THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 733, August 11, 2013
Over the next several years, the most
important issue in American history will
be decided. Freedom or non-freedom.
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
If you're familiar with it at all, you know that Facebook, an Internet entity that calls itself a "social networking service" is notorious for censoring the opinions of users it disagrees with politically.
Not only do users whom Facebook dislikes (mostly those who call themselves conservatives) find themselves "suspended" and the posts they've made officially removed, but in a more devious and sinister operating procedure, many individuals (mostly libertarians) see their writings disappear almost the moment they click on "Post", as if some evil manifestation of artificial intelligence were lurking in the system, waiting for some combination of keywords to occur before it strikes.
On the other hand (the left one), individuals who suggest, for example, that George Zimmerman should be killed, or that George W. Bush should have been allowed to die on the operating table, remain uninterfered with. Only those who complain about such posts are punished.
After half a dozen years of this kind of thing, and thousands, if not millions, of futile complaints, some Facebook users have decided to take the only ethical and legal action open to them, beginning with a nationwide—or worldwide—24-hour "blackout" or boycott of the service.
From 12:00 AM, August 25, 2013 (the midnight between Saturday and Sunday), until the same time Monday morning—for the sake of free speech and individual liberty—users are being asked, not merely to refrain from using Facebook, but to suspend their accounts for 24 hours. Links and detailed instructions may be found at the end of this article.
John Vigil, Ted Welsh and the twelve other heroic individuals who began this move have their work cut out for them. Facebook started as a humble campus messaging system at Harvard in 2004. It is now a fifteen billion dollar ($15,000,000,000) corporation, with over 6,000 employees, and more than a billion users across the surface of the planet.
In addition, there are certain ethical questions about boycotting Facebook which it would never occur to "liberals" or "progressives" to ask (their vile and pernicious practice of "political correctness" has been used as a fascistic steamroller to crush First Amendment rights all over this country—especially on college campuses), but may be troubling to libertarians and a small handful of uncommonly decent conservatives.
One question I've heard people ask is, "How can users complain about the service when it's free?" I'm not entirely certain how that's relevant, unless the questioner is attempting to invoke something akin to gratitude, but an equally irrelevant answer is that, according to their kindred spirit and fellow traveler Wikipedia, the Facebook corporation takes in about five billion dollars ($5,000,000,000) a year, and that users, in essence, are either the laborers, or a crop being harvested. Gratitude doesn't enter into the ethical equation at all.
Another argument is that Facebook is private property and its owners have every right to operate it as they wish. But there are two things wrong with that position. The first is that Facebook is not private property, it is a corporation. It is a group of individuals who have petitioned the government for special treatment, special powers and immunities that the ordinary individual doesn't have, among them, the ability, when the going gets tough, to fob off their moral and financial obligations onto an imaginary playmate, leaving them untouched.
Facebook, exactly like every other corporation doing business in America, has made itself an organ or appendage of the government, and, as such, must be subject to the same Bill of Rights restrictions as the rest of government, including absolute respect for freedom of expression.
One aspect of that freedom is the right not to do business with an individual or entity for any reason that suits you, to communicate your intention to others, and to ask them to join you. Facebook, on the other hand, has no right to your participation or patronage, and, in a free market system, must strive to earn it, every day, every hour, every minute. It seems odd to have to lecture the "genuiuses" who created Facebook, but censorship is not a very good way to win customers.
And by the way, speaking of property rights (which I, myself, otherwise believe to be sacrosanct and absolute), you're not allowed to kill people on your property, or to restrain them and keep them as slaves. What does that tell us about their right to say whatever they wish?
Let the flame-wars begin!
Finally—an argument that might appeal to those rare "liberals" and "progressives" capable of rudimentary logic—there is the 1964 Public Accommodations Act which holds that if you operate a lunch counter or a bus company, for example, that is generally open to the public, you can't refuse to serve a member of that public because you don't like the color of their skin, or make them sit in the back of the bus.
As a libertarian, I didn't like this law when it passed, and I still don't. It obliterates freedom of association, and basically nationalizes every business in the country. I also think that if a businessman is stupid enough to reject a significant fraction of his potential clientele (about 40 percent of the population where I went to high school in northern Florida in 1964—and maybe 70 percent in Mississippi during the same period) he has an absolute right to go belly-up.
But the Public Accommodations Act was imposed on this country by "liberal" Democrats—which is what, I would guess, the founders of Facebook are, as well—and they should be forced to comply with it, even (or especially) when it doesn't suit their purposes, until it is repealed.
I believe Facebook and entities like it have been a very important element in the revolution that has begun to sound the death knell for the 6000-year-old Age of Authority, by turning human communications sideways.
If Barack Obama had a FaceBook page he paid personal attention to, he'd be hiding in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan because, after five years on the job (figuratively speaking), he's bungled it so badly, exposing himself as the liar, coward, and mass murderer he is, that, thanks to the Internet, the only people left who don't despise him are drooling retards and would-be guards and doctors for his concentration camps.
Sooner or later, thanks to the 'Net, we will have a free country.
A final word: it is inevitable that someone will point out that I have published an online opinion journal for coming-on 18 years, now. It advertises itself as a libertarian online journal. Doesn't that mean that I will exclude the opinions of Democrats, "progressives", "liberals", socialists, communists, and other varieties of political parasites?
During the nearly two decades that The Libertarian Enterprise has existed, it has had seven different editors, seven very distinct personalities, and I have always done my best to give each of them a free hand. It's irrational to ask somebody to do a job, and then hover over their shoulder, doing it for them. I think the results speak for themselves.
But as to censoring or snubbing collectivists? On the contrary, we welcome leftists of all kinds to submit their notions to TLE, principally, I confess, so that our readers can point at them and laugh.
Here are details I promised on the blackout, in the words of the organizers:
By John Vigil, Ted Welsh and 12 others
[When] Sunday, August 25, 2013
[Description] We are organizing a nationwide "blackout" of Facebook to protest their arbitrary and capricious policies targeting conservatives with censoring and suspensions.
We are asking for all conservatives to suspend (deactivate) their accounts for at least 24 hours on August 25th which is Facebook's anniversary. If you are a business or promoting a page and have a FB advertising account, we are asking that you also suspend that for 24 hours.
Eastern Time: 8/25/13 at 2 a.m.
Central Time: 8/25/13 at 1 a.m.
Mountain Time: 8/25/13 at 12 a.m.
Pacific Time: 8/24/13 at 11 p.m.
TO DEACTIVATE YOUR ACCOUNT:
1. Go to account settings.
2. Click on security.
3. Choose to deactivate your account and follow the instructions.
4. When given the option to choose, select "This is temporary. I will be back." Then continue following the instructions.
5. When you reactivate, it is just a matter of logging in as usual.
WARNING TO PAGE ADMINS. If you administer a page for a business, or group or any other organization, YOU MUST MAKE SOMEONE in addition to yourself AN ADMIN TOO. If you deactivate your profile and you are the SOLE ADMIN of a page, you run the risk of losing that page, its content and your LIKEs. So make a friend or relative an admin of your page OR consider unpublishing the page for 24 hours so it will not be deleted when you deactivate on Sunday, August 25.
YOU WILL ALSO BE WARNED ABOUT THIS WHEN YOU GO TO DEACTIVATE YOUR PROFILE/TIMELINE.
Neil again: I'm personally asking all libertarians, everywhere, to participate in this blackout, as well. I have often had occasion to remark that, as group, we are more talented at thinking up perfectly "sound" reasons to sit on our asses and refrain from doing what needs to be done than any other people, and I am certain that there are bucketheads among us who will not disappoint me in that regard. But in the long run, it's probably even more important to us than it is to conservatives.