Scared Yet? [Corrected]

Trump Twitter

I have taken quite a bit of flack on social media and elsewhere for my decision, a long and tortured time in the making, to vote for the re-election as President of a man whom I have always, for more than a decade, correctly identified as lacking most of the crucial abilities and characteristics that an American President must have. Primary among these is a commitment to ethical conduct. To these critics, President Trump’s irresponsible conduct in personally attempting to lead a public protest against the 2020 election—much as his political opponents mounted a protest against his election on 2016—proved the folly of my decision..

It did not. The President behaving as I always knew he was capable of behaving merely demonstrated why my decision was such a difficult one and so extended in the making. To the contrary, the conduct of those anti-democratic, totalitarian-tending foes of Trump and the basic American values of which he, in a sick twist of fate, stood as the most reliable and powerful guardian, has convinced me that my decision was the correct one. The Axis of Unethical Conduct has made it undeniable in recent weeks that it intends to abridge speech, stifle dissent, restrict civil rights and weaken Constitutional liberties to the extent it can get away with to cement one -party rule and ideological conformity with Leftist cant.

This is the result I began to fear in late October of 2016, when I decided that I could not in good conscience vote to give power to a party, the Democrats, that I no longer believed were committed to the core values of the United States of America, nor to the rule of law. This is the result I realized was inevitable if President Trump, as awful as he is, was defeated. I was correct. Like all iron-booted parties of totalitarian regimes, Democratic leaders are calling for the punishment of their political opponents. Their allies have begun unprecedented measures to prevent opposing views to be widely circulated, and not just views, but facts. The disgusting riot in the Capitol is being exploited to rush through restrictions on free speech and political discourse while emotion is ascendant and Republicans and conservatives are restrained and embarrassed. As one of Joe Biden’s soon-to-be henchmen famously said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” The Democrats aren’t, and are creating a far greater one.

I would expect principled Democrats and progressives to see how dangerous and un-American this strike against pluralism by their friends and idols is, but so far, I don’t see it. Maybe there are no principled Democrats and progressives. More likely, they have been cowed and intimidated into the lockstep compliance that today’s Left demands.

Here is the latest attack..

In a blog post titled “We need more than deplatforming,” Mozilla argued that Twitter’s decision to permanently ban Trump from its platform didn’t go far enough in weeding out “hate” on the internet, arguing, in a non-sequitur, that “white supremacy is about more than any one personality.” It continued,

“We need solutions that don’t start after untold damage has been done.Changing these dangerous dynamics requires more than just the temporary silencing or permanent removal of bad actors from social media platforms.”

Mozilla, the maker of the popular browser Firefox, called for “tools to amplify factual voices over disinformation.” It wants research to determine how social media may be damaging society and what can be done to “improve things.” Now there’s some ominous ambiguity for you. It called for better internet controls to “withstand” challenges, presumably like those created by non-conforming voices like President Trump’s.

The problem with such plans is that no one is qualified to rule on what is factual and what is not, or what needs to be communicated for the public to be fully informed. If the news media’s handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story proved anything, it proved that. Elsewhere, Mozilla stated that the unrest at the Capitol was the “culmination of a four-year disinformation campaign orchestrated by the President.” This is what Mozilla and its allies among the rapidly organizing censors call “factual.” In my informed opinion, the statement is false and demonstrably so,

Firefox is my browser and has been so for decades. I don’t trust Google Chrome, or indeed anything associated with Google, (and neither should you.) Nor is Microsoft trustworthy. As juvenile, unethical and self-evidently hypocritical Mozilla’s statement is, this is what American liberty is facing, and the challenge is existential.

62 thoughts on “Scared Yet? [Corrected]

  1. Hi. I am somewhat confused why you’re against Twitter banning users, but you’re okay banning users here. Twitter having a larger reach and being more important to discourse says nothing about why it’s okay for you to ban. When you said the “fact that someone’s act is more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct.”

    • what other choices do we have other than Microsoft, Google, Firefox/Mozilla? The only choice we would have is if President Trump opens a company in communications.

      • This story from Mozilla is deeply disturbing. Firefox is literally the only major browser NOT controlled by Google.

        Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, Opera, are all based on the same core code as Google Chrome. Mozilla is the one thing standing between Google and total monopoly on the browser market.

      • Indeed he did. Many of today’s communications platforms and providers are different animals than the industries for which most anti-trust law was created, and interact differently with their users. New methods need to be devised to counter their monopolistic tendencies. They (mostly) don’t try to control supply and price of physical product, they attempt to manipulate what the public is allowed to know, so as to control what they think, on a massive scale. They’re information monopolies; a single blog is not.

    • If you are somewhat confused, then you may be too dumb to comment here. I do not ban according to substance or political views. Here are what gets people banned (from the printed rules above):

      ….Repeating the same arguments over and over again while not acknowledging or rebutting counter arguments from others.

      …Relying on partisan talking points

      …Exhibiting racism or other bias

      …Insulting me, in particular by questioning my integrity, honesty, objectivity, intentions, motives, qualifications, or credentials. #6 above, “Mockery without substance,” also may risk banning if a) it is directed at me, b) a follow up request for a substantive explanation is ignored, c) you are not an established rock star here and have earned some latitude, and especially d) if your mockery consists in whole or in part of “Hahahahahahaha!” or the equivalent. I detest that. Call it a quirk.

      …Denying the assumptions of the blog, which are that there are ethical standards, that we all have an obligation to help define them, and that right and wrong is usually not situational and subjective.

      …Violating the Stupidity Rule, which holds that some people are just too ignorant or stupid to take part in the discussion here, and interfere with the orderly exchange of opinions and ideas.

      The latter is implicated by not understanding the difference between a platform, which is a means of communicating what a user chooses, and specif purpose blog, which has a limited topic area and specific objectives, which I enforce.

      Twitter is a platform, and its parallel is WordPress, MY hosts.

      Why you think “the fact that someone’s act is more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct” is relevant to this topic is beyond me. Unless you can explain your ridiculous claim that a platform with millions of users and one that is unique with no equivilnet competitors is no different from a blog read by at most 5,000 people a day, AND YOU CAN’T, I’d advise A. dropping the subject and B. getting better and smarter FAST. This was STRIKE ONE.

      • One of your rationalizations says that “someone’s act being more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct.”

        So Twitter sucking and being different from a blog doesn’t explain why it’s okay for you to ban speech, if the value of free speech is so important to you.

        • Strike five! You’re an idiot. You make everyone here dumber by just commenting on the blog.

          The rationalization, which you don’t comprehend, is about how the fact that someone else behaved as badly or worse than you did doesn’t make you an less unethical. I don’t see how you think that applies here, and it’s not worth the effort to puzzle it out. I think you are confused about the issue of standards. But the same standards do not apply to national platforms and single topic blogs, just like the same standards don’t apply to the New York Times and blogs.

          Do some studying in reasoning and critical thought, and try again when you think you’ve learned something. I hate to be harsh, but you’re not smart enough to participate here.

          I’m leaving up your first post on this issue, in which I explained why people get banned, and this one, leaving out the seven repetitious and uncomprehending comments in between. One day is a record, I think, for someone I let into the Comments section to prove they don’t belong. Congratulations!

  2. Brave is a good browser I use on occasion, developed by the guy who was pushed out of Mozilla for privately supporting the ban on same sex marriage in California. The only problem I’ve had with it is that it wouldn’t synch bookmarks between my phone and laptop, last I checked. If that’s not a deal breaker, I recommend it.

    As an alternative to Firefox/Chrome and supporting the cancelled, I might give it another go myself.

  3. When one tries to point out to the “woke” the many examples of hypocrisy woven into their outrage-of-the-day – always one-sided – they scream that their critics are using “whataboutism!”
    Whataboutism is a shield to hid behind, used by those who have no other answers to offer when caught being hypocritical.
    Like you, we condemned the violence tearing through the country for the last several years – just as we condemn the violence that occurred Wednesday at the Capitol. Wrong is wrong, regardless of who is doing it.
    And like you, we always thought Trump was the lesser of two evils – both in 2016 and now. We hated his buffoonish personality, but saw the wisdom of many of his proposed policies on economics, immigration control, deregulation, etc. We refused to buy into the left’s tendency to get their way “buy any means necessary” or applaud/excuse the mob when it chose to ransack, burn and loot because things didn’t go their way – often before all the facts were in.
    My better half was recently cancelled/fired after more than 20 years of being the most beloved teacher at a religious institution. His sin was not agreeing with the newly woke’s terminology on several issues, including his audacity to suggest that there is bias in the news media. “We want our students to become critical thinkers,” said the leadership, “…to be able to consider different points of view.” However, they continued, “Saying there is bias in the news media is a TERRIBLE idea to put into their heads.”
    Sigh…these kids will become the future college students who hide in their safe spaces while calling mommy on their I phones because they heard something that “offended” them and don’t know how to react.
    And our country will be worse off as we continue to lose the art of real debate.

    • Great post. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is tired of the dishonest cries of “whataboutism” any time any hypocrisy is pointed out. It’s basically a method to dodge valid criticism.

      • Here’s the issue for me. When I (used to) invoke a criticism of something, people would simply do the “whatabout” dance without addressing the issue I raised. Hey, I was/am willing to address anyone’s “whatabout” after they address my criticism FIRST, Sorry. Those are the Patrice Rules of Debate.

  4. At this point, the term principled Democrats and progressives is an oxymoron. Just look at the House where the rush to impeach Trump in his last 11 days in office is their primary agenda. This will bring peace and unity to America?

    • I believe that the rush to impeach has many things behind it but first and foremost, some people are afraid that the man who has the launch codes is a raving lunatic who might think that pushing some buttons might be fun.

      • Members of Congress are presumably smarter than that. No one person can trigger a nuclear war.

        Pelosi’s announcement that she’d talked about that possibility with the Pentagon is the most cynical piece of political theater I’ve seen since this shitshow started.

        • “Members of Congress are presumably smarter than that.”

          You’ve GOT to be kidding.

          And 45 still has a bunch of cronies around. Who knows what end-arounds they could/would do to enable a lunatic.

          Pelosi — just pandering to the Americans who are truly afraid of this possibility. Smells a little like yelling “fire!” in a crowded rotunda,

  5. Damned right I’m scared.

    In addition to the fact that Parler – never joined, never seen it, assume it’s a more open approach to Twitter has been nuked by Google and Apple aps and de-platformed by Amazon, I’m seeing a whole bunch of people I previously thought were smart thinkers in support of suppression of speech.

    And I see reports that the Dems are pressing forward with the impeachment idea – and that some Republicans could go along. Newsflash: the last time they ran an impeachment charade, everyone took their eyes off an incipient pandemic.

    We’re unlikely to add another pandemic to the mix, but there are no small number of foreign actors who would be delighted to take advantage of the fault lines rippling through the US. If we’re lucky, the worst thing that will happen is Kim Jong Il lobbing a missile or two into the Sea of Japan, or Iranian Revolutionary Guards harassing US Navy ships near the Strait of Hormuz.

    If we’re lucky.

    There’s also a good possibility that some chowderheads in the alt-right community will do something stupid before or during Biden’s inauguration. I’m frankly a lot less worried about that than the other stuff.

    The next few weeks are going to be an anxious time… Cuban Missile Crisis level anxious. After that? Nothing too serious… just the possible dissolution of the concept of the United States as a republic…

    • And I see reports that the Dems are pressing forward with the impeachment idea – and that some Republicans could go along. </blockquote?
      Jonathan Turley explains why this is a bad idea.

      These kinds of legal challenges have been made by Democrats in the past under the Electoral Count Act, and so Trump was pressing Republicans in Congress to join the effort on his behalf. He ended his remarks by saying a protest at the Capitol was meant to provide Republicans “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.” He told the crowd, “Let us walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.” Moreover, marches are common across the country to protest actions by the government.

      The legal standard for violent speech is found with Clarence Brandenburg versus Ohio. As a free speech advocate, I criticized that 1969 case and its dangerously vague standard. But even it would treat the remarks of Trump as protected under the First Amendment. With that case, the government is able to criminalize speech “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

      There was no call for lawless action by Trump. Instead, there was a call for a protest at the Capitol. Moreover, violence was not imminent, as the vast majority of the tens of thousands of protesters were not violent before the march, and most did not riot inside the Capitol. Like many violent protests in the last four years, criminal conduct was carried out by a smaller group of instigators. Capitol Police knew of the march but declined an offer from the National Guard since they did not view violence as likely.

      So Congress is now seeking an impeachment for remarks covered by the First Amendment. It would create precedent for the impeachment of any president blamed for violent acts of others after using reckless language. What is worse are those few cases that would support this type of action. The most obvious is the 1918 prosecution of socialist Eugene Debs, who spoke against the draft in World War One and led figures like Woodrow Wilson to declare him a “traitor to his country.” Debs was arrested and charged with sedition, a new favorite term for Democrats to denounce Trump and Republicans who doubted the victory of Joe Biden.

  6. I just got up at 5:30 on a Sunday morning to moderate the comments on this post, because I was certain “Once Upon,” who was first warned to stop making the same moronic claim that Twitter and Ethics Alarms were equivalent internet speech forums, then banned for continuing to do so under the published Ethics Alarms “Stupidity Rule” (which Twitter cannot have, as it would wipe out about 70% of its users), would still defy the rules and continue to post comments after I told him he could not. Sure enough, I just wiped out six more of his ignorant trolling comments.

    Thus I also invoke the unwritten but implied “Asshole Rule” as well.

    Hmmm…is “asshole” an upgrade or downgrade from “stupid troll”?

    • You know, an intelligent discussion could be had on the topic of why size and scope matters, and ae material factors in establishing standards. This boob’s comments didn’t sustain such a discussion, because he kept saying, over and over, why shouldn’t EA be held to the same standards you are holding Twitter to? This is the malady of those who only comprehend absolutes, an on whom the nuances of reality are lost.

      We used to have a brilliant Jack Russell terrier whom we trusted to leave the house, walk around the immediate neighborhood, visit houses that knew him, and come back. (That itself was crazy; I don’t know what we were thinking. He always did his business before we let him go, but still. Nevertheless, we never got a complaint, everyone knew him, and he always came back safe and happy. [Moral luck, I now know.])

      We also had an English Mastiff, who weighed 8X what Dickens weighed. She was just as friendly as Dickens, but letting a Mastiff roam free around a Northern Virginia neighborhood would have been certifiable, and quite possibly criminal.

  7. Jack said:

    The problem with such plans is that no one is qualified to rule on what is factual and what is not, or what needs to be communicated for the public to be fully informed.

    Oh, but the Left does not agree with this statement whatsoever. They have assured us that they are not only qualified to determine what facts are, but how they must be applied and in what context. And of course, they have a very good record of that — remember all the incorrect Russia investigation “fact checks” and how they corrected them when their errors were pointed out? Oh, wait… [/sarc]

    It seems the high-tech Left has decided the best way to change history is to control what facts are, who sees them, and what they mean. You can see this by the growing number of “explainer” sites and sub-divisions of media companies like Vox, Twitter’s new warnings, and others, virtually all on the Left.

    At some point, somehow, these companies are going to have to be held accountable to the people or their vision will become permanent reality. If they are continued to use their unrestrained market power to control information, they will expand it to the nth degree. One of the most intoxicating tenets of the Left is to be an “agent of change,” and there is little if any concern about how that agency squares with our laws and traditions. In fact, any law or tradition interfering with “necessary” change becomes the target of that agency.

    Free speech has become an impediment to these change agents, and thus it has developed into a target that must be significantly “improved” in order to allow room for their efforts to create change. Never mind the vast, unintended consequences of that effort include a more totalitarian society — that seems to be okay with them, because “change” is too important to be restrained by the public will — and diminution of the First Amendment such that speech classified as “dangerous” by our Leftist betters must be removed from the public square in the interests of “public safety” and the safety of the country at large. We are seeing increasing evidence, such as Mozilla’s statement, that forcible silencing of persistent nuisances is not only desirable, but necessary, and they are okay with using trust powers (such as that of Amazon, Google and Twitter) to enforce removal of persistent opposition.

    An even broader problem is that correcting this behavior through the courts without a willing government will take years, even decades. By that time, the courts may well be “agents of change” as well. Hence, there is an urgency that I’m not sure our institutions are able to apply.

    Left-leaning tech corporations have abandoned or re-defined their ethical positions to accommodate this process. Every rationalization, particularly 13 (Saint’s excuse), 14 (self-validating virtue), 15 (Murkowski’s lament), 23 (dealer’s excuse), 25C (romantic’s excuse), 28 (revolutionary’s excuse), 30 (prospective repeal), 31 (troublesome luxury), 38A (mercy for miscreants), 38B (Joe Biden’s inoculation), 40 (desperation dodge), 46 (abuser’s license), 49 (haters gonna hate), 57 (idealist’s delusion), 62 (paranoid’s blindness), 67 (herd’s excuse), and most especially 58/A (universal trump), 60 (it’s the right thing to do) and 63 (doomsday license) is being applied in defense of these totalitarian efforts to restrict speech and control information.

    We continue to live in interesting times.

  8. My take:

    Journalism is forever ruined and I’m not sure how it can be replaced.

    Social Media (and perhaps a large percentage of the internet) have become a cesspool of misinformation and conspiracy and plotting. I long to return to the days when Facebook was a chance for me to find and connect with my college friend who lives in Iceland, to see photos of my grand-nieces/nephews, to read silly memes. The censorship on Facebook is truly bizarre, though. I post privately, ONLY to friends, and yet FB banned an image I posted of a poorly known painting by Norman Rockwell that did, admittedly, portray a violent act.

    However, in today’s world, social media has BECOME a type of journalism. Sadly, more people than I’d like to think get their news — and ONLY get their news — from social media, and not necessarily from online news outlet pages. Even if they are going to the “news” FB pages, the odds of finding a legitimate news source are 50/50.

    And I believe that American education has utterly failed. Critical thinking? Hah! Primary sources? What are they?! Confirmation Bias has overtaken the zeitgeist.

    All of that said, while I treasure freedom of speech, I stand with my husband — your freedom of speech (or any other freedom) ends at the tip of my nose. You don’t have the right to infringe on my safety/health/well-being/whatever in order to enjoy your freedom. And the metaphorical “tip of my nose” extends to social media or any controllable media which has the power to ban self-seeking ignoramuses who seek incitement/bias/untruths/half-truths/self-promotion/etc etc etc. I’ve got a very sensitive nose.

    Just like the great and powerful Jack Marshall, ANYBODY with a small amount of money can have a blog where they can say and post whatever they choose. They can even post on social media that they have such a blog and invite like-minded people to view their screed there. And I can choose to ignore those blogs. No harm, no foul.

    O Mighty Ethics Wizard, do you have a rationalization accusation for me?

    • A few comments to Jack “by-the-way”:

      In case you thought I was mocking you, I wasn’t. Just had an odd Wizard of Oz vibe going on.

      And if you thought it was a ding that “ANYBODY” could have a blog, while the statement is still true, you certainly are not just “anybody.” I might usually disagree with you, but I still hold you and this blog up as a source of intellectual and thought-provoking online content.

      Last, I so love reading notes about Patience. She was a fabulous dog, And the story of the JRT (who was it? Rugby or Dickens?) is priceless.

  9. Fear is understandable but not helpful in this increasingly disturbing trend. Quite frankly, these people want you to be afraid. Don’t give them that power.

    To be clear, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be steadfast in our discernment of the information MSM is putting out or the tech giants actions. In fact, I suspect some readers here have only scratched the surface of what these “powers and principalities” are capable of.

    For example, it would be wise to research the reach a corporation like Alphabet Inc. (Google’s owner) has in the field of medicine. If you think Google having a say in what we say is intense, check out the medical patents these “well-meaning” folks are working on. Don’t forget that Google is already used to increasingly hold more of our medical records digitally. Add to that your genetic information being held by 23 and Me, whose founder is none other than Google founder Sergey Brin’s ex-wife.

    As we move towards a green new world order, consider the “smart” technology being inserted into controlling our water usage, household heating and cooling, and even our cars. Is it far fetched to wonder if the wrong opinions could get one cut off from use of resources through smart tech? I’m not sure it is anymore.

    Then you have the issue of what you say being “heard” by way of Amazon’s Alexa or the Hey Google voice activated search tools. If you’ve ever noticed that suddenly your mobile device is suggesting targeted ad products to you after a private conversation in which some issue is mentioned, then you might want to consider just what is being recorded. In parts of the UK, laws are being considered to punish those in private conversations at home or elsewhere, where wrongthink has been spoken. For that to work you need omnipresent informants everywhere or a device that records you.

    For years I have tried to explain to loved ones that willful participation in social media is giving away not only data and precious time, but also has the consequence of giving these companies power to hold your information and interests, and use them for whatever they want. A family member once said “but I have nothing to hide” when it came to social media and the emerging technocratic state. The point though is that every post, every “like,” and every “follower” is giving permission to these entities to invade your life and thoughts. Sadly too many are willfully doing this for the convience of digital connection.

    Sure, one could just go to Parler or another “conservative” social media platform. However if anyone thinks “this won’t happen here” in regards to these services, they’re mistaken. Especially if our government finds a way to control these platforms somehow.

    How does one disengage from Apple and Google when they make our phones and computers? How do we stop our addiction to scrolling on social media? How do we embrace privacy when we willingly give our data and dreams to Alexa? How do we stop shopping on Amazon? How do we take our lives back from tech oligarchs and censors?

    We can blame or be afraid of technocrats but that tactic doesn’t hold ourselves accountable for our part in this mess. We chose convince over substance. We chose quick hits of “owning” others rather than in-person debates. We chose to let our data be collected without reading the fine print or thinking clearly about just who is using our data and to what ends.

    If we want to see this change, we have to change our relationship to tech. We have to use digital resources mindfully, contemplating the consequences of each text, online search, social media update, and private conversation that isn’t so private. We have to research what exactly these companies are up to and ask ourselves if using their products and services is ethical for our own standards. We have to find the boundaries/balance between easy communication and invasive data mining combined with speech control.

    Will this get worse? You bet!

    Don’t be afraid though. This may be the wake up call we need to get back to what is most essential, like our health and personal fulfilment, rather than spending our precious hours giving those who wish to control us, our life force and power. This is a good time to reclaim the real while assessing our use the internet and tech services.

    We have to stop participating in their digital abuse. I used to work a domestic violence shelter, so I’m aware of how hard it is to leave someone who both hurts and helps you. I also learned it really does take several times before leaving such a situation.

    Yes we have to use some of this stuff. And yes we can cultivate meaning from certain digital tools, websites, and even social media. Therefore I humbly suggest we take a hard look at what really is useful and cut off the rest, one click at a time.

  10. Since Ethics Alarms is not viewpoint neutral, b ut instead is a blog about Jack’s opinions, he can moerate discussions.

    And in fact, he has not removed commenters even when they disagrewe with him.

    When you advertise yourself as a politically neutral platform where users can share thoughts and feelings and opinions, you have an ethical prohibition from banning users or removing posts based on viewpoint.

    Reddit encapsulates this example. Reddit itself is a politically neutral platform where users can share thoughts, feelings, and opinions. The subreddits are not necessarily so. Subs may limit themselves to certain subject matters, and they may be politically biased. The mods can ethically (and in certain cases, must) ban users and remove comments and posts, even in a viewpoint-discriminatory manner, consistent with the subs advertised purpose.

    Advertised purpose is the key phrase here.

  11. You are the only one “pointing” this out.

    I already provided the example of Reddit. (Reddit itself is viewpoint-neutral, but allows the existence of viewpoint-specific subs whose mods can censor posts based on viewpoint).

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