The Future of Free Speech in America | August 30, 2017

Should Free Speech Be Protected On Social Media?

|| HotAir

“When the neo-nazi website Daily Stormer was shut down I wrote that GoDaddy had every right to stop hosting the domain of a group that was making the company look bad by association. Legally I still think that’s accurate. The First Amendment protects us from government censorship not the actions of private companies. But there’s an interesting article in the Guardian today which argues the recent urge to run people off social media is making a mockery of the U.S. approach to free speech:

The primary principle at stake – that the US and the internet both remain free speech zones, even for Nazis – has never been more fraught.

“This is a really terrible time to be a free speech advocate,” said Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s a ‘First they came for the … situation,” she said, referring to the famous Martin Niemöller poem about the classes of people targeted by Nazis, “only in reverse”…

“Historically, the place you went to exercise your speech rights was the public square. Now the equivalent is Twitter and YouTube and Facebook,” said Daphne Keller of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. “In a practical matter, how much you can speak is not in the hands of the constitution but in the hands of these private companies.”

The piece goes on to argue that the modern day public square has a lot in common with Zuccotti Park, the privately owned park in New York which Occupy Wall Street took over back in 2011. Ultimately, the fact that the park was privately owned meant the owners could change the rules about how the park was used without any public input.

I see the point the author is making but ultimately there is a difference between a physical space and a digital one. When Occupy took over Zuccotti they harmed local businesses and also prevented other people from enjoying the park. Physical spaces are a zero sum game. Neo-nazis or far left groups may do some damage to the “neighborhood” on social media sites, but they don’t take up all the space available to everyone else. It’s possible to simply ignore them in a way it wouldn’t have been possible for someone taking a stroll to ignore the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park in late 2011.

I see the point the author is making but ultimately there is a difference between a physical space and a digital one. When Occupy took over Zuccotti they harmed local businesses and also prevented other people from enjoying the park. Physical spaces are a zero sum game. Neo-nazis or far left groups may do some damage to the “neighborhood” on social media sites, but they don’t take up all the space available to everyone else. It’s possible to simply ignore them in a way it wouldn’t have been possible for someone taking a stroll to ignore the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park in late 2011.

It’s worth pointing out that it really is people on both sides who eventually run afoul of this. In Germany, authorities recently banned a left-wing website popular with Antifa. From the NY Times:

Thomas de Maizière, the interior minister, said that the unrest in Hamburg, during which more than 20,000 police officers were deployed and more than 400 people arrested or detained, had been stirred up on the website and showed the “serious consequences” of left-wing extremism.

“The prelude to the G-20 summit in Hamburg was not the only time that violent actions and attacks on infrastructural facilities were mobilized on linksunten.indymedia,” he said, referring to the website.

The Interior Ministry said the website was the “most influential online platform for vicious left-wing extremists in Germany,” and noted that it had been used for years to spread criminal content and to incite violence.

This is the action of a government, not a private company. Still, it’s not hard to see how a European approach to banning “hate speech” eventually leads to silencing speech on both sides. To be clear, I don’t support the beliefs or visit the websites of either neo-nazis or Antifa, but I believe there is a principle that matters here. Once the speech-banners get a taste of victory with the extreme cases, they could continue to narrow the window of what is acceptable. That seems like a dangerous game to play even if the government isn’t involved meaning it’s not covered by the First Amendment.

I expressed skepticism of the idea of regulating social media companies like a utility, but my hesitation is really contingent on those companies placing a high value on freedom of speech. If we start seeing them become European style censors I might have second thoughts.”

…Continue reading more @ HotAir

 

Why you should never use the term ‘anti-fascist’

|| Washington Examiner

“No USA at all!”

“This was the chant of the violent, black-masked thugs who descended on an otherwise peaceful protest in Berkeley over the weekend. And it gives you a window into the tactics of the violent fringes of the Left. They attempt to lure in normal, reasonable people — which they most certainly are not — by showcasing a common enemy, such as racism or fascism. But that’s just a sweetener for their real agenda item.

Lots of normal, reasonable people oppose Donald Trump. Many of them oppose the border wall, too. But the third item on this agenda is the (usually) unstated aim of the so-called “antifa,” from which the other two items are supposed to draw your attention — except when they get over-excited and spell it out with a silly chant.

This is the whole point of the label “anti-fascist,” and it has been for roughly 85 years now. Everyone — especially journalists — needs to stop using that label, because it’s part of their propaganda, an effort by people unworthy of polite company to fish for mainstream endorsements from dumb and naive fellow-travelers.

The term “anti-fascist” is of Soviet origin, and it was used before and during World War II to make the aggressive, murderous, war-criminal regime of Joseph Stalin seem more palatable. The entire point then, as now, was to make it seem like the U.S.S.R. had a lot in common with normal, decent people’s views, even as millions were being shipped off to die in the archipelago of slave-labor camps that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn experienced for eight years. (His crime? An irreverent reference, in a letter, to Stalin’s moustache.)

The historian Norman Davies has this to say about the term “anti-fascist” in his history of the Second World War, which is titled “No Simple Victory”:

Anti-Fascism” did not offer a coherent political ideology. In terms of ideas, it was an empty vessel, a mere political dance….It gave the false impression that principled democrats believing in the rule of law and freedom of speech could rub along fine with the dictators of the proletariat, or that democratic socialists had only minor differences with Communism.

What is more, it opened up a wonderful arena for the activities of disciplined activists, whose training in the Leninist techniques of splitting and dividing adversaries would run rings round wooly intellectuals….If you were a French trade unionist, tired of the wrangles of the Left, or a British Empire loyalist baffled by the complexities of modern politics or a Christian peace worker hoping to avoid another war, anti-Fascism was for you! Only in the background was the unspoken dialect that, if Fascism was to be Bad, the Good had to lie with the originator of anti-Fascism — Joseph Stalin’s USSR.

Stalin is dead and the U.S.S.R. is just a historical lesson of what happens every time an actual socialist state is formed in real life. But the term “anti-fascist” is being used for the same ends today as it was then. Violent leftists want to make their assaults on others’ life and property — almost identical to the sort of thing neo-Nazis engage in, only for different reasons — seem justifiable. And they do this by defining themselves as a force opposed to something that all ordinary, decent people find repulsive.”

….Continue to see more @ Washington Examiner

 

Dinesh D’Souza explains how Nazis were anything but ‘conservative’
|| WND

“For a generation, progressives have portrayed fascism and Nazism as exemplified by sexual repression and moral conservatism. In this view, the left has an anti-Nazi sensibility because the left is into bohemianism and sexual expression. In my new book, “The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of American Left,” I show that the fascists and Nazis, far from being repressed moral conservatives, were themselves sexually and stylistically bohemian. In style as well as in ideology, fascism and Nazism are phenomena of the political left.

The whole notion that fascism and Nazism are forms of sexual repression is the invention of one man, Herbert Marcuse of the so-called Frankfurt School. Himself a refugee from Nazi Germany, Marcuse was a Marxist who detested Christianity and capitalism with the same passion that he hated Hitler. In the period after World War II, Marcuse set about to mobilize the hatred Americans felt for Nazism against America’s own capitalist and Christian social and sexual mores.

According to Marcuse, America had its own form of fascism, and that was modern, technological, capitalist society. In his book “Eros and Civilization,” Marcuse insisted that America had established elaborate systems for controlling our sex organs, what Marcuse terms the “sacrifice of libido.” Marcuse blamed not merely the free market system for supposedly codifying and merchandizing sex – turning it into a commodity – but he also blamed religious and social mores for repressing and enslaving the sex instincts. Unfortunately, Marcuse noted, there is currently in America a “channeling of sexuality into monogamous reproduction” and a “taboo on perversions.”

Marcuse proclaimed that this “suppressed sexuality” was indicative of an emerging American fascism. Without being released, he wrote, it “manifests itself in the hideous forms so well known” including the “sadistic and masochistic orgies” of prison inmates and “concentration camp guards.” Marcuse’s mantra was: Away with all this. Liberate the libido. Let it all hang out. Marcuse termed what he was promoting as “polymorphous sexuality.”

Marcuse’s celebration of outright perversion was a mantra that could not be more perfectly timed in the 1960s, when a generation of young activists became alienated from their parents, their preachers and the norms of their society. They were looking for a sex guru, and Marcuse became their apostle of sexual freedom. Marcuse formally rejected this description of himself – he liked the pose of the disinterested scholar – but he also understood that this was precisely the basis for his celebrity status with the 1960s counterculture. What the children of the sexual revolution liked most about Marcuse was that he gave a lofty basis for their genital adventures. Basically, Marcuse made sexual bohemianism into a valiant expression of anti-fascism.

In reality, Marcuse was pulling off a major scam. While the rutting bohemians of the 1960s had no idea, Marcuse surely knew that the Nazis and the Italian fascists were themselves – almost to a man – bohemians. Hitler himself was a painter and artiste before he went into politics. He was obsessed with music and regularly attended the Bayreuth Festival; Wagner’s music, Hitler said, reflected the triumph of art over life. He was also a vegetarian. Hitler had a secret mistress, Eva Braun, whom he only married the day before the two of them committed suicide. In their case, “till death do us part” was literally a matter of hours.

Hitler also despised Christianity as a kind of disease and regularly spoke of seeking its eventual eradication in the Third Reich. “Pure Christianity,” Hitler said, “leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. … Let us be the only people who are immunized against the disease.” While he recognized the political inadvisability of openly attacking Christianity, privately Hitler called it “an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless.” Of Christianity, Hitler said, “The catastrophe for us is that of being tied to a religion that rebels against all the joys of the senses.”

Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s No. 2 man and head of the SS, was an atheist who took his secretary, Hedwig Potthast, as his mistress. Although he is sometimes portrayed as an uptight moral traditionalist, nothing could be further from the truth: Himmler envisioned human breeding farms in which selected Aryan types would promiscuously breed with selected Aryan women to produce, in the words of historian Sarah Helm, “a constant supply of perfect Aryan children.”

Himmler was also a natural-food guy who was an eager proponent of organic farming. He insisted on organic food being grown in concentration camps, and once stopped by Auschwitz for no other reason than to visit the vegetable garden there. Many of the top Nazis condemned the congestion of the cities and affirmed the value of living in communion with nature; historian Stanley Payne writes that we find in Nazism “the first major expressions of modern environmentalism.”

Goebbels was also an atheist and philanderer who had a series of notorious affairs, one with the Czech actress Lida Baarova. He also wrote a play and an autobiographical novel. He fancied himself a romantic; indeed, his doctoral thesis at Heidelberg University was on the German romantics. Before Goebbels entered politics, he wanted to be an artist and writer. Had he lived today, it is easy to envision him living in Greenwich Village and teaching romance languages at Columbia University or NYU.

Progressives and leftists sometimes seek to vindicate Marcuse, and prove the moral traditionalism of the fascists, by claiming the fascists were anti-homosexual. While it’s true that homosexuals were one of the groups later rounded up for the concentration camps, this had nothing to do with moral reservations. Rather, it was based on the Nazi idea that it was imperative for Germany to multiply its Nordic or Aryan population, and homosexuality was seen as impeding that process. Two flamboyant Nazi homosexuals – the party’s legal specialist Helmut Nicolai and Achim Gerke who served in Hitler’s Interior Ministry – were purged in 1935 on that basis.

As was widely recognized in the 1920s and 1930s, a significant number of the Nazi Brownshirts, including the group’s head, Ernst Rohm, were homosexual. William Shirer tells us that the head of the Munich Brownshirts, Edmund Heines, was not only gay but also a convicted murderer. The Communists and Social Democrats derided the Nazi Brownshirts by calling them names like the Brotherhood of Poofs in the Brown House.

Himmler and Goebbels, fearful that a gay reputation would hurt the political prospects of the Nazi Party, urged Hitler to reduce the homosexual presence among the Brownshirts. But Hitler refused, saying that these things were “purely in the private sphere.” The Brownshirts, he emphasized, were not a “moral establishment” but rather a “band of fighters.” Why, Hitler asked, should he care what they did in the bedroom when they did the job they were meant to do?

The Brownshirts only became a problem when they threatened to displace the German police and the armed forces as the country’s enforcement brigade. Hitler needed the army and the police, and so he reluctantly agreed to suppress the Brownshirts. When Hitler showed up to arrest Rohm and his top lieutenants at the Hanselbauer Hotel, he found himself in the middle of a gay orgy. The first door Hitler kicked open revealed Heines naked in bed with an 18-year-old Brownshirt troop leader. Hitler told him, “If you are not dressed in five minutes, I’ll have you shot on the spot.” Heines jumped from under the sheets and did the Heil Hitler salute.

When Hitler’s men opened Rohm’s door the Brownshirt leader feigned a very casual attitude. Hitler simply told him, “You’re under arrest.” One by one, doors opened and Brownshirt couples came streaming out, in various stages of undress. This was the Nazi atmosphere in those days, and it far more closely resembles that of the Village Voice or the Democratic National Convention than it does the National Review or the Trump White House.

This history is relevant to refute Marcuse’s contention – which has now virtually become conventional wisdom – that fascism and Nazism were straight-laced and socially conservative. That is part of the larger myth that fascism and Nazism are right-wing phenomena. In reality, as the cultural and sexual bohemianism of the fascists and Nazis confirms, the fascists then, like the fascists now, are firmly anchored on the political left.

….Continue to read more @ WND