Censorship

Yes, Twitter is censoring the President of the United States. Yes, Apple, Google, and Amazon are censoring and engaging in monopolistic business practices against Parler. This is what’s happening. If you said “Yay! Twitter banned Trump!” you are a proponent of censorship and an opponent of free speech. Yes, you are, no matter how fast you spin in circles to justify it.

What exactly is censorship? Is censorship something that technically only a government is capable of? Or can a company censor an individual? Can an individual censor a company? Can a company sensor another company? Can an individual censor another individual? I want to start by unpacking the definition before applying it.

Censorship occurs when an entity is forbidden from speaking or writing about an action or idea (thought) or denied the channels to publish speech or writings about an action or idea. But let’s look at dictionary definitions. Dictionary.com defines censor thusly:

noun
an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.
any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.
an adverse critic; faultfinder.
(in the ancient Roman republic) either of two officials who kept the register or census of the citizens, awarded public contracts, and supervised manners and morals.
(in early Freudian dream theory) the force that represses ideas, impulses, and feelings, and prevents them from entering consciousness in their original, undisguised forms.
verb (used with object)
to examine and act upon as a censor.
to delete (a word or passage of text) in one’s capacity as a censor.

Note that the first definition is an official who searches for words or thoughts in written or visual form which are objectionable for political, moral, or military grounds. The other day, I talked about the “dictator’s dilemma” where the dictator eventually finds himself boxed in by his own restrictions and thus failing to receive accurate information. This is how it starts.

Also note that nothing in any of the definitions above mentions government as the sole entity with the ability or power to censor. The first definition does say “an official” implying that the government is censoring. However, that does not exclude others who are not officials from acting as censors.

The second definition is “any person who supervises the manners or morality of others. Any person. So, if you’re telling another adult how they should be behaving in public, you are censoring their behavior and/or their words. Now, that can be reprimanding somebody who is being outright rude, or that can be karening somebody who is acting in a way you simply don’t like (e.g. not wearing a mask, grilling in a park, narc-ing on the neighbors for having a friend over). Either way, you are censoring behavior. So, any person can act as a censor which means that the answer to the second question in the first paragraph is an emphatic “NO.” Censorship is not a unique governmental behavior or action.

Back to Twitter acting as a censor. Twitter permanently banned President Trump. Is that censorship? Many are arguing no because Twitter is a private company and therefore they get to decide how and whether they function. But they are censoring or supervising the manners and morality of President Trump claiming that he has incited violence and they don’t tolerate that. That falls under the dictionary definition shown above. However, they have censored President Trump while leaving intact the accounts of others who advocate and incite violence (e.g. the ayatollah of Iran who advocates the elimination of Israel and all Jewish people). Banning Trump but not the ayatollah makes it clear that this was an act of censorship against the president for political purposes as opposed to company policy violations. It’s also clear that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is a hypocrite.

Yes, a company can act as a censor as opposed to simply enforcing policy. Twitter is censoring President Trump by absolutely denying their platform and its reach to him. Is it illegal? That’s a different question, and no, it’s not illegal. Is it oppressive and stupid? Yes. Shutting off a huge avenue of communication is oppressive. The steep drop in Twitter share price demonstrates the stupidity of that action. It also undermines any trust anybody might possibly still be holding for Twitter. Dorsey and Twitter have proven themselves to be capricious at best and gaslighting bullies at worst.

Can an individual censor a company? Well, yes. I can decide that the public statements and behaviors of any given company are against my values and therefore I won’t do business with them to the extent possible. That’s censorship. Will it have an adverse effect on the company? Not very likely. I don’t like to patronize Exxon/Mobile due to the failure of Exxon’s response to the Valdez incident (yes, I’m THAT old). That’s just me. Does Exxon/Mobile care? Not bloody likely. Does my individual censorship of Exxon/Mobile have a chilling effect on their ability to do business? No.

But…what if say, Jeff Bezos the individual who happens to have ultimate control over Amazon, decides that he will censor a company because he doesn’t like how they do business or he wants to help another company put a competitor out of business? He has Amazon to wield as a weapon. That’s a bit stronger than my weekly, or these days semi-weekly, gas tank fill-ups. Does Bezos’ decision to censor Parler by kicking them off Amazon’s servers have a chilling impact on their ability to do business? Of course. And, it was done for supposedly values purposes, but in reality, political purposes. A company acting on behalf of a political ideology and on behalf of another company squashing a much smaller company that disagrees with that ideology is censorship in its most chilling and blatant form. It’s also corporate bullying. When I decide not to buy from Exxon, I can go to BP or elsewhere and Exxon won’t shut them down because I don’t use Exxon. When I leave Twitter to go to Parler and Bezos shuts down Parler…that’s killing Twitter’s competition and my choices on behalf of Twitter. Censorship and bullying. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we supposed to be against bullying?

Next up…Apple and Google removing the Parler app from their stores. It should be clear that this falls well within the definitions of censorship and bullying along with monopolistic business practices. All concerned admit to censoring Parler…supervising morals and manners. Two mega companies ganging up on a much smaller company on behalf of another mega company – bullying in the exact pattern of the classic movie trope of the football team harassing the nerds on behalf of the head cheerleader. Apple, Google, and Amazon are Niedermeyer, Marmalard, and the Omegas to Parler’s Blutarsky, D-Day, and the Deltas.

What we’ve been seeing over the last few days is classic censorship in the mold of, yes, the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China. Supervising morals and manners by big companies and government is exactly what happens when social credits in the form of public denunciations of the behavior of others.

It is horrifying to me that disagreements have become subject to policing of morals and manners.

And it should be horrifying to everybody.

We all must act against censorship and bullying.

NOTE: Yes, my book and future books are still on Amazon (as long as I am permitted to do so). No, I don’t have another choice right now that equals the reach and marketing capabilities of Amazon. Yes, I get it. No, I’m not changing. Books are somewhere around two percent of Amazon’s total sales. I’m small fry, very small fry, right now and I am stuck. If that bothers you, I’m sorry. But I’m not giving my books away for free. That would be a double harm to me (you not buying and me not selling).

Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay

26 Replies to “Censorship”

  1. These companies are acting as publishers rather than utilities. They need to be held accountable as such. However, I seriously doubt this administration will hold them accountable to the law since they approve of these actions/ideas, after all the previous administration didn’t.

    1. I would say they’re acting as both. Publishers as owners of servers and electronic soap-boxes, but utilities in that business pretty much relies on them as much as a business relies on water and power. So, monopoly practices in both areas.

      It just struck me…I wonder what the reaction would be if PG&E cut off power to Google because PG&E didn’t like that Google was behaving badly…LOL! the shrieks would break glass for 100 miles around!

      1. “I wonder what the reaction would be if PG&E cut off power to Google because PG&E didn’t like that Google was behaving badly”

        IF the government did NOT forcibly prohibit Google from being a power company themself, then they would provide their own power – as they provide their own server farms.

  2. Also, I will keep relying on the evil empire less and less, but still purchase your books there. Have no fear.

  3. The, “Look, they are hypocrites!” argument won’t do anything. Yes. it’s true. No, it won’t accomplish anything.

    That is because the tech monopolies and the media are unified, strong, and coordinated. Meanwhile we (the collective American people) are weak, diverse, and disorganized.

    Conservatives have been saying, “Look, they are hypocrites!” for decades. But the so-called “conservatives” haven’t conserved anything. Actually resisting the advance of the tyrannical Left’s totalitarian agenda requires more than just playing defense.

    Look at the people who ostensibly are protecting us.
    Trump, was “monitoring the situation” for years. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley bloviated in committee hearings but took no real action. Conservative-Incorporated figureheads like Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk get tens of millions of dollars but are more concerned with talking about Israel and Gays than in defending Americans’ most basic freedoms. Our courts have totally abdicated any responsibility.

    Do not vote Republican. Vote only for candidates who are proudly America-First and opposed to the Left’s evil agenda.
    Sacrifices must be made. No more Amazon, Google, YouTube, Apple. Use alternatives. Support them with money and attention. Stop with pop culture movies and pop culture music. These people HATE you. Join a church and get active in mobilization, organization, communication. Take privacy seriously. Companies that bow to Leftist mob pressure in any way must be punished.

    This isn’t a joke. These people killed 100 million people in the 20th century. And this time around they have a LOT more power and technology.

  4. Give it a couple days. I’m sure dictionary.com will change the definition of censorship to align with the Democrat talking points.

  5. “if you’re telling another adult how they should be behaving in public, you are censoring their behavior and/or their words.”

    This definition is MEANINGLESS because makes ANY disagreement “censorship”. THAT is the LEFT’S philosophy (and ABUSE of rational conception).

    Put simply, this ATTACKS you telling graffiti artist NOT to paint political slogans on YOUR house as “censorship” (because you are telling them how to behave).

    Talk about the REJECTION of rights!

    1. Um, no, it’s not meaningless and the examples you cite are not disagreements. I did not say that disagreements were censorship. And, if you look at the definition, telling someone how to behave is censoring their behavior. “You need to act this way, not that way” is censoring. “I think you could have handled that better” is a disagreement.

      Graffiti on my garage door comes under the criminal activity of vandalism because you are on my property and damaging it. I’m not telling you how to behave, your actions are illegal already.

      In the broader term, censoring means to condemn. But condemning something is not the same as erasing it.

      1. “Graffiti on my garage door comes under the criminal activity of vandalism because you are on my property”

        And you are on Twitter’s property. You act by PERMISSION there, NOT by right – just like the graffiti artist. And, just like the graffiti artist, ABSENT permission, you are VIOLATING Twitter’s rights.

        In other words, I am glad you understand that STOPPING the graffiti artist is NOT “censorship”. And the same is true about you or anyone else acting without PERMISSION of Twitter. They TOO are not ‘censoring’ – for the EXACT same reason YOU are not censoring.

        Put simply, on someone ELSE’S property you have NO right to ‘free speech’. There is ONLY ‘permitted speech’ on someone ELSE’S property.

        1. As I said, what Twitter did was prefectly legal. Also, censorship. Twitter invited the world in and said, this is a free speech platform. Then they got dinged, by the same government they are currently supporting, for people saying non-politically correct things on their site. So, they created more policies designed to censor those who were saying politically incorrect things…but not censoring other politically incorrect things.

          When you shut down speech you are censoring somebody, regardless of where that speech takes place and regardless of whether they can take it someplace else. You have still censored them.

          1. “When you shut down speech you are censoring somebody, regardless of where that speech takes place and regardless of whether they can take it someplace else. You have still censored them.”

            No.

            As I stated, and you have NOT addressed, let alone refuted, NO one has the right to ‘free speech’ on someone else’s property. One ONLY has the *permission* to speak – if it is so granted. If you are NOT granted that permission, then NOTHING has been done TO you. You have NOT be ‘censored’. You have been left ALONE.

            You are UNTOUCHED by the property owner.

            Of course, if you use someone else’s property ABSENT or in CONTRADICTION to their permission, then it is YOU who has done something to THEM. You have VIOLATED their rights. Them DEFENDING themselves from being violated is NOT “censorship”.

            Quite the OPPOSITE.

            Anyone who claims the person DEFENDING themselves is “censoring” the person ATTACKING their rights is grossly *blaming* the victim!

  6. Censorship is not a unique governmental behavior or action.
    So what? It’s perfectly legal to censor people within your power as a private citizen. That stems from the right to use your property as you see fit (you do know that smartphone belongs to the service provider and not you, right? unless you bought one apart from the service) and the right to assembly and speech that you have (you can – in theory – prevent people from speaking a certain way or from even entering your abode or place of business).

    Many are arguing [it’s not censorship] because Twitter is a private company and therefore
    Well, many are not arguing it’s not censorship, but are arguing it’s not a First Amendment issue.

    The issue is what do we do when the person exerting power to censor lies outside the realm of protection provided by the Bill of Rights. And without violating the other entity’s protection under the Bill of Rights.

    He has Amazon to wield as a weapon.
    Because he was allowed to accumulate … whatever the version of a monopoly is where he has huge chunks of all the markets.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we supposed to be against bullying?
    We’re also against “restraint of trade” which is the legal words for what Bezos is doing.

    along with monopolistic business practices
    Yep. And it’s telling they had absolutely no fear of being broken as a company as the anti-trust laws would suggest.

    1. “It’s perfectly legal to censor people…”

      This grants to the author the claim that censorship is what a person is legally doing. The concept ‘censorship’ is a NEGATIVE one – it is viewed as a morally wrong act, not a neutral act, and certainly NOT a morally GOOD act.

      So essentially you’ve just declared ‘So what? It’s legal to be evil.’

      The fact is – as your argument implies – there is NO ‘censorship’ occurring at all. And that’s because NO one has the right to ‘free speech’ on someone else’s property. One ONLY has the *permission* to speak – if it is so granted. If you are NOT granted that permission, then NOTHING has been done TO you. You have NOT be ‘censored’. You have been left ALONE.

      Of course, if you use someone else’s property ABSENT or in CONTRADICTION to their permission, then it is YOU who has done something to THEM. You have VIOLATED their rights. Them DEFENDING themselves from being violated is NOT “censorship”. Quite the OPPOSITE.

      Just as you have NO right to speak on their property in the

    2. Our government has long imposed regulations on what companies are allowed to do.

      You’re not allowed to pump sewage into the environment. You’re not allowed to operate machinery in certain ways. You’re not even allowed to hire the best person for the job if that person is of the wrong race or sex.

      The liberarian-esque argument that these are private entities and therefore can do as they please is obviously one made in bad faith. Our government has, hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of regulations on how private entities are allowed to act.

      Private entities that are inflicting public harm, and yes, censorship is public harm, must be restrained and punished.

      1. “Our government has long imposed regulations on what companies are allowed to do. … Our government has, [sic] hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of regulations on how private entities are allowed to act.”

        Of course, you say NOTHING about whether those millions of “regulations” are the DEFENSE of the individual’s rights or a VIOLATION of them. Absent the application of rights, you’ve simply declared that the individual is the PROPERTY of the State, and may be disposed of as IT sees fit, to satisfy ITS *millions* of different ends.

        “inflicting public harm”

        There is no such thing as the “public”. There are ONLY individuals. And only the individual can be VIOLATED (“harm” being a “bad faith” term). Now I have identified the fact that NO ONE’S *rights* are being violated by a property owner. And you have not addressed that fact, nor contradicted it with ANY argument. In truth, you have EVADED the issue of RIGHTS completely.

        “Bad faith” indeed.

  7. Please ignore the incomplete sentence at the end of the last post. I thought I had changed it, but missed it instead. The end of the post was *supposed* to read:

    “Them DEFENDING themselves from being violated is NOT “censorship”. Quite the OPPOSITE.

    Anyone who claims the person DEFENDING themselves is “censoring” the person ATTACKING their rights is *blaming* the victim!

  8. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we supposed to be against bullying?”

    Given that some of the biggest bullies are from the left (and the SocJus crowd in particular), it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re fine with bullying as long as it’s not directed at them.

  9. What a lot of this comes down to is: Is the platform responsible for the speech posted/stated on it? should the platform censor those who use it? Should other platforms punish it for the actions of its users? Are monopolistic business practices/actions justifiable when done under the guise of “protecting” people from the consequences of another’s speech?

    Is Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London responsible for what people say in it?

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