Saturday, October 8, 2016

On Censorship: An Update.

Those who have followed my blog for a while might remember this post, from back in February, where I discuss and give examples of different types of censorship, and the effect it has on diminishing both public and private freedom of expression.

There have been some developments since then, both for better and for worse, some surprising and some as predictable as the sun rising in the East.

First, as to the victims of Non-Governmental Censorship mentioned in the original post: on the whole, they have done well. I would, in fact, go as far as to say that the publicity they received as a result of being censored might have worked in their favor in the long run.

Nick Cole's book Ctrl-Alt-Revolt!, denied a publishing contract for using a controversial issue as a starting plot point, has been picked up by a new publisher and received a 2016 Dragon Award for Best Apocalyptic Novel.

Milo Yiannopolous (seriously, spellcheck, how do you still not recognize that name?) is in the middle of the second round of his college tours, among other things, meeting progressively (HA!) more resistance and only acquiring more fame as a result. And oh yes, he went from being unverified on Twitter at the time of my last post to getting his account permanently suspended. #FreeMilo is still a fairly active hashtag. If you still have an account, you know what to do.

Robert Stacy McCain is still banned from Twitter, but his blog is active as ever and very much worth a read.

Brendan Eich is reportedly having much success with his new browser Brave, which is highly recommended by my techie friends. I haven't tried it myself, but that's only because I don't trust my ancient Mac not to explode if I try to download yet another program into its outdated OS.

And now, for the new and exciting:

Scott Adams, creator of  the wildly successful Dilbert strip, who also writes extensively on the power of persuasion, has been shadowbanned on Twitter for speaking favorably of Donald Trump. Adams has also reported being disinvited from speaking engagements and since he started his series of posts regarding Trump's skill at persuasion. As far as I know, he is neither a Republican nor particularly conservative. He has come out unequivocally in support of Trump only very recently, more as an anti-Hillary stance than anything else, and the main focus of his writing is still the art of persuasion rather than politics. But neither fame nor fortune nor a lifetime of writing popular bi-partisan satire and commentary protects one from the new breed of speech police.

Vox Day had his Twitter account suspended and his blog url has been flagged as spam/malicious site by Twitter and banned from getting linked by Twitter users.

Ricky Vaughn, a right wing activist and Trump supporter had his account suspended last week (#FreeRicky is the relevant hashtag).

Glen Reynolds of Instapundit was suspended on Twitter because of a single tweet regarding the Black Lives Matter rioters, but reinstated shortly after. Considering Twitter's pattern, I would be shocked if this was the end of it. Once people get on Twitter's radar, they usually end up banned sooner or later. He has also faced other retaliation, including USA Today suspending his column for a month and calls for him to be fired from his position at University of Tennessee.

On the bright side, the new site Gab.ai has been created as an alternative to Twitter and possibly Facebook.  The only problem is that getting on requires being placed on the wait list (80K+ last I checked). Some people get on immediately or within a day while some, like yours truly, still haven't heard back after weeks-long wait. I have a feeling that once the folks running the site get their act together and let in more users, it just might become the next great thing.

You will notice that I focus almost exclusively on Twitter happenings, and with good reason. Twitter as a platform has always claimed dedication to free speech until, in a spectacularly suicidal move, they decided to get with the Progressive program and created a dedicated censorship committee. And if you follow the business news even slightly, you will know that "suicidal" is not an overstatement. Yes, there are solid business reasons as to why the company is failing, but certainly reneging on its basic promise to users and losing massive numbers of users as a result could not be ignored as one of the causes.

Which brings me to the final point. What to do? Unlike with the current political situation, when it comes to defending our freedom of expression, the solution is simple. Don't give up. Refuse to be muzzled. That's not an invitation to become a martyr if you work in an SJW-infested environment, but everyone can do their part to an extent possible. Patronize writers and bloggers who are on the front lines of this fight (yes, even those whose views you occasionally find unpalatable can and should be supported when they get it right). I truly believe that no matter who prevails in the Presidential contest, in the long run the future of our country is tied to the right of free expression. Politics is downstream from culture, and the success or failure of our side in the culture war depends on our unwavering opposition to censorship in all its forms.

Let's be heard. Let's help others be heard. And remember, if you stay silent, you will never find out that you might, in fact, not be as alone as your thought.

And now, something appropriate for my rock-loving friends.