Parler Shutdown In Latest Attack on Free Speech On The Internet

Recently, millions of supporters of Twitter reportedly left that company due to its continued censoring of viewpoints and the permanent banning of President Donald Trump.  Many went to the more open forum offered by Parler — making it the number one item on Apple’s App store.  Apple, Google, and other companies then moved to cut off Parler, which has now been shutdown. In so doing, these companies eliminate any alternative to their own controlled platforms. It is a major threat to free speech. Yet, the silence of academic and many free speech advocates is striking and chilling.

Apple issued a statement that “We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity.”  So Parler can operate only if Apple and Google are satisfied that it is engaging in the same controversial policies of censorship.  Parler is based on the original concept of the Internet as an open forum for free speech.

I admittedly know little about Parler, but it does not matter beyond the fact that this is an alternative forum for free speech. I am an unabashed Internet originalist. I have long opposed the calls for censorship under the pretense of creating “an honest Internet.”  We have been discussing how writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. The erosion of free speech has been radically accelerated by the Big Tech and social media companies. The level of censorship and viewpoint regulation has raised questions of a new type of state media where companies advance an ideological agenda with political allies.

As I have previously written, we are witnessing the death of free speech on the Internet.  What is particularly concerning is the common evasion used by academics and reporters that this is not really a free speech issue because these are private companies. The First Amendment is designed to address government restrictions on free speech. As a private entity, Twitter is not the subject of that amendment. However, private companies can still destroy free speech through private censorship. It is called the “Little Brother problem.” President Trump can be chastised for converting a “Little Brother” into a “Big Brother” problem. However, that does alter the fundamental threat to free speech.  This is the denial of free speech, a principle that goes beyond the First Amendment. Indeed, some of us view free speech as a human right.

Consider racial or gender discrimination. It would be wrong regardless if federal law only banned such discrimination by the government. The same is true for free speech. The First Amendment is limited to government censorship, but free speech is not limited in the same way. Those of us who believe in free speech as a human right believe that it is morally wrong to deny it as either a private or governmental entity.  That does not mean that there are not differences between governmental and private actions. For example, companies may control free speech in the workplaces. They have a recognized right of free speech. However, the social media companies were created as forums for speech.  Indeed, they sought immunity on the false claim that they were not making editorial decisions or engaging viewpoint regulation.  No one is saying that these companies are breaking the law in denying free speech. We are saying that they are denying free speech as companies offering speech platforms.

If Pelosi demanded that Verizon or Sprint interrupt calls to stop people saying false or misleading things, the public would be outraged. Twitter serves the same communicative function between consenting parties; it simply allows thousands of people to participate in such digital exchanges. Those people do not sign up to exchange thoughts only to have Dorsey or some other internet overlord monitor their conversations and “protect” them from errant or harmful thoughts.

Much of our free speech today occurs on private sites like Twitter and Facebook. The Democrats want private companies to censor or label statements deemed misleading. Such a system would evade First Amendment conflict but it would have an even greater likely impact on free speech than direct government monitoring.

288 thoughts on “Parler Shutdown In Latest Attack on Free Speech On The Internet”

  1. Just wanted to point out a possible error in the sentence after you said: Trump can be chastised for converting a “Little Brother” into a “Big Brother” problem.

    You then said: However, that does alter the fundamental threat to free speech.

    Perhaps you meant to say “not” in between “does” and “alter”?

    Thank you for this excellent article! Biden should consider nominating you for SCOTUS when an opening is available. I’ve read many of your great pieces. You have a sound mind and honorably rare non-partisan voice.

  2. Never ever go to fairness.

    Life is not fair, you can not make it fair. All efforts to acheive fairness go badly.

    There is no actual agreement on what is fair.

    I do not beleive that removing S230 protection will have a huge effect – It may even strengthen their monopoly.

    Having the protection in place is what allowed them to become monopolies. Now that they are they can afford defamation claims and enormous legal fees. and those will prove barriers to entry for competitors.

    But S230 should be repealed because it was a bad idea.

  3. In the end the question is less about freedom than it is fairness.

    In the end, the question is absolutely about freedom and equality under the law. Consider it this way. Providing Big Tech Section 230 protections is no different than providing the IRS the ability to target conservative groups. Both would be sanctioned by law to discriminate against a certain class of people. Of course the IRS is a government agency and the targeted groups would and have brought cases to court. Big Tech are technically private companies, but they have been empowered by the government to do exactly what the IRS shall not do. Removing the 230 protections puts Big Tech squarely in the crosshairs of those they target. If they want to retain their 230 protections, Big Tech should be regulated so that they aren’t able to discriminate using government protections.

    1. She raises some obvious problems about Trump, so no news there.

      It has nothing to do with this column about Parler and free speech, except that it’s clear Trump has blinded his opposition with such hatred that they are willingly going along with free speech suppression.

      But perhaps that’s a good thing and has woken enough people up to who the left really now is.

    2. Why would anyone trust you to recommend reading to conservatives ?

      Regardless, you should read Coulter – most conservatives do not need to.

      I have read Tribe and Krugman, and Reich and myriads of others from the left.

      “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”

      ― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

      This is one more reason that censorship is stupid self harm.

  4. Free speech will exist for all or for none. Those that support this censorship will be subject to it in the future.
    If so at what point to violent rioters become patriotic freedom fighters for free speech. Let’s hope we don’t allow censorship to got that far.

    1. I didn’t write this but, Remember in 2011 when tens of thousands of Democrats surged on the Wisconsin Capitol building in Madison and physically occupied it for more than two weeks? We were told, “This is what democracy looks like.”

      Remember in 2016 when Obama was President and hundreds of BLM blocked interstate highways and violently accosted police (even killing several)? We were told, “To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible.”

      Remember in 2018 during the Kavanaugh hearings when a mob of Democrats stormed the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, and pounded their fists in rage on the door. We were told, “It’s understandable.”

      Remember this summer’s riots in major cities across the country when groups of Democrats marched in the streets, set buildings on fire, looted businesses, assaulted and even killed bystanders and police? We were told, “These are mostly peaceful protests.”

      Remember when Democrats seized several blocks of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in downtown Seattle, declaring it an autonomous zone? Remember the guns and deaths and utter destruction? We were told, “It’s a block party atmosphere.”

      Remember when a crazed mob gathered after the Republican National Convention and attacked Rand Paul, a sitting U.S. Senator? We were told, “No justice, no peace.”

      Remember how police were told to stand down, governors refused to call in the national guard, and Democrats paid bail for violent protesters who were arrested? We were told, “This is the only way oppressed people can be heard.”

      I have condemned violent protests and lawlessness every single time they’ve been reported. I condemn the actions of those who stormed the Capitol Wednesday. But I refuse to condemn hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors because a handful chose to be lawless and to defy everything the vast majority of the crowd stood for (this includes BLM peaceful protestors).

      My take:
      Conservatives are defenders of the Constitution.

      And the liberal media are just plain liars. They are NO LONGER journalists.

      It is important to observe and note what is happening to many young and impressionable people who are literally isolated within pockets of liberal information in our Country. They are being SUCCESSFULLY MISLED. If they were able to HEAR and SEE THE TRUTH they might come to different conclusions.

      God bless U.S.

      And until they take this down…

      1. Horse, I’m a democrat, and putting aside the bulk of your post, where you confuse what marginal actors did and say with mainstream democrats and reputable news sources – purposefully? – I have nothing against those who showed for the 1/6 rally on the Mall who didn’t join in the mob action against the capital and so I join your sentiments – including condemning those who did. I similarly can’t stand Antifa or any group that thrives on street fighting or other displays of anarchy. I would point out, that like most of those who came to Washington on 1/6 for that rally, most of those marching against police actions last summer were peaceful.

        As a matter of fact – and I posted this here last Wednesday – I was watching the lead up and to and beginning of Trump’s speech and was empathetic to the crowd, They were Americans who cared enough about our country and the government to express their rights to peaceably assemble. No problem with them or their behavior. I wished they hadn’t fallen for a selfish scumbag of a leader, but that’s their right too.

        1. Still a registered Democrat, but not for long. I read Trump’s speech and while I felt he spent too much time on what he as faults in the election I saw nothing that should incite violence. To the contrary he only instructed to make their voices heard and protest peacefully. Whatever else we think of his manner of speech or personality is irrelevant. To the policies he enacted that were beneficial to all Americans and why he got 10 million more votes than in 2016. He also increased votes among minorities. So now Pelosi is insistent on a Mc Donald’s drive thru impeachment process that will only increase divisiveness.

          1. Bengal, he got 7 million less votes than the other guy and lost by about 4.5%. National polls showed him losing by 5% so that was not a surprise, not even to him. That’s why he started claiming a rigged election 6 months before the first vote was cast and has continued that Big Lie right up to the present. Absent any evidence of significant fraud or even a plausible explanation of how it would have worked, it’s amazing anyone believes him.

            1. Rigging the election started more than 6 months ahead.

              Everyone with a brain knows that mailin elections are rife with fraud and can not be trusted ever

              Yet, you went ahead.

              While Trump was complaining that the election was going to be fraud ridden – you did everything in your power to make that promise come true.

              Trump did not make this election lawless – you did.
              Trump did not make this election untrustworthy – you did.

              It is not the loser of an election that needs the results to be trusted – it is the winner.

              You spent the last 4 years burning your own credibility – and you think people are just going to trust you ?

              I have posted frequently noting the errors in the claims that this election was fraud free and that allegations were investigated and proven false.

              But my arguments as good as they are, nor the facts whatever they are do not matter.
              Because a plurality of people do not beleive you, the press, the left, democrats.

              In many instances – they are not listening.

              You keep making arguments – most are poor, but even if they were compelling – these people are not listening.

              Not because they are brainwashed idiots – they aren’t, though you accuse them of that constantly.

              But because you have lied to them so much they do not listen to what you say.

              I have warned you over and over of the cost of constant lying, and worse constantly accusing others of lying without proof.

              You have ignored me.

              I am not imposing consequences on you – reality is.

              And I would note the lack of trust goes far beyond Trump.
              The media, the left, democrats have burned their credibility on nearly everything.

        2. My name is NOT “horse” Mr. “Joe Democrat” it is KARIN HAUENSTEIN. I suggest you Google it and learn about what real American Patriots can do!

          As far as the other spin and propaganda for your failed party you wish to post here in this forum—I’m never buying any of it because of what I have heard Kamala Harris and those of her stature and ilk SAY IN REAL TIME to our Nation!

          Personal attacks, demeaning behavior, dismissal—Gaslighting and MASSIVE HYPOCRISY, ANTI-TRUST behavior to censor our Free Speech is what LEFTIST Democrats and LEFTIST Companies are doing right now—in droves… WOW!

          1. Oh, I forgot to add—if you Google my name choose NEWS tab to see my stake in infamy. Good day to you! God bless America!

              1. There is no free lunch.

                You can track the price of nearly anything over the past 50+ years.

                I would sugesst in stead of nominal or real dollars you try it in either minimum wage hours or median wage hours.
                But the results will be close to the same no matter what.

                Everything that government has been heavily involved in – like healthcare is more expensive than in the past.
                Everything that government has been minimally involved in is much cheaper.

                I will predict with zero fear that whatever democrats decide to try to make more affordable, will increase in price over 3-5 years faster than inflation.

            1. JF you have burned too many bridges and too much of your integrity and credibility.

              You can not reach common ground. The left ha gone so bat$hit there is no common ground.

              When people can not agree on the legitimate use of force – AKA government, the “common ground” is to do nothing.
              that is the only moral choice.

              You do not understand that.

          2. KARIN HAUENSTEIN, can you please explain why you felt compelled to express frustration (I can’t read your mind, but there was clearly some negative emotion) at Joe’s comment not using your real name? You posted that comment under the sobriquet of “horseactivist”. lt’s not typical for people to Google other commenter’s nicknames before posting. I did Google you before posting this, and I commend you for your activism!

        3. I was invited to go and I declined. I knew it would be a shitz show. And so it was. Same Charlottesville. Knew it would be a mess and it was. With so much Q stupidity in play, it was guaranteed. Trust the plan? There was no plan. I mean the plan worked if the plan was to give Pelosi a pretext to lead a massive social purge. Swell!

          This always happens to the right-wing. ALWAYS. aside from the well known fact that right wing outfits constantly attract problematic people, they also are always penetrated by criminals particularly those in the pay of various law enforcement and alphabet soup agencies

          This turns out like OPERATION PATCON from the Clinton era. Which gave us such disasters as Ruby Ride, Waco, and OKC. One way or another.
          One thing you have to understand about all the “patriot” groups militias etc of that era is that they were ALL penetrated by informants, provocateurs, and undercovers. Also IDIOTS
          Understand who these types are: they are taken from the pool of “true believers” in the first place, and then turned, corrupted, enlisted, recruited, whatever you want to call it.
          Outsiders would be obvious and ineffective. It is always a loser from “within” the skrews the pooch for right wingers.

          This is history. I don’t need to repeat the many proofs of it I have shared over the past couple years. I only regret that I did not make the point more often.

          One wonders if the informants and provocateurs in action today have more violent mischief in the hopper for the inauguration. . I suppose so considering they’ve called out the NG
          I find it interesting that various FBI people are saying they warned the Capitol police and yet it seems some Capitol police deny this. Ever and always, the FBI absolves itself, even as they seem to always know what’s coming. Well maybe because, as in operation patcon, they are actually helping plan what’s coming

          Kind of like how they ran Whitey Bulger for so long. Or, did he run them>? Ah, these questions are just boring history to almost all who read them.

          Anyways. This is a good time to let icons be smashed. Let some old bromides go in the garbage with them. It’s time to reconsider slavish devotion to all the bromides of American iconography– most of all, the false notion that unruly mobs of naive people ever achieve what their good hearts desire

          there is no substitute for organization, leadership, and planning

          This is why I have also been recommending for years, that people quit looking to the failed right wing outbursts of the past, and look to the hated rivals and enemies, Mao, and other Asian communists. I am not being facetious about that. It was not a joke. Study their history and it gives many salient and timely lessons. Ignore it and keep on losing to the comprador elites.

          one of Trump’s most obvious practical faults was his obvious boredom with long term strategic work organizing political change. the guy has ADHD obviously, and it is untamed. It is time to put him aside. He has failed, badly. HE KNEW MAIL IN VOTING WOULD BE A MESS AND HE ONLY RAN HIS MOUTH ABOUT IT

          Well. Now all the Trump haters can gloat. And yet we should still let Trump go, encourage his retirement, and look to the future.

          Other leadership must be allowed to step forward. The adulation must cease. I thank Trump for his efforts and wish him a quiet retirement.

          In a long term fight to liberate the people from the billionaires, new leadership must step forward, outside of Trump and the last dregs of his immediate circle.

          good news is that it’s clear that a working and middle class prosperity agenda for Americans is a viable agenda for political organizing. Some Republicans and some Democrats will see the obvious common good and attempt to inch forward in spite of all the bad news. The good news is that the state is more powerful than we thought. Yes liberterians dont like that but we will need a strong state to neutralize the billionaires if we ever do.

          There is some hope, if the technocratic tyranny does not swallow us all in the meantime

          Sal Sar

        4. “I’m a democrat”
          If only that is what you were.

          “where you confuse what marginal actors did and say with mainstream democrats and reputable news sources”
          There is no confusion. Nearly every action cited was worse than the Capital protests.
          Only the blind do not grasp that the standards of required conduct are far lower for the left.

          “I have nothing against those who showed for the 1/6 rally on the Mall who didn’t join in the mob action against the capital”
          JF – we would have heard histrionics from you and the media no matter what happened.

          I doubt that the media would have responded differently – had no one gotten into the improperly locked down capital.
          Nor would they have reacted much differently had things been significantly worse.

          You – the left, democrats the media go full bull goose moose at everything.

          Trump said absolutely nothing that is within 100 miles of incitement to violence.

          Contra your claims – protestors were not driven by Trump – they were driven by Government lawlessness.
          They were driven by YOUR misconduct.

          “I wished they hadn’t fallen for a selfish scumbag of a leader, but that’s their right too.”

          But you make my case – Trump is a “scumbag” in your view – specifically because he reflects the core values of the very people who you just claimed to respect.

          The fact is you do not.

          Trump’s supporters are not stupid. They know that you hate them, And contra your remarks in this post – you make that clear all the time.

          Trump is their leader BECAUSE he is THEIR VOICE. Trump does not robotically control them – he REFLECTS their values.
          That is why they love him.

          It is differences in SOME of those values that is why I can not vote for Trump. Just as there is no way I could vote for Clinton or Biden or Obama.

          But my inability to fully support Trump is not the same as opposition on all things. More importantly it does not preclude me from grasping that if you call half the country racist homophobic, hateful, hating haters, you are not winning them over. Nor are they confused into believing that it is just their leader you think is a scumbag.

          You hate them, and you are going to hate whoever leads them should that not be Trump.
          And make no mistake – they are not going away. Trump may or may not continue to lead them, but if Trump died tomorow – in the long run nothing would change. They would find a new leader who was not that different from Trump.

          I would like to see Trump supporters become more libertarian. But the threat of authoritarianusm today is from the left.

          Though I would note that leftist authoritarian overreach is as likely to produce a right wing authoritarian backlash as anything else.

  5. Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has sharply criticised Twitter’s decision to ban US president Donald Trump, calling it a “problematic” breach of the “fundamental right to free speech”. …

    The intervention highlights a key area of disagreement between the US and Europe on how to regulate social media platforms. The EU wants to give regulators more powers to force internet platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to remove illegal content.

    In the US, technology companies have traditionally been left to themselves to police their own sites, though momentum is gathering behind political moves to curtail their regulatory freedoms.

    Several members of Congress are working on Bills which would limit the legal protections social media companies have from being sued for third-party content posted on their sites. Others are pushing for a new federal data privacy Bill that could mirror the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

    Dr Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said free speech was a “fundamental right of vital importance” that could be restricted, “but only in accordance with the laws and within a framework defined by the legislator – not by the decision of the management of social media platforms”.

  6. STOP THE STEAL: Chilling you can’t say “Stop the Steal” on crappy Facebook. Yeah “Stop the steal” is taboo. It up there with the other leftist taboos like racial epithets and pronouns. So no more “Stop the steal,” eh? Nope in a free society free people just, in the words of that patriot Lenny Bruce, say “F—k the government” and their apparatchiks in the media and Big Tech. Oh and “stop the steal” not of an election but of our God given rights. That’s something not even master of the universe, Facebook, can suppress.

  7. Having seen all of the photos of Hunter Biden having sex with his 14 year old niece, all I can say is that any man who raised a son like that monster, has no business being the POTUS. Not only did he raise him, he still defends him.

    I could post the pics here. But out of consideration for this being Jonathan’s website/blog, and knowing that doing so would greatly increase the chances of his blog being de-platformed, I will not.

    Just further proof of why my decision years ago to stop choosing the lesser of two evils (aka/ voting either D or R) was a good one.

    1. This is due to Hunter being the bread winner for Joe’s family.
      Hunter cashes in from Joe’s role just like Joe’s brother.

      1. – Influence Peddling

        – Money Laundering


        That’s precisely what Hillary Clinton did and, as we all know, she illegally maintained a private server, destroyed evidence and obstructed justice.

        But what’s a few world-class felonies among friends.

    2. The photos obviously do not exist. If they did then Trump would have already had Hunter arrested.

      1. As if evidence, affidavits, photos, videos, confessions written in concrete would do anything to the likes of you and your ilk to believe contrary to your political ideologies. When pigs fly

      2. “The photos obviously do not exist.”

        The photos taken by Hunter having sex with his 14 year old niece exist, and are being widely circulated, Molly. They are crystal clear.

        Of course the only thing you care about is your Party (aka/Tribe), not the fact that a 14 year old child had her life ruined by her own Uncle.

        To be honest, they are so heinous, that I stopped looking after the first few pics. I saw all I needed to see. That filthy rotten apple fell right to the bottom of the tree.

      3. Seriously Molly why do you not know the president has no power to arrest and that the evidence is in the hands of the FBI that is investigating. Fact Hunter left his laptop at a repair shop and failed to pick it up even though the shop contacted him for months. Thge shop turned the laptop over to the FBI.

        1. I do not beleive there is much in the way of federal sex crimes.

          The jurisdiction in which the act occured would have to prosecute.
          That might be unknowable.

    3. “Hunter Biden having sex with his 14 year old niece…”

      Was that the niece who is the daughter of the woman who was married to Hunter’s brother Beau? Who Hunter later started banging after his brother died and he left his own wife? That niece? Or another one?

      What a completely corrupt and screwed up family Joe Biden has.

      1. Was Hunter banging the sister in law and his neice while he was banging the stripper who is his baby mama? BTW all the photos have Hunter with a crack pipe hanging from his lips. Totally normal family, eh?

      2. “I’m proud of my son. He’s the smartest man I know.” ~Joe Biden.

        Scary thought? Uh huh.

        1. Since Hunter Biden only had sex with underage “sex workers” in foreign countries—your argument is ludicrous. The U.S. will not prosecute for individual crimes in foreign countries unless the country makes issue of it or if they are war crimes. It would be nice if the countries who allow the abuse of children would stop, or make some moral issue out of the practice just to help Conservatives in the U.S. prosecute their political opponents but I think the chances of that are nil. HUNTER BIDEN is a JUNKIE who is likely a sexual freak. His dad is always shopping him around like he is a “chip off the old block…” Go figure.

          1. I can assure you that whether they should or not, the US prosecutes sex crimes committed in foreign countries.

            My wife has a classmate from law school who is in prison in the US for having consensual sex with a 14yr old in an african country where his conduct was legal.

      3. One of the other “dirty secrets” in this mess is that this is not just about Hinter Biden. There are myriads of politicians – not all democrats, including Pelosi who are corrupt or whose families are getting rich selling their power who are protecting Biden because the next step after the Biden’s is them.

        It is disturbing that those on the left can not get behind “drain the swamp”.

        I MAY beleive there are fewer swamp creatures on the left than right – but Washington is corrupt – top to bottom. Left and right.

    4. Why isn’t Hunter Biden being prosecuted as a sex offender.

      Where in this country is it legal for an adult to have sex with a 14yr old ?

      Lots of people go to prison for that all the time.

      Merely being naked together and having any contact however slight with genitals is a crime in most of the country.

      Lots of people go to prison for that all the time.

  8. Since the collusion between Amazon, Twitter, and Apple now extends to other web hosting services, I’m hoping Parler can be their own host with their own servers. Apparently Gab does this.

    1. P2P – you can not shut it down.

      There is also work on a P2P DNS system that would prevent governments from taking down. domain names.

      Completley eliminate the centralized aspects of the internet

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