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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – Twitter wars edition

Schiff and Takano ostensibly are just asking questions and urging Musk to step up enforcement of Twitter’s ban on “hateful conduct.” But they are doing that in their official capacity as members of Congress, a job that gives them no authority to police speech or insist that anyone else do so. To the contrary, the First Amendment explicitly bars Congress from “abridging the freedom of speech.” By publicly pressuring Musk to censor “hate speech,” which is indisputably covered by the First Amendment, Schiff and Takano are trying to indirectly accomplish something that the Constitution forbids.

Because government officials have the power to make life difficult for social media companies through regulation, litigation, and legislation, their demands for “action” always carry an implicit threat. Schiff and Takano’s letter is an example of the “jawboning against speech” that Cato Institute policy analyst Will Duffield describes in a recent report. “Government officials can use informal pressure—bullying, threatening, and cajoling—to sway the decisions of private platforms and limit the publication of disfavored speech,” Duffield notes. “The use of this informal pressure, known as jawboning, is growing. Left unchecked, it threatens to become normalized as an extraconstitutional method of speech regulation.”

Jacob Sullum

16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – Twitter wars edition

  • Paul Marks

    Anyone who has been on Twitter over the last few years knows it is full of hate – hate from the left.

    It is the the left who produce the vast majority of hate filled comments on Titter – endless vicious lies directed at anyone who does not follow the leftist line, often expressed in the most obscene language. And Twitter, over the years, has done nothing about this.

    But the above is not what the Democrats, and their Corporate State allies, care about – what they want to ban (or “shadow ban”) is political dissent – it is political dissent (for example on the sexual mutilation of children, or “Net Zero”) that they regard as “hateful conduct”.

  • Observer

    Left unchecked indeed.

  • Mike-SMO

    “Hate” speech is the censored speech by the Left. U.S. law has prohibited speech defined to exclude specific and understandable verbal activity. “Hate” speech is something that you don’t like. Tough! Either ignore that speech, or if it really bugs you, come up with an effective reply. But you have no right to limit what I might say.

  • Paul Marks

    Mike-SMO – yes.

    Observer – yes, the left were unchecked (they could do what they liked). The censorship is nearly all all one way – every once in a Blue Moon Twitter, and the other Social Media corporations (for they operated in a pack) would censor someone on the left (to make a show of being “unbiased”), but the overwhelming bias of the Corporate State was against “the right”.

    There is a structual problem here – it is not just that the Corporations are run by “educated” (indoctrinated) to believe, or at least pretend to believe, in leftist doctrines, there is also how the corporations are funded (financed) they seem to unconcerned with customers (say pushing films that hardly anyone wants to see, or filling supermarket shelves with “Woke” books that most people do not want to buy – whilst blocking good films that are made, not allowing them in the cinemas, and keeping interesting books off the shelves) – because, at least in the short term, the money of corporations does not come from customers – which is why they are so quick to “pull their advertising” from “right wing” sites – no matter how many customers they leave out by doing that.

    The money of the corporations, at least in the short term, comes from the Central Banks and the Credit Bubble “financial industry” that the Central Banks support.

    That, fiat money and Credit Bubble finance, is the “economic base” of the political and cultural “superstructure” of “Woke”.

  • Ian Rons

    It’s not really true that private companies aren’t bound by the 1stA. As Justice Thomas wrote in Knight First Amendment:

    For example, although a “private entity is not ordinarily
    constrained by the First Amendment,” Halleck, 587 U. S.,
    at ___, ___ (slip op., at 6, 9), it is if the government coerces
    or induces it to take action the government itself would not
    be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful
    viewpoint. Ibid. Consider government threats. “People do
    not lightly disregard public officers’ thinly veiled threats to
    institute criminal proceedings against them if they do not
    come around.” Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U. S.
    58, 68 (1963). The government cannot accomplish through
    threats of adverse government action what the Constitution
    prohibits it from doing directly. See ibid.; Blum v. Yaretsky,
    457 U. S. 991, 1004–1005 (1982). Under this doctrine,
    plaintiffs might have colorable claims against a digital plat-
    form if it took adverse action against them in response to
    government threats.

  • “Hate” speech is something that you don’t like. Tough! Either ignore that speech, or if it really bugs you, come up with an effective reply.

    The problem here is two-fold though.

    Firstly, the hate speech that the left are throwing out is alienating large parts of the centre leading to the left being extreme left by sheer concentration of its poison, even narrow divergences of opinion (depending on the subject under discussion at the latest “Struggle Session”) lead to accusations of transphobia/TERFdom or being a racist/Nazi.

    Secondly, the left cannot “get a better argument”, because the arguments they have are largely dogmatic and not achieved through debate so much as political power struggles, personality clashes and the approval of the mob of other leftists. This is why their arguments are generally hypocritical, internally inconsistent and confused.

    What I don’t understand is why the centre-left aren’t more combative against the nonsense of the extreme left. I guess because they can’t take the abuse anymore or fear being cancelled for being labelled a TERF/Racist.

  • bobby b

    “This is why their arguments are generally hypocritical, internally inconsistent and confused.”

    And yet they keep winning with them.

  • And yet they keep winning with them.

    …but only so far as Jeremy Corbyn’s regime demonstrated.

    Sure, it can win the NEC and win local Labour party’s through entryist policies, it can even get someone like Jezza elected as party leader, but it cannot win the country, at least not yet, because to win at first-past-the-post you have to have at least 38% of the electorate prepared to come out and vote for you at election time and even that will barely get you past the winning post.

    To make significant change you need to win big like Clem Atley in 1945 and to a lesser extent Tony Bliar in 1997.

    Despite his complete absence of charisma or belief in anything (other than his belief he can win No. 10), Sir Keir Starmer understands that only by purging the party of extremists and moving policy back to the centre left can he have any chance of winning the 2024 election.

    Slowly and gradually he is doing that by being very selective about those MP’s who will get the nod in each constituency. Whether he can complete that task in time without being ousted is unclear.

    Thus far his only announced policy has been some constitutional bollocks which can easily be dumped, ignored or kicked down the road. No policies are good policies at the moment.

    But even “barely winning a majority” would be both a herculean effort and the only thing that matters to Sir Keir Starmer.

  • Privatizing tyranny is coercing private industry to do what the government is forbidden. It’s probably forbidden to industry, but if you pay the cop, you won’t get arrested.

  • Privatizing tyranny is coercing private industry to do what the government is forbidden. It’s probably forbidden to industry, but if you pay the cop, you won’t get arrested.

    Sure, but unconstitutional actions, even if enabled by “Color of Law” remain unconstitutional.

    Adding some proxy or Chinese Wall to avoid government from being directly challenged on unconstitutional actions does not change that fact.

    If Twatter was censoring people based upon the advice of agents of the Government then that is unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter that the Government itself was not directly involved.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    I hope this is not too sharp of a poke, but the point is relevant.


  • John

    On this subject I am normally a fan of Spiked but in their most recent podcast Joanna Williams claimed the Twitter tapes showed republicans had been trying equally hard to gain an advantage but failing because they didn’t have as many supporters in the organisation (I would guess by a ratio of around 50 to 1 if not worse). This utter nonsense was accepted without protest by her two male panelists.

    People, especially media lefties, will only ever see what they want to see.

  • GregWA

    bobby b at December 10, 2022 at 4:58 pm “And yet they keep winning with them.”

    But do they? The vote counters claim the D/Lefts win/won but does anyone besides the D/lefties believe them? Don’t get me wrong: maybe Biden won? The American electorate has been dumbed down to the point that Biden might actually have won. That’s scarier than the Dems cheating!

    And it’s not R vs D, left vs right politicians, it’s R/right against D/left, all of the media, all of academia, all of the cultural institutions. But in elections it’s that we’re up against all of the media. You might say that some reasonable media has now emerged, and there are places like Samizdata, but the swing voters don’t know about these sources of info.

    I suspect if we held the next election with truly open and fair news reporting, the R/right would win, but probably only by a bit. It takes time to change a generation. The election after that, the R/right would win with a bit more until we eventually got to where the country really is, with just a minority (10%? 20%? 5%?) supporting the extreme left wing bs. The choices would again be center-left and center-right.

  • Paul Marks

    Fan of Slackwire Clowns.

    Yes – that is the endgame.

    In the end, the Collectivists believe, it does not matter that what they do is illegal (such as Election Fraud), or unconstitutional (such as censorship – at the request of government agencies) – it does not matter because they control the security police, such as the FBI, and the armed forces.

    Yes the military as well – the military are being intensively indoctrinated, and military people who are loyal to the Bill of Rights are being forced out.

    The de facto alliance between the vast corporations (Big Business – supported by fiat money and Credit Bubble finance, the “economic base” of the “Woke” political and cultural “superstructure”) and the Frankfurt School Marxists (the “Critical Theory” “Woke” types) has a stranglehold now.

    Will economic collapse (which is coming) break this stranglehold, or will it make the stranglehold stronger than ever? Will it destroy the “Woke” (the vast Corporations and their Frankfurt School “educated” senior staff – who saturate the education system and, therefore, the government and corporate bureaucracy, the Corporate State), or will it give them the opportunity to exterminate what is left of freedom?

    I do not know – I just do not know.

  • Ben David

    Yes the Dems cheated. This is how – nothing fancy, just ward-heeling:


    Easy to identify and clean up: these guys simply compared election rolls to property and tax records.

  • Paul Marks

    Ben David – yes this is one tactic that the Dems use, there are others.

    And yes the “mainstream” Republicans (the Country Club set – who want to move towards ever more Progressive policies, a bit more slowly than the Democrats do).

    Even quite blatant Election Fraud, such as vast amounts of election equipment “going accidently wrong” on election day (leading to many Republicans going home in despair), is downplayed, or just denied, by establishment “conservative” publications such as the Wall Street Journal.

    Everyone one, including the dishonest Wall Street Journal Corporate Country Club types, knows, for example, that Kari Lake was cheated of the Governorship of Arizona – many people (including myself – from thousands of miles away, thanks to modern technology) actually watched it being done. But the Wall Street Journal (and the rest of these comfortable, wealthy, people) did not express any anger over what the Democrats, and the RINOs (oh yes – the RINOS were involved, up to their necks) had done – instead they expressed mockery and contempt for Kari Lake.

    Do these Country Club Corporatists deserve to survive? Or do they deserve what the left intend to do to them?

    I have no power – but I sometimes wonder if I would save them if I could, if I could save them just by raising a finger on my hand – would I save them?

    Or would I let them burn?

    They have nothing but contempt for people like me (people not getting lots of funny money), and they laugh and sneer at people who are cheated in election fraud (so much for their precious “democracy”) – so why should I care what happens to them?

    I suppose I am not a good enough Christian.

    The scriptures say “love your enemies” – and that, I suppose, includes “love your FALSE friends” – but I find it very hard.