The problem of free speech
Gab, the free-speech social network, has suffered yet another blow. Visa has yanked their merchant account, preventing people from using Visa cards to make payments to the company. Worse, the ban also extends personally to Gab founder Andrew Torba AND to any members of his household.
Gosh, can anybody think of other times and places when family members were punished for the politically incorrect deeds of others? Oh yeah … the Soviet Union, Communist China, and Nazi Germany. Fun times, fun places.
Of course, this is just Visa, a private corporation, and not the work of overbearing, discriminatory, inescapable government. Therefore it’s all a-ok in the eyes of modern libertarian theory.
Except it’s not. In modern libertarian theory, industries (including banking and Silicon Valley startups like Twitter and FB) wouldn’t be in close cahoots with government. They wouldn’t have been given favorable regulation, tax breaks, cozy cronyisms with those in power, extreme low-interest loans from the Fed, huge lobbying clout, near-monopoly status, etc. etc. So now we have the most active censorship and selective persecution ever in this country — far, far worse than in the McCarthy era or the Red Scare post WWI.
But it’s being done by “private” companies — that aren’t.
Such a good deal for those in power.
I have a login at Gab but I haven’t visited there for several years. That’s partly because social media is not my thing, but also because Gab does — as its accusers and persecutors say — provide a platform for some real nasties, and the nasties can be hard, though not impossible, to avoid.
The fact that Gab, which is growing rapidly as people desert blatantly politicized networks like Twitter and F*c*b**k, also provides a platform for those who would refute, demolish, ignore, and possibly even uplift “haters” escapes their critics. Gab provides a platform for anybody, except a few limited categories, like those who advocate violence.
It’s traditional, it’s constitutional — and it’s just plain common sense to anyone who understands the principles of liberty — to understand that losers, loons, wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, political extremists, racists, idiots, opponents of political regimes, and everybody else merits protection of free speech. Why write a First Amendment if it wasn’t intended to protect controversial folk? You hardly need such a thing to protect popular speech.
So yeah, it’s a good thing that Gab even gives a platform even to the dreaded white supremacists. Someone has to. It’s not even a tattered remnant of a free country if the fringe-oids are suppressed. And as the howling left will soon find out to its shock and dismay, once you establish that it’s okay to censor or suppress people you don’t like, you’ll be next in line for being stomped on.
But the problem of free speech in the Internet world is that once the nasties know they’ll be tolerated somewhere — they immediately go there. Klanspersons, haters of Jews, preachers hoping for bloody Armageddon, and generally glassy-eyed extremists travel the ‘Net in mobs. (This is odd in a way, because they only people they hate more than Jews/blacks/Muslims/lizard-brained aliens/Mexicans/etc. is each other; but that’s a ponder for another day.)
That’s why I never, ever knowingly let a bigot comment here. Give a platform to one pathetic incel panting over his Hitlerian fantasies in his mother’s basement and the word goes out to all.
Pretty soon you have no decent people speaking up. That happened to the Western Rifle Shooters Association. Concerned American, who owns the place, commendably believes in free speech. I applaud his ideals and courage — but not his good sense. In short order, he ended up with a comment section oozing so much bile that it confirmed every terrible thing the enemies of gun rights believe about gunfolk.
As to Gab, I wish them well. So far they do seem to be thriving despite all that the angry establishment throws at them and it’s possible the ick faction isn’t as prominent or loud as it was a while ago. Andrew Torba seems to be a good man with a real commitment to principles, and he’s certainly brave and determined. Hopefully, the growing membership will drown out, or already has drowned out, the tiny, but loud, cadre of creeps. But I’m not going back any time soon to see.
Big broken systems
Right now (and for too long a time past and future) one of my friends is caught in a legal nightmare and another is a healthcare nightmare.
The first is the target of a lawsuit that’s not only frivolous, but probably illegal. It’s been bleeding him dry for more than a year, and for a long time the fraudulent nature of the action has been visible. Yet because of the way legal procedures grind along, there’s no way to go immediately to a judge and say, “Look at this evidence, then please dismiss this suit and slap the plaintiff upside the head, thank you.” He will have to pay tens of thousands more FRNs and surrender much more of his life — for nothing.
My other friend is making decisions for a 90-something mother who is rapidly (yet agonizingly slowly) going down hill. Although the individuals involved in the situation have all been doing the best they can, the system itself is … well, exactly as you expect it to be, only worse. The latest? Mom fractured her neck in a fall and ended up in a nursing home. After just a few weeks in the home, she fell out of bed and re-fractured the same vertebra.
How can an old lady with a broken neck fall out of a nursing home bed? “Don’t they have rails?” I asked.
Turns out that, in Mom’s state, bedrails are forbidden by government regulation because that’s too much like imprisonment. So Mom was injured — and probably sent into her final decline — buy a policy designed to “protect” her.
These aren’t unusual stories. You know that. Every one of us probably has five or ten such examples, all out of the legal, medical, or general government/government-controled systems.
How do we tolerate the extreme brokenness of the most important organized systems within our society? It’s not hard to see how such bureaucratic, self-interested, dinosaurish systems develop and sustain themselves. But when you stop and think about how deeply, catastrophically broken the basic mechanisms of our society are, and how many lives and fortunes they so casually destroy, it’s stunning — even to those of us who already know how bad matters are.
Virtue Signaling Arena
Did you hear that Amazon has purchased the naming rights to Seattle’s (former) KeyArena (after some bank, formerly the Seattle Center Coliseum, formerly the Washington State Coliseum)? And here’s the good part. Instead of naming it after their corporate self, they’re calling it Climate Pledge Arena.
This is for the usual virtue signaling reasons. But also because Amazon’s operational carbon footprint keeps going up and up and up and up, so, being good “progressives,” they need to create and promote some eco-wonder to counteract their own habits, which the rebuilt arena is intended to do.
Now I have opined before that the whole business of selling naming rights to public sports facilities is obnoxious. If you can’t just call something [Insert Locale] Arena or [Insert Sports Team] Park, then the only other proper name for such a facility would be somewhere on this list:
- Taxpayer Stadium
- Joe and Josie Average Park
- Extortion Arena
- Tax Slavery Field
- Poor Sucker Dome
- No Account Peasants Stadium
- Your Tax Dollars at Work Sports Complex
- Whether You Wanted It Or Not, You Paid For It Arena
- Your Pain Our Gain Civic Status Symbol
Sure, if you’re name’s Weeghman and you want to build — and more importantly pay for — your own baseball stadium, call it Weeghman Park. Your game, your name. And if your name’s Wrigley, as in chewing gum, you have every right to rename the place Wrigley Field after you buy it and its team out.
The practice of governments selling naming rights to some corporation that provides only a small share of the overall cost is insulting to all the poorer folk who actually paid for the thing, and whose dollars are sucked from them to fund bread and circuses against their will.
But Climate Pledge Arena??? That takes matters to an entire new level of political creepiness. OMG do we really live some bizarrely capitalismized version of a 20th-Century People’s Republic where everyone is constantly reminded to praise the current Five-Year Plan? Or what? Can you even remotely picture making your way through horrendous traffic and spending hundreds of dollars on pricey tickets, merchandise, and food to have any sort of fun at a place named Climate Pledge Arena?
Nah. Watch sports fans stay away in droves. That is, bigger droves than are already staying away.
Picking up cedar limbs
And now I’m going to go back out in the early afternoon sunshine and continue giving the backyard its first good cleanup since fall.
I’m expecting company this summer and although I’ve been enjoying many of the getting-ready chores, outdoor work (and especially outdoor work on the dank, dark, damp, mossy, spidery north side of the house) fills me with dread. I’ve really let things go back there, and have even moved construction rubble out of the house and let it sit on the back patio getting rained on, which is worse.
But I went out earlier today and surprised myself. In just two hours, I had half of the worst stuff done. So back out I go now to pick up cedar limbs. And alder branches. And cut back blackberry vines. And unwind morning glories from poor strangled ferns. And contemplate all the landscaping yet to be done.
Even with the slippery moss, the pill bugs, the spiders, the soggy damp, and all, it’s a more wholesome place than the rest of the world seems to be today.