bending the first amendment past breaking
state sponsored extortion of media as policy and praxis
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
the first amendment is a simple, powerful thing. and the message is clear: “congress shall make no law.”
what is unfortunate in this structure is how the government has changed in a manner the framers did not anticipate. we have become a government not with a weak executive branch facing mostly outward but one with an exceedingly powerful one facing mostly in. we are, in our domestic lives, affected FAR less by congress than by the ever expanding alphabet soup of agencies that have grown like bureaucratic slime mold to cover nearly every aspect of every action and activity.
and this mesh of regulation and influence subverts the intent of the first amendment badly.
private companies should be free to make their own choices about speech, publication, amplification, etc. i really, truly believe this and that any other path or practice leads to greater mischief. it is always worse to have the state tell you what you can and cannot say and a free market will always route around the limitations created by individual actors within it. that’s what markets do. it’s as inevitable as sunrise.
but what breaks this and forces behavior into unified channels of suppression is state intervention to ensure that markets are not free and in a world as webbed by bureaucratic stricture as ours, this intervention need not be direct. it may easily be indirect and this starts to look like state sponsored extortion.
“nice FCC license you got there. be a shame if you lost it because you let our political opponents speak.”
“nice section 230/antitrust exemption and/or tax planning you got there. be a shame if someone did away with it, broke you up, and audited you till the cows come home.”
“boy, that sure was some nasty, anti-competitive market fixing you used against PARLER. but we’ll look the other way if you play ball.”
these are the predations of mobsters and the invitations into fascist and totalitarian style systems where no media entity that speaks against the party can ever feel safe. they are hectored and hounded, excluded and suppressed. meanwhile, those who “join the team” get advanced and advantaged.
this is de facto state sponsored media with subterfuge and cutouts.
and this deniability is rapidly coming unraveled.
the government is getting caught with its greasy fingers in media pie after media pie and it is getting set to do MUCH worse.
this has not been social media fact checkers choosing to push covid narratives. this has been state actors telling them what the narratives should be and whipping them into line. and it is WAY past blatant.
here’s a fun little missive from nick clegg, the president of global affairs at facebook parent co “meta” (and also, wait for it, a former UK deputy PM for the liberal democrats) to vivek murthy, the US surgeon general.
(gained by FOIA request)
it’s clearly both collaborative and suppressive.
it’s facebook, working in conjunction with multiple federal health officials to “remove the disinfo dozen” and shadowbanning people by making them “more difficult to find.” they are also getting out in front of “misinformation trends” to suppress them.
this is not independent action from meta.
this is specific, deliberate, and iterative cooperation to suppress speech at the behest of the government.
and this means our government is, if not breaking the law and violating the constitution, certainly flouting its intent.
and this is way past editorial discretion.
the state should not be the media and the media should not be the state. the separation of the fourth estate from government is vital to the survival of anything like an informed populace.
and make no mistake: this practice is widespread, touches everything, and reaches right up to and includes the highest levels of government.
it’s one sided and takes specific aim at specific people.
look what happened to berenson:
white house senior advisor for covid response andy slavitt called him out by name to be kicked off the platform. and twitter was clearly worried about pleasing him.
“mercifully, we had the answers” is not the statement of a peer, it’s the statement of a subordinate.
i wonder what other names these people were calling out? (and continue to call)
i got banned even earlier and alex and i showed up on a number of the same graphs like this linkage chart of “anti-maksers” from the hilarious MIT hit piece on us.
i do not know to this day why i was decatformed. they never said a word to me. i was never warned, never cautioned, and never suspended prior. just one and done, gone forever, no explanation given and no query responded to. what i do know is that they had been playing merry hell with me prior on shadowbanning. and i know that it started after one simple thing changed:
my completely non-objectionable model showing the US covid waves as a seasonal expression that varied by and was highly consistent within climate regions got re-tweeted by then president trump.
this data came straight from the CDC.
and my account was never the same.
it got downmodded, shadowbanned, and endlessly bot-mobbed.
i was a marked gato.
because that’s what they do. i didn’t elicit it. there was no cabal. to this day, i have no idea why trump re-tweeted that. certainly, no one asked me. first i heard of it was when i logged in and had like 30,000 notifications.
but now you’re on the enemies list. and that is that.
and that leads one place in the end:
how many top doctors, researchers, and political pundits have seen the same?
and that is worrying because the bluebird is at it again and we know that they are far from impartial and we we know that it’s all political. the democratic party tells them whom to attack and they do it. this is weaponized media. this is propaganda. and it’s coming for the election.
this is ominous, orwellian stuff.
see, now this is a bit hard to swallow from the folks who:
amplified hillary claims that trump colluded with russians and stole the 2016 election based on fake documents propagated by US federal agencies and candidates to influence and “undermine public confidence” in not just an election but an entire presidency lock, stock, and phony baloney impeachment show trial.
suppressed heavily discussion of meddling with the 2020 election calling it “dangerous insurrection” and “conspiracy theory” despite widespread evidence of serious shenanigans
and meddled in the election themselves by suppressing discussion of the infamous “hunter laptop” even going so far as to kick the new york post off their platform for reporting 100% accurate information about rampant corruption and influence peddling from the president’s son and the kickbacks to the big guy himself. twitter and other social media sites smeared it as disinformation. it wasn’t.
these are the people who are claiming to safeguard the coming election and they are bought, paid for, and partisan.
they plan to get ahead of narratives to shape and suppress them.
and the same people who pushed this and cancelled and throttled those who disagreed
are going to decide “what is reputable news from reputable sources.”
when even the sources themselves cannot keep their stories straight.
this is not about true or false.
it’s not about right or wrong or changing facts and science.
it’s about friends and enemies in the quest for power.
nothing more, nothing less.
this is one party seeking to create a one party state through one party media.
it’s message adulteration, speech suppression, and a flouting of the intent of the first amendment.
i’m honestly not sure if anything can fix this with the system as is.
how many new modalities will they come for, how many alternatives will be shuttered, suppressed, and cowed?
this was my first substack:
and i stand by it. there is no real, lasting defense against this apart from placing social media beyond the reach of government or even people. we must build open systems controlled by no one. we must wrest the power of our data and our attention from the curators of walled gardens and place it into the hands of the people. we must render the very idea of censorship anachronistic because if we do not, censorship is poised to render the idea of an open and honest public square extinct.
we cannot “legal” our way into this. that’s just adding more rules to a system whose chief defect is that it is too heavily controlled and controllable. it just digs us deeper into the same hole and prevents the emergence of that which can extract us.
we must take discourse for ourselves or they will take it from us.
and you are not going to like what that looks like.