Censorship is becoming mainstream

Over the years I have frequently called out anti-vaxxers for attempting to suppress and silence people who expose their lies fraud and scams. Harassment is always the weapon of choice for cowards who cannot debate against the arguments of their opponents.

Over the years I’ve seen everything including:

It would take me a very long time to list even a tiny percentage of the suppression techniques that I have witnessed from various cowards over the years. I have noticed that it’s quite common for the suppressor to work in large groups as a way to intimidate those who might resist.

Fortunately my experience with such tactics has been with a small vocal minority whom the public generally despise. Therefore despite the ferocity of these attacks they tend to be contained such that they are unlikely to have significant lasting ramifications for society as a whole. If an anti-vaxxer were to silence one critic, they still have thousands of us including the mainstream media to contend with.

But over the past year I have noticed a worrying trend beginning to emerge whereby it is becoming increasingly common for internet service providers to take it upon themselves to determine what content should or should not be allowed on the Internet.

On Wednesday the service provider Digital Ocean decided to shutdown one of their clients for political reasons after receiving a backlash on social media.

Following the violent far right demonstrations in Charlottesville at the weekend, it has emerged that another two web services companies have terminated their business relationships with the Nazi propaganda website, The Daily Stormer.

The Daily Stormer, which spews racist, gender-based and homophobic hate speech on a daily basis, was used as a platform to help organize a violent white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville — and, afterwards, to celebrate the killing of anti-fascist protestor Heather Heyer, who died after a far right supporter drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors. Tech Crunch

I have never had any problems speaking against censorship when anti-vaxxers try to shut down and silence their opponents. Nor did I lack any support when a notorious homeopath threatened to sue me. But this support only exists when I speak against the repugnant trying to silence the good. I am unlikely to receive much support for speaking out against censorship of far-right groups, quite the opposite. It turns out most people support freedom of speech, but only when it is easy.

I’m a supporter of Free Speech. Anyone can claim to be in support of free speech, but most will cave as soon as speech they don’t like comes along. A persons values and integrity can only be tested in adversarial circumstances. Anyone can handle the good times, such as defending speech they happen to agree with. Or their own speech, so long as it doesn’t cost them anything.

Therefore I fully support the right of Nazi’s and other such dickheads to speak their nonsense. Just as I want my rights to criticise, anti-vaxxers, homeopaths, politicians and Nazis to be defended. Yes, there is an argument to be made that Freedom of Speech doesn’t entitle you use another persons platform. I certainly don’t allow other people to post on my blog for example.

However when the service providers of the 21st century are able to decide what platforms we can build we need to consider the possible precedents that are being set. My phone company doesn’t control what I say over the phone, nor does the water utility have a say on what I do with the water.

Today its the least desirable segments of the community being silenced. But anyone who studies history will tell you how easily that can change.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller

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