Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CLFA for short) was created to promote a freedom-friendly cultural environment. A cornerstone of our philosophy has always been strong support for free speech in all its forms. Whatever our differences as American patriots, we can all agree that a healthy, dynamic society cannot exist without allowing for dissenting voices to be heard.
It is therefore with increasing alarm that we have observed the recent trends in major social platforms, where the most important discussions of our time happen in real time, and where mass audiences can be reached directly, avoiding the traditional gatekeepers.
Using vague Terms of Service and non-transparent proprietary algorithms, these social media giants have repeatedly banned, suspended, hidden, and otherwise silenced the voices of countless activists, creators, and citizen-journalists. All of this is done under the guise of creating a safe environment while never defining the parameters of violations and rarely if ever providing a meaningful appeal process.
Such power, arbitrary and unchecked, is disturbing enough. When combined with a clear pattern of political bias, with conservative creators and business pages being censored while those on the Left continue to receive full access to their platforms, it becomes intolerable.
In fact, the end result of social media de-platforming, with the consequent loss of income, is a tried and true practice of oppressive societies throughout history. Whether it’s a peasant driven from his land for disrespecting a noble, a dissident professor demoted to a menial job in Soviet Russia, or an edgy comedian having his videos demonetized by YouTube, the thinking behind such actions is the same: silencing dissent, not by open violence, but by quietly cutting off the target’s means of support, starving them into submission while superficially maintaining the appearance of benevolence and working only for the common good.
What’s most infuriating about the current American version of dissident speech suppression is that the answer thrown in our faces by Leftists (as well as by too many of our supposed allies) has always been, “Private companies have the right to do as they please. If you don’t like it, make your own platform.”
The simplicity of this answer is appealing. After all, we as conservatives believe in property rights, which includes the right of private businesses to refuse service to whomever they choose (setting aside anti-discrimination laws, which have not yet been sufficiently tested in matters of political affiliation).
There are good counter-arguments, to be sure. At the very least, repeatedly slamming the proverbial door in conservatives’ faces while claiming dedication to free speech is false advertising. Also, the “public square” concept appears to have been validated by the recent court decision that declared President Trump is not allowed to ban Twitter users from his feed.
But be that as it may, those on the loosely-defined right have in fact been exploring alternatives. And that is where we are beginning to run into real problems, the kind that cannot and will not be solved with the wishful thinking of those who still believe in the pure (but sadly currently non-existent) ideal of the free market.
It is not enough to “start your own Facebook,” even if we ignore for the moment the nearly insurmountable monetary advantage a social media giant like Facebook enjoys over any potential competitor. There is a behind-the-scenes infrastructure that is crucial for operating a tech business, and as we are slowly but surely finding out, most if not all of these support systems are under the control of Leftist organizations and individuals.
Want a mobile app? Those are almost exclusively controlled by Apple and Google.
Need your site hosted? Your choices are limited to a handful of providers.
Are you a creator looking to raise a few bucks to support your work? Sure, as long as someone at Patreon or Kickstarter doesn’t decide that you are unworthy of being supported by your own fans—and cuts you off.
For the last few years, as exciting new alternatives to Big Tech began to pop up, we have been discovering just how far the tentacles of Leftist intolerance can reach, and how much damage they can inflict on the very idea of free expression.
The latest example is perhaps the most egregious.
Stripe, a payment processing company, has, without warning, suspended accounts of three businesses which were created specifically for the purpose of supporting all creators, even those with potentially unpopular opinions.
One of those companies, FreeStartr (an alternative to Patreon and Kickstarter), which gained attention and a number of new users recently as a result of increased Big Tech censorship, has issued a statement regarding their suspension that is well worth reading.
The use of the word “apartheid” in this statement is both provocative and appropriate. The Left does indeed want to isolate us, by whatever means necessary, to make us feel lost and alone, to pretend we do not exist at all (except as caricatures to be occasionally trotted out for propaganda purposes). They want to herd us into ever smaller virtual ghettoes, the only escape from which lies through full and unquestioning acceptance of their toxic ideologies. (Perhaps in their perverted minds, 1984 had a happy ending, and they envision their future society as populated by human shells, with them collectively playing the beloved Big Brother.)
Tempting as it is to laugh at their delusions, we no longer have that option. The time for playing along, for biting our tongue for the sake of civility and quietly working around the ever-increasing obstacles, for playing by the rules created long ago by honorable men for other honorable men to follow—that time has passed.
We didn’t write the new rules. We didn’t ask for this fight. But now that the fight has been brought to us, we must not turn away.
No more shrugging it off.
No more wondering if a particular target deserved it.
No more hoping that polite complaining will be enough.
There is no shame in using the tools of the enemy against them, nor is there virtue in taking effective weapons off the table. Boycotts, petitions, lawsuits, and even appeals to friendly politicians—all the methods legally available to us—must be used as needed, without hesitation.
Just as importantly, we must support our existing allies and make new ones. We should amplify the voices of those silenced by Big Tech. We should, to the extent possible, purchase their work, sponsor their projects, and if we are in a position to do so, offer them new employment.
We must not let fear and intimidation win over freedom of expression.
The United States, with all its difficulties, still serves as an example of what a free society can and should be, and it remains an inspiration to freedom lovers all over the world. Let’s keep it that way.
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