Twitter Summons “The Birdwatchers” In Expanding Campaign Against “Misinformation”

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With much fanfare (and catchy background music) Twitter has launched the Birdwatch program, a platform that seeks to enlist the “community” to identify and comment on misinformation contained in tweets.  The company will initially select 1,000 such “Birdwatchers” in its monitoring of information exchanged on its once neutral platform.  Not surprisingly, many of us are not thrilled by the program. While the programs does not allow direct removal of tweets, it is clearly designed to flag tweets that the majority views as misleading. That can then be used by Twitter to further support its expanding censorship of information on the Internet.

The selected Birdwatchers will at least initially post on a  public Birdwatch website as opposed to the targeted twitter account.

Adding a “community-based” system is little improvement over a purely “corporate-based” system of censorship. Twitter still maintains that it will regulate speech and this new platform effectively invites the community to help identify those tweets worthy of being flagged for possible removal or bans. The program will also likely encourage campaigns to add such flags on the Birdwatch site in order to pressure Twitter to ban opposing viewpoints.  It is not clear who will watch the Birdwatchers in that sense.

The suspicion that this system is meant to enhance Twitter’s censorship policies is hard to avoid. After all, Twitter users can already flag what they view as misinformation by responding directly to a Tweet or using their own account to do so. This is an effort to build a consensus in a community that could be used to support the company in what is rumored to be plans for “much bigger” moves on speech regulation. Many critics are not satisfied with being able to respond to opposing viewpoints with their own views. They want to silence opposing viewpoints and control information exchange. Just recently, former Facebook executive Alex Stamos told CNN’s Brian Stelter that we must find new ways to cut off “conservative influencers” including cable news: “We have to turn down the capability of these Conservative influencers to reach these huge audiences… There are people on YouTube for example that have a larger audience than daytime CNN.”

For free speech advocates, the use of such community-based systems is a familiar method of speech curtailment and controls. Popular speech does not need protection.  The key to free speech is the protection of speech that a community or the majority does not favor.

Notably, when Dorsey appeared before the Senate to apologize for the blackout on the Hunter Biden scandal before the election as a mistake, Democratic senators demanded more censorship.  Dorsey agreed that “misleading information, as you are aware, is a large problem. It’s hard to define it completely and cohesively.” Instead of then raising concerns over censoring views and comments on the basis for such an amorphous category, Senator Chris Coons pressed him to expand the categories of censored material to prevent people from sharing any views that he considers “climate denialism.”

One of the loudest voices for censorship has been Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal who seemed to take the opposite meaning from Twitter admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said that he was “concerned that both of your companies are, in fact, backsliding or retrenching, that you are failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.” Accordingly, he demanded an answer to this question:

“Will you commit to the same kind of robust content modification playbook in this coming election, including fact checking, labeling, reducing the spread of misinformation, and other steps, even for politicians in the runoff elections ahead?”

“Robust content modification” has a certain Orwellian feel to it. It is not content modification. It is censorship. If the Democratic party is going crackdown on free speech, it should admit to being the party of censorship and join those who have insisted “China is right.”

I am an unabashed Internet originalist. I have long opposed the calls for censorship under the pretense of creating “an honest Internet.”  We have 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. I have previously discussed this aspect of speech controls as 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.

That is why these seemingly harmless Birdwatchers are a concern for some of us. They are being added as a community component to an expanding system of Internet censorship. As they watch their neighbors and Twitter watches them, free speech will further decline on the Internet.

162 thoughts on “Twitter Summons “The Birdwatchers” In Expanding Campaign Against “Misinformation””

  1. Trump once praised Twitter as a “free newspaper”, in which he could say whatever he wanted without pushback or irritating questions, like he got from those pesky news conferences that he rarely engaged in. Remember when he personally attacked Peter Alexander, Alex Acosta and Yamiche Alcindor because his tender ego couldn’t handle their questions? Twitter is a private company, and as such, has the right to set rules about content that can be published on its platform. No one can seriously dispute this right. Trump used Twitter to spread lies, attack people he didn’t like, and ultimately, to stir his disciples into engaging in an insurrection to prevent legally-cast votes from being certified. Trump still has disciples who believe whatever lies he tells, and then there are people like Hawley and Cruz who are trying to tap into the irrational gullibility of Trump disciples to further their own political careers. Twitter has not only the right, but the responsibility to identify and flag lies, conspiracy theories and other harmful content. There is simply no right to use a private platform to spread lies, conspiracy theories, or organize insurrection and engaging the community in identifying such content is responsible and appropriate. This is not censorship, either. When you sign up to use the platform, you agree to terms and conditions of usage. If you fail to comply, your content can be removed, and you can be denied further access.

  2. Joe Biden, after signing executive orders on racial equity, mumbles and squints at the teleprompter, all a big lie.

    YouTube Commenters scorch him

    Biden’s Presidency and election = big lie

    1. Odd Job Entertainment
      25 minutes ago
      Alternative title: “Biden’s remarks after signing EO on racial equity with no reference to the actual content of the EO because as a ‘credible source’ we are not obligated to accurately title anything or provide useful information or links to it”
      256

      E Duncan
      13 minutes ago
      “Poor kids are just as bright as white kids” Joe Biden…(08-2019)
      167

      Bart DeRoxtra
      19 minutes ago
      “If you don’t know if you’re voting for me, you ain’t black..”
      -Joe Biden
      167

      Blueberry Zzz
      27 minutes ago
      “Don’t want my kids growing up in a racial jungle”
      298

      David Williams
      40 minutes ago
      If you set playback speed at 1.25 it sounds much more coherent.
      96

  3. ” stupid twit” is an expression in England for a dumb or stupid person. The single word “twit” is enough.

  4. NB, Joe Friday has a couple dozen comments up defending the latest inanity from the social media purveyors. Is he paid by the word?

  5. When it all started…the lie

    Today in 1998, President Bill Clinton forcefully denied having an affair with a former White House intern, telling reporters, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

  6. I see . . . Recruiting ‘ others ‘ to become surrogate censors, Twitter hopes to escape direct criticism for their censorship? Hhmmm . . . What criteria will be applied to the selection of the ‘ surrogate censors ‘ ??

  7. I’ve never been on Twitter, I’ve A Facebook account but never used it and haven’t been able to unsubscribe. However you mean if I correctly rename the (“China Virus”, ” Wuhan Virus”,”Covid 19 Virus” ) Virus and name it after the person who provided funding and research direction to the friendly Chinese. The Dr. FAUCI VIRUS I would be censored and Facebook and Twitter would excise me from their private world of deceit.

    1. Dear John: you do not have the authority to name viruses, so your entire theory is wrong. Scientists name viruses based on the type of virus and year, which is why COVID has the name it does. If anything, if this virus could have a popular name, it should be called the “Trump virus” because he did everything he could think of to spread it in America, beginning with lying to the American people about the risks and severity, as he admitted to Bob Woodward. Then he lied about testing, lied about hydroxychloroquine, lied about when vaccines would be available, lied about his “contribution” to vaccine development, lied about the amount that would be available….lied…lied…lied. And, you’re complaining about a “world of deceit”?

      1. Deborah Birx enabled Donald Trump — and should have resigned — but she did give us this, in her recent interviews:

        ‘“Outside advisers, coming to inside advisers,” Birx replied. “And to this day, I mean, until the day I left, I am convinced there were parallel data streams because I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made.”

        ‘There’s no real question that this occurred. In fact, it was a feature of his presidency from the outset. One of the changes implemented soon after John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff in the summer of 2017 was to vet the information being presented to Trump in the Oval Office. No more random visitors slipping Trump nonsense from far-right websites to advance their own goals — or so Kelly hoped. By early last year, though, Kelly was long gone from the White House and, as Birx discovered, so was any effective system at limiting what was presented to Trump.’

        -Washington Post

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/25/birx-both-exemplifies-blames-how-cherry-picking-data-shaped-trump-presidency/

  8. Folks, misinformation is of negative value to society. We don’t allow it in commerce, in product safety, in medical devices, in pharmaceuticals, in sports, etc.

    Consider Wikipedia as a success model of peer moderation in the digital era. Most everyone depends on Wikipedia for trustable
    information. Deceitful misinformation doesn’t stand even 15 minutes. Also, Wikipedia does not host articles whose topic is opinion on
    ongoing controversies, or speculations about the future. This has contributed to its stability.

    I’m not sure peer-moderation will carry over to Twitter, since it is more freeform and less encyclopedic in its intent. I could be wrong, but surely something is to be learned from it as a model of success in the application of peer-moderation.

    1. If your requesting information of events prior to 1500 anno domini you get 40 to 60% accuracy. Wikipedia is as accurate as Pravda regarding anything in political history. Just an example is the comparison of the “Valire Phlame” unmasking of a twit living here in the USA and Carter Page a field agent who traveled personally into VLADIMIR PUTIN’s Russia in the service of his country

      1. Was going to say, as well. Wikipedia is not the organization to hold up as a paragon of accuracy. In fact, many students’ reliance on it is precisely why their work is full of said inaccuracies.

    2. pbinca,

      I wholeheartedly disagree. Consumers of information must decide if it is misinformation on a personal level, and not society or even government. There is great danger in allowing any group or individual to be the arbiter of what is good information and what is not, as there isn’t a single unbiased or completely objective human being on this planet.

      And Wikipedia is not some shining example of objectivity as you posit, as most public schools and universities do not allow anything from it to be used as a citation, simply because of its community-moderation format.

      Remember, free speech as defined by our Constitution includes speech that is offensive to others, as every word uttered from any mouth can be defined completely subjectively as “offensive” to the ear that hears it, and judges as such without evidence or trial.

      You seek a very slippery slope here, a stance that you should carefully reconsider.

      1. Dave0, so pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to claim a medication created for blood pressure can be marketed as a drug to cure cancer? People should decide for themselves if that’s true or not?

        1. You are talking about marketing a PRODUCT not an IDEA or POINT OF VIEW! Not even close. Only weak minded morons are afraid of free speech. I this age it takes about a minute research something that you think is questionable. Do your homework and decide. Don’t be such a pu**y that you want those who don’t share your point of view to be censored.

        2. Svelaz,

          You’re comparing apples to cinderblocks here. Said pharma co. would be legally on the hook for said disinfo WRT their product.

          In the realm of ideas, there is no product per se, and if you decide to act on any disinfo, that’s on you.

          Simple logic is all that’s required here.

  9. There’s a way to handle Twitter – GET OFF OF :IT! Get off of Facebook too. Let left-wingers “tweet” to each other. They’re nothing but twittering little birds anyway. The same with Facebook. DUMP THEM!!

    1. I never joined Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Never trusted them or any government agency that might censor or monitor my conversations. I sure made the right decision. I recently joined Parler, MeWi, and use DuckDuckGo for my search engine. Additionally, I used Amazon smile 😀 to assist St. Jude hospital. When Amazon cut off Parlar, I cut off Amazon. Sorry St. Jude, I’ll still send you my annual donation. Live Free Patriots! 😃👍🇺🇸

    2. That’s good advice, but I don’t think the self-important cranks here want to hear it. They have the entitlement attitude that their inane thoughts MUST be broadcasted across the globe and any minor impediment to that is an assault on their snowflake existence. Terminally dependent on Twitter and Facebook for communication and crying about monopolies, they are less tech-savvy than the average Johnny Jihad!

      Imagine being so distraught at the thought of MAYBE being fact checked, you suddenly abandon all conservative principles and advocate the government seizing and “breaking up” a popular but utterly non-essential business. All over some hurt feelings. Sad.

      1. Brad = guilty of projection. Everything he says applies to the snowflake keyboard leftists who occupy the Twitter/FB/LI space. Conservatives are not trying to silence anyone–only the leftist snowflakes.

        1. If you’re not going to actually address anything I wrote, what is the point of responding to me? You must have a compulsion to lash out at these “leftists” any time you are triggered. It makes me wonder what other compulsive behaviors you exhibit. Sad.

          1. Liberal Woman Posts Selfie Video of Hysterical Meltdown Over Death of Justice Ginsburg (“Ruth! You Just Had to Make it to 2021!”)

            A liberal woman posted a video of herself have a hysterical meltdown over the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday night. The woman is driving a car, swearing, screaming and shaking the steering wheel, ending in hysterical

            “Holy f***ing s***, you guys! I’m driving your car but I just got a notification that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died!”

            “F***!”

            “Could this year get any f***ing wooooooorse!”

            “Ruth! You just had to make it to twenty-twenty-one!”

            “Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!!!!”

            A copy of her TikTok video was posted to Twitter:

            Another “sane” reaction to RBG’s death 😂 pic.twitter.com/GGt3fq6Mx8

            — Amy (@MaybeAmes) September 19, 2020

  10. The new voting experience under the proposed H1 federal legislation:

    “What do you mean, I’ve already voted? I just got here!”
    “I’m sorry, sir, but our records indicate you voted early by drop box.”
    “Somebody stole my vote! Can I vote now and cancel that early vote?”
    “Do you have a photo ID, sir?”
    “Yes, I have my driver’s license.”
    “I’m sorry, sir, only racists and insurrectionists have photo ID’s. I’ll have to refer your case to the FBI.”

  11. Under the First Amendment, neither Congress nor the FCC has the authority to censor legal First Amendment activity. Congress and the FCC does have the authority to EXPAND legal First Amendment activity. In recent decades America had a “Fairness Doctrine” and “Equal Time” incentive (not a legal mandate).

    Not that long ago, we only had about 4 news channels (NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS) and right-wing radio was essentially “Paul Harvey” who never incited violent means. Even the most violent prone American was receiving a real “Fair & Balanced” news coverage, unlike today’s news coverage.

    During McCarthyism we had right-wing demagogues like newspaper reporter Jack O’Brien (opposed by Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower) but also had Edward R. Murrow that did practice the Fairness Doctrine. In the 1950’s Conservatives were not participating in fair news coverage.

    Congress and the FCC can EXPAND legal First Amendment activity by maximizing the number of viewpoints on networks like Fox and right-wing talk radio.

    1. This is not to suggest I support your idea, but how about Congress and the FCC maximizing the number of viewpoints on CNN and MSNBC as well?

    2. Ashcroft, so who is going to be on the Fairness Doctrine Commission, counting the stories on the media and telling us that one side or the other is breaking the rules. Since you only mention Fox News and right wing radio I will have to assume your disqualification to be on the fairness panel. Oh look everyone it has fairness in the title. Being a person of fairness you must fairly point out how fair it would be to fairly monitor the content of Fox News and right wing radio. Ashcroft must have lost his remote under the couch again so he can’t choose CNN or MSNBC. we can hear him hollering now, WHO THE HELL IN THIS HOUSEHOLD PUT THE TV ON FOX NEWS. No super for little Johnny.

      1. Predictably, Republicans – who killed the Fairness Doctrine for public airwaves during Reagan – don’t like the idea, but yet scream bloody murder when it is not practiced on the internet, which of course is not limited like our airways. Talk radio is overwhelmingly right wing, coast to coast, and programming is controlled by large private conglomerates.

        1. Joe, are you suggesting that those conglomerates are deplatforming leftwing hosts? Al Franken had a radio show for years and quit radio so he could get deplatformed in the Senate by #MeToo.

  12. Private entities can restrict speech as a condition of membership, but one can choose not to join such entities.

    When a monopoly restricts trade or speech, it necessarily affects nonmembers. In that instance, the government regulates to protect the public interest, or the courts break up the monopoly. To break up monopolies, court action is often preferred to market action because monopolies create market barriers to restrict competition.

    Twitter has restricted competition (Parler) and restricted speech (Trump).

    Regulation of Twitter is a bad idea, because Democrats want to restrict speech, too.

    The only FREE SPEECH solution left is for the courts to BREAK UP TWITTER.

    1. Diogenes, Twitter is not a monopoly. There are multiple platforms one can choose from besides Twitter. The only reason why Twitter seems like a monopoly is because it is the most popular platform. Outfits like Parler are perfect capable of launching their own platform or network.

      The craziest part is nobody is entitled to a platform just because they are a certain group. One can PURSUE to create a platform, but one is not entitled to have platform carry your speech.

      That’s the beauty of the Internet. You can avoid all that censoring by creating your own platform and dedicated network to carry it. Plus there’s always the “dark web”.

      1. I believe that Twitter dominates the instant-broadcast-messaging market such that Twitter is practically a monopoly. I also believe the courts would view what happened to Parley as restraint of trade.

        Courts might agree with you. They might not. It’s a reasonable question.

        1. Diogenes, the illusion that it is a monopoly because it’s the most popular one is certainly not going to pass the monopoly test in court.

          “ I also believe the courts would view what happened to Parley as restraint of trade.”

          No, that would be viewed as a business decision. Parler is not a for profit entity and neither is Twitter. Parler signed a contract with Amazon and Google for the right to put their app on their websites. If they violated the terms, getting kicked out is strictly a business decision.

          1. Svelz you are no expert on antitrust or any area of law. Don’t be so sure of it.

            And Jack Dorsey is not paying you to row his boat. He has plenty of real expert hirelings to do it for him.
            He’s a billionaire and doesn’t need you sucking up so hard and shamelessly. Quit slobbering on his boots

            Sal Sar

            1. Anonymous (saloth sar), antitrust laws would be very difficult to apply since Twitter and Facebook are not monopolies in the legal sense. To seek to impose some sort of punishment because they made business decisions would actually run afoul of THEIR free speech rights. This would be the GOVERNMENT punishing them for running their business as they see fit. THAT is actually a violation of their first amendment right.

              1. Answer is simple. Get rid of their 230 protection. They violated their initial premise to receive it long ago.

              1. As for you, Joe Friday, I remember you decrying how you’re just an honest farmer and you have friends and relatives who are conservative and you don’t deserve to be mistreated, blah blah blah, and then you get on here and argue ad nauseum the Democrat Party line.

                You made a line of argument against me yesterday about Chinese racism, and if the subject was South African apartheid, you would have made the exact opposite argument,

                AND YOU KNOW IT.

                I’m really angry with you for being blatantly insincere just to score points for the Democrats.

                1. Diogenes, I was a farmer and am no more. I have thankfully lived in several very varied and positive situations in America, including big cities, and rural areas of the south and New England. I am now a builder and have been for 40+ years. I do work with some who are openly Trumpers and probably more who are but not openly, and like them very much, other than the fact they have their head up their a.s on who should run the country. Like most people who work, politics isn’t a popular topic.

                  I am a centrist Democrat and have been for a long time. That means I have voted for the winner of the popular vote in all but one of the last 8 elections (Kerry in 2004) and also voted in the primary for the winner. Hard to argue therefore, that I am not the most centrist and representative voice of American voters on this board, but I have principles you may not like.

                  As to yesterday and China, I wasn’t debating racism in China, you were. I was debating American trade with China and the failure of Trump in this regard, even though his followers like to pretend he was tough and effective with them. We ended with your support for not trading with China and I left the stage, not really that interested in that direction, nor thinking it possible in our world – a view point not fully fleshed out and not stated. South Africa? Let’s try it again some time.

                  1. You are not a centrist Democrat. You always argue against the conservatives on this comment board. I have never seen you dispute Svelaz or Natacha, etc. C’mon, man!

                  2. And don’t give me a couple of lame instances and tell me the exception proves the rule. I could play that game, too, but I would never bill myself as a “centrist” anything. I’m conservative and not afraid to take the same acid baths everybody else gets on this comment board.

                    BTW, since when would being a “centrist” make your arguments in any sense superior or above reproach?

                    1. Diogenes, how can I be more centrist than voting with most Americans in 7 of the last 8 elections?

                      I didn’t say being centrist was superior by definition, but that’s who I am. You don;t have to like me or my positions but a fact is a fact.

                    2. Joe takes credit for things he has nothing to do with. In fact he even takes credit for lies. How can one prove what he did or didn’t do. That environment leads to him saying whatever he wants. The environment of fact leaves Joe at a loss constantly saying things proven untrue in the following months. Has he taken credit for all those failures? No. He is not an honorable person.

                    3. Because that means you voted Democrat in all those elections. A lot of people always vote Democrat. Some are centrists. Some definitely are not.

                      If you always argue against conservatives, you’re not a centrist anything.

                    4. Diogenes, I never said I was a centrist, I said I was a centrist Democrat, and that’s a fact. Guess what? I voted for the popular candidate in every election but one since 1992. Voted for them in the primary too.

                      What are you arguing about?

                    5. I would be mistaken about that. You voted for Bush Sr. in 1988. That means you have never voted Republican in the last 28 years. Voting for Bush 32 years ago doesn’t qualify you as a centrist.

              2. Good old joe Friday. He’s got those deeply thought out arguments right at his fingertips. His contributions make the debate so much more enlightening. We owe it all to you Joe.

                1. Well Think, you could ignore me and go back to howling at the moon while giving each other backrubs.

        2. Nobody does press releases anymore. Remember them? They put it on twitter.

          Twitter is a behemoth of PR and advertising “earned ink.” We all know this if we have ever bought advertising or tried to earn consumer attention.

          it is very monopolistic, even more so than google. With which it colludes closely, anyways

          Sal Sar

      2. Svelaz, you make it sound so easy to start your own platform. To start your own platform you need “server power”. Parler was denied the use of “server power” by Amazon. If Parler had the financial ability to have the servers to continue its platform they would still be operating. What your suggesting is that only the Silicon Valley billionaire oligarchs should have control of what we see and read. With a wave of your hand you tell us to just set up our own platform. Why not just say “Let them eat cake”.

    2. Add a lot of other liabilities such as RICO, illegal campaign donations, restraint of trade, etc.

      The executives might also be held for lying to Congress.

  13. Ol’ Joe’s been in about a week and in that time he’s killed 70,000 jobs, unleashed all the criminal aliens in US storage, driven up the price of insulin, jacked up gas prices, lost energy independence and occupied the Capitol with troops he’s insulted because of a mythical threat. Taxes are next to rise and the economy is next to fall. He’s adopted Trump’s Covid protocols after swearing there were none and reinstituted the travel bans he said he’d quash. Oh, except to throw open the flood gates to Muslim terrorists. And now let the techno-robber barons fleece and intimidate the populace.

    Heck of job, Sleepy! You guys tired of senility driven policy yet?

    1. Someone’s been listening to Newsmax in his sleep.

      Love the bluster and bloviation. The falsehoods and the righteous indignation. Sit and sizzle big man.

      1. Naw I don’t take talking points. By the way, my side is growing as the clown’s mask falls.

        “Twenty-four percent (24%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending January 21, 2021.”

        ~ Rasmussen

        1. The fall out of a failed administration is always tough to take, Big Mess. Let’s look those polls in 6 months.

            1. 4 point loss on the heat of their righteous self indignation. Not bad for an orange guy with a rat pelt. Wonder if indictment gives him a little bump? Otherwise, onward to the fracturing of the republican party.

  14. A new regime takes power.

    It orders the military to occupy the national capital.

    The regime and its allies start a campaign to criminalize dissent and to purge the country of dissenters.

    It puts on trial the leader of the political opposition.

    What would you call such a regime?

    What would you predict for that country’s future?

  15. Community standards are not moral standards, simply whatever the majority decides is ‘correct’ behavior. So far as I know, a majority has never written a book on ethics, but majorities have lynched people and enforced their views on minorities not powerful enough to resist them.
    I first read John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty when I was in my twenties. I then devoured his other writings.
    The spurious argument that private companies have a right to control speech is a linguistic Trojan Horse which allows censorship into the polity as an assertion of property rights. The reality is that free speech is a societal and cultural value, and if a company censors some speech but not other speech, then its actions reveal its political and intellectual prejudices, not its corporate principles.
    If you do not endorse free speech for everyone, then you are not in favor of free speech for anyone except those who think like you. The problem with that attitude is obvious. If 50+1 percent censor the other 49 percent, that is neither free speech nor democracy. It is what Mill considered the ‘tyranny of the majority,’ an oppressive system similar to all other tyrannies.
    For those who have not read On Liberty, it’s a good introduction to the importance and the usefulness of free speech and tolerance. His On Representative Government isn’t bad either, nor On the Subjugation of Women and Utilitarianism.
    Why tolerate those who disagree with you? If for no other reasons than that they might have something valuable to say and you would want them to tolerate you if they were in the majority.
    Does nobody else find it bizarre that those who are so concerned about the rights of minorities insist that they have the right to silence minorities who do not agree with their majority?

    1. “Does nobody else find it bizarre that those who are so concerned about the rights of minorities insist that they have the right to silence minorities who do not agree with their majority?”

      Absolutely not. They don’t care about minorities. They care about power and use minorities to gain it.

      I am following the NYC school system where charter schools have increased the proficiency in math and English for populations that are mostly black and hispanic. The charter schools are graduating many multiples of proficient students then the public school system in comparable population groups that are almost identical and taught in the same buildings.

      Who wants to get rid of the charter schools that benefits the minorities? The left. I challenge any leftist to prove differently. They can’t so if I posted this on Twitter the Birdwatchers would censor fact and truth.

        1. Sounds like Anonymous the Stupid is talking without knowing what he is talking about. My opinion has nothing to do with Betsy DeVos. The charter schools in NYC preceded her term but you open your Stupid mouth anyhow.

          You also sound like a racist since you apparently don’t want black children to succeed. You want them to receive a worse education than is necessary. No politics should enter into the education of our children or God forbid they are improperly taught. You might be a bit smarter than some of those that never graduate but not by much because you lack the ability to think clearly or logically.

          Kipp had 20% below proficient and 79% above proficient
          Public school1 76% 24%
          public school 2 79% 20%

          All schools same grade, same building, almost the same demographics, lottery system.

          This is NYC data from a study on charter schools where a large number of schools were compared. the leftists wish to convert the ~80% success rate and make it ~80% failure rate. Nice going Anonymous the Stupid. (results vary better and worse. I picked the first one on the list where there were two public schools in the same building as an added check. Estimate a comparison of more than 1,500 different classes in the comparison.)

    2. An old guy, what is bizarre is that suddenly these people are a “minority”. These people are not a “minority” in any sense. Your false equivalency is just plain silly.

      What these people are experiencing is a dose of their own medicine and they really don’t like it. This “minority” is the same group of people who used their cultural majority to silence actual minorities. This “minority” is crying victimhood because their views are not accepted. Nobody says their views must be accepted or tolerated. That’s an individual choice.

      The fact that they are seeing real resistance to their viewpoints is not tyranny in any form. This whole crying victimhood mentality is due to their inability to accept responsibility for the consequences that their views bring. That’s what free speech involves. Not only the ability to express your opinions, but to recognize that there are consequences to doing so too. Responsibility for what your speech does is just as important as expressing it.

      1. Svalez, PROVE your claim that the now-minority is the “same group of people who used their cultural majority to silence actual minorities.” What “cultural majority” have conservatives ever held? What nonsense–just like “systemic racism” as excuse for POC not succeeding when it’s lack of intact families (i.e., fathers) and good education that “silences” them more than “cultural-majority” boogiemen.

      2. Svelaz, you might want to read Mill.
        A minority is a minority, no matter its nature, and suppressing speech is suppressing speech, no matter how ‘noble’ the motive.
        As for consequences to expressing your opinions, that is the corollary to private companies have a right to do as they please, and majorities should never be questioned.
        I assume, given what you have written, that you would have voted to give Socrates hemlock?

  16. What I find amazing is how easily we accept the loss of free speech. Did we send our soldiers to fight and die for censorship?

  17. Why don’t we have free speech in a court of law? Courts censor speech. If you lie in court, you are likely to be found guilty of perjury. Why then can’t we punish people who lie in public like we punish them in a court of law? I’m not suggesting we imprison people for lying in public- just deplatform them or otherwise turn our back on them. Or should the public be a safe space for liars? Do we tolerate liars in our interpersonal relationships? No we don’t. But in public discourse, conservatives, the party of personal responsibility, the party who used to call liberals moral relativists, are now advocating that ANY speech goes without ANY repercussions. Lie as much as you like!

    1. Congress is a safe place for Liars and their offerings of false facts and are safeguarded by the very Rules of the House or Senate.

      Why do we tolerate the Members of Congress who cast such lies upon us….often times when the Witness in a Hearing is under Oath and subject to Perjury but not the Member of Congress interrogating them and who makes short speeches in lieu of asking relevant questions.

      Why do we tolerate that?

      We have a Media that spouts falsehoods all day long…day after day….and we tolerate that .

      We are inundated with lies.

      How does one decide who is the Liar?

      What shall be the deciding standard?

      What shall be the punishment?

      1. Expect the borders to open up. Increased immigration.
        Expect agencies like CBP and INS and Homeland Security to be muzzled or even deleted.
        Law enforcement will see continued defunding.
        Elimination of the electoral college will be attempted.
        History as we know it will be erased. Our children will no longer study the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, II, Korea, or Vietnam. These will be replaced with classes on “white privilege”, “how American racism stole lands from native Indians” and the “need for racial equity” because America is a terrible nation.
        The Supreme Court will be packed with liberal judges.
        Your 2nd Amendment will be attacked and there may be a gun confiscation or gun buyback programs enacted and you will find it difficult to own a weapon…and ammunition of any kind.
        If you have a manufacturing job or oil industry job, get ready to be unemployed.
        If you own and run a business, brace for the impact of higher taxes and more governmental regulations.
        Maybe you’ll be on the hook for slavery reparations, or have your suburbs turned into Section 8 housing.
        Your taxes are going to increase dramatically and businesses will pay more.
        We will be paying more for gasoline at the pump and we will soon find ourselves once again dependent on foreign oil.

        Expect the borders to open up. Increased immigration.
        Expect agencies like CBP and INS and Homeland Security to be muzzled or even deleted.
        Law enforcement will see continued defunding.
        Elimination of the electoral college will be attempted.
        History as we know it will be erased. Our children will no longer study the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, II, Korea, or Vietnam. These will be replaced with classes on “white privilege”, “how American racism stole lands from native Indians” and the “need for racial equity” because America is a terrible nation.
        The Supreme Court will be packed with liberal judges.
        Your 2nd Amendment will be attacked and there may be a gun confiscation or gun buyback programs enacted and you will find it difficult to own a weapon…and ammunition of any kind.
        If you have a manufacturing job or oil industry job, get ready to be unemployed.
        If you own and run a business, brace for the impact of higher taxes and more governmental regulations.
        Maybe you’ll be on the hook for slavery reparations, or have your suburbs turned into Section 8 housing.
        Your taxes are going to increase dramatically and businesses will pay more.
        We will be paying more for gasoline at the pump and we will soon find ourselves once again dependent on foreign oil.

        We did this to ourselves. We made our bed, now we have to sleep in it….until we get off our asses and remake it. Some of you have no idea what you’ve done. You know now. It is time to do something about it. Sadly, some of you do know what you have done. To them, I say…if you kick a dog long enough, pretty soon he’s gonna bite. I am tired of being kicked and insulted and disregarded as if I don’t matter. We do matter.

        We are Americans

        1. Dude, worse was predicted when Obama took office and somehow he left the country with a revived economy and in good shape for the next guy.

          On taxes, who do you propose should pay for the $8 trillion in debt we’ve rung up since 2016?

          1. The fact is your children and grandchildren will be paying those taxes and more to pay for the garbage the left wishes to spend. Your children and grandchildren will have to pay this despite the likelihood that the growth of the economy will be stifled by leftist ideas.

          2. dude if I move to another country and denounce my US citizenship which I can do…guess what YOU pay the taxes…I expect takes to be 90-95% of income…enjoy DUDE!

              1. actually I am just like Biden…I just decided to have dementia…amnesia…become a pedophile…a rapist…ask Tara Reid!…steal money…join a cartel and sell drugs plus kill folks who try and stop me…sounds like a plan right Joe…and the wonderful thing is I would be elected to the house or senate with over 70% of the vote…just lie and promise free crap to everyone…just like Biden…since I have a medical background I can fake the medical exam just like a Hollywood actor…oh and also inject my skin with melanin…WOW I’m a genius!!!

          3. Joe is right that the worst fears at the outset of Obama’s presidential term did not come to pass. Certainly I hope the fears about Joe will not come to pass either.

            Of course most change is incremental

            And of course we do not all share the same concerns.

            As to the second remark, we do have a big debt. I suspect that nobody in power actually plans to ever pay it back. If interest rates rise fast enough, it will be insolvency and game over. Sovereign default.

            However, if the Dems want to keep the racket going, they can easily tap into a huge pool of untaxed commerce.

            I propose an aggressive Silicon Valley transactional tax of some sort. France has something like that already. Call it a digital services tax.

            https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-digital-tax-detente-ends-as-u-s-and-france-exchange-blows-11609333200#:~:text=France%2C%20for%20its%20part%2C%20says,2020%2C%20the%20French%20official%20said.

            Andrew Yang suggested something like that too, early on, before they coopted him in the primary and ran him off track from expressing his good ideas

            Sal Sar

      2. All good questions Ralph but if in response to Jeffery, I think he was offering a “modest proposal” , not an actual course of action.We don’t prosecute or punish liars unless there are provable damages or lies were knowingly stated under oath.

        As to “Media”, I think you mean “media”. Is Alex Jones a member?

    2. +10 and excellent point.

      The GOP has become the party of alternative facts and 2 sides to every universe.

    3. First off why don’t you go and see how often witnesses are even charged with perjury. I’ll save you the time, it’s not often, since the criminal standard (beyond a reasonable doubt) applies. Just like life (although less and less in real life these days), in a trial, both side make their case and then people (the jury or a judge) makes up its mind. Egregious and obvious lies kept out (most of the time) with the threat of perjury, different shades of truth that one side may see as a lie are permitted.

      Second, as a witness in court, you are under oath. This is not the case in an online platform.

      Lastly, if reality TV is to be believed (good lord what have I come too), people seem to have no problem tolerating lairs. Politicians (of all stripes) are a better and more cogent example. People seem to have had no problem with their lies (“I never had sex with that women”, “WMD’s in Iraq”, “If you like your doctor, you can keep you doctor”) for decades, no matter what we reelect them and even lionize them.

      1. People do accept that politicians are liars. And they always have. The question is does this or that liar ply his skills in our interests or not. This is my humble view of voters.

        Sal Sar

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