Discrimination comes in many forms. One of which is the modern social media giants such as Facebook and Google prohibiting reasonable voices — not hateful, not exploitive, not violent — from having fair and necessary access to their platforms due to deviation from the “politically correct” agenda of Silicon Valley and the Progressive Left.
If you doubt that the media giants are abusing their power and posing a threat to our democracy, consider the case of Google’s restrictions on Prager University (PragerU), an organization that produces engaging five-minute videos on ideas that are libertarian, classical liberal, and conservative.
PragerU believes that the “greatest threat to America is that most Americans don’t know what makes America great.” And so, PragerU seeks to explain. With reasoned arguments. With complete civility.
Despite which, Google decided last year to restrict dozens of PragerU videos, so that finding and viewing them becomes difficult-to-impossible for the students whom PragerU is seeking to reach, many of whom rely upon their schools and libraries for Internet access, research, and learning. (It is primarily schools and libraries that activate the Google restricted-mode filters.)
The Google action effectively imposes “safe spaces” on students to “protect” them from unfavored ideological and political ideas. The action raises First Amendment questions. It has provoked a lawsuit from PragerU. And it has created an opportunity for you to signal your support for open political debate in this country, especially amongst emerging and recently eligible voters.
While the Google restrictions on PragerU certainly are not by themselves a cataclysmic threat to liberty, and were recently upheld in U.S. District Court as a First Amendment right that Google enjoys as a private actor (a decision that PragerU is appealing), the restrictions are definitely an example of the social media giants:
- Using their power in order to control access to their de facto public forums on the basis of political correctness, and
- Proving false their public claims to being platforms for free expression and (in Mark Zuckerberg’s words) “all ideas.”
When the social colossi exercise their accrued power and claimed rights in order to deny access to their platforms on the basis of the reasonably expressed political opinions in an article or video, they deny citizens access to the modern town square. Speech is stifled. Assembly is impeded. Debate becomes limited. Politics becomes conformist.
That is the danger. That is what is at stake.
Whereas the rise of the social platforms to their positions of vast power with scant accountability remains a recent phenomenon, these First Amendment issues require further debate. But if you, like me, find the on-going encroachments by the Progressive Left on our civic freedoms to be troubling, even ominous, then you should sign the petition to tell Google / YouTube to stop blocking PragerU videos.
You should do so because we need to prevent the social platforms on which the modern community gathers for political debate from becoming as intolerant and collectivist as the modern college campus already is.
If you agree, you should not only sign the petition but should also spend five or ten minutes watching at least one or two of the PagerU videos. You might also consider donating to them. Or even to my own congressional campaign, which is as devoted to liberty, justice, and prosperity through free speech, a free press, and free markets as is PragerU.
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Written by J. David Lashar