Top 5: More Big Tech Bans, Net Neutrality, Incitement, and MORE

Also, apologizing for my Super Bowl pick

Good morning. What a week! Here’s this week’s top 5.

5.) More Big Tech Bans: YouTube Deplatforms LifeSiteNews, Twitter Shuts Down Project Veritas

Another day, another Big Tech company silencing free speech and censoring conservative content. On Wednesday, YouTube permanently shut down LifeSiteNews’ channel, which had more than 300,000 subscribers. LifeSiteNews is one of the most highly trafficked and influential pro-life news sources online. Here’s what LifeSiteNews had to say about their deplatforming:

Early this morning, the unthinkable (but expected) happened: Without warning or explanation, YouTube permanently shut down LifeSiteNews’ account, removing video reports numbering in the tens of thousands of hours of pro-life, pro-family, pro-freedom Christian news coverage, leaving our 300,000 YouTube followers in the lurch.

This is no longer a game of trying to play by the Tech Titans’ arbitrary, leftist, virtue-signaling rules. We are in a war waged by left-wing liberals seeking to annihilate all conservative voices.

None of this is remotely surprising anymore. This is what these leftist Big Tech losers do. They’re totalitarians who can’t win in the marketplace of ideas, so they use their institutional power to silence anyone who fails to conform to the party line. I thought Jim Hale with LifeSiteNews put it even better:

We had already started self-censoring, just like oppressed people in the Soviet Union had to do. YouTube is part of the police state we live in, and nothing more than a state-run propaganda tool, because like every totalitarian dictatorship, they fear their people the most and they don’t want their people to know that they are lying to them.

I was going to write only about LifeSiteNews, but Thursday was another day, and so we had another culling. Project Veritas, one of the best investigative news teams out there, was removed by Twitter because... reasons. This comes the same week Twitter publicly declared it was supportive of journalism and free expression:

Apparently Twitter is concerned about promoting a free press in India, but has no such concern here in the United States. Again. Not surprising. They are what we thought they were, and we let ‘em off the hook!

4.) Net Neutrality For Thee, But Not for Me!

Can I just say I love FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr? I mean, this is brilliant:

Big Tech-funded think tanks and PACs are again pushing the idea that the FCC should bring back "Net Neutrality" to hamstring Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Their argument is that these ISPs will deliberately slow down the Internet and charge consumers exorbitant prices for high-speed access. There’s little evidence this would actually happen. Prior to the adoption of Net Neutrality in 2015, there were few if any examples of ISPs slowing speeds, restricting access, or censoring content. Nor have there been any legitimate examples of this happening in the aftermath of Net Neutrality repeal. 

Meanwhile, market-dominant Big Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google have gone out of their way to censor content and restrict access to the digital public square. It happens every day. If we’re going to fight over “Net Neutrality” again, these companies should be held to the same standard that they’re demanding of the ISPs.

3.) Lowering the Bar on Incitement

One of my concerns with this impeachment sham — outside the fact that it’s a purely partisan exercise that’s delaying the “unity” and “healing” we were promised — is that the reason for the impeachment was that President Trump allegedly “incited” the violence on January 6th. That’s a pretty serious charge, and it means something very specific. While I certainly think the President failed in that moment, I think it’s pretty clear that his words didn’t “incite a riot.” And yet the goalposts move. Now there’s a concerted effort by elites and left-wing partisans to convict Trump, if not in the Senate then in the court of public opinion, by expanding the definition of incitement. That’s extremely dangerous.

If the dam breaks on “incitement,” we might as well call it a day. Free speech would be done, if not legally speaking, then certainly practically speaking due to elite institutions acting as enforcers, cancelling anyone accused of “incitement.” Big Tech platforms have already begun using that word as justification for removal of various content, even when no evidence of incitement or even violence actually exists.

My boss, Terry Schilling, explained this brilliantly in Newsweek:

…[T]he current law on incitement in the case of Trump is fairly cut and dry. Alleging incitement against opposing political leaders, as a legal tactic, is far from new. The state of Mississippi did exactly that to a group of NAACP leaders in the late 1960s (the leaders had urged a boycott of white-owned businesses, and some boycotters responded with violence). The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the NAACP on First Amendment grounds.

But the purpose of the impeachment is not to make a legal argument so much as it is to establish a moral and rhetorical justification for the censorship and punishment of political speech. As the impeachers are quick to point out, they do not feel constrained by the First Amendment legally, and certainly don't feel constrained by it morally. Instead they seek to elevate a speech-as-violence framework that as yet has only caught on among left-wing campus activists.

If their standard is widely adopted, it will not stop with Trump, nor will it be limited to declarations about this past election. And if history is any guide, it will eventually be used to justify far worse things than impeachment.

Boy, if that’s not a black pill…

2.) I Don’t Care About Mark Cuban and the National Anthem

…then this might be. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made headlines this week when he declared that his team would no longer be playing the National Anthem before home games. Progressives celebrated the decision — very woke — while conservatives largely lambasted it. Later, the NBA would publicly reverse Cuban’s decision, but only after a tedious news cycle.

Here’s my hot take.

I don’t really care to fight that much about the National Anthem anymore because our nation is hopelessly divided and there’s no use pretending otherwise. Our two factions share absolutely nothing. No values. No beliefs. One side loves the country despite its elites actively persecuting them. The other pretends to love the country when they’re in power, and openly despises it when they’re not. We can’t celebrate together. We can’t even mourn together. So, at this point, isn’t playing the National Anthem before a sporting event just Kabuki theatre?

COVID-19 has been emblematic of this reality. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died, and progressives spent the last year using it as a weapon to attack conservatives. I don’t even think they hoped we’d beat the virus so much as they just wanted the virus to beat Trump. Remember when Herman Cain died? He was a great man. And yet all anyone cared about on the Left was whether he was wearing a mask at an outdoor event weeks before his death, because if he wasn’t, then he obviously deserved to die. There’s no “we’re all in it together” because we aren’t. The only thing we have in common is geography.

Can you imagine if a 9/11-like event happened tomorrow? How would this country react? Sadly, I think we all know the answer. The Left would use it as a rallying cry to vanquish the Right, even if it were perpetrated by a foreign actor. The terrorists could be identified as Islamic extremists sponsored by the Iranian government, and we’d spend the next several years being inundated with stories about how white supremacists are the real terrorists. That’s just where we are as a country, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

1.) An Apology and an Explanation

Okay so I owe you all an apology. I picked the Chiefs -3 last week. I told you it was a lock. I also picked the over. And I was so, so wrong:

Folks, as this newsletter grows and as we get to know each other better, there’s something you need to know. I am absolutely a black cat when it comes to gambling. When I declare that a team is likely to win a game, and when I risk two Andrew Jacksons and an Alexander Hamilton on the outcome, the result is almost assuredly going to go against me. My friends call it “Fade Jon.” And, properly followed, it may very well go down in history as the greatest investment strategy of all time.

Don’t believe me? I told you not to buy Bitcoin three weeks ago. Three weeks ago! It was trading around $31,000. It’s about to hit $50,000. “Fade Jon” is foolproof. Someone needs to go start a hedge fund.

TWEET OF THE WEEK:

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Jon Schweppe is the director of policy and government affairs at American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.