Just private companies, or something more?

Why would you voluntarily seek to represent a group that you disagree with? And should you be replaced in that representation?

When Big Tech social media companies ban someone, some suggest that since they are private companies that’s OK. But there are other considerations. And what happens when they start doing the bidding of the government?

Mentioned links:

Olympic athlete ‘pissed’ national anthem was played while receiving award, claims ‘it was setup’

Jesse Owens [Wikipedia]

Biden administration ‘flagging problematic posts for Facebook,’ Psaki says

Psaki Tries to Justify Getting Social Media to Censor People but Makes It So Much Worse

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Show transcript

Why would someone represent, of their own accord, a group or organization that they disagreed with? For example, would you go to a convention and be in one of those information booths for the company you worked for, but then tell everyone who came by that you were ashamed of your company? Now, you may have a perfectly good reason for feeling that way, but then why did you volunteer to represent the company? Now you’ve made your appearance at the convention about you rather than the company itself.

There’s a time and a place for airing your grievance, but this ain’t it. The company would have good cause to replace you with someone who will do the job. And that is what another group in this same position ought to do.

Gwen Berry was participating in US Olympic track and field trials in the women’s hammer throw. She came in third place and, while standing on the podium, the national anthem began to play. Now, there is some question as to whether this was simply being played at a particular time of day or for the competition itself, but either way when it started, Berry made her feelings known about it. She turned away from the flag and then later put her T-shirt over her head with the words “Activist Athlete” showing.

No matter what your grievance with the country might be, this ain’t the time to air it. You are voluntarily trying to get on a team, a team that will represent your country. This is not about you and your political or social disagreements.

In 1936, Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Think about what he as a black man living in Alabama was subjected to in this country at that time. And yet when he got on the 1st place stand, he didn’t merely put his hand over his heart when his anthem played, he saluted the flag.

He understood what Martin Luther King would, decades later, say to the nation. The flag stands for a promise of freedom and of equal treatment under the law; a promise that has not been properly kept during this country’s history, but a promise nonetheless. Owens believed that promise and King appealed to that promise.

[MLK audio]

That is what the flag stands for, and if you can’t respect that, no matter your color, I don’t think you should be representing the country.

One of the defenses I hear when Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media company de-platforms someone is that, “since they’re private company, they can do what they want”. Typically this comes from someone who’s trying to appeal to my conservative values that the government should stay out of the private sector. And as far as that goes, that’s a very good argument.

But there are a couple of issues with that when it comes to these massive tech companies. For starters, when the government keeps in touch with those companies in order to specifically flag content, they become just another arm of the federal government. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted as much recently. At a second press conference she added that the administration believes that if you are banned from one social media company you should be banned from all of them. Coming from an administration that the big tech companies generally agree with on policy, this may start soon enough, especially since, if big tech wants to continue to get special protections from the government, they know that they should jump when Biden says to.

The other issue is that, while it’s true that these are private companies, they are so much more than your corner bookstore. If Sally’s Book Nook won’t sell your book, that’s one thing. When Amazon won’t, you’ve lost access to a global market. Sure Amazon isn’t the only game in town, but it is the first game in town for most looking to buy books, and often there isn’t a second game. If you’ve been permanently removed from you town council meeting, that’s one thing. When Twitter bans you, a ubiquitous, easily accessible, and global communication platform has been denied to you. And again, the #2 player is a long, long way down there.

So technically, yeah, they’re all private companies, but it really seems to me that we need to come up with a new category of business that holds so much of our daily lives in their hands. Let me know what you think.

Filed under: Race IssuesSocial Media