I guess we have to have this talk again.
I’ll try to keep it brief, but you know, I’m not the sort of person who does that very easily.
Here’s the argument: free speech is a core principle of the right. The right cannot use censorship even if the left is making extensive use of it. Free speech is one of the most central ways you can tell which faction is talking at any given time.
Why do I bring it up? Because the right, now in power and with a demonstrable hold on social media at the moment, is now being tested for its consistency. Sadly, they are failing.
So, last night during the #JointAddress, as it’s coming to be known, Donald Trump singled out a recently-slain Navy Special Operator named Ryan Owens. In the crowd, surely by invitation, happened to be his widow. Carryn Owens, during the proceedings, began to weep and shot a glance upward as the entire room (most of the important political figures in the United States) gave her husband a standing ovation.
The nation was probably, if not pleased at this tribute to one of their fallen heroes, then at least unwilling to openly disapprove. Except for one person, a former Hillary Clinton volunteer, who wrote the following: “Sorry, Owen’s wife, you’re not helping your husband’s memory by standing there and clapping like an idiot. Trump just used you.”
From foxnews.com: “Grilo’s LinkedIn page says he works as a principal for the Chicago-based Liberty Advisor Group. But as of Wednesday morning, Grilo’s profile page on the site had been deleted, and the company later confirmed that an employee had sent what they called ‘an offensive and inappropriate tweet’ regarding the Gold Star family.”
In case you’re wondering why I used a mainstream media source instead of cautioning about that as is my norm, the honest truth is that I just Googled it and used the first source. They’re all absolutely identical, and you can get this information from nearly anywhere—it’s common knowledge.
Anyway, so this Clinton ex-volunteer goes and derides the widow of a dead Navy SEAL (who died on a raid in Yemen) and the crowd goes, as you can imagine, totally ballistic. From the same source, Grilo apparently turned on his account’s privacy setting, then deleted it entirely. The problem with that is that he was on the Internet in the first place, and so naturally someone got a screenshot of the questionable statement.
As a result, Mr. Grilo has apparently been fired from his job, as stated above.
That’s a serious problem for the right, and for everybody.
Listen, the whole idea behind the right is not to suppress ideas.
The governing idea behind a free market is that that market is pervasive. It extends from private to public, and from thought to speech to social media. It works by judging the value of a person’s ideas, and then rewarding or ignoring that person’s ideas as the market trends dictate.
It in no way demands the suppression or erasure of those ideas. Because without those ideas on the Internet or in the market, visibly ignored and visibly not accruing power, influence or other resources, newcomers with new ideas can’t know not to use those ideas so much—or, can’t know to innovate and change those ideas into another form by which they might begin to accrue aforementioned resources.
In other words, there are no signposts which tell you which trends are good trends, and so you will go in fear with every word you speak that the ground will suddenly swallow you up; you’ll wind up fired, ignored, and erased with absolutely no warning.
Therefore, everything can and must be allowed. You can’t apply standards arbitrarily, right? It’s right back to capricious mob rule if we can just decide to lynch people for what they say without there being adequate warning. The warning has to come in the form of ineffectiveness, not erasure. Because that’s the only time when newcomers are going to get the right “price signals” for their ideas—everything has to remain visible.
Granted, Mr. Grilo was not arrested—and will not be arrested—but his life, nonetheless, has been completely destroyed. He might well prefer prison, assuming he never finds a job again. At least you’re not paying taxes, get somewhere to sleep and three meals per day.
There was a similar example regarding one of President Trump’s grandsons earlier this year.
A Saturday Night Live writer remarked on Twitter that “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter” which wound up with her suspended indefinitely from SNL. This was done much in the same way that Grilo was fired from his position.
So there’s a few things about this that might’ve caught your attention.
The first is that while people on the right did react angrily to both cases, and there were some demands to have these people removed from their positions, there were also very well-known speakers on the right (Paul Joseph Watson and Milo Yiannopoulos, ironically before his own scalp was taken by the left) who called for both people to be left alone.
You will also note that despite these attacks on the personal freedoms of both the SNL writer and Mr. Grilo, there is no conclusive proof that the attacks were spurred by the right. It looks more like each organisation (both from the left) were the major player in censoring their own when it looked like their own had crossed some unknown boundary.
That’s obviously very hypocritical. The mainstream media and SNL in particular call President Trump “Hitler” at every opportunity, and somehow they don’t think that’s going to create the sort of rabid hatred that leads to comments like those emanating from this SNL writer and Mr. Grilo?
However, that isn’t the point. The point is that censorship has been used, and the right owes it to itself to protest these incidents as much as it might protest any incident wherein a conservative is fired for some incidence of their ubiquitous “racism.”
When the right stands for personal freedom, it doesn’t just stand for the personal freedoms of those who fall under its auspices and thus its defenses. It must advocate for everyone’s personal freedoms, regardless of how they use those freedoms, otherwise the movement is not only hypocritical, but invalid.
You can’t conflate this with people deciding not to buy a product from an artist because that artist represents views they don’t agree with. That isn’t what we’re talking about here, if only because nobody is actually stopping that artist from putting out whatever his chosen means of expression is: music or art or writing or video games or what-have-you.
Because you would then have to flip that around and somehow prove that only buying things from people who make products and represent ideas that you like is somehow also immoral. “Fairness,” again, has no purchase in the realm of personal preference, even if personal preference is educated by personal conviction.
People form communities by what they buy and what they listen to, and so abstaining from buying a particular person’s product is more a way of defining that community by what it isn’t. The most successful (usually the largest, but also sometimes merely composed of the most affluent people) communities breed, in turn, more success, until that community breaks down across generations or loses its message somewhere along the line.
Conservatives are the group which will most often “vote with their wallets” like this. Liberals usually protest that such assignations “aren’t fair,” but then criticise on the basis of fashion or association or gender or race—revelatory of a much deeper form of hypocrisy.
So it’s not censorship to not listen to someone. It’s censorship to stop them from talking. These are not the same thing, and that’s something that the left is often very blind to. You can’t force people to change their opinion, because all force has counter-force as a natural consequence. Instead, you have to persuade people to do things other than the way in which they are doing them.
The best way? Market incentive. Free market incentive. The moment you start suppressing voices, you no longer have a free market. Everybody begins to speak with inherent restrictions, and therefore their ideas become less pure—their choices break down, and enforced similarity begins to take root.
That is no longer a free market, and free markets are the right wing ideal. The left can do whatever it wants; pacification and equality through governmental force is its typical goal, and even they will deserve protection from the right.
Because if one person is so-chained, we all begin to wear those chains.