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Google has deplatformed, or banned from its environs, numerous articulate and high profile conservative spokesmen such as Alan Dershowitz, Andrew Roberts, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Heather MacDonald, Steven Harper, Robert Florczak, Dennis Prager. This is the merest tip of the iceberg in this regard.

But does not this private company have a right to say “Yea” or “Nay” to all who would utilize its property? This, at least, is the libertarian view.

Consider this counter argument. Suppose Delta, American Airlines, Southwest and United Airlines were all to prohibit access to its flights to anyone carrying on board a copy of any given newspaper. Should we support such a policy?

Speaking as a libertarian, I would. I would defend the right of these airlines to engage in such barking-mad behavior since I uphold the sanctity of private property rights, and they own these modes of transport (I abstract, here, from numerous government regulations that give them an unfair advantage over actual and potential competitors).

If ever these airlines engaged in this “google-like” behavior, competitors would soon enough arise and take many of their customers away from them. Suggestion: instead of inveighing against “censorship,” why not support competitors of google? These alternatives could announce their full adherence to free speech, banning, only, threats of violence, and speech of that sort. They would be open to ALL shades of political opinion. They would offer a true “open forum.” As it happens, there are already some available: Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, Horizon, Ask, Bai, Alibaba, Apple, Amazon (source: http://eskify.com/10-googles-biggest-competitors/ ). It cannot be denied that none of these exactly fit the John Stuart “On Liberty” bill, but they are not nothing. However, there are also smaller more open Google competitors already on the market such as MeWe and there are more to come on the horizon.

There is however a danger that this competitive alternative to the communication powers that be I am proposing might be way too inward looking. Since the major players now favor the left, and make things difficult for the right, the alternative might be seen by the uncommitted as solely a preserve of the latter.

It might well be that this is still the next best option for those of us who favor an open John Stuart Mill (“On Liberty”) type debate.

Right now, those who favor free enterprise, and limited government, are losing the communications war. Excellent videos and op eds from world class people are being shunted aside on the ground they are “offensive” to the “wokesters.” At least men of good will who favor open dialogue should have a plan “B.” There are none better than competition.

Yes, Google improperly wants to have it both ways. It does not want to be a publisher, lest it be susceptible to libel suits. Instead, it takes cover as an “open forum,” but leave much to be desired in this regard (understatement of the year).

However, this company does not engage in “censorship.” Only the government can forbid speech. This company merely exludes material it considers offensive (emanating from only libertarian and conservative, not left-progressive, sources). But they no more engage in censorship than I would were to forbid Mr. Trump from giving a speech in my home.

Walter E. Block holds the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University, New Orleans

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Censorship, Free market, Google, Internet 
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  1. I’m a HUGE fan of Dr Walter Block, both as a libertarian and for his ONLY solution on muh roads. But I’d suggest there’s something missing here, that only a few libertarians like Justin Raimondo (RIP) and David Cole have suggested looking into.

    Regarded Section 230, and the entire Communications Decency Act of 1996, we have a federal law that completely protected these online tech giants from suits as long as they dont “publish” but only moderate, in contrast to physical paper newspapers/magazines who dont have that protection. Can we please attack the fact these Silicon Valley tech firms have tons of cronyism and federal protection, not free markets??

  2. A better example. Most electric providers are private, yet a monopoly regulated by local officials. Let’s say someone objects to your website, so the billionaire owner cuts off your electric power. You are using their power to post hateful ideas! They are private so too bad. Buy a generator! Is that freedom or should this be regulated?

    • Replies: @anarchyst
  3. Walter E. Block holds the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University, New Orleans.
    (what kind of scholar is this if he can not even check basic facts on a person that he writes about)

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Zionist puppet, fraud and well known liar.
    Explosive Documentary Exposing Her Lies & Deceipt To Stardom.

    A gob smacking exposé of controversial Islam-basher Hirsi Ali, a Somali born Dutch American activist, author and feminist, who turns out to be a highly manipulative and compulsive liar: In May 2006 the TV program Zembla reported that Hirsi Ali had given false information about her name, her age, and her country of residence when originally applying for asylum. In her asylum application, she had claimed to be fleeing a forced marriage, but the Zembla coverage featured interviews with her family, who denied that claim.

    Contrary to Hirsi Ali’s claims of having fled a Somali war zone, she’d had been living comfortably in upper middle-class conditions safely in Kenya with her family for at least 12 years before she sought refugee status in the Netherlands in 1992. Her claim of being brought up in a strict Muslim family turned out to be another lie, her brother went to Catholic School because her parents believed it gave him the best academic education.

    The exposé is quite thorough. It gathered evidence from Ayaan’s family members, school records in Kenya, and from Ayaan’s hosts during her immigration to the Netherlands. WHEN AYAAN IS CONFRONTED WITH THE EVIDENCE, SHE ADMITS TO MOST OF HER LIES.

    LIFE IN THE NETHERLANDS
    Ali was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003 on the ultra-nationalist right-wing VVD ticket, but had to resign in 2006 after the Dutch television program Zembla exposed huge chunks of her story to be well… not true. Not only had she lied about fleeing from Somalia, she had left before the violence had even started. All of this might have been understandable, except that her party, VVD, has a strong anti-immigration policy, and is very vocal about denying so called “fortune seekers” entry.
    OFF TO AMERICA
    After the Zembla expose caused her Dutch political career to go down in flames, Ali then fled moved to the United States and now works for the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative “think” tank and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She spun an incredible, somewhat convoluted and contradictory story about her life and the Netherlands debacle, but her claims—that “political Islam eventually made my life in the Netherlands impossible. If it were not for political Islam, I would almost certainly still be Dutch”—were eagerly accepted by that AEI. Ali became an American citizen in 2013.

    Ali’s Zionism and involvement in media campaign
    Like many rabid Islam-critics, she’s a fanatical supporter of Israel and touts out the old cliché that criticism of Israel’s policies legitimatises anti-Semitism on college campuses. Unsurprisingly, she’s a militant Zionist, and in spite of claiming to be an atheist announced at an event hosted by the Israeli Consul General of New York that “one day I hope to convert to Judaism”; it’s unclear whether this was a joke or if she was serious.

    Ali proclaimed that Benjamin Netanyahu should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his 2014 bombardment of Gaza Even if this bombardment hadn’t been highly dubious (over 500 Palestinian children were killed) it’s rather strange to award someone a peace prize for war actions; it’s doubtful that this is the sort of “peace” that Alfred Nobel envisioned in 1896. Although, there have been a few worse nominees, and even winners.

  4. mijj says:

    what we quaintly tag as “limited government” is actually a redistribution of government to independent power centres (ie. to where money and other influences are concentrated) such as corporations, banks, etc.. There will always be government, in one form or another. Putting government into private hands isn’t reducing government. What matters is: what are the actual power centres that control/govern the public’s ability to exchange wealth/data/thought/etc and for whose benefit.

    [
    it would make more sense to not distinguish between the different expressions of government. Control is government. An act of social control is an act of government. Moving domains of government from the Government and distributing it to some private bodies does not reduce government. Constraining thought-sharing is an act of government regardless of if it’s by an elected “Government” or by a private corporation. Google is governing by controlling availability of ideas, thought, analysis, etc.. Google, by it’s actions is a branch of de-facto government.
    ]

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
  5. Svevlad says:

    It’s kind of like a cringe chinese social credit system, except in China you get canceled for being an annoying lil shit, and in gl*balistan you get canceled for crimethink

  6. anarchyst says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    A better example…privately-owned telephone and cell phone providers. They are not responsible for the “free speech” of their customers.

  7. @mijj

    it would make more sense to not distinguish between the different expressions of government. Control is government. An act of social control is an act of government.

    That depends pretty critically on whose definition of ‘government’ you have in mind (and the definition of ‘control’).

    Corporate boards are a ‘government’ (and usually a nominally representative government) – they control the resources that are at the company’s disposal, and they make decisions that affect all shareholders. A person can decide to divest themselves of their shareholderness without changing any other aspect of their lives. Non-shareholders can likewise choose to ignore the company entirely (and therefore the decisions of the ‘government’): this happens a lot, and generally results in the dissolution of the ‘government’ as its capital falls to zero.

    If ‘government’ is defined that broadly, then ‘deplatforming’ and what-not are acts of government of the companies themselves: the right to ignore the company limits the damage that such a ‘government’ can do.

    Contrast that with “capital-G” government (‘G’overnment hereafter) – invariably associated with a simultaneous claim of State sovereignty.

    The key characteristic of ‘G’overnment is the consequences of the State claim to a geographical monopoly on ethically-justified violence (force, fraud, coercion etc): when you wend your way through the paperwork, this is the source of the downstream corollary that the inhabitants of that geography have no inherent right to refuse to participate – they become subjects if they’re born within the geographical boundary.

    That’s why it’s no longer contentious among (sane) political theorists that ‘G’overnment has to be shackled by some formal ground rules that constrain its behaviour. Constitutionalism has won that battle.

    Voluntaryists[1] disagree: they rightly see that the dynamic consequences of accepting the ‘violent monopolist’ is that the violent monopolist will – inevitably, and with probability 1 – do violence to the ground rules themselves. This cannot be avoided: worse, from the point of view of people attracted to political life it is a feature, not a bug.

    You cannot ignore acts of control by ‘G’overnment; you cannot say “Your product range is deficient: it is low-quality, and expensive. I will spend my money on superior alternatives. Our relationship ends today.

    If you ignore them, and they notice… at the limit they will send a small group of high-school underperformers with costume jewellery and firearms, and if you refuse to obey them they can ‘legitimately’ kill your whole family.

    Google, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and so on, do not have the power to force you to participate on their platforms. They cannot prevent you from using alternatives[2]; Ebay cannot send fuckwits to shoot your dog and put you in a cage, if you decide to buy or sell something they have banned on their platform.

    So the entire problem goes away: there is no rights-violation whatsoever.

    inb4 “You can leave the geographical sphere of control of a ‘G’overnment”.

    That is a canard: try leaving the control of a specific ‘G’overnment – in general they will not let you repudiate citizenship unless you show them that you have citizenship in other ‘G’overnment’s area of control. Imagine if Facebook told you you could only stop using FB if you had an account on another social network of fuckwits.

    We the Livestock are not ‘permitted’ to self-declare as stateless – so we are morally obliged to resist.

    [1] Although ‘voluntaryis[m|ist]’ is unwieldy, it’s more useful than ‘anarchis[m|y|ist]’ because of the conflation of ‘anarchy’ with disorder and chaos. Plus, there are a bunch of different flavours of anarchism, so I generally don’t bother going down that rat-hole.

    The same is true of the term ‘Libertarian’, because Americans.

  8. onebornfree says: • Website

    “However, this company does not engage in “censorship.” Only the government can forbid speech. This company merely exludes material it considers offensive (emanating from only libertarian and conservative, not left-progressive, sources). But they no more engage in censorship than I would were to forbid Mr. Trump from giving a speech in my home.”

    This is disturbingly naive and ignorant piece from “Mr. Libertarian”, Walter Block.

    Does he really believe that even if Alphabet/Google were really private that, given the size and power of the Federal government, and of agencies like the CIA, that it does not, behind the scenes, pressure /threaten all large “private” companies to do its/their exact bidding, probably on a daily basis?

    And even that “reality check” entirely ignores the fact that the CIA initially funded Google at its creation, just as it did Facebook and Amazon.

    And no, I’m not going to post links here to “prove” my point- do your own research, Mr Block [first remove your head from the orifice you obviously stuffed it in, and then your entire body from the “libertarian” ivory -tower you obviously exist inside. Or, just stay in “lah-lah land” , with all of your “intellectual” buddies in university land.

    “Google is a private company and can do what it likes”- yeah, right!Good one! 🤣

    No regards, onebornfree

    • Replies: @onebornfree
  9. onebornfree says: • Website
    @onebornfree

    “Only the government can forbid speech. ”

    Just noticed this egregious error from “Mr Libertarian ” Walter Block. Presumably he has read the 1st amendment? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume for now that this is a mistake on his part, and not deliberate – either its that, or I’m completely misunderstanding his point.

    Regards[?], onebornfree

  10. bandolero says:

    Let us allow Louisiana and Rump to inform our morality just like in the good old days, i.e., 1859. Let William Walker cast the law of Louisiana onto the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Let the Golden Circle arise once more and Pierre Soulez take his rightful position among America’s foremost historical criminals. I’m so sick of Louisiana.

  11. I generally agree with Block, but not in this case. Google is not a private company. It was built with US government money and has a quasi-monopoly on the Internet search business. Furthermore, the Federal government forbids discrimination against numerous favored groups, all of whom conveniently lean leftward. Therefore, this libertarian favors _extending_ anti-discrimination law to include political orientation until such time as we can repeal _all_ such laws.

  12. onebornfree says: • Website

    “Google is not a private company”

    Correct – but even it it _was_, it would still be extremely naive to believe that in the current political environment, where there no effective constitutional limits on goverment’s size/scope and power left, and where criminal agencies such as the CIA and FBI can do anything they want either covertly or otherwise, that any successful private company involved in the mass communications markets would _not_ be coerced behind the scenes into conforming to a required narrative [whatever it might be].

    And yet this is the fantasy world that cloistered people like Block [ and many over at “Reason” magazine and elsewhere], still cling to.

    And so it goes….

    Regards, onebornfree

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