As the token “radical Muslim” here at VT I have a certain license to express a point of view that is not 100% kosher certified by the editorial board. So I’m going to join the minority-of-one here, Robert David Steele, and say something nice about Donald Trump.
After mercilessly mocking and deriding Trump for almost four years, I am now shocked to find myself cheering for him. Well, not for him personally, but for two of his recent outrages: reopening houses of worship, and ordering an investigation (and hopefully a revocation) of the law granting social media companies immunity from lawsuits.
Trump is right: Houses of worship are essential, far more essential than liquor stores and abortion services, as every one of the Founding Fathers would surely agree if they could be with us today. What’s more, religious institutions ought to have vastly more power and autonomy than they currently enjoy. They should be a “check and balance” against the government, as they are in Iran. Check out the arguments expressed in my radio interviews:
A government, any government, ordering all houses of worship shut down, is an abomination. Better the other way around.
Trump is even more right about the big social media companies.
This is a very simple issue. Internet companies were granted immunity from content-based lawsuits for one reason and one reason only: They promised to be 100% neutral platforms, NOT publishers.
An example of a neutral platform is the phone system. The phone company isn’t responsible for what people say on the phone, since the phone is just a platform for everyone to exercise their right of free speech. The internet just a fancier telephone connecting everybody to everybody. The phone company, and the internet companies, MUST NOT DISCRIMINATE IN ANY WAY FOR OR AGAINST PEOPLE WHO SPEAK THROUGH THEIR TECHNOLOGIES/PLATFORMS. THE COMPANIES MUST BE 100% CONTENT NEUTRAL. EVERYONE HAS EXACTLY THE SAME RIGHT TO BE HEARD AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT VIOLATE THE LAW.
As soon as an internet company favors one speaker over another in any way, shape, or form, whether by promotion or censorship or rigging an algorithm, that company has become a publisher. From that moment on, that company is just as responsible for everything it publishes as every other publisher. So the next time some lunatic commits an atrocious crime and live-streams it on Facebook, Zuckerberg and the malefactor share responsibility for the crime, and Zuck gets sued and loses everything he has. (Good riddance!)
If Trump succeeds in redefining FB, Twitter, etc. as publishers, they will face thousands of lawsuits and go out of business immediately. They will then quickly be replaced by social media companies that offer content-neutral platforms, giving everyone exactly the same right of free speech and promoting all messages equally based on content-neutral algorithms. (That’s how the internet operated until about 2016, and it worked fine…the only people who didn’t like it were the Zionists, oligarchs, and 9/11 perps—not mutually exclusive categories—whose crimes were being exposed.)
It would be better to burn down the whole damn country than tolerate the current level of internet censorship. The only thing that makes this hideously flawed place tolerable is what is left — rather, what WAS left until 2016 — of freedom of expression. Going back to a content-neutral internet is not just a good idea; like establishing houses of worship as co-equals with the government, it is an idea and a project that would, if necessary, be worth fighting and dying for.
Update: Text of Trump’s announcement of executive order to fight online censorship
От: The White House <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: пт, 29 мая 2020 г. в 01:56
Subject: BREAKING: President Trump signs order to fight online censorship