Let’s open up Dan’s points to a wider scope, by replacing Twitter with the press:
“You don’t have a right to a Twitter account (a free press). You just don’t. To sign up (become employed by the press or read their output), you must agree to their terms of service (employment, or read what they produce) and follow them. They don’t owe you anything (regarding what you can say or what you have to read), but they do owe their shareholders something, and to make money (from advertisers and support from politicians they support), something they are struggling to figure out (have known for a long time), they need people to want to sign up.”
Social media has changed the game and the principle of a ‘free press’ and the consequences for free speech, at a time when the mainstream press is anything but free of the commercial pressures Dan pointed out.
When Twitter, Facebook, Google, Youtube become the de facto channels through which **people** become free to express their views, rather than having to make do with the views of an elite press constrained by commercial interests, then it becomes a matter of free speech.
Dan’s arguments about the abuse and incitement Milo engages in would be fair enough, if they applied to the people that complain enough to get Milo and others shut down. It doesn’t.
Nothing has been done by twitter to close the accounts of people like PZ Myers, who declare the Irish atheist Micheal Nugent was running a blog that was a haven for rapists.
Nothing has been done about Cenk Uyghur’s actual lies on record and consequential deformation of character that he has engaged in – because the TYT feeds Youtube and Twitter.
Nothing has been done about the left’s doxxing powerless opponents, or the incitement to have teachers, professors, librarians and others fired – Erdogan, Hitler, Stalin would be proud of such purges.
Nothing has been done about the many religious bigotry and hate that can be found all too easily among ‘moderate’ believers. There’s far too little done about extremists online that seem to be able to recruit gullible young Muslims into radicalisation.
And these are just the tips of their own icebergs of incitement – they too have a dangerous mass of cold wreckers of lives beneath them.
Yet liberals like @faisalalmutar and @MsMelissaChen having posts deleted or accounts suspended on Facebook.
Many people signing up to #FreeMilo are not particularly fond of his rhetoric. If they are free to use Twitter then can criticise him too if they wish.
But when private companies that run our communication channels don’t consistently control what is said but show more interest in who says it and who it was said about, then yes, this is about free speech.
The modern context is not the same as the old context.
“They have other outlets; they can write freely on their blogs.”
They can. But Twitter in particular, and to a lesser extent Facebook, are the current channels through which most news travels to the most diverse audiences. Selective censoring of the use of those channels makes it a free speech issue.
There’s another double standard that isn’t merely associated with the freedom to use these channels, but the selective racism of the left and has played a significant role in picking out Milo here. Leslie Jones has many tweets where she expresses dismay at the abuse she received, by using a racial slur:
Lord have mercy…white people shit
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) February 9, 2015
Now, you might respond that of course she’s pointing out the colour of the miscreants, because they are white. But imagine the accusations that would throttle the internet if some white celeb responded to a comment by some black guy complaining about the Oscars with “black people shit” – career over, if you’re small enough, merely set-back a touch if you’re big enough.
And there are countless cases where someone criticises some political ideology that happens to have a majority non-white membership that right out of the gate we hear: racist! As if the criticism was directed at the race of the proponents rather than the ideology. This applies to any criticism of the political aspects of Islam or #BlackLivesMatter. And to top it off, it’s the proponents of these ideologies that make racist slurs when someone ‘of colour’ speaks out: “porch monkey”, “house Muslim”, …
And then we have the fine exampled of feminist and LGBT societies at Oxford University explicitly supporting their fellow student union aggressive Islamic Society shut down of feminist Marian Namazie.
Even some of the attacks on Milo are hypocritical. This hit piece by Leigh Alexander fails to mention any of the doxxing, attacking of women gamers that disagreed with the extreme anti-gamer feminist lobby that she is a part of: Milo Yiannopoulos: Twitter banning one man won’t undo his poisonous legacy. When you’re aware of the ‘poisonous legacy’ of feminism in these circles you are deeply aware of how hypocritical this is – and it just happens to have been that branch of feminism that was one of the targets of Milo.
It seems the regressive left is quite happy to shut down speech by using whatever aggressive, dishonest and even racist means that works, rather than simply engage in speech themselves.
Twitter and Facebook have been and abetting them.
Yes, this is about free speech. Erdogan, Stalin, Hitler play be the same book, except they do it physically, in person. Despite the hate I don’t think I’ve seen any serious demand by liberal or right wing supporters of free speech demanding the shutting down of the toxic left. Yes, it is about free speech in the modern connected world.