We talked about the deterrent against freedom of expression that has been developing in the US for years. These efforts have accelerated after the Capitol uprising, including shutdown points like Parler. Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul (85) has now been prevented from using his Facebook page for unspecified violations of “community standards”. Paul’s last post was linked to an article about the “shocking” increase in censorship on social media. Facebook then blocked him under the same undefined “Community Standards” policy.
Paul, a libertarian leader and former presidential candidate, has been an outspoken critic of foreign wars and an advocate of civil liberties for decades. He wrote:
“With no explanation other than“ repeatedly violating our community standards ”@Facebook prevented me from administering my site. We have never received news of a breach of community standards in the past, and nowhere is the post in question identified. ”
His son is Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.). He tweeted: “Facebook now views advocacy for freedom as an uproar. Where will it end? “
Even before the uprising, the Democrats were calling for blacklists and retaliation against anyone deemed “complicit” in the Trump administration. We have discussed in the past few weeks the increasing threats to Trump supporters, lawyers and officials from Democratic members calling for blacklists for the Lincoln Project, a national effort to harass and mistreat lawyers who are the Republican Party or the President Trump represented. Others are calling for “accomplices” to be banned from college campuses, while others are calling for a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to “hold Trump and his makers accountable for the crimes they have committed”. Rick Wilson, editor-in-chief of Daily Beast, has added his own call for “humiliation,” “incarceration” and even ritual suicides for Trump supporters in an awkward, vulgar column.
In the aftermath of the riots, the major tech companies banned and blocked websites and individuals, including Parler, which is the primary alternative to Twitter. Also, a top Forbes editor Randall Lane warned any company that they will be investigated if they hire former Trump officials.
The riots are being used as a license to reduce free speech and take revenge on conservatives. In the meantime, the silence from scientists and much of the media has been deafening. Many of those who have spoken for years about the dark ages of McCarthyism and the blacklist either support this censorship or remain silent in the face of it. Now that conservatives are the targets, language controls and blacklists seem understandable or even commendable.
The move against Paul, a long-time free speech advocate, shows how crude and comprehensive this approach has become. It shows how the threat to free speech has changed. It’s like a state medium without state control. These companies move in unison, but not necessarily with direct consultation. The uprising was immediately given the green light to crack down on a wide variety of locations and individuals. As we have seen in Europe, such censorship is turning into an insatiable appetite for ever greater language control. Even German Angela Merkel (who has a long history of anti-free speech actions) has criticized Twitter’s actions as being detrimental to free speech. Most of the law professors and media representatives in the United States remain silent, however.