Finally, The First Amendment Gets The Second Amendment Treatment

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“When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.” Most people know this quote from the Dune books, where it is retroactively attributed to Louis Veuillot. The attribution may or may not be true but the saying itself is a truth that has an echo in history all the way back to the dawn of man.

For the past twenty years or so, I’ve had a saying of my own: “If we treated the First Amendment like we treated the Second Amendment, it would only apply to Revolutionary-era printing presses and actual wooden soapboxes.” After all, the only firearms in this country that enjoy authentic Second Amendment protection are blackpowder muzzle-loaders. Your right to order a blackpowder muzzle-loader and keep it loaded by your bed is basically the only undamaged firearms right left. It even applies to felons, although felons may not have the cap primer that makes modern blackpowder rifles vaguely reliable. Every other kind of gun is subject to a Byazntine admixture of state, federal, and local laws.

Our Supreme Court has continually interpreted the Constitution as a “living” document. Which means that they’ve been free to whittle down the Second Amendment as they like, while expanding the First Amendment to cover everything from the airwaves to the Internet to public defecation “art” to the infamous Citizens United decision. The word “militia”, which originally referred to the “militia” that overthrew King George, has been redefined as the National Guard. Meanwhile, “speech” has been expanded to mean every form of communication imaginable plus money plus behavior. That expansion is the lever by which socially liberal people and organizations have reshaped America in their desired image. Without the freedom to carpet-bomb Americans with everything from freaky old titties at the Super Bowl to a coalition of media that lampoons and undermines traditional family life, we’d probably still be living in the early Sixties.

Whether this is a good or bad thing is a matter of opinion, or perhaps a matter of degree. I like having the freedom to read D.H. Lawrence but I’m not sure I would want my eight-year-old daughter, if I had one, to be exposed to a bunch of swinging dicks in bathrooms just because such a “freedom” is the current cause celebre in California. Regardless of the merits of America’s social transformation, however, you cannot argue that it could have been done without hugely liberal (in the classic sense) interpretations of the First Amendment. But remember that maybe-Herbert quote above, because it applies starting now.


Fifty years, the ideas of gay marriage, biological men in women’s bathrooms, full-frontal nudity on your TV screen, deliberate public mockery of Jesus Christ, and (insert your own progressive accomplishment here) were absolutely and entirely antithetical to American culture and society. The change was done through media, the same way smoking was curtailed by laws that controlled what media could be purchased and/or controlled by tobacco companies. And it was done because the courts in this country (nearly) unfailingly permitted the public discussion of unpopular ideas. In other words, the First Amendment protects your right to promote the gay lifestyle, or the Black Panther lifestyle, or the Nazi lifestyle, or the mini-trucking lifestyle through whatever media you can access, regardless of how offensive it is to regular people. The concept of “obscenity” was all but destroyed. We tend to think of “obscenity” as being sexual, but to a working man of 1955 it would have equally applied to Piss Christ or the song “Three Days” by Jane’s Addiction.

Again and again, the courts have said that if you’re offended by something, that’s your problem. They have told us that America depends on that principle. That principle has been loudly and widely espoused by every liberal or progressive politician of note over the last century.

Prepare for that all to end.

Today’s Slate has what amounts to sedition on its front page: You’ll Never Guess This One Crazy Thing Governs Online Speech. I’ll excerpt the most offensive portions below.

But private individuals or corporations, like Twitter, are not covered by the First Amendment and can curate or even censor speech without violating the law. In fact, some have argued that a platform’s right to keep up and take down what’s posted there is its own free speech right. Others have pointed out that not policing for abuse has a chilling effect on speech… One of the main forces governing speech online is the same thing that governs (speech) is societal norms. Norms are customary standards for behavior that are shared in a community.

I bolded that because the whole idea of modern progressive politics and belief is to deliberately and thoroughly shit on the “norms” of traditional Americans and to ridicule those “norms” until they are replaced with “norms” devised by progressive leaders. (This is not necessarily a right-wing value judgment. Slavery was once a “norm”, mind you, and it was morally wrong. It’s just a statement of fact.)

The task of creating policy for governing online speech falls not to governments, but to platforms. Individual platforms that host user’s content—like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or YouTube—are each responsible for creating policies that reflect the online speech norms of the community the platform wants to create

No, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. If that were the case, then the task of creating policy for governing what a baker writes on a cake would fall to the baker doing the baking, and that is not the case in $THE_CURRENT_YEAR.

The underlying principle that Facebook has managed to grasp and put into motion is that digital speech is about much, much more than Twitter’s black and white notion of “free speech.” Online speech is not about simple speech absolutes. It’s about developing a global system of governance that can empower the most, while harming the least.

No, is it not. Free speech and “social justice” aren’t just unrelated; they are mortal enemies, the same way that free speech and “national socialism” were mortal enemies.

The sooner we start thinking of online speech not only in terms of “free speech” but in terms of responsible and responsive platform governance, the sooner we create the internet we want.

Note, dear reader, the absolute cast-iron certainty she has in the royal “we” here. I’m pretty sure that “we” doesn’t mean “this idiot who writes for Slate, and Jack Baruth”, because my idea of “free speech” is, you know, free speech. And I don’t think the “Internet we want” can refer to a single Internet, either. The Internet that I want is basically one website that shows pictures of Dodge Vipers at a six-degree slip angle through the Climbing Esses at VIR and a movie of Kate Winslet getting railed by somebody who looks as much like me as possible, with autoplay audio of the second solo in “Welcome To The Jungle.” I’m willing to bet real money that such a thing is not the Internet that she wants. But notice how effortlessly she assumes that all right-thinking people must feel exactly the same way about the Internet.

That, my friends, is insane fanaticism. It is the fanaticism of the pogrom, the gas chamber, the purge, the jihad. It is the most serene assurance that she is correct about what’s best for everyone and that she is simply effortlessly engaging in doubleplusgoodthink. “A true Party member could automatically, and without thought, expunge any incorrect information and totally replace it with true information from the Party. If properly done, there is no memory or recovery of the Incorrect information that could cause unhappiness to the Party member by committing thoughtcrime.”

If you want to have something to keep you up at night, consider that this woman will probably eventually be in a position of power or a position in which she can advise a powerful person. This is her bio: “Kate Klonick is a lawyer and writer. She is currently a resident fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project.” She’s already been given the freedom to address what is admittedly dwindling but still massive number of readers with this claptrap. No senior person stepped in to stop her. If anything, she was encouraged in this anti-American sedition.

I suspect that many of my fellow corporate drones will have already had their hackles raised by the use of the word “norms”. In the “Agile” and “scrum” communities that are increasingly dominating corporate culture below the C-suites, “team norms” are used to enforce a uniformity of corporate-acceptable behavior. For instance, it can be a “team norm” that you attend an 8:30 meeting. It’s not a actual written requirement of your job, which means that you can’t have it examined by a court. It’s just a “norm”. But if you don’t conform to the norm, so to speak, a reason will be found to move you into another, lesser position.

“Norms” are the methods by which groupthinkers enforce conformity. We to live in a country where the “norm” was that you grew up and married someone of the opposite sex who was the same approximate skin tone as you were, then you had children. This “norm” was enforced by laws that were all eventually overthrown because they interfered with human freedom. Today, nobody in this country doubts your right to walk down Main Street USA holding the hands of your same-sex, interracial, poly-triad, hippo-kin, trans-identifying partner. Even if your behavior offends every single member of that actual community, you have the right to do that.

Slate would have us believe that an “online community” should be protected more strongly from upsetting speech than an actual, physical community should be. Note that nobody was making this argument in 1995 when Mrs. Clinton was demonizing black “super-predators” and there was still significant majority support for censoring rap records. At that time, the progressive viewpoint was not yet the majority, so progressives demanded free speech. Now that they have the upper hand, they are going to censor speech. Sound familiar?

Also note that this ridiculous business of “communities” being able to enforce “norms” doesn’t apply to science fiction, computer-nerd stuff, or any other “community” where white men are the majority. Hell, the whole GamerGate thing was largely about nerdy gamers wanting to enforce the “norms” of their community and the media crucifying them for wanting that to be so.

No, I’m afraid this enforcement of “norms” will be diode-style. If you, the community of Cheetos-stained gamers, want to see nude women gyrating on your PlayStations, you’re going to be sorely disappointed because your community is going to be face-fucked into the Brave New World of gender identity and neo-Puritanism. If, on the other hand, you’re in a community of right-thinking people all expressing identical sentiments, anybody who dares to harsh your buzz is going to be doxxed into homelessness.

The sad part is that I agree with this woman about the idea that communities should be able to enforce norms, online or otherwise. You don’t have the inherent right to troll a web forum. Take this site, for example. I don’t censor my commenters in any meaningful forms — I permitted Paul Niedermeyer’s explosion of demented rancor against me to live into eternity — but if you start posting 500 comments an hour promoting the Nissan Rogue as the ultimate driving machine, I’m gonna blackhole you. Similarly, if I want to sodomize a man wearing a fursuit underneath the sole stoplight of downtown Powell, I support the right of the cops to Taser me and beat me into a bloody pulp so children don’t have to see that shit.

Only an insane person, however, could characterize Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn (FUCK THEM) as “communities”. To the contrary. They are common carriers, as essential to human interaction in 2016 as a telephone was in 1965. Maybe more so. Facebook has no fuckin’ right to enforce “community standards” because we sure as shit didn’t give Ma Bell the right to enforce “community standards” in 1975. Facebook and Twitter are the modern soapboxes. Anybody has the right in this country to stand on a soapbox, which means that anybody should have the right to post what they want on Facebook. You don’t have to read it, the same way you don’t have to listen to the man on the soapbox. But you can’t censor those incidents of speech without irreparably damaging this democracy.

The minute we decide that some forms of speech are protected and some are not, we’re all the way to Animal Farm. And we’ve reduced the mighty First Amendment to the same humbled misery enjoyed by the Second. (But not quite as miserable as that the thoroughly violated Tenth.) If you are a conservative, you should resist this with methods short of bloodshed. But if you’re a liberal/progressive, you should also resist it. Because what will you do, my progressive friend, when the Leaders determine that you’re the loser of Privilege Bingo? When you’re the parent of one of the 1,400 children raped at Rotherham? What will you do when the groupthink makes you the victim? And we’ll end with yet another dubiously-sourced quote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

61 Replies to “Finally, The First Amendment Gets The Second Amendment Treatment”

  1. Yamahog

    My only point of contention is the analogy between facebook and ma bell. Telephones were monopolistic utilities and more closer (by analogy) to internet service providers.

    But I can’t contribute to this discussion and maybe I’m missing the point. But facebook and twitter have to basically abide by the common denominator / most restrictive set of laws in every jurisdiction they operate. Germany is sensitive to swastikas, Saudi Arabia is sensitive to depictions of the Prophet Mohammad, et. al.

    I don’t know how they can meet their legal obligations to each country without restricting what they’ll let fly in more open countries.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Facebook has millions of dollars’ worth of code to target advertising to you by zip code.

      I assure you that they could meet the legal standards of every country in which they consider themselves to be “doing business” in a manner that respected the laws of each country, and it would be utterly transparent.

      I agree with you that Ma Bell was a monopoly. But. We now live in an era where you need a Facebook account to purchase certain items or to contact certain people. So they are on the way to common-carrier status — and don’t forget their plan to become a walled-garden ISP themselves.

      Reply
      • Yamahog

        And what’s close enough for advertising might not be good enough for Judges / politicians who want to a punching bag during election year – VPNs, GPS spoofing on mobile, ect, contradictory information are all things that facebook has addressed but is it good enough?

        Even if they knew the user’s location information, the content is still hard to profile. It’s easy enough to filter out the Nazi flag, but what about Indo religious iconography that’s also a swastika? What about crappy skinhead tattoos? Would you propose that facebook block the entire imagine or just obfuscate the offending symbol?

        Lastly, where do we draw the line on a company being large enough to sustain the burden of common carrier status? Is Google big enough? Is Twitter big enough? Is myspace big enough? Was myspace big enough? After they blew up, should they be allowed to re-examine their common carrier status? Should Slack be a common carrier?

        Also, what about corporate personhood and compelled speech? The Government coming in and telling facebook (in the current legal status-quo where facebook is a corporation), “you gotta protect these photos of fursuits in bondage” seems even less preferable to facebook yanking that stuff off their private platform.

        I don’t (yet) agree with your conclusion but maybe we agree that facebook needs to get trust busted. My personal opinion is that they crossed the rubicon when they got someone brought up on hacking charges for trying to use their crappy website:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/07/12/9th-circuit-its-a-federal-crime-to-visit-a-website-after-being-told-not-to-visit-it/

        Ideally we’d put the company on the auction block and not let any one entity buy more than $1 billion worth of FB.

        That said, Twitter and Facebook are excellent analogues to the colonial town square. Maybe we need to say that any service that connects to the internet (publicly funded and protected esp. wireless internet access) needs to respect free speech. If you want to wall your service off, lay your own fiber and connect people. And if you’re Saudi Arabia, make your own firewall (I hear some defense contractors program for $$$) for the Profit Mohammad.

        Reply
  2. Rob

    “After all, the only firearms in this country that enjoy authentic Second Amendment protection are blackpowder muzzle-loaders.”

    Sad to say, this is not true in Illinois, and I suspect in the other third world crap hole states run by kleptomaniac commies. Buying a front stuffer in the Land of Lincoln requires holding a valid FOID, the 4473 and an NICS check

    And I say “suspect” in the paragraph above because my short google search for muzzle loader laws mostly returned results such as: OMG FELONS ARE HUNTING WITH GUNS and LOOPHOLE ALLOWS FELONS TO HAVE GUNS and not the listing of states that treat muzzle loaders as modern firearms.

    Great article, Jack, and I hope it gets distributed far and wide. He that hath ears, let him hear indeed.

    Rob

    Reply
    • Bigtruckseriesreview

      Good guys with guns are a check & balance against bad guys with guns and mentally ill people with guns.

      It works like this: Bad guy with gun goes into a school (gun free zone) opens fire, kills lots of kids (Sandy Hook).

      HOWEVER:

      The way it’s supposed to work is:

      Bad guy with gun goes into a school (gun free zone) opens fire, kills a kid or two, but didn’t realize that Mr. Preston (Chemistry Teacher) had a brand new Glock on his hip and he’s been waiting for a reason to use it. Bad guy gets into gun fight and possibly looses, gets injured or gets his head blown off.

      In Charlie Hebdo, terrorists were able to massacre the cartoonists.

      They tried the same thing in Garland Texas AND GOT EXECUTED before they even got through the front gate.

      No trial, no jury, no court fees.

      CHECKS & BALANCES.

      And that’s why I’m a registered Republican.

      Reply
  3. Bigtruckseriesreview

    The founding fathers built the Amendments in order of important.

    #1 I can say whatever I want and express myself however I want.
    #2 I have guns so that I CAN KILL YOU if you attempt to violate my 1st right.
    #3 You can’t put soldiers/cops in my house. CAUSE IT’S MINE.
    #4 You can’t steal shit out of my house – or use my porn stash against me in court.
    #5 You can’t force me to testify against my porn stash or my neighbor’s porn stash.

    People seem to forget that this nation DID NOT WANT TO FORM and that the first attempts at a constitution failed because #1 people feared that an overarching government would threaten their personal freedoms and #2 they didn’t want to be taxed. The Amendments were basically assurances that the Feds would never be able to violate me. If the state I was in didn’t respect my rights I could MOVE TO ANOTHER STATE.

    MORE FREEDOM is ALWAYS THE BETTER ANSWER.

    More guns = less crime simply because people who can conceal carry WILL KILL criminals without having to even dial 911. A bullet turns “rape” into “attempted rape”.

    The first amendment exists so that people’s personal freedom of expression can not be hindered or impeached.

    Ever play games on line? People say a whole lot of wicked shit. If you don’t like it, you have a choice: mute them or don’t play.

    In reality, if you see some crazy ass religious fanatic on the street talking smack: you can either leave, or put your headphones on.

    PRIVATE PROPERTY: inside my house, inside my office, on my website, etc – works differently. I can block, ban or report you for expressing yourself.

    The reason America is so important is because this is one of the only places in the entire world where there are laws on the books that allow everyone personal freedom and personal property rights.

    And that is the reason CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW…

    This country must never allow personal expression rights and personal property rights to be undermined.

    And that right there is why the estate tax needs to be repealed.

    Reply
  4. JDN

    I agree with pretty much all the sentiments you expressed except for facebook/twitter/linkedin being some sort of public utility or monopoly.

    If they want to set up their sites to be some sort of progressive utopia where every person can express xirself without fear of criticism that’s their prerogative. The only part that really annoys me is the hypocrisy of saying they’re platforms for free speech then only blocking things they disagree with.

    But it’s easy enough problem to solve – don’t like it? Don’t use their stuff. It’s perfectly possible to live life without using those platforms – even for a lazy, entitled, born on the internet millennial like myself. The only of those I actually have an account for is LinkedIn mostly to help promote our business – other than that it seems to just be an avenue for headhunters to get contact information for me.

    Reply
  5. DirtRoads

    Damn, Jack, I’m sitting here going “wow, someone ELSE sees this shit going on” and the better part of it is you, unlike me or my wife (who at one point astonishingly asked me if I was a Conservative), you have an audience.

    What astonishes me is that we never learn from history, and you have cited some excellent historical examples. So we are doomed to repeat it. The Constitution is being ravaged, not only by Oh-Oh-Oh-Obama, but by Congress and everyone else down the line who works in marble buildings in DC. And what are the young people wondering about it? What can you give me for free? What can my country do for me? They are so locked into their texting and online “lives” that they don’t seem, and perhaps don’t want to see, what is going on in real life around them.

    Thanks so much for this article. I was just catching up on some reading and you apparently just posted this. I bitched last week about comments being closed, and now you prolly wish the already were.

    But thanks anyway. You said all of the above far better than I ever could.

    Reply
  6. Orenwolf

    First of all, The day that Facebook becomes *required* to communicate the way the telephone was required to communicate if you didn’t want to use postal mail is the day I stop talking to my family.

    That being said, the problem with state-sponsored-actors censoring content is that usually there is no alternative. If the government can restrict your liberty for what you say, or, say, deny your drivers license because they don’t like your political views, then you have a problem without redress unless it’s codified in law. I don’t care how big facebook gets, short of the US government co-opting them for government services they are never going to have that sort of power. You just need to look at what’s happened in places where facebook or whatsapp or whatever *are* restricted to see what happens. The barrier to entry of a new internet communications medium is nothing like the barrier to lay new copper wiring and build all of that infrastructure.

    No progressive douchebag is going to change that just because they happen to believe companies should be forced to listen to their crap. I’m Canadian, I assure you I am a progressive but your rights stop at my ears and eyes. I can choose not to listen to detritus I don’t want to and I can choose to patronize sites that exclude said detritus as long as it isn’t being done contrary to the charter of rights and freedoms.

    Now, that being said, I have a 2nd amendment question. What the hell USA?

    As this entirely uneducated-on-US-history-Canadian sees it, the 2nd amendment was created to ensure the citizenry could rise up and defend itself in case the government sucked in the future (seeing how there was just a civil war and all), and to help protect from invasion, right? So.. if you believe that you, as well armed as your militia might be, can stand a chance against the great american war machine, or, that there will be an landed invasion of the USA in your lifetime that your national guard can’t repel without your help, then I *totally get* the focus on the 2nd amendment freedoms.

    But seriously, is everyone planing to either Waco out or think, say, the Canadian Military could ever reach the point of overwhelming the US military to the point that individual citizens will need to rise up? Or that the government wouldn’t use jets and rockets to subjugate unrest in the event of another US civil war? I mean, hasn’t the time for that sort of passed by now? Or does the average american citizen live at a much higher state of awareness of heightened imminent invasion and total collapse of the US military than I’ve been lead to believe as an outsider?

    Or am I totally wrong about why the 2nd amendment was written in the first place? 🙂

    Reply
    • jz78817

      that’s a part of it, but mostly it was that the early US had no “professional military” (standing army.) if wars/conflicts were to be fought, they would assemble armed citizens from the states to form an army.

      ” Or that the government wouldn’t use jets and rockets to subjugate unrest in the event of another US civil war?”

      one only has to look at Iraq and Afghanistan to see how much trouble a professional, first rate military can have with the unrest of a population.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        What he said.

        The US military has zero chance of holding any significant portion of this country against an armed citizenry. We couldn’t do it in Vietnam. Can’t do it in the Middle East. And that is WITHOUT the fact that probably one-third of the army would defect to the anti washington side in any civil war.

        But it’s not the army we worry about. It’s the paramilitary jerkoff organizations from ATF to Fish and Game.

        Reply
        • Mateo319

          We did it in 1865, with a much less organized Federal government, and a whole bunch of traitors who opted out.

          Reply
          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            The next Civil War won’t be fought along geographic lines. It will be a revolution from within. City Mouse vs. Country Mouse. The balance of power will go like this: The cities control the army. But some of the army will desert. And you can’t feed New York or Chicago or even San Francisco if the food trucks stop rolling for three days.

            Note, too, that the Union Army couldn’t have held the South without the consent of the governed — and that was in an era before the IED. There are half a million angry young-ish men in rural America who saw firsthand how to beat the United States Army with guerilla tactics.

          • Dirty Dingus McGee

            @ Mateo319
            When you say traitors, I’m guessing you’re talking about the original colonist’s that fought against a supposed overbearing form of government? Oh wait, you said 1855. Never mind.

          • Rock36

            You don’t need an IED to wage a guerrilla war, but Jack’s invocation of the “consent of the governed” rule remains perfectly apt.

            The Spanish waged an effective guerilla war without IEDs against Napoleon about 60 years before a defeated Confederacy had any such option.

            There is a lot more going on in Afghanistan and Iraq than just an “armed citizenry” though. That is reductionist thinking in the grandest sense, and at a very minimum it excludes the influence of state actors actively participating on all sides of those conflicts (and any other war mentioned in this post to include the French forces supporting the American Revolution).

            Not to mention that Iraq and Afghanistan have relatively weak central governments where relative order (not peace) is maintained by tenuous double balances of coercive capability vs. state benefit that exist among dozens of agents and groups. So consent of the governed matters, unfortunately the governed isn’t some monolithic group of citizens.

            Vietnam wasn’t just the Viet Cong after all, it was also the NVA, and it was a superbly incompetent and corrupt South Vietnamese government that lacked a real legitimacy; so again consent of the governed.

            The central question is what earns the consent of the governed, and what will truly will cause enough people to withdraw their consent. Ostensibly people consent as long as a government remains legitimate to them, but that nebulous concept is a matter of fuzzy perceptions, value judgements, context, relativism, and maybe even a little objectivity. Certainly it is an answer no one in this thread can answer with any real confidence. But once the consent of the governed is gone, the 2nd Amendment, availability of IEDs, or prior combat experience by 0.25% of the population will only be a drop in the bucket for whatever happens next.

            I think American’s have been spoiled by bipolar concepts of North vs South, Axis vs. Allies, East vs. West, and our corresponding victories within such frameworks that we want to continue to frame everything through such a lens. Unfortunately the vast majority of history does not support these views or our desire to define victory in terms of them.

            If the United States didn’t win in Iraq or Afghanistan, who did win? It wasn’t Saddam and the Baath party, it isn’t ISIS, the Taliban for all its persistence doesn’t enjoy anywhere near the monopoly of power in Afghanistan it had prior to 2001. Did Iran win in Iraq after all? If the US didn’t win, did they also not lose? The US military is still in Iraq and Afghanistan, no one has routed our forces and sent them fleeing home, and they will remain for the foreseeable future.

            While I disagree with Jack that any future balance of power would be as clean as a city mouse vs. country mouse divide, I do completely agree with his insight about it not being necessarily geographic. Conflicts are fought in time and space, and space goes beyond simple geography. There is cognitive space as well.

  7. Orenwolf

    “But it’s not the army we worry about. It’s the paramilitary jerkoff organizations from ATF to Fish and Game.”

    Ah yes, “Army wannabes” – Very soon that will include your local police force, at the rate that militarization seems to be moving. :/

    Anyway, back on topic – Groups have been trying to give/take free speech rights for a long time, in climates far, far worse than a bunch of progressive safe space whining (height of cold war, etc.) – the pendulum has always swung back towards sanity. China has shown us what attempting to regulate the internet (enforcing speech standards, etc) will do – if Facebook were forced to censor (or, conversely, not to censor!), competing services would rapidly appear. Success of these competing services aside, that wasn’t really something that could happen in the newspaper/tv/radio/telephone-centric eras of the past in any great quantity – the barrier of entry was too high.

    Reply
    • jz78817

      I dunno, I think you folks are not too far behind us. I spent last weekend in Tilbury for an R/C boat race, and the guys in the sponsoring club were all too happy to bitch about their electric bills (in spite of all of the wind turbines along 401) and how they understood Trump.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        Just to play devil’s advocate… what other constructive use is she ever going to have for anyone?

        Joe Goebbels would have been better employed as a day laborer.

        Reply
        • rwb

          Aw. If she was made to spend a few years hammering nails or tilling fields, I bet you’d agree with her.

          And if Goebbels were alive today, he’d own Facebook, Tumblr, Gartner and Breitbart.

          Reply
  8. Ark-med

    Our real rulers aren’t Congress, the president, or whichever next Supreme Court Judge who tips the bench conservative or liberal. It’s the code enforcement agent, the cosmetology licensing board, the ADA, the EPA, the IRS, BATFE, DEA, etc., ad nauseam.

    Reply
    • Felis Concolor

      Can’t get the laws you want passed? No problem: with legislation via regulatory fiat, it doesn’t matter what the little people say you can and cannot do.

      Reply
  9. rwb

    Though I really want to, having come up in a place where one could be brought before a committee of your peers for literally, a violation of “community norms,” I can’t muster much to say on this, but:

    I got curious and looked at her Twitter, and comparing tones I wonder if that Slate article wasn’t edited with a heavy hand. She seems like a good kid who maybe doesn’t yet understand some perspectives, and that the reflexive train of thought immediately went to a sense of there being tyranny in controlling private (and potentially ephemeral) social media entities which exist in a nebula of similar options, I’m left seeing a failure to communicate.

    Personally, I’m sort of just happy to exist in the mosh pit as long as I’m having a good time (and we’ll leave it at that,) but one thing I’ve been thinking about is what defines a “polite society” versus whatever the opposite of this may be. I believe it only imply that corruption is hidden behind a kind facade and given a thoughtfully plausible (if not entirely reasonable) explanation, while a “corrupt” state may be defined by open and blatant graft and dishonesty.

    Both are going to be inherently vicious and unfair, but to different groups, as politicking/pandering and strong-arming seem to appeal to different groups as a culture progresses, until the pendulum swings back and they meet at the other end of the circle.

    We’re obviously in a place where, to be a bit crass, there are a lot of cultural “squeaky wheels.” Comfort doesn’t produce much of a desire for change, and so a comfortable culture’s trajectory isn’t going to be driven by its beneficiaries if there is anyone left in a position to complain, unless basic comforts, which the majority take for granted, suddenly disappear.

    Reply
  10. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Tracebook (no I didn’t misspell it) , Twitter, Linkedin, any of these “social” networks, will never see my presence. They need me far more than I need them. If a company/service REQUIRES that I have an account with one of these, well I guess I’ll just find someone else to take my money. I don’t need to spend endless hours, chatting to people I would prefer didn’t have a clue about my existence. If the folks who use them finally become fed up with the tricks they play, censorship, news article suppression, banning, etc they will go the way of Life magazine. The way trends go, in a few years they will likely be replaced with some newer, faster, harder, longer, site anyway.
    That said, censorship in one form or another has been the norm as long as the printed word has been around. Both the right leaning as well as the left leaning are guilty of it. I gave up watching TV news, local and national, over a decade ago. Too much pushing of the managements ideological viewpoints and too little on just reporting. These days I go exclusively to websites, from Slate, Gawker and Huffington Post, to Weasel Zippers, WND and Infowars. When both sides are offering viewpoints 180 degrees apart, I conclude that the actual truth is somewhere in the middle. The trick is to figure out WHAT the truth actually is.

    Reply
  11. Orenwolf

    I don’t know. I guess if all you want is farmland, but take away insurgent bank accounts, internet and cable and I think you’ll find a whole lot of people wondering WTF they’re supposed to do in the country without fuel, communications or electricity pretty quick.

    I don’t think any of us really understand what a civil war would do to infrastructure, in any country – but we can look at the middle east for a good idea of what we’d lose from it. I truly believe you’d have to push a westerner pretty damned hard to get them to revert back to the lifestyle that would bring.

    Hell, just ask anyone living in Greece how it felt to watch their life savings evaporate overnight!

    Reply
    • jz78817

      The problem I have with the people who seemingly fetishize the notion of another civil war are people who don’t actually expect to fight it. They just expect everyone else to.

      They’re also the same people who have a fetish for the 1950s, as if the United States was a model of perfection then.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        You must know different people. I know people with sealed tubes full of rifles who can’t wait.

        I’m not sure they’ve thought through how miserable it’s going to be once the interstate commerce stops moving, but there are a lot of people who think it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

        Reply
          • Hogie roll

            I’d bet some Romans were sure their empire would last forever.

            Your attitude is one of a coward who is unable to imagine a future other than our trajectory in #THECURRENTYEAR

  12. MrFixit1599

    Ok, I don’t know how to make this happen, but someone smarter than me needs to.

    “The Internet that I want is basically one website that shows pictures of Dodge Vipers at a six-degree slip angle through the Climbing Esses at VIR and a movie of Kate Winslet getting railed by somebody who looks as much like me as possible, with autoplay audio of the second solo in “Welcome To The Jungle.”

    Add to the program that you can add your face to whoever is railing Kate Winslett, and sign me up. Then I have something to entertain me while traveling for work. I would also add a Ford GT would be preferred by me, but that’s negotiable.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      You see? Not even two all-American stallions such as you and I can completely agree. What are the odds Miss Pinchyface and I want the same Internet 😉

      Reply
      • Disinterested-Observer

        More of a Corvette and Gabrielle Union circa 2003 kinda guy, so we will have to agree to disagree. No wait, no we won’t. Everyone must abide by my Internet!

        Reply
  13. Jeff Zekas

    Hey Jack, what happened between you and Linked-In? Just wondering if I should close my account with them.

    Reply
  14. kvndoom

    My parents and grandparents are gone, but I remember enough talk from when they were around that America’s “greatest decades” really weren’t that pleasant. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    As has been said many times, anything and everything will be found offensive by somebody.

    Reply
    • jz78817

      “but I remember enough talk from when they were around that America’s “greatest decades” really weren’t that pleasant. “

      Too many people think Leave it to Beaver re-runs are documentaries. This idea that the 1950s were paradise in the US is being pushed forth by people who were born at least two decades later.

      Reply
      • Jeffrey Smeed

        You might want to listen to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. He wrote it to show his kids that things have always been f**ked up and probably alwys will be.

        Reply
  15. Jeffrey Smeed

    I can’t help but think the Social Justice Warriors, such as you refer to above, remind me a lot of Joe McCarthy and the House UnAmerican Affairs Committie that we’ve all heard about.

    Reply
  16. MrGreenMan

    I like to think when you type $THE_CURRENT_YEAR, you intend it to be a shell substitution of an environment variable.

    Reply
      • jz78817

        1) Topic
        2) Throwaway Joke
        3) SRS BSNS
        4) Mocking “exhortation” of company/country/celebrity
        5) SRS BSNS
        6) Self-deprecating Joke
        7) SRS BSNS
        8) Meme Reference
        9) “Hashtag” (word), “Hashtag” (word)
        10) Parody Skit

        Reply
  17. Plunge

    Jack, way off topic, but I’m dying to know the garage that fixed the fiesta’s issue. I’ve been searching for a new garage for 3 years – ever since the one I used had to close after getting a $1M workers comp bill for a kid who showed up after hours, drunk, and removed half his face with an air tool. Feel free to delete this post since its off topic.

    Reply
  18. Sobro

    Jack,
    I don’t agree that the social media companies should be made common carriers. But I do think that truth in advertising should apply. If Facebook or Google are producing algorithms which puts their corporate thumbs on the scale, then it should be revealed to all, each and every time the site loads. The “real” media companies should do the same. Every byline should come with the voting record of the “journalist”. You mention when you receive anything from an auto manufacturer somewhere in your reviews.

    As far as the Citizens United decision goes, you may be under some misperceptions. The whole case revolved around a movie made which attacked Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in 2008. The unelected Federal Elections Commission, under the McCain-Feingold law, banned the film as an undue political contribution within two months of an election. Under oral examination with the FEC’s attorney (Obama’s Assistant Solicitor General) here is what was said: “It’s a 500-page book, and at the end it says, so vote for X, the government could ban that?” asked an incredulous Chief Justice John Roberts. Yes, the deputy solicitor general conceded, according to the government’s theory of the present case, the government could indeed ban that book. “We could prohibit the publication of the book using the corporate treasury funds,” Stewart said.

    https://reason.com/blog/2016/07/25/what-you-wont-hear-about-citizens-united

    Reply
  19. Orenwolf

    “I don’t agree that the social media companies should be made common carriers. But I do think that truth in advertising should apply. If Facebook or Google are producing algorithms which puts their corporate thumbs on the scale, then it should be revealed to all, each and every time the site loads. The “real” media companies should do the same. Every byline should come with the voting record of the “journalist”. You mention when you receive anything from an auto manufacturer somewhere in your reviews.”

    Sure, we could require every commentator to post a complete record of every car they’ve owned, or if they’ve worked for a particular manufacturer, but you know where that leads, right?

    “STFU, you haven’t driven one so don’t comment on the car”

    “STFU, I worked there you didn’t so don’t comment on our labour practices”

    “You didn’t vote so you don’t have a right to comment”

    “You’re Canadian so don’t comment on US affairs”

    The thing is, people can share an opinion on things without experiencing them personally. A journalist can vote for a candidate he likes and still have a valid opinion on the opposition. When you label people as “irrelevant” because they disagree with your views, you just create an echo chamber. While some people might want a ‘net where everyone agrees with their views and they never have to hear competing views, I personally believe it’d get pretty boring pretty fast, and basically radicalize both sides of a given debate since they would ignore opposing viewpoints and instead believe their view was universally desired by all. We have enough of that now on political sites.

    As for algorithms, I suppose I’m in the minority who believes that social media companies can genuinely try to advance discourse without a bunch of back room conversations that amount to “how can we silence opposing political views?”, but regardless – the bigger problem, as Google well knows from search results, is that once the algorithm is known, people will game it. Search engines have been a spam battleground for more than a decade over this very issue. If you know there’s a sure-fire way for an algorithm to pick up your post, you’re going to use that to make sure it gets picked up.

    Instead of silencing critics, calling out asshats and douchbaggery (as Jack is adept at doing) and countering bad speech with more speech still remains the best way, to this day, to communicate.

    Jack used this principle and still manages to attract people from all parts of the political and social spectrum. THAT is more important to me than how he votes or what he drives.

    Reply
  20. Sobro

    I guess I wasn’t clear. Conflicts of interest from so-called authorities (published writers) should be revealed. Appeals to their authority (“But the New York times says…”) would then be more transparent. Commenters are on their own to provide or not to provide bona fides.

    I’m not sure where you get that I’m advocationg censorship of any kind. I would prefer that Twitter not have a Trust and Safety Council full of SJW’s nor Montana Militiamen. But since Twitter chose to have that council, those members and their dicisions should be transparent to their users.

    Reply
    • Sobro

      No problemo.

      I’ve been roasted for saying words never harmed anyone, ever. They are just vibrations in the air. Words don’t kill people, people kill people.

      Reply
  21. pigpen51

    Just as the airwaves belong to everyone and therefore broadcasts over them are expected to meet certain standards, perhaps it should be the same with the internet and major users like facebook and google et al. Now days, it is naive to think that these are not a major player in the way that we interact with each other, and how many get their information, ie. news. If some of these companies are making huge sums of money from the public over what is basically a network started by the government, then it is not unrealistic to expect that these same companies meet certain basic standards of operation, much the same as broadcast television must in order to maintain their licenses. I know, this is written somewhat tongue in cheek, since the idea of monitoring something as huge as facebook is crazy, unless you are the NSA, but then again, the idea does have some merit. Facebook does not operate the same way as just any other corporation, it exists also at our permission, in a way. I don’t have any answers to a complex problem, but if not addressed I suspect that the government will find a way to use the internet to control us even more in the future. They always do.

    Reply
  22. Orenwolf

    Two problems with that plan:

    1) genie is already out of the bottle, and licensing the Internet when every device just happens to be capable of both receiving AND sending content would destroy a lot of services (think the web interface of your webcam, hobby sites, or even this blog. If they required a license it would have a chilling effect on any of this content – it would be forced to gravitate to large centralized sites to host content, who would have licenses.

    That wouldn’t matter though because 2) the Internet is worldwide. If you required sites to get licenses, all you’d do is push all but the largest sites to foreign Datacenters. So what do you do then? Start cutting off access to non-compliant sites or tell them to stop sharing content with US visitors?

    There is one place government intervention is crucial – ensuring that the big boys can’t create exclusive networks that lock out smaller players to the detriment of everyone.

    Reply
  23. Widgetsltd

    The mention of “country mouse / city mouse” reminds me of the red and blue colored electoral U.S. maps that we will soon see in the upcoming elections. “Look at all the red area! Look at how small the blue areas are!” Yeah, but the land doesn’t vote; people do. I find it hard to see how the city mouse is subjugating the country mouse. Hell, states with a small population such as Vermont (626,600) and Wyoming (528,600) have exactly the same representation in the Senate as states with a very large population such as California (38.8 million) and Texas (27 million).

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Land doesn’t vote; very true.

      But when most of the choices in this country are made by people whose experience is exclusively urban, things get a little strange for the people who live in the rest of America.

      Reply
  24. Will Litten

    There are those of us who consider ourselves progressive and think that current mainstream American Liberal thought is insane. Sadly, we are in the minority. Hillary Clinton is some how liberal or progressive? Ha. Another reason to dislike Trump; this isn’t going to be an election, it’s going to be a coronation.

    I really shouldn’t post on this site when I’m at a bar. This is how I end up bothering you about about Mini Coopers.

    Reply

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