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There’s been a lot of talk over the past year or two about “deplatforming,” whether (among many other examples) it’s the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams from Twitter — on the most absurd grounds imaginable — or Alex Jones from pretty much everything, or now Stefan Molyneux from his email autoresponder service.
Today I protested this latest example, knowing it would make me few friends.
Naturally, as night follows day, I received this (in addition to the usual low-IQ “Woods is evil” stuff):
dUh, ThEy ArE a PrIvAtE cOmPaNy!
The same obvious, boring, everyone-already-knows-that response.
Of course private companies are in principle free to behave as they wish.
And I am free to criticize them. Why is this so difficult even for libertarians to understand?
Would my opponents have said the same thing about Woolworth’s segregated lunch counters? You’d better believe they would have criticized that private company.
So yes, it turns out that you are allowed to criticize a company’s practices while acknowledging their right to conduct business as they wish.
(For the sake of argument I am leaving aside various state subsidies and interventions to various big tech companies, whether they should be classified as public utilities, and all the rest. Not my point right now.)
Suppose being a libertarian and/or a capitalist really did mean we were helpless to protest any business decision, and had to ratify them all. As Gene Callahan noted, this would mean we were betraying capitalism if we left a negative product review.
This is stupid.
When you speak out against the deplatforming of someone, moreover, you can be sure that you will be attacked as if you yourself “support” every offending thing the deplatformed person ever said or wrote. That’s what happens to me every time, and before I even say a word I already know it’s going to happen.
I say it anyway because I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bunch of nobodies intimidate me.
The people attacking me for opposing deplatforming have never in their lives taken a position that would get them in genuine trouble with prevailing opinion. They have no idea what that would be like — and being cowards, they have no intention of finding out. They enjoy being the thought controllers, and assuring everyone that their own thoughts are exquisitely correct and have never deviated from the regime’s priorities.
I’ll even say this: I do not think communists should be deplatformed. This does not mean I “support” 100 million deaths.
What it means is simply this: whatever the subject is, let’s fight it out in the world of ideas. I am not worried about coming out second best against communists — or anyone else, for that matter.
In a culture where everyone is accused of “racism” (or, more preposterously still, “white supremacy”), it makes perfect sense even — or perhaps especially — for a libertarian not to be eager to jump mindlessly aboard the demonization bandwagon.
As I wrote sarcastically on Twitter, “In a society that thinks capitalism = Nazi, let’s cheer the de-platforming of ‘extremists.’ Why, I can’t imagine how this brilliant strategy could backfire!”
In brief, it is not the role of an email autoresponder service, or a social media platform, or a payment processor, to be your mother.
You already have a mother. If you are eager for her advice on what you should read or view, she is a phone call away.
Thanks for supporting me, good folks.