The privatized commons and free speech

As I note on my page to online service providers, there is a problem with various forms of abusive, harassing, and threatening speech on social media.[1] Particularly since the 2016 elections, in which Russian trolls have been alleged to have played a part in Donald Trump’s election, providers such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have come under increasing pressure to regulate speech and have responded unevenly: Trump is exempt on Twitter; his critics are anything but.[2] And there is no process for adjudicating competing claims as to what speech should be allowed and which should be forbidden. It’s just what some underpaid flunkie or, even worse, artificial idiocy, decides should be allowed or forbidden.

Yes, the targeted speech is a problem. My problem is that its censorship will inevitably—accuse me of a slippery slope argument to your heart’s content—widen to include other forms of speech as well. I have a new blog post, entitled, “The public square of the Internet.” Whatever the solution to problematic speech, it cannot be this.


The neoliberal party

Jay Inslee, one of numerous candidates for the neoliberal nomination, says the Democratic National Committee will not only refuse to hold a debate focused on climate change; it will bar any candidates who participate in such a debate from the debates it sanctions.[3] This, as the news on climate change keeps getting worse, as climate scientists consistently find that their earlier estimates of climate change impacts understate the problem.

Progressives should be further alarmed that, once again, the mainstream Democratic Party establishment seeks to monopolize the terms of the campaign. This is how you rig elections. This is how the establishment defeated Bernie Sanders in 2016. This is how you constrain policy options to those which do not threaten the establishment. And this is only one reason why I now refuse to call it the Democratic Party but rather the neoliberal party. Because it is incorrigibly so. And here’s an example:

THE THING ABOUT THE HYDE AMENDMENT … Over the last day, there’s been a pile-on on JOE BIDEN – Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren and others have ganged up against the former VP over his support of the Hyde Amendment, language that prohibits most federal funding for abortion.

BUT … If you are or have been a member of Congress – 15 people in this field – and you’ve voted for big spending packages, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve also voted for the amendment. OF COURSE, Biden is actively supporting it, and that’s a bit unique. But this language has been a part of a lot of funding bills and gotten plenty of votes from Democrats over the years.[4]

Compromise with evil is evil: I have another new blog post, entitled “Slavery, rape, and abortion bans.” Meanwhile Joe Biden has withdrawn his support for the Hyde amendment:

Anthony Adragna, “DNC opts against climate change debate, Inslee says,” Politico, June 5, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/05/dnc-opts-against-climate-change-debate-inslee-says-1355867

Karen Tumulty, “On abortion, Biden shows he is out of step with his party,” Washington Post, June 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-abortion-biden-shows-he-is-out-of-step-with-his-party/2019/06/05/e83ddc30-87cd-11e9-98c1-e945ae5db8fb_story.html

Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer, and Daniel Lippman, “Guess who else voted against federal funding for abortion?” Politico, June 6, 2019, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2019/06/06/guess-who-else-voted-against-federal-funding-for-abortion-443667


American Indians

Michael Price, “Closest-known ancestor of today’s Native Americans found in Siberia,” Science, June 5, 2019, doi:10.1126/science.aay2891


  1. [1]David Benfell, “To online service providers,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/to-online-service-providers/
  2. [2]Twitter, “World Leaders on Twitter,” January 5, 2018, https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2017/world-leaders-and-twitter.html
  3. [3]Anthony Adragna, “DNC opts against climate change debate, Inslee says,” Politico, June 5, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/05/dnc-opts-against-climate-change-debate-inslee-says-1355867
  4. [4]Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer, and Daniel Lippman, “Guess who else voted against federal funding for abortion?” Politico, June 6, 2019, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2019/06/06/guess-who-else-voted-against-federal-funding-for-abortion-443667

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