hen a government does not itself impose censorship people may think they have freedom of speech, or can be made to think they do, even though they don’t. In America, the government does not need to, uh, “redact.“ Private entities — credit card companies, social media, search engines and so on — do for government what it cannot do openly for itself: Prevent expression of inappropriate thought.
Many believe that the First Amendment guarantees this freedom, if they have heard of the First Amendment. But the Amendment does not apply to private companies. It doesn’t have to. The huge corporations, not just the social media but financial services and mainstream outlets, can censor, directly or indirectly, as they like. “As they like” invariably means “as the formal government,” of which they are in effect branches, like.
Herewith some examples. For quite a while this column was homeported at the Unz Review. The site has now been heavily censored. Recently I asked Ron Unz, the owner, what happened. His response:
Sure, Fred. Basically, we were banned from Facebook (i.e. nothing containing unz.com can appear there or even be sent in private
messages). More importantly, all our pages were “deranked” from every Google search, meaning they’re now absolutely at the bottom of all search results…Not only was our rudimentary Facebook page eliminated, but all subsequent attempts to post our articles to the world’s largest social network produced an error message describing the content as “abusive.” Our entire website had been banned.
The Review is not calculated to make friends with everybody, among other things being obsessively and, I would say imaginatively, hostile to Jews, but this is hardly uncommon, and the site has never advocated violence, implicitly or otherwise, against anyone. The whole idea of freedom of the press was to protect expression of ideas regardless of who liked them.
Then there is American Renaissance, a white advocacy site that urges no crime, (again) explicitly or implicitly. Follow the link and see for yourself if so inclined. It talks about such things as black crime, unrestricted immigration, and argues that affirmative action lowers standards. You may not agree with all of its ideas — I don’t — or any of them. But they are mainstream ideas held by tens of millions and deal with political questions of large importance.
I asked Jared Taylor, the webmaster and a graduate of Yale in philosophy with additionally a diplôme in international relations from l’institut d’études politiques de Paris about censorship of the site and of himself. His response:
The list is long. This is what I recall:
Facebook: my personal account and the AmRen account were canceled.
Twitter: my personal account and AmRen account.
PayPal: my personal account and AmRen account.
YouTube: Our video and podcast channels.
Amazon: Almost all of our books, both print and Kindle are banned. Also, we were unable to use special programs for non-profits because Amazon consults and abides by an SPLS list of “bad” non-profits.
Google: Almost always fails to include our pages in search results. Contrast with DuckDuckGo is striking.
Credit card processors: I don’t know how many — maybe eight or ten? — have refused to do business with us.
Email servers: Four or five but all the big ones, such as MailChimp and Constant Contact.
Advertising: Google ads, and every mainstream internet ad service.
Printshop: Our local printer of 20 years, Instyprints, decided what we were printing was intolerable…If you try to include an AmRen link in a tweet or Facebook post the recipient will get a nasty warning that AmRen could be a fraudulent or phishing site.
This sort of thing is done to many. Question: How much does it differ from censorship in, say, China? Answer: In China people know they are watched. There is nothing subtle about it. How many Americans are really aware of the foregoing?
An argument of sorts could be made that with divisions as sharp as currently exist in America, nothing that might increase antagonism should be published. But this standard is not applied to, say, BLM. American censorship is purely partisan. Exactly as it is in China.
You may not like Donald Trump. I don’t. But when a few men at the top of the social media can censor a major politician with a huge following of almost half of the electorate and a former president, it is what the First Amendment intended to prevent. It is legal, though, because the companies are private. If Biden tried to do this by executive order, all hell would break loose. In the past, newspapers were as biased, but there might be five papers in a city, so you had contending biases. Now we have five national newspapers — Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the Wikipedia — all thinking the same thing and all, I suspect, with CEOs socializing among themselves.
The major media also are tightly controlled, but rely on the principle that when people get used to something, they don’t notice it. Note that the media allow nothing in favor of the Second Amendment or Trump, against abortion, Israel, sexual aberrations, or immigration, about black crime or racial intelligence. Coverage of the wars is so slight as to constitute censorship, especially of coverage that would make the carnage evident. Military industry and its gigantic cost are strikingly unpresent. The police are never allowed to present their side of events. You can be fired for using the wrong word or phonemes, even if it was fifteen years ago in a private email — and email is forever: You can never tell when it will surface to bite you. Think Synopticon.
Violeta likes to watch television series on Netflix from around the world from an interest in the general tenor of life overseas: South America, China, Japan, South Korea. (All have Spanish subtitles.) All the Chinese series, she reports, have disappeared. With Washington whumping up war fever against Beijing, presumably it thought undesirable that Americans see the Chinese as attractive people greatly more moral than Americans. Mommy knows best.
The granularity of censorship becomes ever finer. I am a minor hobbyist columnist of no importance with several thousand subscribers. For maybe twenty years I had an entry on the Wikipedia. (Fred Reed) It is now gone. I had I’ll guess between twenty and thirty photos of me that appeared if you Googled on “Fred Reed” and clicked on images. Most are gone. I don’t suggest that the world yearns to look at me, but to point out that a largely unknown and unimportant columnist is thought worth censoring. My disappearance may have been accomplished algorithmically or by some woke 22-year-old twerp editing at the Wikipedia — I doubt that I rank high in the consciousness of Mark Zuckerberg – but it happened.
The Wikipedia, a major source for much of the population, is heavily censored regarding taboo topics. Search on “race and intelligence” or something similar. It is of great important to society, answering such questions as whether lower outcomes for a particular race are the result of discrimination or of lower ability. A great deal of careful scientific research has been done on this, including IQ, neurological, and so on.
When I made the suggested search, the first entry began with something like, “claims of different levels of intelligence have been used to promote hate, etc.,” and the second with the assertion that race has no biological meaning.
Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a major historical document crucial to understanding the events of the last century. While fascinating to the educated, it would be intensely boring to the ignorant and those under thirty in America, given the dimming of the schools. It certainly isn’t inflammatory. I listened to all of it in an excellent translation from Audible.com without instigating a single pogrom.
The Audible version is now gone, and Amazon does not have it in any format.
But, as Bush I said, the world hates us for our freedoms. Uh-huh. Sho’ nuff.