Our Faustian Bargain
There was an assault on our Democracy recently, and I’m not talking about the breach of the Capital on January 6, which was put down in a matter of hours, and was not an existential threat to our democracy.
The real threat we are witnessing before our eyes is the systematic silencing of a political movement and political thought. The collusion of very powerful forces to shut down people’s voices. Some of the most powerful companies in the world, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google, have all colluded with the Democratic Party to silence the opposing party’s voices.
President Donald Trump’s accounts have been permanently suspended on these social media sites, along with other prominent conservatives. Conservative social media site Parler has been de-platformed on Amazon servers under the pretext of a failure to moderate and remove certain potentially violent rhetoric on its site.
“Stop the Steal” and other references to fraud in the 2020 election is deemed as potentially inciting violence, and has been banned. Yet, people are still allowed to post about the debunked Russian Collusion hoax questioning the results of the 2016 election, and about the charges of election fraud in the 2000 election without fear of banishment. It’s only wrong to charge voter fraud about an election a Democrat won.
Social media never cared about vitriolic rhetoric inciting violence prior to January 6, 2021. Black Lives Matter and Antifa, who were the instigators of the 7 months of riots that tore our cities apart in 2020, schemed and planned the riots on these social media sites, yet they still have their accounts intact. Many of the prominent Democratic politicians, such as Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who defended, supported and even help fund these riots have yet to be banned on these sites. Known terrorists and murderous dictators around the world still have accounts on social media sites that Donald Trump and other conservatives have been banned on.
Violent, pornographic, and even child-pornographic videos, litter the internet, and are easily assessable through a simple Google search, and are not blocked by Amazon’s servers. Movies by people like, Quinton Tarantino, which glorify violence with no redeeming message would never be censored or cancelled, and they shouldn’t. Social media sites and internet providers only became interested in banning dangerous or violent speech and content when it can be used as a pretext to silence political views they do not like.
This inconsistent application of their policies is consistently applied against conservatives, and consistently not applied to Democrats. This is the codifying of the cancel culture. The cancel culture has always been a political movement not a cultural one. It was never meant to protect people or reduce violence in our society. It has always been about silencing certain political voices.
All this does is drive people into their own separate echo chambers. Millions and millions of conservatives are getting off of Facebook and Twitter, and looking for other outlets. The country will just become more and more divided, the more certain people and certain thoughts are canceled or banned. You do not change peoples’ minds or win over their hearts by banning their words or canceling their thoughts. You change their minds and win their hearts with facts and evidence, and reasoning and rational thought, but far too often, the people who want to ban words and thoughts are not rational or reasonable, and are truly afraid of the actual facts and evidence.
If the facts and reason are on your side, then you want more discussion and more debate. That would be like going into a game with the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense versus the Detroit Lions’ defense. You would be licking your chops. If you do not want debate, if you want to silence opposing voices, that’s a strong indication that your arguments are weak, and the evidence supporting your arguments is lacking.
Free speech and open debate are paramount to the strength of our political discourse. There’s a reason why sports teams play the games. There’s a reason why teams compete. To find out which team is the best. There’s a reason why we need debate; to find out which arguments, which philosophies, which ideologies are the best. Just as you can never find out which is the best team solely by watching them scrimmage against themselves, you can never find out which is the best political or philosophical positions to hold unless the sides are tested in rigorous debate. But sadly, we no longer have rigorous debate in our country. How good would a professional athlete be if he never had live game experience? If he was never tested against other opponents? Are we getting smarter, sharper, more open-minded in our echo chambers, or dumber, duller and more closed-minded?
For those who believe that social media companies can do whatever they want because they are private entities, the Supreme Court would rule otherwise. In the 1946 case, Marsh vs Alabama, Justice Hugo Black representing the majority opinion wrote, “the more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it... Whether a corporation or a municipality owns or possesses the town, the public in either case has an identical interest in the functioning of the community in such manner that the channels of communication remain free.” Meaning, because these social media sites have become such a large part of the public domain and the companies benefit from that large public domain, the owners cannot hide behind the fifth and fourteenth amendment protections to deny you your first amendment rights on their sites.
But these tech companies and the politicians colluding with them truly do not care about our Constitution, our Bill of Rights or our country. They are only concerned with solidifying their power. What they fail to realize is that our freedom, our Bill of Rights, our Constitution are the well-spring of the wealth and power they are enjoying, and to work against them is to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. We are the wealthiest country in the world, not because of our resources, but because of our free and Democratic system of government, our Constitution and Bill of Rights, which they are corrupting and dismantling by the day.
The Democrats are using the power and reach of tech companies to sway the political debate and influence the election results to gain and solidify their power, while the tech companies are using the influence of the Democrats, they put into power to expand their wealth and power through legislation, like the section 230 protections that will never be taken away as long as the Democrats are in charge.
But this is truly a Faustian bargain between the tech monopolies and the Democratic politicians. Empowering the tech companies like this, risks them becoming so powerful that they will want to dictate to politicians which in turn risks triggering the politicians to use the full force of the government and military to take over these companies as is done in socialist countries. It comes down to who is going to overplay their hand first. Which side wants the power? Which side no longer wants to cater to the other? Insurrectionists always eat their own. They collude until they see the opening to consolidate the power around themselves. Stalin murdered all the Bolshevik revolutionaries to become the supreme leader of the Soviet Union that the revolutionaries created.
This is inevitable because they don’t care about freedom or human rights or fairness. Those words are just tools to get what they want. And they want power. The more power the better. And when necessary they will stomp on your freedom, your human rights to get power, as they have shown a propensity to do. Freedom and human rights are never won by the people. They are gained temporarily, earned every day because they are always under attack. The moment you drop your gloves, you will be smacked in the face.
The mechanisms used to silence Trump and his supporters today, will be used against you tomorrow. You cannot cheer one silencing and decry the other silencing. As proof of this, the country of Uganda shutdown all social media in its country on Tuesday after the country’s longtime leader accused Facebook of taking sides in the upcoming Presidential election.
Twitter responded by saying, “Access to information and freedom of expression, including public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections.” Twitter’s statement is absolutely right except Twitter does not believe their own statement. Twitter was good with censoring Trump and banning the New York Post and Breitbart News for stories they disagreed with in the lead up to our Presidential election, but now condemns Uganda for blocking of Twitter and Facebook by because they were using their power and reach to unfairly sway Uganda’s Presidential election.
Let’s be clear, Twitter’s statement was not about free speech and human rights for average citizens, nor was it about insuring free and fair elections, it was solely an attempt to maintain their disproportionate power and influence over political processes worldwide. These are dangerous corrupt companies.
But we the people have empowered them. We have engaged in our own Faustian Bargain with these companies. We have voted in their power every time we use their platform for our own purposes. We can vote them out by deleting their platforms. Do we really need Twitter, Facebook and other social media? Do they really make our lives better? They were created in 2005. The world did not start in 2005. I, like many of us, lived a full and happy life prior to 2005, prior to Twitter and Facebook, probably even happier. They are unnecessary, or to use a more up to date term, non-essential. When you delete them, you will find your anxiety level will decrease dramatically and your happiness level will increase equally.
Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He is a frequent contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.