Category Archive 'Left-wing Intolerance'
27 Apr 2021

Activist Employees Tell Simon & Schuster Not to Publish Pence’s Book

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WSJ reports:

An employee petition at Simon & Schuster demanding that the company stop publishing authors associated with the Trump administration collected 216 internal signatures and several thousand outside supporters, including well-known Black writers.

The employees submitted the petition Monday to senior executives at the publishing house, according to the company and a person involved in the employee effort. The petition demands that the company refrain from publishing a memoir by former Vice President Mike Pence. The letter asks Simon & Schuster not to treat “the Trump administration as a ‘normal’ chapter in American history.”

Simon & Schuster Chief Executive Jonathan Karp sent an internal letter last week rejecting the employee demands, when the company was aware the petition was circulating.

It has now been formally submitted. A spokesman for Simon & Schuster on Monday declined to comment.

The 216 employees who signed the petition represent about 14% of Simon & Schuster’s workforce. Among the more than 3,500 outside supporters, according to a letter accompanying the petition, were writers of color including Jesmyn Ward, a two-time winner of the National Book Award for fiction. A representative for Ms. Ward confirmed that she had signed the petition.

The petition and letter were sent to Mr. Karp and Dana Canedy, publisher of Simon & Schuster’s flagship imprint.

The petition accused Mr. Pence of advocating for policies that were racist, sexist and discriminatory toward LGBT people, among other criticisms of his tenure as a public official. The petition also calls on Simon & Schuster to cut off a distribution relationship with Post Hill Press, a publisher of conservative books as well as business and pop culture titles.

A spokesman for Mr. Pence declined to comment. Post Hill Press publisher Anthony Ziccardi said, “We’re proud of our publishing program, that’s what we’re focused on.”

The employee pushback against Mr. Pence’s book underscores the challenges publishers face in releasing politically sensitive books that are commercially attractive. Major publishers generally want to give a platform to authors with a range of viewpoints, but don’t want to alienate portions of their workforce or customer base.

Simon & Schuster is one of the leading publishers of political books. In 2020, it published titles ranging from Fox News host Sean Hannity’s “Live Free or Die” to former national security adviser John Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”

In rejecting the group’s demands, Mr. Karp last week said in his internal letter that Simon & Schuster’s core mission includes publishing “a diversity of voices and perspectives.”

RTWT

Simon & Schuster ought to fire every one of those little Nazis.

23 Mar 2021

Anti-First Amendment Scholar Appointed to Major White House Policy Position

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Timothy Shiou-Ming Wu 吴修铭

Matt Taibbi has bad news for Americans who still care about Free Speech and the open exchange of opinions.

When Columbia law professor Timothy Wu was appointed by Joe Biden to the National Economic Council a few weeks back, the press hailed it as great news for progressives. The author of The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age is known as a staunch advocate of antitrust enforcement, and Biden’s choice of him, along with the appointment of Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission, was widely seen as a signal that the new administration was assembling what Wired called an “antitrust all-star team.”

“Big Tech critic Tim Wu joins Biden administration to work on competition policy,” boomed CNBC, while Marketwatch added, “Anti-Big Tech crusader reportedly poised to join Biden White House.” Chicago law professor Eric Posner’s piece for Project Syndicate was titled “Antitrust is Back in America.” Posner noted Wu’s appointment comes as Senator Amy Klobuchar has introduced regulatory legislation that ostensibly targets companies like Facebook and Google, which a House committee last year concluded have accrued “monopoly power.”

Wu’s appointment may presage tougher enforcement of tech firms. However, he has other passions that got less ink. Specifically, Wu — who introduced the concept of “net neutrality” and once explained it to Stephen Colbert on a roller coaster — is among the intellectual leaders of a growing movement in Democratic circles to scale back the First Amendment. He wrote an influential September, 2017 article called “Is the First Amendment Obsolete?” that argues traditional speech freedoms need to be rethought in the Internet/Trump era. …

Listening to Wu… is confusing. He calls himself a “devotee” of the great Louis Brandeis, speaking with reverence about his ideas and those of other famed judicial speech champions like Learned Hand and Oliver Wendell Holmes. In the Aspen speech above, he went so far as to say about First Amendment protections that “these old opinions are so great, it’s like watching The Godfather, you can’t imagine anything could be better.”

If you hear a “but…” coming in his rhetoric, you guessed right. He does imagine something better. The Cliff’s Notes version of Wu’s thesis:

— The framers wrote the Bill of Rights in an atmosphere where speech was expensive and rare. The Internet made speech cheap, and human attention rare. Speech-hostile societies like Russia and China have already shown how to capitalize on this “cheap speech” era, eschewing censorship and bans in favor of “flooding” the Internet with pro-government propaganda.

— As a result, those who place faith in the First Amendment to solve speech dilemmas should “admit defeat” and imagine new solutions for repelling foreign propaganda, fake news, and other problems. “In some cases,” Wu writes, “this could mean that the First Amendment must broaden its own reach to encompass new techniques of speech control.” What might that look like? He writes, without irony: “I think the elected branches should be allowed, within reasonable limits, to try returning the country to the kind of media environment that prevailed in the 1950s.”

— More ominously, Wu suggests that in modern times, the government may be more of a bystander to a problem in which private platforms play the largest roles. Therefore, a potential solution (emphasis mine) “boils down to asking whether these platforms should adopt (or be forced to adopt) norms and policies traditionally associated with twentieth-century journalism.”

That last line is what should make speech advocates worry.

RTWT

The kind of media environment favored by Wu (and other radical leftists) “that prevailed in the 1950s” is a regulated monopoly of three network sources all in complete agreement on the Overton Window, the range of acceptable political discourse, i.e. No Rush Limbaugh, no Fox News, no right-wing blogs.

13 Mar 2021

Who Do These People Think They Are?

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WSJ:

Amazon.com Inc. said it recently removed a three-year-old book about transgender issues from its platforms because it decided not to sell books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.

The company explained its decision in a letter Thursday to Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The senators had written last month to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos requesting an explanation of why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon nor on its Kindle and Audible platforms.

“As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Amazon said in the letter, which was signed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, referring to sexual identities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, among others.

“When Harry Became Sally,” written by the conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, was published in February 2018. The book focuses on a variety of issues including gender identity.

“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” said Mr. Anderson and Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books, the New York-based nonprofit that published the book, in a statement Thursday in response to Amazon’s letter.

“There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria,” they added, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation. “Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process,” they said.

Amazon’s decision comes as the nation’s largest tech platforms are under increased scrutiny regarding the decisions they make over which content is acceptable.

RTWT

There are many intensely-charged cultural and political issues on which rational, well-educated men will inevitably disagree.

The etiology and moral status of homosexuality and gender dysphoria is a striking example of just such a controversy.

So, how has it come to pass that large consumer corporations, like Amazon, have recently appointed themselves as dictators and Platonic Guardians in charge of deciding in favor of the preferred position of the Radical Left, and using their business platforms and strategic position in Society to shut down debate and outlaw the very existence of an alternative viewpoint in polite society?

We shop at Amazon, but nobody elected Mark Zuckerberg or Brian Huseman to any position in charge of “public policy” of any kind.

If the owner of my local grocery or hardware store got too big for his britches and started telling customers how to vote and what to think, he obviously wouldn’t stay in business very long.

The Big Tech billionaires, sitting on top of companies currently enjoying accidental and ephemeral de facto monopolies are flushed with wine and insolence. They must have read too many left-wing sophisters and economists who tell you that such marketplace predominance is totally defensible, permanent, and secure. They are dead wrong. Alta Vista, not so very long ago, was the cat’s pajamas of search engines. Yahoo and AOL used to be hot stuff. The examples of absolutely sector dominant companies that are now one with Nineveh and Tyre is limitless.

Amazon can be replaced, and I have news for Mr. Zuckerberg: he has pissed away serious quantities of customer loyalty and good will. I used to like and admire Amazon. I preferred shopping with Amazon. Not anymore. Venture Capitol, just offer me any reasonable alternative and I will be delighted to drop Amazon and all the rest of today’s Big Tech Dictatorships permanently. That happy day is coming. Count on it, Amazon!

09 Mar 2021

Name ONE Time…

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17 Feb 2021

Stalin the Mouse

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11 Feb 2021

The Empire Strikes Back

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The Hollywood Reporter story confirms that the tweet that got Gina Carano fired was not wrong.

Gina Carano will not be returning to The Mandalorian or the Star Wars galaxy after sharing a post on social media implying that being a Republican today is like being Jewish during the Holocaust.

“Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” a Lucasfilm spokesperson said in a statement. “Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Carano has also been dropped as a client by UTA, an agency spokesperson confirms.

On Wednesday, the hashtag #FireGinaCarano was trending following an Instagram post from the outspoken conservative actor and former mixed martial artist that was met with severe backlash. The post has since been deleted, but screenshots were widely shared by users on social media who called for her firing from the hit Disney+ Star Wars show.

This is not the first time Carano, who played former Rebel Alliance soldier Cara Dune on The Mandalorian, has been the focus of social media ire for her political comments. Last November, she issued contentious tweets, one in which she mocked mask-wearing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and another in which she falsely suggested voter fraud occurred during the 2020 presidential election.

“They have been looking for a reason to fire her for two months, and today was the final straw,” a source with knowledge of Lucasfilm’s thinking tells THR.

RTWT

—————————–

Here’s the (later deleted) tweet that got her cancelled.

12 Jan 2021

A Watershed Moment

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Brendan O’Neill

Cancel culture doesn’t exist, they say. And yet with the flick of a switch, billionaire capitalists voted for by precisely nobody have just silenced a man who is still the democratically elected president of the United States. With the push of a button in their vast temples to technology, the new capitalist oligarchs of Silicon Valley have prevented a man who won the second largest vote in the history of the American republic just two months ago — 74million votes — from engaging with his supporters (and critics) in the new public square of the internet age.

Not only does cancel culture exist — it is the means through which the powerful, unaccountable oligarchies of the internet era and their clueless cheerleaders in the liberal elites interfere in the democratic process and purge voices they disapprove of. That’s what Twitter’s permanent suspension of Donald Trump confirms.

The new capitalists’ cancellation of the democratically elected president of the United States is a very significant turning point in the politics and culture of the Western world. We underestimate the significance of this act of unilateral purging at our peril. It demonstrates that the greatest threat to freedom and democracy comes not from the oafs and hard-right clowns who stormed the Capitol this week, but from the technocratic elites who spy in the breaching of the Capitol an opportunity to consolidate their cultural power and their political dominance.

Twitter’s ban on Trump is extraordinary for many reasons. First, there’s the arrogance of it. Make no mistake: this is the bosses vs democracy; corporates vs the people; exceptionally wealthy and aloof elites determining which elected politicians may engage in online discussion, which is where most political and public debate takes place in the 21st century. Those who cannot see how concerning and sinister it is that a handful of Big Tech companies have secured a virtual monopoly over the social side of the internet, and are now exploiting their monopolistic power to dictate what political opinions it is acceptable to hold and express in these forums, urgently needs a wake-up call.

Secondly, there is Twitter’s deeply disturbing justification for why it suspended Trump. It says Trump’s account ran the ‘risk’ of ‘inciting violence’. And yet the two tweets of his that it cites do nothing of the sort. In one, Trump describes his voters as ‘great American patriots’ and insists they will have a ‘GIANT VOICE’ in the future. In the other he confirms that he will not be attending the inauguration of Joe Biden. That’s it. In what warped moral universe can such standard, boastful Trump-made statements be interpreted as calls for violence?

RTWT

HT: The Anonymous Professor.

12 Jan 2021

As the Left Reveals Its True Fascist Colors…

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Kurt Schlichter has some choice words for our liberal fascist overlords.

So, the Establishment has decided to address the grievances of people who feel disenfranchised, silenced, and subjected to double standards with much more disenfranchisement, silencing, and double standards. Seems like an on-brand move for the most corrupt, unwise, and incompetent – yet remarkably arrogant – ruling caste America has ever known. Good plan – deny them the right to pick their 2024 president, clap like trained seals as corporate overlords cut off their ability to express themselves, and continue to treat their own supporters well and dissenters much, much worse. That’s sustainable. Say, let’s put out this blazing fire with this handy can of gasoline.

Yeah, they are having fun for now. While the supine GOP is tweeting hack cliches about Muh Not Who We Are, the left is trying to tighten the noose. But we’re woke. Rasmussen puts Trump’s popularity at 51%, rising after the riots. We aren’t blaming Trump for the riots. And we sure aren’t rolling over for these bastards.

RTWT

09 Nov 2020

The New Regime

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29 Oct 2020

Scotland’s Hate Crime Bill Would Prosecute Dinner-Table Speech

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Humza McYousaf, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice since 2018.

Tyler Durden reports that the recent Scottish efforts at self government seem to indicate that complete Independence would be a really bad idea.

Scotland’s new odious hate crime bill would go so far as to criminalize dinner table conversations if their ‘offensive’ content is reported to police.

“Conversations over the dinner table that incite hatred must be prosecuted under Scotland’s hate crime law,” reports the Times.

Such conversations were previously protected under the Public Order Act 1986, which includes a “dwelling defense” that shields conversations that take place in private homes from being prosecuted, however that would be removed under the new law.

The new bill would add an additional crime of “stirring up hate” against a protected group by “behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, or communicating threatening or abusive material to another person,” as well as the crime of possessing “inflammatory material.”

Critics have argued that the vague term “stirring up hate” could be broadly interpreted and could lead to people like JK Rowling facing criminal charges and up to seven years in prison for expressing views about transgender issues.

It also has dire implications for comedy and freedom of speech, given that anyone could choose to take offense to anything and complain that they have experienced “hate.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said journalists, writers and theater directors could also be dragged into the courts if their work is deemed to have stirred up “prejudice.”

RTWT

13 Oct 2020

First, They Came for QAnon…

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Matt Taibbi used to be a particularly sharp-tongued left-wing wiseass journalist. Unfortunately for him, he was afflicted by inconvenient streak of intellectual honesty that caused him to take note of some of the Left’s inconsistencies and irrationalities.

Taibbi was sufficiently indiscreet about those kinds of insights that it cost him a well-paying and prestigious position in the media establishment. He’s now publishing high quality opinion pieces on Substack. I recommend those who can afford it it chip in with a subscription. He’s paid the price for speaking the truth, and I believe his voice will become more and more valuable over time.

Facebook announced Tuesday that it’s stepping up efforts to clean its platform of QAnon content:

    Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content…

Facebook had already taken several rounds of action against QAnon, including the removal this summer of “over 1,500 Pages and Groups.” Restricting bans to groups featuring “discussions of potential violence” apparently didn’t do the trick, however, so the platform expended bans to include content “tied to real world harm”:

    Other QAnon content [is] tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public.

Describing what QAnon is, in a way that satisfies what its followers would might say represents their belief system and separates out the censorship issue, is not easy. The theory is constantly evolving and not terribly rational. It’s also almost always described by mainstream outlets in terms that implicitly make the case for its banning, referencing concepts like “offline harm” or the above-mentioned “real-world harm” in descriptions. As you’re learning what QAnon is, you’re usually also learning that it is not tolerable or safe. …

[T]he Q ban pulls the curtain back on one of the more bizarre developments of the Trump era, the seeming about-face of the old-school liberals who were once the country’s most faithful protectors of speech rights.

Bring up bans of QAnon or figures like Alex Jones (or even the suppression or removal of left-wing outlets like the World Socialist Web Site, teleSUR, or the Palestinian Information Centre) and you’re likely to hear that the First Amendment rights of companies like Facebook and Google are paramount. We’re frequently reminded there is no constitutional issue when private firms decide they don’t want to profit off the circulation of hateful, dangerous, and possibly libelous conspiracy theories.

That argument is easy to understand, but it misses the complex new reality of speech in the Internet era. It is true that the First Amendment only regulates government bans. However, what do we a call a situation when the overwhelming majority of news content is distributed across a handful of tech platforms, and those platforms are — openly — partners with the federal government, and law enforcement in particular?

In my mind, this argument became complicated in 2017, when the Senate Intelligence Committee dragged Facebook, Twitter, and Google to the Hill and essentially ordered them to come up with a “mission statement” explaining how they would prevent the “fomenting of discord.”

Platforms that previously rejected the idea they were in the editing business — “We are a tech company, not a media company,” said Mark Zuckerberg just a year before, in 2016, after meeting with the Pope — soon were agreeing to start working together with congress, law enforcement, and government-affiliated groups like the Atlantic Council. They pledged to target foreign interference, “discord,” and other problems.

Their decision might have been accelerated by a series of threats to increase regulation and taxation of the platforms, with Virginia Senator Mark Warner’s 23-page white paper in 2018 proposing new rules for data collection being just one example. Whatever the reason for the about-face, the tech companies now work with the FBI in what the Bureau calls “private sector partnerships,” which involve “strategic engagement… including threat indicator sharing.”

Does any of this make “private” bans of content a First Amendment issue? The answer I usually get from lawyers is “probably not,” but it’s not clear-cut. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this could go sideways quickly, as the same platforms the FBI engages with often have records of working with security services to suppress speech in clearly inappropriate ways in other countries.

As far back as 2016, for instance, Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was saying that Facebook and Google were complying with up to “95 percent” of its requests for content deletion. The minister noted cheerfully that the rate of cooperation had just risen sharply. Here’s how Reuters described the sudden burst of enthusiasm on the part of the platforms to cooperate with the state:

Perhaps spurred by the minister’s threat to legislate to make companies open to prosecution if they host images or messages that encourage terrorism, their rate of voluntary compliance has soared from 50 percent in a year, she said.

Whether or not one views Internet bans as censorship or a First Amendment issue really depends on how much one buys concepts like “voluntary compliance.”

The biggest long-term danger in all of this has always centered on the unique situation of media distribution now being concentrated in the hands of a such a relatively small number of companies. Instead of breaking up these oligopolies, or finding more transparent ways of dealing with speech issues, there exists now a temptation for governments to leave the power of these opaque behemoth companies intact, and appropriate their influence for their own sake.

As we’ve seen abroad, a relatively frictionless symbiosis can result: the platforms keep making monster sums, while security services, if they can wriggle inside the tent of these distributors, have an opportunity to control information in previously unheard-of ways. Particularly in a country like the United States, which has never had a full-time federal media regulator, such official leverage would represent a dramatic change in our culture. As one law professor put it to me when I first started writing about the subject two years ago, “What government doesn’t want to control what news you see?”

RTWT

23 Aug 2020

Margaret Mitchell Was a Cold-Eyed Realist Not a Romantic

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Turner Classics Movies is broadcasting “Gone With the Wind” (1939) tonight at 8:00 PM EST. It might be advisable to catch what may be one of the famous film’s last public viewings. Woke hysteria finds the social attitudes and language of 1939 every bit as unacceptable as those of 1859.

Today, GWTW must be presented with a warning label:

“Presented as originally released in 1939. Includes themes and character depictions which may be offensive or problematic to contemporary audiences.”

Bruce Bawer has a good essay, just out in the New Criterion, that corrects a large number of common misconceptions about the novel.

Gone with the Wind tells the story of the flirtation, lasting from the eve of the war until many years after, between Scarlett and Rhett. They’re drawn to each other, Mitchell wants us to understand, because they’re both, by nature, at odds with the social system into which they were born. If Mitchell celebrates anything, it’s not the conformist pre-war lives of planters and their families but the spirit of nonconformity exhibited by Rhett and Scarlett. During the war, the other members of their race and class are devoted heart and soul to what they describe as “the Cause.” In her account of the Atlanta bazaar, Mitchell describes the devotion of the women present to “the Cause”—“A Cause they loved as much as they loved their men, a Cause they served with their hands and their hearts, a Cause they talked about, thought about, dreamed about.” But neither Scarlett nor Rhett has any attachment whatsoever to the “Cause.” He runs Union blockades, he tells her, only to enrich himself; as for Scarlett, it’s plain from the first page that she has no attachment to the Confederacy. Toward the novel’s end, he says: “We are both scoundrels, Scarlett, and nothing is beyond us when we want something.” When Scarlett finally realizes that she loves not Ashley (the now-useless embodiment of pre-war Southern knighthood) but Rhett, she sees that “he, like her, saw truth as truth, unobstructed by impractical notions of honor, sacrifice, or high belief in human nature.” With this long-delayed self-insight, Scarlett fully embraces Mitchell’s own cold-eyed realism.

No, this is assuredly not a soggy, sentimental drama of cavaliers and chivalry, but a candid, even cynical, study of two strong-minded survivors set against the backdrop of America’s greatest social upheaval. Nor is it, as Mitchell readily and repeatedly admitted, a beautifully written book or a masterpiece of plotting. (She could never grasp why it became a bestseller or won the Pulitzer Prize.) But there’s no fictional work that paints a more sweeping and meticulous picture of the South at war, or that contains more characters of that place and time—women and men, black and white—who stir our sympathies and tremble with life. It’s a puzzlement, then, that Selznick—who in supervising the writing and rewriting of the script was almost fanatically insistent that, wherever possible, it was preferable to use dialogue from the novel rather than to write original lines—decided to frame the film with a title card that invites audiences to view the pre-war South with a romantic nostalgia that Mitchell’s book itself urges the reader to reject.

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