Free Speech vs. The Purge


Good morning, and welcome to the sixth issue of Bright Morning. We have a lot to cover this week. But first, we would like to deliver a quick message on what this newsletter is about and how it relates to our broader value of freedom of speech. As we are about to cover, there is an alarming assault on freedom of speech that is rapidly gaining momentum. This is not good. As Douglas Murray stated in a recent interview, every generation has had disputes about freedom of speech. And as any student of history knows, it never ends well when governments and institutions restrict the number of opinions we can be exposed to. In John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty, which is effectively the founding document for freedom of speech in our societies, it is made clear that freedom of speech is important not just because we need to hear, truthfully, the widest possible range of arguments, but also because freedom of speech helps us recognize when we are in error. If we clamp down on freedom of speech, then we remove the ability to determine if we are wrong

This newsletter is our contribution to freedom of speech. We are doing the best we can with what we have available to contribute to more honest and thought-provoking conversations. However, as we are about to point out, the crackdowns on freedom of speech in the tech industry will likely threaten our ability to reach a wider audience. Therefore, we rely on word-of-mouth from our readers. At the risk of sounding like shameless internet beggars, we do ask you to consider sharing our work. We cannot allow the conversations in our culture to be limited to an increasingly narrow range of opinions. Freedom of speech is a non-negotiable value of western societies, and if we cede this value to information monopolies, then we are effectively handing over the keys to our ability to think. 

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Now that we have that out of the way, let us jump into some stories from this week. As we all know by now, there was certainly no shortage of news.

The Great Tech Purge

The Nitty Gritty:
  • Following a series of indecisive actions, Twitter recently banned President Trump from the social media platform. Permanently.

  • President Trump has now been banned from a laundry list of communication platforms, following the early moves from Facebook and Twitter.

  • The pro-free speech Twitter alternative, Parler, shot to the top of the app store listings after the announcement but was swiftly suppressed by Google and Apple when they decided to remove Parler from their respective app stores.

  • Soon after, Amazon decided to shut off Parler’s access to AWS (Amazon Web Services) which hosts the sites servers, claiming incitement of violence on the app.

Shortly after the events of January 6, when a fringe group of Trump supporters breached the Capitol building in Washington DC, the tech monopolies used this as an opportunity to advance their crackdowns on freedom of speech. President Trump was promptly removed from Facebook, with Mark Zuckerberg stating that he believes “the risks of allowing the President to continue using [Facebook] during this period are simply too great.” Soon after, Trump’s Twitter and Instagram accounts were also deleted. When it was expected that Trump would gain more traction on Parler - a social networking service that markets itself as a “free speech alternative” to Twitter and Facebook - Google, Apple, and Amazon all removed the ability for Parler to operate on their systems. Their justification was that Parler would be used “to incite ongoing violence,” and claiming that their intentions are to create safe environments. This is rich, especially because Twitter allows the Chinese Communist Party and the Ayatollah of Iran to maintain active accounts. The former recently boasted about indoctrinating (and possibly sterilizing) Uyghur women, while the latter openly advocates for the annihilation of the Israeli state.

This blitzkrieg censorship is alarming for a number of reasons. Censorship is not about “maintaining safety,” but it is about limiting the ability to think. Whatever your thoughts might be on the events that transpired at the Capitol, that is for you to determine. When tech companies restrict the number of opinions we are exposed to, they are effectively operating as Ministries of Truth. Censorship is their way of enforcing what the truth must be. To be clear, this is not to say that we condone the events that occurred at Capitol Hill. Truthfully, our team is still debating amongst ourselves on what to make of it. But this is the point - we are having open conversations and using this as an opportunity for introspection. It should be a chance for everyone to take a step back, reflect upon the cultural rot that is occurring, and then communicate freely about the steps we should take before we pass the point of no return. However, when tech companies restrict the means through which we communicate, as well as impose a limited number of acceptable opinions, they are robbing us of that ability to introspect and instead fanning the flames of ideological narratives that evolve into unquestionable dogma. 

But is this not the aim? As we have pointed out in this newsletter several times, there is a certain sect of the leftist leadership class that believes individuals cannot, and should not, be trusted to make their own decisions. Thus, it appears to be the case that tech companies have imbibed this idea and are now implementing it on a mass scale. As always, our argument here is not that private companies cannot operate however they choose, but rather our concern is that these companies have become so large and are so influential that it is now impossible to compete. The case with the coordinated removal of Parler proves this. At the end of the day, people always have and always will say ugly things to each other. This is part of what it means to be human. However, it should never be the case where any one person or institution acts as the moral arbiter for what can and cannot be said. Furthermore, what happens when these institutions purge all of their enemies? Will they be satisfied? Unlikely. As Douglas Murray writes, the business model of these companies is to profit from the outrage directed at their enemies, and then dispose of them when they are no longer politically or financially useful. 

COVID “Detainment Centers” - yup, that could be a thing

Recently, New York State has introduced a bill (Assembly Bill A416) that would, among other things, serve as “an act to amend the public health law, in relation to the removal of cases, contacts and carriers of communicable diseases who are potentially dangerous to the public health.” In other words, if New York Public Health deems an individual to be a danger to the public, including those who test positive for COVID-19, this bill would allow authorities to detain these individuals in a designated facility, henceforth concentrating them… in a camp-like institution. Don’t believe us? Here is the proposed bill from the government website. Look, oftentimes when people make comparisons to Communist China or the Soviet Union, it sounds hyperbolic and it is easy to wave your hand at the idea. However, we encourage you to read about Article 58 in the Soviet Union and see for yourself the similarities to A416. For example, both pieces of legislation use all-encompassing language, such as “potentially dangerous.” This could mean anything, and that is precisely the point. Legislation should never be vague. 

For those who insist on making excuses for such draconian ideas, let us offer you one piece of advice: when someone tells you what they are going to do, believe them the first time. It was not that long ago that we thought it was impossible for governments to force business closures for as long as they have, and now look where we are. The province of Quebec recently mandated curfews of 8:00 p.m., because as we all know, there is a high chance you will catch and spread COVID if you are out for an evening walk after a stressful work day. As they say, “trust the science.” To reiterate our plea from last week: if you disagree with such ideas, practice your sense of courage by writing or calling your local representatives and voicing your concerns. There is absolutely no science behind this decision making whatsoever. It is power for the sake of power and control for the sake of control. And as the proposed legislation in New York shows, nothing is outside the realm of possibility. 

No, Cosmopolitan, obesity is not healthy

Sometimes, something so ridiculous will jump out at you that it will make your head spin around in confusion, then make you laugh, and then finally leave you with a sigh. That was certainly the case for us after we saw one of the new covers for Cosmopolitan magazine this week. In the picture, an obese woman stands on one foot doing a yoga pose while the caption “this is healthy!” is superimposed overtop. Look folks, obesity is not healthy. It’s just not. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? In most cases, sure. Should we be mean to people who are struggling with their weight? Absolutely not. But should we promote obesity as a healthy lifestyle, as this magazine cover does? The answer is an unequivocal no. It is anti-evidence, and it is also ethically and morally questionable. There is a mountain of scientific literature proving that obesity is strongly linked to poor mental health, diabetes, heart disease, bone degeneration, and since this is the hot topic right now, COVID morbidity. Thus, in an era when “saving lives” has become the ethos by which we must all live by, is it not shameful to promote a message that directly harms lives? As well, think about how this message could impact younger women who might have eating disorders. They might see this and use it as justification to ignore the weight loss advice from their doctors, therefore leading to more self-harm. Finally, in case anyone is wondering, we do not believe this should be censored. But we do believe it is worthy of intense criticism, which is precisely why we brought it up. 

Everyday heroes

Well, that was an intense week, but let us finish on a positive note. It is no secret that the COVID lockdowns have devastated small businesses. In fact, our friend Jordan Peterson has been back in action as of late, and he recently shared an article from the Toronto Sun which  argued that “the harms of lockdowns are ten times greater than their benefits.” And in true Peterson fashion, there are everyday heroes who rise to the occasion to help people suffering from the horrific economic and social effects of these lockdowns. For example, we wanted to bring readers’ attention to Chef Jagger Gordon, a veteran and the founder of Feed it Forward. Feed it Forward is a non-profit organization that offers free food to Canadians and also operates a “Pay-What-You-Can” grocery store. According to the website, “53% of all food produced in Canada ends up in landfills while 1 in 5 families currently live with food insecurities.” It is Gordon’s mission to alleviate some of these food insecurities while reducing food waste, and so he takes the food that would otherwise be sent to landfills and has it donated to his store or food trucks.

Meanwhile, Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, recently created the Barstool Fund to help small businesses suffering financial hardship from the lockdowns. According to the Barstool Fund, “companies can apply via email for assistance with needs such as rent or tax payments, so long as they have continued to pay their employees throughout the pandemic.” Thus far, the Barstool Fund has been successful and has helped save many businesses from financial collapse. However, despite this organization gaining momentum, it has received almost no coverage in the news. Nor has Chef Jagger Gordon and the Feed it Forward program. Nonetheless, if you search for good people, you will find good people. And that is the message that we wanted to close with. 

Until next week, thank you all for reading.