by Kurt Schlicter, via TownHall.com
We are never going to sell people on allegedly conservative principles that end up making conservatives less free. After all, when we sell conservatism, we are selling freedom, in contrast to the perpetual soul-killing tyranny offered by leftist ideology. So, the idea that conservative principles require us to defer to the growing oppression of the left because it is delivered through the medium of allegedly private corporations is nonsense.
Don’t want none? Don’t start none. That’s one of my conservative principles. The corporations started it, and now it’s our right – our duty – to finish it.
The fussy Bow Tie Boyz of conservatism will tell you that this calls your conservative bona fides into question. Well, question away. If “conservatism” means I have to take guff from some goateed 20-something helming a unicorn start-up who thinks I have way too many rights and way too much privilege because my ancestors came from Stuttgart and I wield a penis, count me out of conservatism. I am utterly indifferent to whether the aspiring dictator who seeks to force me to obey is a government employee or a corporate CEO. Neither is acceptable, meaning I will not accept either.
The Big Tech jerks from Silicon Valley are crusading SJWs with a few billion bucks lying around, and they have decided that their target for domination is us. They created the new public square that is the internet in general and social media in particular (check out Glenn “Instapundit” Reynold’s new book), and now they have realized that when everyone gets a say, some people are going to say things their Bay Area pals dislike. As a result, the Instafacetwittertubes have taken to policing the electronic soapboxes against anyone who might cause tension at a Santa Monica Chardonnay tasting. The Bingyahoogles are busy tipping the search engine scales toward their preferred politicians and perspectives, all leftist with an SJW twist. And companies like Salesforce are deciding what legal products, like guns, you can and can’t sell (and therefore, buy) based on what political ideas are in fashion in Menlo Park.
I don’t remember voting for any of these people to run our country. Do you?
But even as they use their power to undermine our ability to participate in the governance of our own society, we are informed that our True Conservative™ principles foreclose our ability to use our own power (in this case, GOP control of the executive branch and the Senate) to defend ourselves. The reason? Oh, well these are private companies, you see, and they can do what they please to limit your ability to be a fully participating American citizen. You can’t fight back using your most powerful weapon, your dwindling political power, because reasons and because.
You try to hit me with a bottle and I’m hitting you with a bat. The aggressor does not get to cite my ideology to demand that I limit my own ability to effectively defeat him. What would ever possess me to agree to that?
And the idea that the conservative gospel commands that private entities are somehow untouchable is ridiculous. Let’s dispense with this silly idea that it is utterly unconservative to regulate the actions of a private business via a simple question:
Are you cool with companies refusing to let black people sit at a lunch counter? With denying them a Twitter account because they are Jewish? With telling women “Sorry sweetie, this software is for men only?”
Of course not.
But at one time, the idea that the sanctity of property rights gave a private business complete autonomy to discriminate was a “principled conservative position.” But this is not a “principled conservative position” anymore; even National Reviewrepudiated having held it a half century ago. Today, mainstream conservatives reject the notion that the government cannot regulate against discrimination based upon race or religion. And it is well-established in the law that the Constitution gives the Congress the power to enact laws doing so, except where the government violates the religious liberty of the business owner, so put that in your cake and bake it.
The “principle” that we can’t tell a private business who it must do business with is no principle at all. We accept that discrimination can be curbed, leaving only a debate over what kind of discrimination should be curbed.
Ma’am, we have established what you are – now the only question is your price.
So, why not bar political discrimination in social media, internet infrastructure (like search engines) and in business in general? We correctly bar racial discrimination because it is unJudeo-Christian and unAmerican to create a caste of second-class citizens by denying some people the ability to equally participate in society. The political discrimination we see today bars citizens from full participation in society and in their own governance. A citizen who cannot express his ideas is crippled; a citizen who loses a bank account or can’t buy a gun to protect his family because some software maker doesn’t like the idea of peasants having pitchforks is no longer a citizen but a serf. Why should conservatives allow themselves to be morphed into second class citizens? Isn’t our liberty enough of an interest to warrant government protection?
Well, not to the liberals. And not to the GOP establishment types who prefer us uppity Normals sit down, shut up and turn out on Election Day to vote for whatever Jeb!-like loser they put forward to go to DC and represent the Chamber of Commerce.
We keep hearing conservatives throw around the word “statist,” but that’s not the debate-ending trump card they think it is. We are conservatives, not anarchists (like my pal Michael Malice, whose essential book The New Right just dropped). There are things the state should do – like protect the citizenry. It should protect their lives from invaders, their property from criminals and, yes, their right to be full citizens from nefarious tech titans who want everyone between I-5 and I-95 to nod and obey.
The answer is not always state action, but sometimes it is state action.
This is not a call for willy-nilly, poorly thought-through regulation. Anyone who took Poli Sci 101 understands “regulatory capture,” the process by which larger corporations invite regulation knowing they can control the regulators and leverage it to secure their position and bar competition. The idea is not to impose a detailed regulatory regime requiring a legion of easily corrupted micromanaging bureaucrats. Rather, it is to establish simple principles that can be enforced by the wronged parties themselves – much like the racial and sexual anti-discrimination framework we have today.
Enact a few simple laws requiring social media outlets to allow all matter allowed under the First Amendment. Keep the Section 230 protections – the idea that truly neutral forums should not be liable for the actions of individuals using the forum is sound, just now we would require the tech companies to honor the “neutral” part. Also, require all business to not bar their use by legal industries or on the basis of political views. That way, for example, we don’t have gun control that cannot be voted into effect via the people’s representatives being imposed by woke corporations. Nor would people who like Trump have to worry about having their Wells-Fargo bank account closed or not being able to get a Verizon phone.
We don’t need a big new bureaucratic apparatus to enforce these rules. We have lawyers. Discrimination law is mostly enforced by lawyers suing on behalf of people who claim they were wronged. Assign hefty statutory damages amounts to various kinds of discrimination, allow the recovery of punitive damages where appropriate, provide for injunctions against further misconduct (or to restore banned people) and award attorneys fees to successful claimants – this is how we enforce our rights without a huge new federal agency. Let’s let hired gun attorneys clean up Dodge City (and I’ve seen plaintiffs’ lawyers get awarded $600+ per hour, which will even make Mark Zuckerberg take notice).
There is no actual conservative principle that requires us to shrug and accept being ostracized from the basic structure of modern American society for the sin of defying the conventional wisdom of a bunch of Scat Francisco swells. They started this. An essential component of the unwritten deal with big business, part of the reason they could claim to be political non-combatants, was that – at least toward the masses – that’s generally what they were. Your Uniteds and Bayers might work behind the scenes for or against legislation that affected their rice bowl, but they did not mess with our rights. Yet today, you have airlines shunning the NRA and drugmakers boycotting liberal shows all the way up to YouTube denying services to conservatives for expressing conservative views. These are attacks on us, as citizens, and this is both new and unacceptable. They can’t be culture warriors when it suits them and claim to be hors de combat when we prepare to punch back.
They chose to play horsey. This is horsey. Unleash the lawyers to regulate them into submission.
There is an alternative to fighting back, and it’s not a happy alternative for you. It is you being silenced and intimidated by a liberal elite leveraging its corporate allies to force you into submission and obedience. I write about what happens when the left wins in my action-packed yet super-snarky novels about the United States’ split into red and blue countries, People’s Republic, Indian Country and Wildfire. Not surprisingly, liberals and the fussy castaways from the Weekly Standard hailed my novels as “Appalling.” But then, my key conservative principle is “Do whatever it takes to defeat those leftist SOBs who want to take my freedom and money,” so of course they hate my books.