A 2022 New Year’s Resolution for the Tech Bros.

We need to stop this shit now. It’s time to stand up in defense of dissent!

This keep-our-heads-down, shut-up, eat-me-last approach will not end well. The forces of intolerance are growing. It’s getting scary out there and we need to chillax now. Let’s make it a “We the People” New Year’s resolution to knock the illiberal shit off.

On what day did the First Amendment effectually die? I know it’s still written down on paper. But it no longer guides and ennobles our public discourse and mores. The ACLU is unrecognizable.

When the banjo player from Mumford and Sons, Winston Marshall, is forced to bend the knee to Twitter mobs because he favorably retweets a New York Times bestseller critical of Antifa, something deeply disturbing and dangerous is afoot. More proof that “antifascists” can act in a fascistic, or more accurately, Maoist manner. Marshall’s apology was forced. He did it to insulate his fellow band members from the mob. I invite you to read his open letter in Medium. After reflection and prayer, this soft-spoken and deeply reflective man separated from his band both for their sake and for his own. He could no longer abide by and bend his knee to the Lie.

We need to do the same.

The de facto reality is that the First Amendment is dying on our watch. By doing nothing, the majority is aiding and abetting the tyranny of a minority. Empowered by sins of omission for not calling out the sins of commission. This is how Orwellianism comes to scale.

I think it’s an easy out to blame Twitter. Twitter is the means. It’s a tool. Twitter is like a gun. It’s a powerful, inanimate means but it lacks a soul, a free will, which comes with the capacity to choose. The problem is not Twitter.

The problem is us—humans. We are are the problem. (If you think that I am agreeing with you right now, you are most likely wrong. What your brain just did is a problem that the First Amendment exists to mitigate.)

Twitter and an AR-15 are ontologically equal and constitutionally protected. Twitter by the First Amendment, the AR-15 by the Second. These are facts, not opinions.

How would Democrats react if gun manufacturers started selling guns and ammo by political preference?

The woke might respond: Who cares? We are going to confiscate all guns! At the moment, Antifa is happy with sticks and stones (and breaking bones), but guns will always be with us. Guns are a constitutionally guaranteed means of protecting one’s interests and rights. And some folks still use them to hunt.

Now let’s back to Twitter and its behavior as a company.

Twitter—like Facebook and Google—came to market with the promise to level hierarchies and inequalities in communications. The good news—The Gospel of Big Tech—was a shared promise to democratize speech. In the us versus them, man versus the machine world, Big Tech was on the side of “We the People”—a pluribus of us. And like the goddess Justice, Big Tech purported to be blind to political, ethical, religious, and sexual persuasions. The us of the world bought what you, Big Tech, were offering at scale.

But along the way to creating a better—“Don’t Be Evil”—Promised Land, you all started favoring a certain them over us. Of course, you still use the language of us, but now you’re clearly acting like a them. Fifteen years later, it’s hard to recognize you by your pitch books.

Sadly, you collectively have shown a tendency to bend the knee to government—contradicting the us vs. them distinction that once justified your godlike status. Today, the old moralism smells creepy. A common denominator of your behavior is emerging: you bend the knee to power that contradicts your mission. In China, you do it for market access and profit. At home, you do it because you want to—and because you can.

There are limitations that come with a Section 230 designation. Presently, you in Big Tech are operating in a “have your cake and eat it, too” moment, but that will pass. You are either going be a media company like the New York Times or a free-speech, free-search, free-market utility. A business model divided against itself cannot stand. I’m betting that if forced to make a binary choice, you will go with getting your utility mojo back.

Yes, Jack Dorsey and Co., you are the new straws that stir the drink. Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Gordon Gecko are all dead; insert your name. It’s worth remembering the role that choosing a political side played in the demise of your monopolistic predecessors. What politics giveth, politics can taketh away. I’m enjoying this Twitter war between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Elon Musk. While I like Musk’s moxie, the progressive arc of history favors Karen.

Have your directors of strategy really considered how this is likely to work out? I’m writing this because I don’t think things are trending in your interest.

Jack, the next few lines are directed at you.

Let me break it down to basics. All human beings are assholes with assholes. All need to be sold toilet paper. Without equal access to it, we can’t avoid becoming a shithole nation of shitty people.

It’s understood that papers and parties are partial—they favor one particular asshole at the expense of another.

But a utility business legally can’t and morally shouldn’t favor one asshole over another. I would think that you are morally opposed to, say, redlining according to race or sexual orientation. What’s the difference when it comes to the right of association? Once upon a time, liberals argued passionately and persuasively that any human being who had the blessing to be an American or a visitor to our shores could not be denied access to a bus seat, a drink from a water fountain, or a meal at a lunch counter.

Jack and Co.: Whether you know it or not, your kingdoms are built on the Interstate Commerce Clause, which is predicated on the idea that a free market and free people see only the color green.

It would be easier to chillax if you and your fellow unicorns made it a New Year’s resolution and reality to get back on the side of the original pluribus of us. Serving us all is where it is at.

Editor’s Note:  A version of this article originally appeared at PlannedMan.

 

About Guy Shepherd

Guy Shepherd is in his 50s, possesses a full head of hair, and has a beautiful, indulgent, good-hearted wife. His son and daughter are Aces. Life is good for Guy, who is the founder and editor of Planned Man and a hail-fellow-well-met.

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

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