Guest essay by Eric Worrall
NYT columnist Andrew Marantz thinks allowing free speech is as dangerous as letting ordinary people drive climate destroying automobiles.
Free Speech Is Killing Us
Noxious language online is causing real-world violence. What can we do about it?
By Andrew Marantz
Mr. Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, is the author of the forthcoming book “Antisocial.”
Oct. 4, 2019
There has never been a bright line between word and deed. Yet for years, the founders of Facebook and Twitter and 4chan and Reddit — along with the consumers obsessed with these products, and the investors who stood to profit from them — tried to pretend that the noxious speech prevalent on those platforms wouldn’t metastasize into physical violence. In the early years of this decade, back when people associated social media with Barack Obama or the Arab Spring, Twitter executives referred to their company as “the free-speech wing of the free-speech party.” Sticks and stones and assault rifles could hurt us, but the internet was surely only a force for progress.
No one believes that anymore. Not after the social-media-fueled campaigns of Narendra Modi and Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump; not after the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va.; not after the massacres in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a Walmart in a majority-Hispanic part of El Paso. The Christchurch gunman, like so many of his ilk, had spent years on social media trying to advance the cause of white power. But these posts, he eventually decided, were not enough; now it was “time to make a real life effort post.” He murdered 51 people.
In 1993 and 1994, talk-radio hosts in Rwanda calling for bloodshed helped create the atmosphere that led to genocide. The Clinton administration could have jammed the radio signals and taken those broadcasts off the air, but Pentagon lawyers decided against it, citing free speech. It’s true that the propagandists’ speech would have been curtailed. It’s also possible that a genocide would have been averted.
Congress could fund, for example, a national campaign to promote news literacy, or it could invest heavily in library programming. It could build a robust public media in the mold of the BBC. It could rethink Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the rule that essentially allows Facebook and YouTube to get away with (glorification of) murder. If Congress wanted to get really ambitious, it could fund a rival to compete with Facebook or Google, the way the Postal Service competes with FedEx and U.P.S.
In one of our conversations, Mr. Powell compared harmful speech to carbon pollution: People are allowed to drive cars. But the government can regulate greenhouse emissions, the private sector can transition to renewable energy sources, civic groups can promote public transportation and cities can build sea walls to prepare for rising ocean levels. We could choose to reduce all of that to a simple dictate: Everyone should be allowed to drive a car, and that’s that. But doing so wouldn’t stop the waters from rising around us.Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/opinion/sunday/free-speech-social-media-violence.html
I understand the establishment media’s desire for a US version of the British BBC. The British BBC is funded by government sanctioned coercion (see video below – armed police entering a person’s home to back up the employees of a private license fee collection company).
The BBC do not have to produce content which people want to watch, because British people have no choice – if they own a TV and watch live broadcasts in any form, they have to pay the BBC license fee.
So far the BBC has resisted all attempts to make their license fee voluntary.
This attack on free speech, and the demand for coercive government funding of establishment media sources, in my opinion is evidence the establishment media know they are losing the battle for hearts and minds. Only desperate losers want to silence other voices.