Posts Tagged ‘free speech’

Free Bird

December 5th, 2022 1 comment


Back in the day, someone had the brilliant idea to create a vehicle by which news and information could be disseminated. This could only have come about when the inputs and opinions of the masses mattered, thus, the idea of having some kind of news vehicle came to fruition.

Before then, news, or more likely gossip, was spread by word of mouth, at drinking establishments, at churches or by travelers coming through a town.  Of course, before then, there was no news other than what the overlords decided that the peasants needed to know; and all  the peasants needed to know was to keep working to pay taxes to the rulers.  Thus, knowledge was either what the church or the rulers decided was knowledge.

As the phenomenon of education proliferated, so did the notion of critical thinking.  In order to think critically, you needed information, unbiased and provable. This made the imposition of news and information more problematic for those who were used to controlling knowledge to the masses.  As someone eloquently wrote, ‘knowledge is power’ and suddenly, the opinions of the masses mattered. Eventually, newspapers and journals became the default arbiters of legitimate news and their operators became very powerful.  It became a lot easier to determine when someone was untruthful, because the journals would be a credible check.

With the onset of the television age, the new unimpeachable source of information and knowledge became TV networks. I can still remember people stating that ‘if it was on TV, it must be true’. While a large swath of people still believe this, the credibility of heretofore unimpeachable sources has long since expired. The slogans of “The Paper Of Record” for the New York Times and “Democracy Dies In Darkness” for the Washington Post are comically ironic.  The days of Walter Cronkite invoking “ And that’s the way it is” as his sign off are also quaint relics of the past.  The currency of credibility of these outlets have long been spent.

Television was a very powerful medium because most people are easily manipulated by what they see as much as what they hear. It’s been widely accepted that if not for TV viewers watching a debate between a nervous looking Richard Nixon and a polished looking John Kennedy, that Nixon would have won the presidential election in 1960 on the issues alone.

Clearly some objective means of news and information was needed and in 2007, a new micro blogging site, Twitter was created.  The new social media phenomenon allowed anyone to post their thoughts and views with a 280 character maximum. As in all successful businesses in history, this service tapped into a monstrous pool of demand and soon, having a Twitter handle was as de rigueur as having a last name. Whether student or CEO, politician or dictator, famous or unknown, everyone wanted to have their say and most importantly, to hear what others thought.  Thus having ‘followers’ became the new currency of fame.  Unfortunately, Twitter is hardly the font of knowledge.  The most vapid attention whores can garner millions of acolytes and create financial empires for themselves.  Strangely, a platform which notionally allowed the democratization of news and information, became a receptacle for the most vapid in society whose opinions, not knowledge, were expressed.  Well, the first amendment also protects the stupid, so you get what you get.  What many don’t understand is that free speech allows people to say things that others may not want to hear….otherwise it ain’t free.

A great upheaval occurred recently as the platform was purchased by Elon Musk. Long regarded as a vehicle for left wing narratives and censoring of ‘unacceptable’ views, Musk revealed what many have known for years….Twitter was a corrupted platform which enabled propaganda favored by their operators.

It’s been great entertainment to watch ‘celebrities’ profess the validity of their views while at the same time wanting to censor those with views whom they oppose. Philosophically, this is like the monkey wanting to censor the organ grinder. We are treated to the deep intellectual insights of such as Alyssa Milano or of famous meathead Rob Reiner. Oddly, those that have always defended Twitter when it was their own platform are now condemning it for allowing just ‘anyone’ to speak on it and worst of all, with views opposing theirs.  Like a scene from the film Blazing Saddles, many have expressed threats to leave the platform and no longer treat the rest of us to their utterances.

Even more sinister however are the revelations by Musk of the collusion between Twitter and political operatives to sway elections and push detrimental policies. The light has been turned on in the kitchen at night and the cockroaches are scattering.

As in much earlier times, the opening up of Twitter to become a more truly free speech platform will hopefully enable real dialogue on real issues.  People will be more truthfully informed and those in power will need to pay attention.  The views of the dirty unwashed will matter. The time when certain overlords control the message may again be over.

Tweets To Bleats

April 28th, 2022 No comments


The biggest story of the past week is not the on-going conflict in Ukraine, nor the suspicious election in France, nor the ongoing implosion of the US economy and thankfully, not the pearl clutching moaning about Covid.

Edging out by a nose the trials and misadventures of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard was the news of billionaire Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.

For years, the Twitter platform had been accused of being a biased environment wherein conservative voices were censored in favor of narratives more in line with woke sensibilities.  This has always been denied at the company, but oddly, now that the buyout will move management into the hands of a presumably more libertarian owner, the bleating cacophony from the outraged twits is what you might hear if you dared remove food from a murder of crows.

Twitter rose from being a public bulletin board on which anyone was free to express their views on any topic; a virtual free speech soapbox.   Since mass media is so tightly controlled by a few players, having an open forum to vent views was clearly something that resonated with the public and the platform grew from just a virtual bathroom wall to become a monstrous commercial juggernaut with enormous reach and worth billions ( 45 at last count).

It was because of the monolithic aspect of mainstream news and media outlets that Twitter achieved such gravity.  However as time went on, the platform took on the role of moderator of views rather than being a conveyor of them.  Increasingly there was less and less effort in hiding the fact that hard core woke people had taken over the platform.  Thus, influential people were banned from the platform when stating things that, while true, did not pass the sniff test of the Twitter gatekeepers.  Oddly, the most despotic people on the planet continued to have voice there, Iranian mullahs for example.  It became high school on steroids where the cool kids allowed you to play….or not.

If we are to believe the deniers, who up until recently controlled the levers at Twitter, that they were not restricting access to undesirable views, then what possible difference would it make to have a new owner on board.  Clearly, the truth and reality will be revealed for all to see.

Obviously, some kind of free speech platform is needed as a counterweight to the overwhelmingly biased and laughable content offered by all other media outlets.

Many other free speech platforms have tried to copy Twitter’s model in the past few years, but most have fallen into the same trap as Twitter by censoring certain voices, so ‘free speech’ was still determined by somebody.  Even the much anticipated Truth Social is hamstrung by not being available on the Android platform.  To my knowledge only Gab has remained free of any restrictions.   It’s worth noting that CNN promoted a product labelled CNN+.  It failed after only 3 weeks in operation.  We’re unclear as to why anyone would think there’s a market for more CNN.  It’s evident that the marketplace wanted voices other than the tiresome drivel offered by mainstream media.

In a time when information is so heavily managed, platforms in which real truths can be shared and consumed are a necessity and should not be controlled by biased elements.   We’ll see what changes will come with Musk’s ownership, but it may be that the tyranny of the woke may be over.  Perhaps this will spur other organizations to see that the market for real news and unbiased reportage is huge….worth at least 45 billion.