Twitter: A Case For Tech Regulation
(Above, Yoel Roth, our Ivy-educated queer theorist Big Brother, who was pre-Elon Twitter's safety czar.)
Blockbuster Twitter news from Bari Weiss and her team. Starts like this:
Please click on that. I promise you that you will not regret it. This is extremely important information, and I'll explain why. But first, a summary. Here are the first two tweets in that long thread:
Weiss and her team have been given access to internal Twitter documents. What this new trove of documents released by Elon Musk shows is that the previous Twitter regime lied flagrantly to the public about its policies governing suppressing and censoring speech on the platform. The thread cites specific examples of how Twitter banned or shadowbanned conservative accounts while publicly denying that it was doing any such thing. Why did they do it? The internal reason was "safety". Yoel Roth was a far-left extremist who was in charge of safety for Twitter until Musk pushed him out (Roth resigned):
Roth, a gay man whose Ivy League academic work was all about gay sex (Wes Yang jokes that Roth got a Penn PhD in his own Grindr usage), queer theory, and the like, has gone public after leaving Twitter, has gone public about how he ran Twitter. Strongly recommend you watching Glenn Greenwald's show ripping Roth a new one, using Roth's own recent words from his November 29 interview with Kara Swisher (from where I took the screenshot illustrating this post). It's very, very important:
As Greenwald and his guest Michael Tracey show -- again, using Roth's own words -- Roth is a perfect example of the kind of left-wing elitist who runs American institutions. Tracey talks about Roth's pre-Twitter academic work which goes deep into intellectually theorizing gay hook-up apps and content -- which is to say, he was deep into the elitist academic jargonifying of sex, and gay sex in particular. The point is, this is a mindset that grows only in elite institutions -- but Roth gained the power to control the speech of millions of Americans who use the most important social media platform in the world. Greenwald (who is gay) goes on to quote the ultra-liberal Roth's contempt for ordinary Americans -- again, using Roth's own words. It's as if the editor of an Ivy League college paper gained the power to decide what could and could not appear on Twitter. Greenwald goes on to say that Roth trafficked in ideas that were standard in elite liberal discourse, but acted as if that was the objective way to understand the world -- and imposed them on Twitter.
Greenwald plays a quote from Roth's recent Kara Swisher interview, in which Roth complains about how it was "deeply terrifying" when he was exposed some time ago about the censorship power he exercised. Greenwald -- an actual brave journalist -- showers contempt on Roth's expression of grave fear that the spotlight was put on him for his censorship activities, despite the fact that he, Roth, was immensely powerful and rich as a result of his position. Roth conflates criticism with actual physical harm -- again, very standard for liberal elite discourse. As Tracey explains, people in elite liberal circles are never challenged on their premises, so when they are, they see it as "intolerable cruelty." Tracey says the gatekeeping in those elite left circles keeps out people who don't agree with the ideology, which is why they cannot handle dissent. As Greenwald says, it's not that Roth was just a standard-issue Ivy League social justice warrior; rather, he was one of the most powerful figures governing discourse on this global social media platform of unparalleled influence.
Towards the end, Greenwald plays a Roth clip in which he says that even criticizing transgendered people and transgenderism is dangerous. Even satire cannot be tolerated when it criticizes sacred transgenders! Greenwald says Roth is "like a Stalinist commissar" who demonstrably believes not that his opinions are debatable, but rather are "universal truths." Yes! This is the essence of the soft totalitarianism I discuss in Live Not By Lies! Nobody is going to the gulag for what they say on Twitter. But they did find themselves exiled from this platform that has become vital to our democratic public square, and crucial to the livelihoods of many people. It's not hard totalitarianism -- the gulag -- but it does have an immense impact on public and private life. This Ivy-educated commissar, Yoel Roth, was in a position at Twitter -- a private company that plays an unparalleled public role -- to control the discourse, and gag or otherwise suppress people who violated his extremely ideological model of reality (Tracey calls it a "theology"), despite Twitter publicly denying that it was doing this.
Folks, you have to understand that the David French liberal-libertarian position that private companies can do what they want to, so you don't need to worry overmuch about this, is completely untenable in the digital real world. Twitter has immense power. You might not be on Twitter, but trust me, almost everybody who makes decisions in the media is. That's why so many media leftists have raised hell about Musk's takeover of Twitter: they understand correctly how much power the platform has over shaping public discourse, and they are outraged that Elon Musk, its new owner, wants to make it more fair and balanced. I don't think they are being disingenuous, either. We have seen very clearly that Yoel Roth is a creature of the world of liberal elite ideas, in that like others in his social and professional class, he does not believe that people who disagree with him have a right to be heard. This is especially true when it comes to criticizing the left's sacred cows, including sexual minorities.
(It is here that I must point out that both Glenn Greenwald and Bari Weiss, two of the most important and powerful critics of Roth and this mentality, are both openly gay. They are unusual in their class in that they have actually liberal principles that value free speech and open discourse. God bless them for that.)
If Elon Musk hadn't spent $44 billion of his own money to buy Twitter, we would never know any of this, and Twitter would still be beavering away, punishing conservatives and others who challenge far-left ideas, while pretending publicly to be fair and responsible. Yoel Roth is a perfect example of what happens when the ideological left captures institutions. It is happening everywhere. They have captured every major institution in American life. As I keep saying, emphasizing a fundamental point in Live Not By Lies, this is how you can have a form of totalitarianism within the structures of liberal democracy. Twitter -- like Facebook, Amazon, and others -- made perfectly legal decisions about how to run its own business, but these illiberal decisions had, and have, massive impacts on public life.
If these revelations don't spur Congress to act to regulate high tech, what will? I am not a lawyer, so I don't know what's possible within constitutional parameters -- but I know well that Republicans and free-speech advocates had better start thinking hard about this, and formulating a plan. These people -- the Yoel Roths embedded throughout high tech -- are our sworn enemies. They do not believe in liberal principles of free speech and open discourse. Rather, they have used this corrupt political theology of "safety" to justify silencing legitimate and important political and social discourse, in order to protect groups they favor. They have taken extremely illiberal ideas that they learned at elite academic institutions and weaponized them to use against ordinary Americans, whom they hold in contempt.
Again, the emergence of the digital realm has revealed how inadequate pre-Internet standards governing speech and discourse are. Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon have power far in excess of anything imaginable prior to the invention of the Internet. This is not their "fault," but it is a reality -- and it's a reality that has extraordinarily important consequences for all of us, even if we never log on to Twitter or Facebook, shop for books on Amazon, or search the Internet using Google (which manages its results to suppress findings its leftists don't like). Twitter, for one, is less like a newspaper and more like a public utility. These powerful tech giants, with fanatics like Yoel Roth in charge, are creating the America of tomorrow. And it is an America in which people like you and me will have no future, except as thought criminals.
What are Republicans going to do about it? What about Democrats, like Rep. Ro Khanna, who hold actually liberal views on free speech (as opposed to the illiberal leftist views of people like Yoel Roth, and, well, virtually the entire elite media class)? It is time to act. If the loser Donald Trump's influence on GOP primary politics were less, Republicans would now likely control the new Congress, and could act boldly. Nevertheless, the House will be in Republican hands in the new Congress. It is time to hold hearings, and to write legislation. This cannot continue -- not if we want conservatives and liberal dissenters to have a future.
Will we get tech regulation? Well, look at this:
You see what our future is going to be if we don't act? Failure to act is suicide for Republicans.
I'll end with this. The reason I have been touting Hungarian PM Viktor Orban as a model for conservative politicians in America is not because I believe that it is either possible or desirable to take the governing program of his Fidesz party and implement it in the United States. Hungary and America are very different countries; what works here in Hungary may not work in America, or be suited for the US, with its very different history and demography. No, the reason I tout Orban is that Viktor Orban understands what it means when illiberal leftists like Yoel Roth have captured important institutions -- and he acts to counter that influence. He understands that the standard model of liberal governance puts anyone to the Right of the Yoel Roths and the George Soroses of the world -- these powerful people within unaccountable institutions, who have so much contempt for ordinary people and their ways of life -- at a serious disadvantage. I'm not going to defend everything Orban does to counter it, but I am going to loudly and emphatically say that Republicans in the United States had better study him and absorb what Orban understands about how the real world works.
Do you see how the left-liberal media have screamed bloody murder over Musk's takeover of Twitter, and his new policies that serve simply to expand the discourse? It's because they have used their absurd "safety and harm" theories to justify suppressing the people whose political, social, and religious views they hate. That's it. Well, that's what leftist-captured institutions outside of Hungary are broadly doing to Viktor Orban, as well as to the conservative government in Poland. Americans don't see this because the only information they get about Hungary and Poland come from American media outlets, and from Washington elites, who hold politicians and public figures like Orban in contempt. It's not that Orban is right about everything, or even that he is right about anything at all. It's that they believe from the beginning that the opinions of people like Viktor Orban -- including the majority of Hungarians who voted for him -- are illegitimate, and do not deserve to be heard.
In other words, what the pre-Musk Twitter did to dissident conservatives, elites in the European Union, the United States, and in the private NGO world (e.g., George Soros) are doing to Hungary, its government, and its people. Do you get it now? Do you? Once you understand that, the geopolitical picture looks different. When it comes to dissident conservatives in Europe, even those elected by the will of the people, the EU bureaucracy is pre-Musk Twitter. An Orbanized Republican Party would be a far more effective counterforce to these soft totalitarians of Silicon Valley, of Big Business, and elsewhere. If the Republican Party cannot learn this lesson in light of the Twitter Files revelations, it is ineducable.
Get daily emails in your inbox
UPDATE: Bari Weiss reveals that one of the shadowbanned was this physician, who was suppressed simply for questioning the government's Covid narrative:
Illiberal left capture of key institutions really matters!