Who knows what will come next?

I would like to discuss a previous thread by one of our anonymous posters who wrote “about the only thing of note that I haven’t mentioned is the hysterical meltdown of those on the libertarian side of things to just about any government reaction to the current crisis” and I stress the word “any”. Peter Hitchens is apparently “one of the very worst offenders”, someone whom I have quoted a couple of times, “an hysterical female-like counterpoint to his deceased brother”. He is apparently “dancing around with his hands in the air in mortal abject terror of any government imposed change to his daily routine whatsoever” (my bolding). You can read the whole thing for yourself here.

I cannot speak for Peter, but will speak for myself. And I am already all too aware how readily all too many are prepared to throw away their freedoms at the mere whiff of some socialist grapeshot. You want to hear the sound of hysterical, try this:

Our responsibilities at the moment are to sit tight and do our best to not add to the problem. Yes we are suffering some discomfort. Yes, we are also taking a financial hit. Yes, some people are taking a bigger hit than others, either due to their own unpreparedness or suffering the ill fortune of this being very bad timing. But what are governments supposed to do? Take everyone’s individual circumstances into account? Even if they could, which they cannot, exactly why should they?

Our great handicap is that so many of us are conditioned to looking to government to solve our problems. So that when a very big event such as this happens then our only recourse is to scream and shout that something must be done or must not be done as the case may be. But the situation is not normal and screaming at the sky is beyond useless. What we must do is batten down the hatches and rely on ourselves and family and communities first. We must find ways to get things done.

I never classify myself as a libertarian, but I do line myself up ideologically with F.A. Hayek who is, like myself, a classical liberal, a conservative using today’s mode of classification. On Hayek’s attitude to governments in a crisis, Steve Hayward went into that just this morning: HAYEK ON EMERGENCY POWERS OF GOVERNMENT. This is a direct quote from Hayek’s Law, Legislation and Liberty. The bolding this time is from Steve Hayward.

The basic principle of a free society, that the coercive powers of government are restricted to the enforcement of universal rules of just conduct, and cannot be used for the achievement of particular purposes, though essential to the normal working of such a society, may yet have to be temporarily suspended when the long-run preservation of that order is itself threatened. Though normally the individuals need be concerned only with their own concrete aims, and in pursuing them will best serve the common welfare, there may temporarily arise circumstances when the preservation of the over-all order becomes the overruling common purpose, and when in consequence the spontaneous order, on a local or national scale, must for a time be converted into an organization. When an external enemy threatens, when rebellion or lawless violence has broken out, or a natural catastrophe requires quick action by whatever means can be secured, powers of compulsory organization, which normally nobody possesses, must be granted to somebody. Like an animal in flight from mortal danger society may in such situations have to suspend temporarily even vital functions on which in the long run its existence depends if it is to escape destruction.

The conditions under which such emergency powers may be granted without creating the danger that they will be retained when the absolute necessity has passed are among the most difficult and important points a constitution must decide on. ‘Emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded – and once they are suspended it is not difficult for anyone who has assumed such emergency powers to see to it that the emergency will persist. Indeed if all needs felt by important groups that can be satisfied only by the exercise of dictatorial powers constitute an emergency, every situation is an emergency situation. It has been contended with some plausibility that whoever has the power to proclaim an emergency and on this ground to suspend any part of the constitution is the true sovereign. This would seem to be true enough if any person or body were able to arrogate to itself such emergency powers by declaring a state of emergency.

Speaking for myself, I feel in many ways I am already living in a police state. Very benign for the moment, but they are only just starting to get used to the idea of using the police to take away our historic rights. What has amazed me more than anything in this latest episode is how few people actually seem aware of how much is at stake. There are a handful of deaths from the coronavirus but we are not in the middle of the Black Death. What we may well be in the middle of is the death of our personal freedoms. There are plenty around who would like to take them from us already and who they are ought to be visible to us all since they never stop threatening us for going out to take a walk in the park. Once you are used to that, who knows what will come next?

It must be made illegal on “social media” to deny service to people who say things that are not illegal to say

I have been meaning to get into this for a while because I keep hearing the same mantra that since these social media platforms are privately owned they can do as they like. Well speaking for myself, I don’t think that at all. People don’t sign up for Facebook or Twitter, or open a blog post on some commercial website, building up their own profile based on knowing the political ideology of the people who set the platform up. They are therefore in danger of having quite a bit of the value they have created stolen from them because of some political preference harboured by the people who run the platform. Once these forms of social communication are established and individuals are asked to join and build their own online presence on these platforms, the law must do as I say in the title, it must make it illegal to suspend or deny service to people because they say things the proprietors of such platforms disagree with but which are not in themselves illegal to say.

So let me choose a couple of recent examples of how things are working out. The Rebel is a Canadian online broadcasting website that entirely devotes its resources to defending conservative positions in the media. Quite large in Canada, and now with a presence in Australia, but hardly at the level of the government-funded CBC. But this was in the news just this week: The Rebel disrupted as it loses its domain provider. The story is from The National Post:

The ultra-conservative online Canadian media outlet The Rebel reportedly went dark in some parts of the world Monday after a technology company stopped directing traffic to its site.

Rebel proprietor Ezra Levant told Reuters he was given 24 hours notice of — but no explanation for — the move.

“If this was a political censorship decision, it is terrifying — like a phone company telling you it is cancelling your phone number on 24 hours notice because it doesn’t like your conversations,” Levant told Reuters. He did not identify the company.

It is terrifying, and if and when they come back online, you may be sure they will be more circumspect thereafter. The voices on our side are being thinned down while those on the other are amplified at every turn.

Then there’s Facebook. People go onto Facebook to keep up with family and friends, and some of those people think and say things that your standard issue modern lefty doesn’t like to hear said. Things that are perfectly legal and legitimate to say, but which many of those on the left do not approve of. Here is the principle that needs to apply: If you can say it on a published printed page you must be able to say it on Facebook, and if others don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. Meanwhile Zuckerberg is angling to run for president in 2020 as a Democrat.

This is from Facebook’s Community Standard on Hate Speech:

Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their:

national origin,
religious affiliation,
sexual orientation,
sex, gender or gender identity, or
serious disabilities or diseases.

Organisations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook. As with all of our standards, we rely on our community to report this content to us.

What is an “attack”? And who judges? Each and every time, the adjudicators are from a left, if not a far-left perspective. Two things should therefore happen. First, these tech providers must be open to being sued for suspending and forcibly closing accounts unless the company can prove in court that what was being said could not be legally said in public. Second, these are now part of modern social infrastructure in the same way as banks and hospitals. They must be compelled by law to accept and maintain on an equal basis anyone who wishes to participate in their services. This is not something the market can or will fix. There can be only one Facebook. It only works if everyone can join. If the proprietors of Facebook don’t want to work within the new rules, then they can sell up to someone else who does.

So let’s see how this sort of thing works at the moment. This is from Instapundit today. And note the author of the post self-describes himself in this way:

#Republican candidate for US Senate. Radical philosopher & social critic. Captain, lawyer, agitator, rebel. The most dangerous #Libertarian in America.

That is, a prime candidate to end up banned at Facebook. This is what did it.

Just got banned from for posting this to my campaign page. Not politically motivated at all …

Do you not see a problem that needs to be fixed? Then keep your head in the sand. I’m not sure it can be fixed, but to think the market will self-correct is just a form of self-delusion.

And then there was this: After Charlottesville, Even Dating Apps Are Cracking Down on Hate. From which:

The Silicon Valley companies that make money off social media and online services have started to enact strong measures against extremism, barring white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others who follow creeds they deem racist and hateful.

Facebook and Twitter have developed tools to allow users to report hate speech and harassment. PayPal has blocked hate groups from using its financial services, and the ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft have urged drivers to report unacceptable customers. Airbnb took steps to stop white nationalists from renting rooms through its app before their gathering in Charlottesville, Va.

Most remarkably, perhaps, the efforts have even spread to the free-wheeling world of dating apps, where users have for years been welcome to screen potential lovers based on everything from height to religious beliefs.

And to be more specific OkCupid Banned Me for Supporting Our President by Cassandra Fairbanks.

While on vacation in Florida, I was informed by other Twitter users that my OkCupid account — which is largely inactive — has been suspended. This was presumably due to my open support for President Donald Trump.

On the weekend following the disastrous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, I had been scheduled to speak at a rally in support of free speech in Boston. Despite many of the speakers being people of color, and the most exciting speaker of the day being Va Shiva from India who addressed the crowd while standing in front of signs that read “Black Lives Do Matter,” the rally was falsely labeled a “white supremacist” rally by the liberal media and the city’s joke of a mayor, Marty Walsh.

Threats and accusations immediately rolled in, from hundreds of people who just blindly follow whatever the mainstream media tells them — and suddenly I was branded a “Nazi” for daring to agree to speak at a rally supporting our most important right. It was exactly what Trump supporters had worried would happen following the “punch a Nazi” meme. All it takes to now be tarred as “literally Hitler,” no matter the color of your skin or actual political beliefs, is support for our president. . . .

I have reached out to OkCupid to confirm that my ban was due to supporting the president — as obviously they will be unable to provide a shred of evidence that I am racist or belong to a “hate group.” The company had not responded by press time.

She then adds at the end what I think is the biggest mistake we make: “I personally believe that companies have a right to deny service to anyone they want.”

Well I do not. Is it illegal to say what these people say? Then you just have to put up with the possibility that if you go on a dating site, you might end up paired with a Democrat. After the interview date you can work out whether you are compatible or not. This categorisation of others by people who are politically and morally clueless in every way is a serious problem and should not be permitted. If you open this kind of service, open to any and all, no discrimination should be permitted by law based on race, religion, creed etc etc or on one’s personal beliefs however repellent they may be to you or to the proprietors of these “social” media platforms.

The laws should be just like the laws that apply to renting out your house.