of climate activists who want ‘system change, not climate change’, rather than the more reasoned climate economics types who have already identified simple changes to refrigeration systems as one of the best ways to move towards hitting climate targets).

          Now, whether it’s IQ science, gender differences, trans desistance or the disingenuity of feminist statistics- it’s the Left which has a problem with science. Which is why I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s when political beliefs become ideological in nature, at either end of the political spectrum, that the danger becomes apparent.

          Niall Ferguson has made the very valid point that the current political and cultural inflection point, can best be likened to the invention of the printing press, rather than the 1930s comparisons, that most pundits draw. That’s because it’s fundamentally a technological transformation, involving the systemically and progressively cheaper dissemination of information. What worries is that the first information revolution led to huge numbers of people being burned at the stake, and whilst, at the moment, the burnings appear to be virtual rather than literal and mainly involve reputation damage, impacting careers, there is no guarantee that state will persist for long.

          But it’s worse than that. Because, as Niall Ferguson has observed, the technological transformation is occurring at 10 times the rate of the innovation of the printing press. And what really matters is that it’s not happening uniformly. 8% of the population, labelled as the progressives, are championing social progress at light speed via Twitter and other social media, whilst the 80% of us who dislike political correctness (and hate the intersectional feminism at it’s heart, when we find out about it) are still moving at conventional speeds. Although increasing political polarisation has been a constant since the 90s, I believe that there is a strong case to be made that the seeming rapid acceleration of this phenomena has this technological disparity at it’s roots. It also accounts for the fact that objective issues-based data analysis of political polarisation shows that, whilst the conservative side of the political divide has remained largely static (it would appear that the Tea Party only tapped into long-held pre-existing sentiments), the liberal side has become far more polarised, with a significant chunk still defined as moderate liberals, but another chunk migrating, by varying degrees, towards the far left.

          So when you hear the term Leftist, don’t necessarily take umbrage, because if you are a liberal who has always fought for the underdog in society, the term does not apply to you (the acid-test is whether you believe that societies can run socialised systems within market economies or believe that capitalism should be overthrown). Traditionally, the model of the university acting as a test bed for new ideas tended to work quite well. Professors and academics would develop controversial new social theories, test them out against their colleagues and disseminate them to their students, who would then take them out into the broader world. Crucially though, only a very small percentage (less than 10%) of these social innovations ever made it off the drawing board and became more widely accepted by the mainstream culture. With the advent of Twitter, social media and the self-reinforcing and amplifying ‘echo chamber’ that it represents, we have lost this vital vetting process. It used to be that the Left had to fight to achieve social progress, making articulate and heart-felt arguments to win over the population as the whole- now they just put on a few media events and then tell the rest of us that the culture has changed.

          One of the most harmful ways in which this has manifested recently is with the Knife Crime epidemic in the UK. For years, the psychological establishment has seen traditional masculinity as ‘problematic’. A profession dominated by women, and less aggressive men, have exhorted the benefits of men talking about their feelings- when if they really want men to seek help or guidance, they should basically brand talking about feelings as an unfortunately necessary diagnostic, in finding coping strategies to avoid situations which provoke negative emotions, or help you overcome them, through gradual immersion and exposure. Talking about feelings can lead to that eureka moment for both men and women, but whilst it can be cathartic, a relief and soothing for a woman, men’s feelings are biologically deeply-buried for a reason, to prevent men’s emotions from unleashing their biological aggression towards his family or social group- even young boys report talking about feelings as ‘weird’, uncomfortable and no help at all.

          Unfortunately, this deeply flawed analysis has osmosed into the educational establishment, and led to the mistaken belief that aggression can be socialised out of boys and men. It can’t- because it’s fundamentally biological, rather than socially constructed, and can only really be channelled into more productive uses. You would have thought that the culture that first innovated sports into a systemic means of channelling aggression and inculcating it with notions of fair play and sportsmanship, might have an idea of how to do this. Apparently not. And because teachers have been indoctrinated away from highly structured, strict low-level discipline enforcement and have been told to see boys as disruptive and unruly versions of girls, who just need to be better socialised- society is forced to bear the cost. Competitive sports are proven to be a highly effective way of channelling boys natural aggression into healthy pursuits, which also translates into better academic results, as all the hard work and discipline that sports training requires cross-pollinates into study- but of course the Left doesn’t like competitive sports.

          Boys are routinely suspended or expelled, for what in the past might have been seen as regrettably over-exuberant boyish behaviour which needed to be punished, not exorcised- often the result of play fights, or ‘rough play’, that gets out of hand. As a consequence many kids find themselves in pupil referral units, where they are 200 times more likely to become involved in Knife Crime, either as victims or offenders. Often these kids are the very black and poor kids the left purport they want to help. And whats the single best way of helping these kids? Boxing and martial arts training- which channels their aggression into more productive uses- and which the left so abhors…

      • x-moose says

        Quillette is departing from that founding principle rather speedily:

        “an article relating how newly-released evidence showed that the great US civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, the subject of his Pulitzer-winning biography and one of the iconic figures of 20th-century history—was a sexual predator who stood by and laughed when his friend raped a woman in front of him…magazines on both the right and the left declined to publish Garrow’s article. So did “a web magazine whose raison d’etre is to fight for free speech.” That magazine is surely Quillette…”

        • Jonny Sclerotic says

          @ Farris et al

          “Those on the Left prefer central planning while the Right prefers limited government.”

          It depends. Right-leaners consistently advocate more spending on security, anti-terror, and the military, while left-leaners consistently advocate more spending on healthcare, social security and education. They’re roughly equal for infrastructure, state department, and veterans. This according to Pew data from the last ten years, and only in reference to the United States.

          When I hear accusations of ‘government overreach’ coming from American conservatives, I always think about where they stand on military spending, surely the most consequential example of central planning. Or where they stand on increasing the powers of police officers to use lethal force, or on the death penalty (yes, police powers and execution are managed at local and state levels, but when you have individual states that are as big as entire countries, the lack of federal intervention hardly qualifies those powers as non-centralized).

          Perhaps it’s safe to assume that anyone who supports a strong military, lethal police force, and the death penalty is on ‘the Right’ – but you can’t reasonably describe that as ‘limited government.’

          Equally, a common criticism of the Left is that it has a laissez-faire attitude to immigration. There’s plenty to criticize about open borders – but you can’t reasonably describe that as ‘central planning.’

          I sort of agree with Peter from Oz’s description of left and right as a rough guide – I simply claim that it’s far too rough to be useful. Interestingly, having polled a few folk here to provide definitions of Left and Right, everyone has come up with markedly different responses.

          • Farris says


            Thank you for your response.

            Regarding your comment: “Perhaps it’s safe to assume that anyone who supports a strong military, lethal police force, and the death penalty is on ‘the Right’ – but you can’t reasonably describe that as ‘limited government.’”

            I respectfully disagree. One could maintain that government should be limited to the items you delineate above plus a few others. Conservatives are not anarchists.
            However you do make a point. I should have defined conservatives as primarily objecting to economic intervention and social planning. My brush was too broad.
            Nevertheless I do feel the short hand monikers of Left and Right are still somewhat useful and reliable predictors of where an individual might stand on a given subject.

        • Jonny Sclerotic says

          @ x-moose

          In light of today’s lead article, would you like a side dish with those words? Slice of humble pie, perhaps?

      • Jerjapan says

        You bet? Nice evidence. If you fear being savaged in a Quillette forum, it is you who is the snowflake.

    • Jerjapan says

      Agreed, but the biggest issue is the tendency for social media platforms to steer people towards increasingly provocative and extreme ideas, which is not obvious to most people. They start at a legitimate site, are steered towards hateful ones, and often fail to see the difference. Limit social media’s ability to do this and allow free speech, even for the hateful. Problem solved.

  6. Heike says

    With as closely linked as Facebook is to the US government these days, is there any real difference? Who cares if the one denying your right to speak is Barr or Zuckerberg? It’s the same effect.

    • codadmin says

      Either we hand over power to the law and the constitution or we let unelected SJW’s ( fascist leftists ) control entry to the information superhighways?

      No solution is perfect, but at least the latter gives persecuted non-leftists some basic rights.

      • codadmin says

        ^^ the former…one day i’ll Make a comment without a typo!

      • Curle says

        I’m mystified by the frequency with which SJWs, who are quite overtly Bolshoi in their leanings, are so frequently labeled fascists on this site. I can only imagine it relates to the success of Hollywood at demonizing the one and ignoring the other. SJWs are Bolsheviks not fascists.

        • deplorabledude says

          The 2nd definition of fascism in the dictionary is “a tendency toward or actual exercise of autocratic or dictatorial control”. What is one of the defining features of every truly socialist country?

  7. 11 Bronies per Nazi is one of the best stats ever.

  8. Zachary Snowdon Smith says

    The brony analogy was a stroke of inspiration.

    • Jerjapan says

      How so? Bronies do their own thing, alt-right types try and force their thing on others. I challenge you to name one example of Bronie action causing harm to people outside of their niche.

  9. E. Olson says

    The author is concerned about giving voice to Nazis, the KKK, other “far right” extremist groups, but also about the potential loss of freedom of speech and censorship that might migrate to less dangerous groups. Unfortunately, the author makes the common mistake of equating the Nazis and KKK with the political right, when they were historically and are currently part of the political Left. Richard Spencer is a big advocate of abortion, single payer healthcare, high taxes and regulation just like Hitler, and the KKK was a political arm of the Democrat party and were big supporters of the New Deal, Social Security, Medicare, and the general expansion of the welfare state and union rights (except for blacks, Jews and Catholics). Most of the recent shooters cited by the author also stated their hatred for Donald Trump, and admiration for the likes of Communist China, which suggests they aren’t exactly Reagan Republicans.

    On the other hand, most of the deplatformed people from social media are cited as “dangerously racist” because they wish to have current immigration laws enforced, or because they dare state the factual reality that certain races and ethnic groups are more crime prone and less successful in school or employment. Or they are banned for being “dangerously sexist or transphobic” because they believe the research that finds there are fundamental differences between men and women, and/or they belief the biologists who state there are only males and females and the mentally ill who think they are something else. Others are banned for being “dangerously Islamophobic” for factually noting the vast majority of terrorists are Muslim or that Islam generally does not treat religious minorities, women, and homosexuals very kindly. And the number of people killed of physically hurt by such “dangerous” Rightist viewpoints is approximately zero.

    On the other hand, I have heard of little or no deplatforming of anyone on the Left, which seems a bit strange given the high body count associated with many common Leftist viewpoints. For example:

    Climate activists kill thousands of people each year by advocating policies the raise energy prices and create energy poverty so that people freeze to death or die of heat stroke because they can’t afford to turn on the climate control, while hundreds of millions of people in the developing world are prevented from being hooked to a grid, which means they die by the thousands inhaling toxic smoke from dung and wood fires.

    Abortion activists kill thousands of people each year by advocating policies that allow mothers to kill their children legally.

    Open border advocates kill and seriously injure thousands of people each year by failing to protect borders that prevent criminals and gang members, mentally and physically ill, and Jihadists from crossing the border and killing, hurting, or infecting citizens, as well as killing/hurting themselves when they get lost in border area desserts, mountains, and seas.

    Transactivists kill and permanently injure hundreds of people each year advocating for surgical and hormonal treatment of mentally ill children, and subject real women to injury or death by forcing them to share bathrooms, showers, and athletic competitions with men posing as women.

    Feminists and Race Hustlers likely kill thousands each year by advocating affirmative action, and racial/gender quotas and mandates for many educational and career opportunities that previously relied on talent and skill based merit. Thus many untalented and unqualified people are now working in life and death fields such as engineering, medicine, management, military, flying, law enforcement, and firefighting to the detriment of those they serve and work with.

    But the icing on the cake are those who advocate Socialism, which has killed 100 million people in the last 100 years, and is killing many thousands more today in such Socialist paradises as China, N. Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela, while many thousands of other languish and die as political prisoners.

    How many more millions do Leftists need to kill or injure before they are judged dangerous to the public?

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Oh, this bullshit again? So anybody whose ever done anything you disapprove of is necessarily on the left? And the same people who are just a bunch of limp-wristed SJWs locked up in their ivory towers are also as frightening as Nazis and Stalinists?

      You want “leftists” labeled as dangerous to the pubic, do you? You mean, like maybe put a star or a label on them? Maybe put them in camps or something? Just stop with this stupidity. It adds nothing but hatred and ignorance. You sound like a psycho.

      • You are right. The subject is discussed a bit further up. The lazy conflation of ‘liberal’ with ‘leftist’ with, inevitably, ‘commie’ and all the rest of it, is not only childishly reductive but indicative of the latent McCarthyism which still lurks in the recesses of the American psyche.

        • E. Olson says

          Leftists are always leaning toward the Communist (aka Big Government) side of the spectrum, and Communism can’t survive in a classically liberal environment (i.e. free speech, free press, free elections, free movement, etc.), which means Leftists are seldom truly truly liberal.

          • Bob Morris says

            Communism and fascism are not the same thing, even if they are both examples of bad government. That’s like saying that robbery and embezzlement are the same thing, even if they are both examples of theft.

            Communism and socialism both seek central ownership of capital. However, socialism is purely economic, whereas communism also seeks to centralize governance and basic morals (regarding morals, communism opposes religious institutions).

            Fascism never seeks ownership of capital. Its primary defining characteristic is extreme nationalism and bigotry. It also favors the church playing a role in defining morals for everyone. And fascists, which include Nazis, oppose Marxist ideology. It’s why the Nazis opposed the communists in Germany — their ideologies collided.

            That these forms of government lead to dictators does not make them the same thing. In the case of communism and socialism, they don’t put their faith in one person at first, but over time, one person gains power. In the case of fascism, those who embrace it put their faith in one person from the start.

            As for the KKK, they have always been on the right and that’s not going to change any time soon. Their ultimate goal was to preserve institutions or get back what was once in place. The left doesn’t seek preservation — it wants change, especially that which differs from the past.

            Case in point: Open borders (which means tearing down an existing institution) is supported by the left, not the right. But neither the KKK nor fascists would support open borders. Therefore, they are extremists on the right. (Socialists would favor open borders, so yes, they belong on the left; same with Antifa, which seeks to tear down existing institutions, too.)

            This doesn’t mean that everyone on the right is fascist or KKK. I understand that nobody wants to have extremists on their side of the political spectrum, but extreme viewpoints exist on both sides and kicking them over to the other side shows that you don’t understand what’s really at the core of those extreme viewpoints, especially in terms of change versus preservation.

        • I will try again re “lefties” and “righties”…I’m not sure what either should be called…but it is usually easy enough to tell one from the other (usually, but not always…)

          Debasement of language makes discourse difficult. Milton Friedman called himself a “classical liberal” for years. Here in the US, “liberal” has come to mean leftist; conservative is APPROXIMATELY libertarian (thus…”classical liberal”). This seems to me to be a difficult issue on Quillette, and has been since its beginning. To help non-US readers, I humbly suggest reading two interesting documents, from the early 1960’s: “The Port Huron Statement”, the founding document of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society, in case you don’t recall) (1962), to better understand US leftists; and “The Sharon Statement”, the founding document of YAF (Young Americans for Freedom, in case you don’t remember)(1960), to better understand US conservatives. Both documents easily found with a search engine, and both moderately well described on Wikipedia. I hope this helps.

  10. mkc says

    “For most of modern history, states have been the only institutions with the coercive power to restrain speech, and so most policymaking related to free speech has focused on what the limitations on that state power should be.”

    “Only”? The Holy Roman Catholic Church circa 5th through 20th C laughs at you. As do the various caliphates. Today.

    ” in the last decade, the public square has been privatized by social media networks.”

    Oh, this is new is it? Funny, that virtually every book in my library is a product of the private sector. They called their “censorship”, “editorial policy”; but I guess you think there is a difference. (There isn’t.)

    I really wish there was more than an article or two a month that I could read here at Quillette without seeing my assumption of trust in the author’s intellectual integrity squandered within the first few paragraphs.

    • DNY says


      He did say modern history. Some folks have a shorter notion of modern than others. I don’t think the Latin church (by your leave, I’m an Orthodox Christian, so I do not credit the claim to catholicity of the adherents of the Papal Throne of Rome from about 1009 onward) managed to suppress very much speech or publication, their index of forbidden books notwithstanding ,in the 20th century, and even before that, I think a careful study of history will reveal that it was the civil authorities acting at the behest of religious authorities who actually had the power of censorship.

  11. Rev. Wazoo! says

    There ia actually a legally elegant and direct way to address this issue using well-established law; the designation of being a public accommodation. Restaurants, hotels etc are private businesses who offer a service to the public but are prevented from refusing service to anyone on grounds of rCe etc and in some places like Washington DC, on grounds of political affiliation.

    Social media companies (which didn’t exist when these laws were written) could tomorrow be deemed to be public accommodations and political views – or even all legal speech – could be defined as protected from refusal of service in that public accommodation.

    The law would only be paragraph or two, would have 60 years of established jurisprudence and tested constitutionality behind it so would be almost impervious to legal challenge. Challenging it anyway would be akin to defending the right of a lunch counter to refuse service to blacksbecause it’s a private business and their terms of service exclude blacks; not only untenable legally but a publicity nightmare for Google or Facebook were they to try it.

    Deeming social media platforms public accommodations, which common sense says they are, is a straightforward solution.

    • codadmin says

      Everyone is always asking: “but what can I do?”

      Sounds like a plan of action right here. Over to you, legal brains…

    • David of Kirkland says

      Public accommodation laws do restrict freedom of association and freedom of contracting.
      Oddly, they also were the demise of many black businesses.
      Life is complicated, and central planning doesn’t have a great track record for making things better by force of law.

  12. You are free to express your opinion on your blog. What ever happened to blogging? Everybody got lazy and decided to use free social media sites instead of running their own web site. You do need to run your own instance of WordPress because using WordPress to host your site can cause you to lose everything when they decide you’ve violated their terms of service. WordPress has deleted the entire life’s work of writers and artists. The line should be drawn at hosting companies since a business providing a paid service has no right to police your content.

    • Denny Sinnoh says

      Good thing my WordPress is set to automatically also post to a Google+ Blog

    • David of Kirkland says

      Indeed, if your speech is through a private corporation, you might not blame them.
      Too many conflate private spaces with public spaces just because a lot of people are there.

  13. Lightning Rose says

    What needs to happen is a legal determination as to what kind of beast Social Media platforms really are; utilities or publishing companies? Nobody has a right to have their book published by Simon & Schuster. A publisher has a right to select material to buy, and reject all that they don’t want sold under their trademark. This is the way Twitter is trying to lean right now. If they are ruled a publisher, then they keep that right.

    The phone company, let’s say AT&T, is a utility. They do NOT have a right to cancel your account because they don’t like your phone conversations. The electric company also does not have the right to shut down your juice because you don’t conform to their politics. If you don’t pay the bill, that’s a problem, but they can’t pick and choose customers on an ideological basis.

    Rather than breaking them up, this is a consistent, historically aligned solution for FB, Twitter, and the others. If a utility, they must allow all content. If a publisher, they have the right to pick and choose and you know that going in–you also have the freedom to create your own platform in competition with them, which will naturally happen in time.

    You also have the right to refuse to use them, thereby denying your monetary vote for their business model. Believe it or not, the world worked just fine before we had them, and there were fewer Darwin awards for walking head-first into lampposts–or pile-ons and doxxing. You CHOOSE to consume the product–or be consumed AS the product they are selling, namely your data.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Your analogy fails because the phone company doesn’t record your conversation, keep it indefinitely, and the share it with others. If you call me and tell me something, I’m free to share what we spoke about, but also free to never mention it to another. Phone companies are closer to ISPs than to social media, conveying data between two endpoints.

  14. Winston Smith says

    “I believe Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state, and that is a hateful view to many progressive activists. They believe that Israel is an apartheid regime, that Palestine must be free from the river to the sea, and that, therefore, Jewish groups that support Israel are hate groups.”

    I live in an uber-liberal neighborhood in Brooklyn and I’ve never met anyone who questions Israel’s right to exist.. Some people (mostly gentiles) would like Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank, which is illegal under international law and in violation of treaties Israel has signed. Framing that as an argument against Israel’s right to exist is intellectually dishonest.

    • Stephanie says

      Winston, good to know you don’t know any open antisemites, but the position the author describes is mainstream on the left. You see it on campus, in the lefty media, and ubiquitously on social media. It’s not all the left, but much of their thought leaders and activists, particularly behind the cloak of anonymity.

      You’re right that disagreements over what to do with the West Bank shouldn’t be conflated with denying Israel’s right to exist. It would certainly pose a major security threat to end the occupation, considering how ending the occupation of Gaza is going, but arguably not existential. Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of such a policy, particularly as the Palestinians have not held up their end of any bargain. Accusations of antisemitism should be restricted to those who support a policy that inherently includes the liquidation of Israel’s 6 million Jews.

      As for those who single out for obsessive demonization, among all the countries in the world occupying territory or engaging in horrific human rights abuses, the country that happens to be filled with Jews… I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

      • Winston Smith says

        @stephanie I seem to recall South Africa being singled out. I seem to recall the pressure exerted on that state being so great that it had serious economic consequences which eventually led to the end of apartheid. I seem to recall Serbia being singled out. They were bombed by NATO and their president and generals tried at The Hague. I’m sure I could recall a few others, too.

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ Winston Smith

      What about BDS? I’m sure sure you know plenty of people who support BDS at a grass-roots level, and have no idea that the leadership of BDS denies the right of Israel to exist. That they don’t want to use BDS to bring Israel to the negotiating table, instead hoping that it will fundamentally weaken the state of Israel. For most of it’s history, Israel has been the party willing to negotiate and open a dialogue, whilst successive Palestinian leaders have not.

      To paraphrase Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, with embellishment- there’s nothing wrong with criticising the government of Israel, as a US citizen I’m sure you criticise your government all the time (especially given your neighbourhood and the current occupant of the White House)- but to deny the right of the government of Israel to exist, and by extension Israel as a nation, is the very essence of anti-Semitism.

      Liberals are great at ideas, without them there would be much less innovation or social progress, but the failure of college students and leftist intellectuals to acknowledge this basic truth about BDS, is yet more evidence that they are terrible at vetting their ideas- for that you need conservatives, people who are innately sceptical of new ideas and new movements. This is why fundamentally, I try to embrace the position of heterodox, and try to listen to arguments from many sources, because without this vetting process, you end up with batshit crazy ideas like intersectional feminism gaining credence.

      • Winston Smith says

        I don’t know whether what you said about BDS is correct. I’d have to look that up. But we sanctioned South Africa and that wasn’t racist.

        I personally do not know anyone who denies Israel’s right to exist. I do know people who support a two-state solution, or at the very least an end to the apartheid system there.

        In any case, strictly speaking, denying Israel’s right to exist is not anti-Semitic, it’s anti-Zionist. The Jews can exist without their own ethno-state. They’re living quite comfortably in the USA in case you hadn’t noticed. They stole that land from the Palestinians, so it’s a bit daft to fault the Palestinians for not wanting to negotiate. The crime of the Palestinians was being part of an empire that sided with the axis. How does that make them deserved losing their land? We didn’t take away Germany from the Germans and they started the god damned war!

        Yes, yes, I know; we Americans stole our land from the Indians. But at least we gave them the reservations. The Palestinians have nothing.

        In summation, Judaism does not equal Zionism. Opposing Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism. There are Jews who oppose the apartheid of Israel. Are they anti-semites?

        • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

          The Jews did not steal the land from the Palestinians, as Winston asserts. Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire and was never a separate country. Israel is not an ethno state, there are many Muslims and Christians living there, and they have representation in the Knesset. Saudi Arabia is a religious ethno state. No other religions except Islam are allowed to practice. Why not boycott Saudi Arabia? Why this obsession with Israel?

          • Winston Smith says

            @Fuzzy Headed Mang So according to your logic, if the US had lost the war and ethnic Japanese emigrated to Alaska en masse and declared it a new country, that would not be stealing land from the Alaskans because Alaska was never a separate country. It was part of the American Empire, and “Alaskans” are a “made up people.” Is that correct? If not, please explain where I’ve got it wrong.

          • Winston Smith says

            “Why this obsession with Israel?”

            Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the fifty plus years of occupation which are illegal under international law. Maybe it’s the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major threat to the stability of the world and the inspiration for terror attacks such as 9/11. It might also have something to do with that time the entire world was pissed off at South Africa for having an apartheid regime, which is basically what Israeli society is.

            Should I keep going?

        • Geary Johansen says

          You miss my point. Criticising Israel might be anti-Zionist, but is not anti-Semitic. But denying the right of Jews to exist in their own state, and in their one and only historic homeland is, by definition, anti-Semitic. Especially when one considers that Jewish people are the most persecuted race or culture in human history, and feel they have the right to create a sanctuary for themselves against the prejudice they still face around the world today. You have to remember that most of the Arab population living in the area when the British ruled there, had been drawn there as migrants from the rest of the middle east, by the wealth, especially through agricultural innovation and water management, that the Jews had created from desert with their bare hands. And lets not forget that it was the so-called Palestinians who were the aggressors in the war that following, intent on annihilating the Jews, or reducing them to state of dhimmi on those lands that they had purchased, legally.

          In a recent study an activist searched for instances of sexual assault or other brutality towards Palestinian women, but could not find a single instance. Her conclusion was not that the IDF had behaved in a perfect fashion adhering to a strict moral and military code of conduct, but rather that this showed evidence of systemic bias so vile, that young men serving in the IDF did not want to touch the women. What a crock. There are literally dozens of regimes throughout the world that are brutal, totalitarian, with far worse histories of human rights abuses- why is it Israel is always singled out? Because in international relations, as in life, it is always the hatred driven by resentment of the more successful, that is the most pathological force in human affairs. And lets not forget that for almost all of their history, it has been the Israelis that have wanted to give back the West Bank and Gaza, so that the Palestinians can have land of their own, and in this it has been successive Palestinian leadership that has been the roadblock to a peaceful resolution, not the Israelis.

          • Jerjapan says

            This is foolish. Many critics – myself included – of Israel also criticize the US, China, Russia and all of the other states which use their financial might to further their interests at the expense of others. This comment does not exonerate Palestinian terrorists, BTW.

            Equating dislike of the state of the Israel with anti-semitism is to diminish the suffering of Jews who face legitimate anti-semitism around the world.

            Until there is a two-state solution, Israel deserves the criticisms it gets.

  15. Pingback: How Free Speech Dies Online | The American Tory

  16. Michele Craig says

    Today, I visited Ravelry, a website for knitters. Immediately I was met by an announcement that anyone who voted for the current president was a white supremacist, and that those advocating any support for the president would be censored. I This seemed to include usernames and avatar pictures. I know Quillette has published articles about this, for which I am grateful.

    So this censorship of speech and ideas is spreading to other platforms and I frankly find it extremely alarming and am surprised that more people are not alarmed by the shutting down of free speech.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Yea, and one of the posts above is advocating that “leftists” be labeled and censored.

      Have you ever bothered to read the crazy posts on here? On any right-wing sites? Or is your alarm just limited to knitting and only selective examples of prejudice?

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Nakatomi Plaza

        Gender is social construct. There are no cognitive differences between men and women. The West is an evil, oppressive, patriarchy. Intersectional feminism. Take your pick. How about continuing to support a political ideology that has killed over 100 million people and has never worked? (The Scandinavian states are free market capitalist countries, with larger social safety nets- which have fewer regulations on the market than 90% of other countries- just tax and a minimum wage really- in case you wanted to pull out that old chestnut). Any of that shit sound crazy to you?

        Meanwhile the West is the least oppressive, wealthy, most free set of societies in the history of the world, and were the first places in history to have equality of opportunity between the sexes and the races. Plus, in less than 200 years the market, whilst somewhat flawed in some respects, has managed to take the total percentage of world population living in absolute poverty from 94% to 9.6%. What government ever did that?

    • Klaus C. says

      People seem quick to forget that websites like Ravelry are not some kind of public utility – they are privately owned ventures and as such are perfectly entitled to introduce whatever political bias they wish into their rules of posting.

      We’ve long accepted that privately owned media, such as newspapers, do of course reflect the political preferences and biases of their proprietors. There are right-wing papers, left-wing papers, middle-of-the-road papers.

      But somehow when it comes to privately-owned internet businesses, there’s this demand for “free speech” as if we’re talking about a public street corner instead of an expensive website being run for profit (or sometimes, just for love) by private enterprise.

      Clearly Ravelry believe their decision to ban Trump support will be a popular decision amongst the following they wish to retain, and they’re probably right, given their commercial success so far.

      So why not let the markets decide?

      • Uab says

        Yes, but one is a publisher the other is a platform. We know the effects of shutting down speech, and making people scared to speak their opinions (it doesn’t matter that they’re “allowed” to do it as private companies), the affects will be the same if silicon valley. We’ve had regulation on corporations before (to protect rights). Whils the social media sites are owned by the companies, the internet sphere is a public space and a right.

        “if we’re talking about a public street corner”

        Streets and infrastructure are expensive, no? Why is the fact that the website is expensive relevant? This comment seems to have no actual point. It’s not the market deciding, it’s elites in silicon valley who think they know what people think. Social media is where people share their ideas. The market can’t decide adequately if the voices of customers are being drowned out. The free market is not absolute. Also, are they a platform or a publisher? Arguably (ethically) as a platform they should allow all forms of speech, so people can share their opinions and come to consensus (this is the true free market). If its a publisher, then it is liable for what is posted to it (like newspapers a libel). At the moment big tech companies are trying to be both. It might be working for Reverly, not so much for other companies. They also have a monopoly and the ability to censor information across the globe. So leaving the market to decide is retarded in this instance. Also, no organisation should have the power to control public discourse and suppress rights (be it government, big corporations, caphilates etc). Nothing about this is the free market, and Trump still got voted in (so it doesn’t seem indicative of everywhere). It’s also driven by the media, despite Trump being trusted more than the MSM in terms of overall approval. Then companies listen to the media like its all fact.

        Nothing about this is included under the free market of ideas. Online is the modern square of how people communicate, and share ideas. With people getting out less and less, it is the only place where this sort of communication is till possible. Shutting that down will have the same effect as free speech suppression in the past. People will separate into their echo chambers and become more radicalised. We expect governments to uphold our rights (who we actually elect), why should we accept it from big companies (that no one voted for and are likely to have an effect outside the US).

        For your analogy, here’s how I would phrase it:

        It’s more like if there was a public square, but then the public square for speaking is bought out by three or four companies. People are still allowed to speak there, but because it is privately owned (like almost all of London) they can be shut down and moved on. These three companies then decide what appropriate speech is. What if this happens everywhere, isn’t this a suppresion of rights? It doesn’t matter it’s not the government.

        One last thing, the suppression of speech usually starts in the private sphere. Like the printing press (as a commenter mentioned above) led to people getting burnt at the stake.

        No, I don’t want the elites in America determining what is acceptable speech thank you.

  17. Geary Johansen says
    Learn Liberty

    Hope one these links work- my YouTube seems to have changed.

    The reason I linked the above details, is because something Steven Pinker said on this panel, seemed particularly salient to discussions on censorship. His point was that current censorship of certain facts on college campuses, means that when individuals are exposed to these ideas, they both experience an outraged feeling at having been lied to, and lack the natural immunity that being exposed to these facts, in an environment that explains the broader context provides.

    So for example, African Americans commit certain crimes at a rate 7 – 8 times higher than white Americans, but historically Irish American immigrants experienced a very similar problem when they came en masse to America, and very similar social conditions (the perverse triad of inequality, the absence of admirable male role models and gangs). A young man who encountered the former fact without the latter, might be drawn to the far right. Interestingly, it was only when their political influence was on the wane and they had abandoned politics as a means of achieving socio-economic parity, that the American Irish managed to raise their communities standard of living, through the mechanism of hard work, strong social cohesion and parents sacrificing for the next generation.

    Another example, is cognitive differences between women and men, most particularly in differences in interest between people and things (the social constructionist arguments on this biological fact have been disproved). If you are a teenage girl who is atypically interested in things, you might be put off by the idea of working in tech, physics, engineering, or some of the physical science- because you might have heard that these disciplines are endemically sexist or misogynistic, when the disparities in gender proportions by occupation, are mostly biological (I am not denying that bro culture exists in Tech, but rather stating that it is not the primary reason why there are disparities by sex).

    My real problem with censorship, is not so much that it currently favours one particular political bias over another, although that does worry me. My concern is that it allows incredibly bad ideas to thrive in the absence of competing better ideas, it completely negates the ability of society to fix itself (because of faulty diagnosis of problems) and worst of all it makes young men extremely susceptible to far right radicalisation, once they discover some of these partial truths for themselves. Mainstream media completely missed, or chose to ignore, the point that the New Zealand shooter saw the American conservative movement as the greatest roadblock to the formation of a white ethno-nationalist revival, and that was why he deliberately tried to smear figures like PewDiePie and Candace Owen- and he said as much!!! He wanted to create the mechanism for censorship and the resultant resentment that would drive his agenda. Because in this, censorship can only lead to more bad ideas and stronger bad actors.

  18. True Wolff says

    The distinctions between Right/Left, Republican/Democrat, Fascist/Communist are all outmoded. The existential challenge we now face is between Liberal/Illiberal. In each of the old-fashioned binaries there are illiberals on both sides.
    Those of us who are true liberals must champion our cause and defend it from illiberals on either side of the old camps.

    • Lightning Rose says

      And for pity’s sake can we STOP writing about “Nazis?” Nazism (the genuine article) was a product of a certain time, place, and conditions in early 20th century Europe. It does not exist today except as an uncreative insult or a few juvenile outcasts’ attempts to look “badass.”

      While micro-fringe loonies will always exist, we are certainly in no danger of Nazis becoming a factor today. Instead of chasing this boogeyman from our grandparents’ time, or obsessing over “gender” dysfunctions of a few maladjusted cranks, how ’bout some new ideas about today’s problems that ACTUALLY affect most people’s lives? Immigration? Economic migration? Single-payer medical care? Universal basic income? Banning vaping vs. legalizing pot? It would spice up this board quite a bit!

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Lightning Rose

        Good comment. Plus, best estimates put the total number of white supremacists at 11,000 in the entirety of the US. Hardly the major crisis the Left would have you believe.

  19. Fuzzy Headed Mang says

    Facebook and Patreon are private companies and they do have guidelines that users sign before using the sites. I think the freedom of private property owners to do what they want with their property is important, rather than the state imposing its rules on them. There are limits to free speech. In Canada this includes libel and advocating specific violence against an individual or group. The private sector must have the freedom to choose, and then the consumer has the freedom to choose whether to use the product or service.

    • codadmin says

      Its not about Patreon though, but Google, Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia. They have terraformed the digital landscape.

      They are without question utilities. In fact, calling them utilities is an understatement. They are like the land, sea and air of the digital world.

      Between them, they can subvert democracy with a tweak of their algorithms which is exactly what they have decided to do in light of Trumps unexpected victory.

      Their power is unprecedented in history because the internet is unprecedented in history. They have to be beholden to democratic standards otehrwise the Western world, the whole world, will look like North Korea very soon.

      • R Henry says


        “Between them, they can subvert democracy with a tweak of their algorithms”

        No. If this is true, Hillary Clinton would today reside at 1600 Pennsyllvania Avenue. She does not.

        Google’s algorithims do NOT control my life, thinking, or voting. If our culture is to evolve a new ethic for online behavior, as it must, the starting place must be contemporary reality, not some hyperbolic dystopia.

        • codadmin says

          @R Henry

          They were complacent because of 8 years of Obama and their absolute certainty that Clinton had already won.

          After Trump won, they immediately started to purge conservatives and tweak their algorithms. They are learning.

          Just yesterday, a Google exec was caught on camera decrying talk of their breakup because a fractured Google wouldn’t be able to ‘prevent another Trump’.

          Of course when she/they say ‘prevent another Trump’, what they really mean is prevent another Republican President.

      • Jonny Sclerotic says


        With FB and Twitter, the poison in the well is subjective. With water, it’s not. None of us actually want Wikipedia to be regulated as a public utility, surely? It’s a pretty good, if non-perfect example of self-regulation, as far as I can tell.

        These companies have great power, handed over readily by billions of people who have the ability to withdraw it at any moment. Water doesn’t care if you die of dehydration, and electricity doesn’t care if you die from cold. But Google cares if you stop using it. The stakes are very low for the user, and very high for the provider. Ergo, not a utility.

        • codadmin says

          @Jonny Sclerotic

          Wikipedia is the de facto enclypedia of the internet and it does a terrible of maintaining balance.

          Have you ever tried to edit it yourself? To correct an SJW sacred cow, or shock horror, table a counter SJW argument supported by facts and figures? Try it.You won’t get anywhere.

          Wikipedia is run by a cabal of SJW editors, and on any matter of political importance, you have zero chance of finding anything counter to SJW narratives.

          No one is going to stop using Google. Just like no one is going to store 7 months worth of food in a bunker and go off grid. Theoretically it’s possible, but it’s disingenuous to try and argue that a significant amount of people will ever do it.

          • Jonny Sclerotic says

            @ codadmin

            Wikipedia is free for everyone, everywhere; other encyclopedias are available. It’s the opposite of a natural monopoly.

            Are you suggesting it would be less political if it was run by the government as a public utility?

            It sounds like you don’t get any utility from it. So just don’t use it.

            FWIW, I have edited and created many Wikipedia pages without problem. I’d have a much tougher time trying to influence the layout of the municipal sewage system.

            I wouldn’t use it myself for ‘matters of political importance’ so I can see why it might be frustrating if that’s what you expect from it.

        • codadmin says

          @Jonny Sclerotic

          Wikipedia is closed eco system. 1% of contributors, a clique of editors all known to each other, contribute over 70% of all material. And within that clique there are super editors who contribute a greater proportion and who have nigh-on dictatorial control of the platform. It’s almost impossible for someone outside of this clique to edit anything of importance. If you submit an edit that contradicts an SJW narrative it will be thrown out, and if you keep trying you will be banned from editing altogether.

          Wikipedia is the Encyclopaedia of the internet, and so it matters tremendously who controls it. Because, it’s output literally shapes the opinions of billions of people all over the world.

          It’s too big and important to be left in the hands of ideologues. I can only imagine the uproar if Wikipedia was brought out by a right wing organisation who replaced the super editors with alt-right ideologues.

          The government shouldn’t run it, but neither should SJW’s. the government is there to ensure these massive companies with unparalleled power are beholden to the people the serve.

          • Jerjapan says

            Clique, cabal, de facto – these sorts of terms get applied a lot to these shadowy conspiracies, don’t they? I’m reminded of those threatening ‘Zionist elites’ …. why can’t we just abandon conspiracy theories and start presenting evidence?

    • R Henry says

      ” There are limits to free speech. In Canada this includes libel and advocating specific violence”

      Mark Steyn has been harassed by Canadian officials for nothing of the sort.

    • JA M says

      “they do have guidelines that users sign before using the sites.”

      Which they reserve the right to alter at any time.

      And, apparently, apply retroactively when they decide they need to erase someone “for the greater good.”

  20. No Longer Outraged says

    In every age, new challenges arise which past orthodoxies can’t handle, since they were unable to anticipate (like traditional religion vs. the rise of science). The question is can they evolve (as religion has for the most part), or will they remain relics of a past age? Or will they instead mutate into something completely unrecognizable, like the traditional left into the SJW left?

    Here, we more or less have the right hoist on its own petard: lack of government intervention doesn’t produce the desired-for result (as rightist, but not leftist, speech is being suppressed by private entities), so here we have the right calling for government intervention. We all know that if this had turned out differently, and complaints would be coming from the left that leftist speech was suppressed, they’d wax eloquently about the wonders of the free market, say that the 1st Amendment only applies to the government, and just tell the left to create their own platforms and spaces. It’s truly ironic to see the right having to admit what the left has been saying all along: concerted action by powerful private interests can cause a real lack of freedom, the definition of which is not just “freedom from acts by coercive state power”, but a real constraint on what one can say or do, and that government intervention is needed to set things right.

    Of course, we already saw some evolution with the rise of the alt-right and the election of Trump, where the white working class (a major traditional constituency of the right) cares more about its jobs and the health of its local communities than rightist pieties about international free trade and unlimited immigration, and yes we will use government to limit outsourcing and immigration whether corporate fat cats like it or not.

    Where all this headed I don’t know. It will be interesting to see.

    • DNY says

      But we don’t have lack of government intervention. We have government intervention in the US called “Section 230 protections” that shield content hosts from legal responsibility for the content they host. The sense of this becomes less clear when the hosts start controlling the content by letting only one side of a political debate be heard, or applying “community standards” in a way that tends to have that effect. It is also arguable that social networks, by their very nature, are natural monopolies, and thus, even for those us free-marketeers, reasonably subject to greater government control than other portions of the market.

      Simple solution: if you want to not be legally responsible for the content of your site, you must treat all legal content equally, and (in the US) by standards in parallel with the First Amendment.

      • Jonny Sclerotic says

        We have government intervention… that shield content hosts from legal responsibility for the content they host.

        That’s your modern free market capitalism working as it’s supposed to. You just defined a LLC.

        • DNY says

          An LLC shields investors from liability for the action of the corporation. Section 230 goes beyond that and shields the corporation from liability for what’s on its servers on the basis that it’s the poster’s content.

          Once the corporation starts controlling the content (say by banning critics of transgenderism on the basis of “violating community standards” for perfectly civil posts, while posters of vile screeds full of profanity attacking Christians, that arguably are completely beyond the bounds of the plain meaning of their published “community standards” remain untouched), the appropriateness of applying this additional level of protection from liability becomes dubious, and thus, I advocate conditioning Section 230 on equal treatment of user-posted content under standards mirroring the First Amendment.

          • Jonny Sclerotic says

            @ DNY

            I don’t have any difficulty finding criticism of transgenderism online. If I was so inclined, I wouldn’t have any difficulty publishing criticism of transgenderism online.

            But the National Center for Transgender Equality is not obliged to publish my criticism of transgenderism, and nor should they be.

            Try Googling ‘transphobia blog’ and see what comes up. Do the page 1 results look like a conspiracy on Google’s part to whitewash criticism of transgenderism? They certainly do not to me.

    • Jonny Sclerotic says

      @ No Longer Outraged

      I try to refrain from doing this… but ^^This^^

  21. Kevin Herman says

    SJW nutjobs out number neo-nazis and the so call alt right probably at least 10 to 1.

  22. R Henry says

    “However, in the last decade, the public square has been privatized by social media networks.”

    Not true. In the USA for example, there is no “state” newspaper. With the exceptions of PBS and NPR, all radio and television broadcasters are private enterprises.

    The public square has ALWAYS been private in US.

    • Bill says

      No, the public square historically was just that…the public square. The newspapers and later radio and TV broadcasters were not. It’s where you had the right to freedom of assembly. You don’t have the right of freedom of assembly on private grounds because the owner of that private ground could ban anyone using Trespass laws.

      The interesting conflict I see is in the Twitter decision about putting warning labels/restricting politician tweets. First, we had a court a couple years ago say Pres. Trump could not block people from viewing his tweets because it was a public forum/public square and his doing so violated the 1st amendment. However, now you have Twitter able to do just that. So what restriction is there from having a future Twitter decision to block all tweets from Left-wing pols?

      The same now goes for banks. BofA announced today it was restricting business relationships and i’m sure other banks will do the same. The Obama administration tried to pressure them years ago to do this against gun manufacturers. Patreon and Paypal target individuals The Left cheers this, because the targets are the industries and individuals they despise, but what happens when the winds change? What if the banks all decide they won’t do business with Planned Parenthood? What happens when they decide to not handle payments directed to AOC?

      Now, the attempts to spin the capitalist argument back — just start up a competitor to Twitter then! That ignores that there really is a monopoly where the anti-trust rules are not being applied and you cannot simply say “market forces” because the government has intervened and provided protections (section 230). Take, for example, the neo-nazi website taken down because the holders of all the DNS servers said “nah, we aren’t going to host you/route to you or anyone you do business with.”

  23. R Henry says

    500 years ago, the then-new printing press enabled Martin Luther to broadly distribute his reformist literature throughout Western Europe. The new technology of the printing press enabled the major upheaval in European society now known as the Protestant Reformation. Without the new communications technology of the printing press, the Western world would have evolved quite differently.

    I believe The Internet generally, and social media specifically, is empowering similarly profound cultural upheaval in our contemporary Western world. So far, our society has been unable to develop revised ethics and morality that the new technologies demand. We are flailing. That new forms of tyranny and exploitation are surfacing cannot be a surprise, History is chock full of individuals and groups who have exploited new technologies and cultural upheaval for their own selfish gain. Silicon Valley is the tip of the spear here, and it is taking full advantage until our culture develops a new ethic and morality to contain the technological fallout. This will necessarily result in high levels of conflict, displacement, violence, and disruption.

    The Western world is transitioning from the Post-Reformation cultural epoch into the Digital cultural epoch, and we can only expect a rough ride.

  24. Pingback: How Free Speech Dies Online | Big Sky Headlines

  25. Anonymous says

    What should never be discounted is that people didn’t follow the Nazis because of the ways in which they were wrong, but the ways in which they were right. On the matters of the unfairness toward the working class, the corruption of government, and the dangers of Communism- Hitler was right!

    There, I said it, Hitler was right… but only about those things. The attempts to censor and stifle the National Socialists in the Weimar Republic prevented a full discussion and analysis of Hitler’s agenda which would have likely revealed it to the majority as destructive, but being people hear what they want to hear the positive parts of the message circulated more freely than the negative parts and the people were seduced. You don’t have to listen to a neo-Nazi in an adversarial setting for very long to realize he is a dangerous fool, but if you only get to hear him in his enclave giving his side of the story, you might not get to that part. Right now they are only welcome on the First Amendment absolutist platforms like Gab and the chans, but that’s a good look for them that they don’t deserve. Let them be the ones to isolate themselves from contrary opinion and wear the shame of cancelling the debate for fear of losing.

  26. The Christchurch shooter’s manifesto was rife with memes and did have references to anti-immigrant figures on the right, but the glaring misrepresentation regarding his political beliefs posited in this article is his devout support for China – I believe he called it something akin to the best society on earth?

  27. Pingback: How Free Speech Dies Online | CauseACTION

    • TheSnark says

      Heck, Big Tech, and the Trump campaign’s clever use of Big Tech’s platforms, is what “prevented” Hillary from winning the election in 2016.

      These are the same arrogant fools who said that the then-new internet would free information and solve all our problems. It seems that they still haven’t learned that they are not, and cannot be, smart enough to predict how their shiny new technologies will be used and what effects they will have on our society. Their main objective is to make as much money as they can while avoiding any blame for the collateral damage.

  28. @StewyGriffith says

    “I believe Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state”

    Once again another example of a Jewish Supremacist masquerading as a free thinker – diversity for thee but not for me.

    Jews get an ethnic state, but white people have to throw open the doors to their nations and get dispossessed from all their societies and culture have produced.

    F.U. Daniel Friedman, F.U.

  29. Tim H says

    FWIW, Stefan Molyneux comes from a right-ish libertarian perspective. He doesn’t advocate for any kind of government coercion whatsoever. In fact, he considers the State a tremendous evil. I’m sure he’d hate being lumped in with Richard Spencer. Molyneux seems honest in his search for answers to today’s social concerns and appears to harbor no ill will toward any individual or group.

  30. clf says

    Is feminism a coherent system of belief? I doubt it.

    Also, Richard Spencer is a rich kid who got in way over his head. Calling him a Nazi is comical. It’s like the idiot NYT critic Frank Rich writing in 2004 that Mel Gibson’s Passion was going to cause hordes of blond, blued-eyed Nazis to start goose-stepping through the cornfields of Iowa and throw Jews in ovens. The fool even suggested banning hate movies. Jews can not, will never, lead no matter how much influence, wealth and power they acquire.

  31. JA M says

    Like most progressive movements in the past century and a half, the current one has devolved from freedom and liberty and justice for all into outright totalitarian attempts to seize power and rule with and iron fist over all the “inferiors” in the name of “the people” . . . for their own good, of course.


    No one has yet managed to explain to me why Stefan Molyneux is a right-wing extremist. What did he ever say to be branded alt right several times even on Quillette? Please provide links

  33. Oh, for fuck’s sakes, stop calling them Nazis. I stopped reading the article pretty much right when I started for this reason alone.

    The word Nazi was used 18 times in this article.

    The Nazis were defeated in 1945 by people more brave than any of the morons today screaming about how Nazis still exist.

    The Nazis were a terrifying force that occupied several nations, destroyed cities and killed millions. They had tanks, an air force, a network of spies, child soldiers, death camps, and now they’re GONE.

    If you’re talking about white supremacists, then call them that, because it’s factually accurate. White supremacy existed long before Hitler. By calling them Nazis you’re actually promoting them by calling them something they’re not in reality, but something they wish to be known as by others all the same. You’re giving them the label they want people to see them as being worthy of appropriating.

    My grandfather didn’t put out the flames on your parents’ backs and during the Luftwaffe attacks in London just so you could shit all over his glorious heroism by claiming a bunch of Wal-Mart tiki torch wielding trolls from the Internet are somehow keeping Hitler’s 1000 year reich alive. He didn’t transport your injured and dead ancestors bodies in his rescue jeep while the bombs were still falling and everyone else was in fucking bomb shelters just so you can pat yourself on the backs for tweeting a hashtag and claim to do the same hard work that he did.

    If I had a time machine I’d take every one of you dumb fucks who still throw that word around and destroy its meaningfulness and transport you back to 1939 to see some real goddamn Nazis. You wouldn’t last a day. You wouldn’t even last an hour.

    Holy shit.

  34. Pingback: Samizdata quote of the day « Samizdata

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  36. Pingback: Creating a free speech social media site is no easy task – Infinite Dissent

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