Opinion

Fulfilling The Promise Of Free Speech Online

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Posted: Oct 29, 2019 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Fulfilling The Promise Of Free Speech Online

Source: AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

That free speech is under assault online by “woke" Internet overlords is nothing new. The woke crowd has been infiltrating social media platforms from the beginning, now they’ve metastasized to the point that they’re virtually running the show. Anything they deem offensive, which is just about everything, runs risk of being deleted and those with insufficiently woke thoughts of being banned. But not for much longer. A new option is about to come into being that promises to be what Facebook was supposed to be: a place where anyone – liberals, conservatives, independents, or disinterested in politics altogether – can say whatever like.

The idea of people speaking freely shouldn’t be controversial, online or in life, that it is is a testament to just how engrained in society the oppressive progressive mindset has become. Without pushback, without options and the market forces that come with competition, free speech on the Internet would be wiped cleaner than Hillary Clinton’s email server. That’s what makes Thinkspot so interesting and important.

When psychologist and bestselling author Jordan Peterson announced he was considering creating a new social network where free speech reigned supreme, I was skeptical, to say the least. I’ve been in meetings over the years with people swearing they were going to create a “conservative Wikipedia” or a “conservative YouTube.” They either never came into being or flopped almost immediately. The biggest problem they all had was the problem conservatives face in other areas of pop culture – being conservative first, rather than coincidentally.

A political social media site, no matter which way it leans, is doomed to fail. Think of the best “conservative” or “liberal” movie you’ve seen. Can you think of one? Probably not. Movies that set out to convey a political message first tend to be really bad, mired in the message at the expense of the storytelling. That “Atlas Shrugged” trilogy was terrible, full of stilted acting and choking on dialogue that sounded like the world’s worst economics audiobook. And they failed miserably at the box office.

If your goal is to entertain, you can’t beat your audience over their heads with a message, any message. And if your goal is to draw users from existing social media sites, it can’t be just for spite, and it especially can’t be for politics. Thinkspot appears to have learned this lesson, offering something that already exists in a way that does not. A way that will appeal to an audience disillusioned with not only the thought-policing on Facebook and Twitter, but Republicans, Democrats, and everyone else who has had enough of the entire concept of thought-policing. Or, as the site puts it, “thinkspot is a collaborative community where individuals can explore and exchange ideas in a thoughtful and respectful manner. The platform is an intellectual playground for censorship-free discourse.”

If woke Facebook and Twitter users or administrators find what you’ve posted on your own profile to violate their sensibilities it can be disappeared or you can be shadow-banned. Thinkspot promises what Facebook and Twitter were supposed to be: a platform where users can express themselves however they like. Peterson puts it simply, “Once you’re on our platform we won’t take you down unless we’re ordered to by a US court of law.”

It’s both sad that an idea so uniquely American should come from a Canadian and a testament to how the American ideal can’t be contained by geography.

And, unlike Facebook and Twitter, Thinkspot is to be non-partisan. It’s not going to be a conservative “safe space.” It’s for people who aren’t afraid to disagree or people who disagree with them.

We used to talk to each other, all of us. It’s a sad commentary on the state of our culture that free speech has now, somehow, become a partisan issue. Conservatives haven’t claimed it as much as progressives have abandoned it. But there are still many Democrats who recoil in horror at the banning of their political opponents who say something deemed “unacceptable.” They know the iron boot of censorship can easily be put on their necks too, should they find themselves expressing something “impure.”

Unsuspecting social media users have been boxed into a position where they’re forced to choose between saying what they think and remaining in the good graces of their digital overlords.

It’s the least 2019 thing in the world that adults should be able to police themselves and ignore posts with which they disagree without flying off the handle and demanding “unclean thinkers” be deplatformed. But it’s also the most American.

Twitter is constantly denying they’re engaged in what everyone sees them doing in plain sight, and Facebook is groveling at the feet of government to preemptively appease lawmakers to influence any potential regulations. Another option, something new, is desperately needed.

Thinkspot’s website is now in beta testing, which means it’s well on its way to the public. And it can’t come soon enough.

Derek is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!) and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses.