Category Archives: Speech

Defend Twitter’s, Google’s, and Facebook’s property rights now or don’t complain when you’re called a racist

big-tech-censorship-777x437Twitter took the unprecedented step on Friday of banning the president of the United States from its platform. Their justification lay in the dubious assertion Trump incited the vastly overblown incident inside the Capitol on January 6, as lawmakers attempted to count the electoral votes for president sent by the states.

Never mind that banning Trump can only incite more violence. There is the larger question of whether this constitutes an assault on free speech and what should be done about it. For libertarians, if not conservatives (no, they’re not remotely the same thing), the answer should be clear as far as government action goes: nothing.

The left’s timeworn tactic of calling anyone who opposes outright socialism a racist has worn so thin as to become cartoonish. There is a significant segment of the population who are sick of it. That was one of the major reasons Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Trump got 12 million more votes in 2020 than he did then.

Until Covid-19 and the monstrous, unscientific government response to it, it seemed the left had learned little from their previous defeat. No longer content to simply call non-socialists “racists,” they now upped the ante to “white supremacist” or “white nationalist.” Why? Let’s forget the meaning of the actual terms. For most Americans, “white supremacist” merely means “somebody who’s way worse than even a racist.”

I don’t believe Donald Trump is a racist and he has certainly never advanced a single policy that can accurately be described as “white supremacist.” Neither do I believe any significant portion of the 74 million people who voted for him did so because they are racists or white supremacists. But just as hundreds of his supporters may have been baited by FBI infiltrators, Antifa activists, or both into committing a self-destructive act on Wednesday, Trump’s and his supporters’ call for government action against Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. is going to blow up in their faces.

Let’s not forget the libertarian and conservative position on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In a nutshell, both groups generally agree with the Act’s prohibitions on any government-enforced racism. But purists in both camps disagree with its prohibitions on private businesses, specifically in Titles II and VII. I was clear in my own piece on the subject that these sections of the law should be repealed. Why? Because people have a right to make whatever rules they want on their own property, no matter how vile we may find them.

I stand by that position to this day, regardless of my personal feelings on the Jim Crow south (and north, in some cases). Yes, I fully understand Jim Crow was state and local governments prohibiting integration in restaurants and hotels and that those laws were only necessary because some people would presumably integrate their businesses without them. But let’s not pretend Jim Crow laws had no support among the people. They had overwhelming support. And they were really, really bad.

Quincy Jones recounted how black musicians had to sleep in a mortuary, with several dead bodies, while on tour in the South, because “separate but equal” failed to provide any hotels. People would travel hundreds of miles looking for a “separate but equal” place to eat lunch or even use a restroom. Next to what these people went through, suspension of our supposedly God-given right to bloviate on Twitter rather pales in comparison.

If we’re going to defend the property rights of segregationists, and I do, then we’re going to have to answer for why we don’t defend the property rights of woke tech giants. I defend them for precisely the same reason I defend the property rights of the 1960s lunch counter owner from refusing to serve black people. It’s his lunch counter. If you believe in limited government, it’s the government’s job to enforce his property rights, not other people’s preferences.

As long as I’ve been a libertarian, the answer to the question, “What would stop people from doing reprehensible things without government?” has been, “private enforcement of property rights.” Ostracism has frequently been cited as a tool individuals could use to fight against distasteful behavior and speech without government.

Well, here we are. Tech giants and the woke crowd have been doing precisely what we libertarians have always said was the non-government way to avoid associating with people we don’t want to associate with. And what is our reaction? “Regulate them!”

How could anyone credibly argue there isn’t hypocrisy here? What defense would any libertarian or conservative who objects to Titles II and VII on principle offer to those who charge them with racism, when they abandon those principles now?

Yes, it’s true the call for regulation by Trump and his supporters is to remove an exemption in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 to protect internet content providers from being sued for content by their users. This, argues the regulate crowd, gives them an unfair advantage over traditional media. Somehow, also goes the argument, this allows them to achieve “monopoly power” over the internet.

Are they kidding?

Yes, this is a protection afforded internet providers over traditional media, but it doesn’t give Google any particular advantage over other search engines nor Facebook or Twitter over MeWe or Parler. But the real question is, “Do libertarians and conservatives have total amnesia?” Does no one remember how the internet was celebrated just a few years ago as a way around the gatekeeper traditional media? Now, we’re supposed to defend CNN against Twitter and somehow that will help our cause?

Besides being tactically moronic, it’s unprincipled. If you’re a libertarian and won’t go full Monty anarcho-capitalist, then you should be looking to extend the protection to traditional media, not take it away from the tech platforms. That’s the free speech position, to protect speech from government-enforced mobbism in the courtrooms.

Let’s face it. We like to criticize the left for being dumb, especially on economics. But they’re not. They’re smart and they’re winning. The tech billionaires became billionaires largely because they think strategically. They’ve maneuvered the entire non-socialist movement into betraying their own most fiercely held principles and opening themselves up to the tired charge of racism and making it stick. I’m not sure even I could effectively defend against a charge of racism someone who thinks Titles II and VII should be abolished but Twitter should be regulated. On what grounds?

If we want to fight for property rights, free markets, and individual liberty, the special pleading must stop. Arguments like, “this isn’t really a free market” are astoundingly obtuse. Are we saying that unless and until there is 100% laissez faire, all property rights are off the table? Good luck with that. You might as well vote for AOC in 2024.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The Free Market Resolved the Sandra Fluke Affair (Tom Mullen on the Daily Caller)

The controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s incendiary statements about Sandra Fluke and Limbaugh’s subsequent apology has reached its second week. In this age of 24-hour news cycles and government involvement in just about everything, we’ve been treated to opinions on this from presidential candidates, pundits, reporters and, of course, the president. Even in the wake of his apology, Limbaugh continues to weigh in.

We’ve also heard this incident discussed from just about every angle. Is this about religious freedom? Is it about a supposed “right to health care”? Is it about “silencing women,” as Fluke herself claimed in a recent interview?

Even Ron Paul missed an opportunity when he opined, “I think he’s [apologizing] because people were taking their advertisements off his program.”

Yes, Limbaugh apologized because he was losing sponsors. But no one on the right or the left seems to be gleaning the most important point here: the free market solved this problem.

Read the rest of the article at The Daily Caller

The GOP Can’t Complain When Ron Paul Supporters Cry Foul

It’s still early in the Republican primary season. Only 9 of the 41 primaries/caucuses have occurred. The nomination is a long way from being decided. Any one of the four remaining candidates can not only still win it, but can still win it by a landslide. Large victories on Super Tuesday and in the California, New York, and Texas contests can all but nullify any value of victories obtained so far. So why do the candidates fight so hard to win in small states like Maine and Nevada?

The answer is momentum. Right or wrong, most voters are in some way affected by their perception of whether each candidate has the ability to win, rather than strictly by their political positions. Republican primary voters consider two questions. Can he win the nomination? Can he win the general election?

Thus, victories in these early and – from a quantitative perspective – meaningless primary contests are valuable to candidates purely for the effect they may have on the minds of voters in bigger states.

Ron Paul has chosen to focus his campaign on the caucus states, where he can acquire delegates even if he does not finish first in the contest. That strategy seems to have been successful so far, as Paul has locked up delegates in excess of his percentage of the straw poll votes. However, he and his supporters also know that he needs a win in at least one state to avoid going into the big contests with the disadvantage of not having one.

Paul’s best shots to win so far have been the caucuses in Iowa, Nevada, and Maine. Since long before the voting started, Paul’s supporters have had their eyes on these states due to the receptiveness there to Paul’s ideas and the conduciveness of their caucus processes to Paul’s strong political ground game. Paul finished in striking distance of first in Iowa and lost by less than 200 votes in Maine. He finished far behind Romney in Nevada, but was in contention for a very respectable 2nd place finish. He ended up finishing a close third to Newt Gingrich.

Coincidentally, those three caucuses where Paul had the best chance to win are the only three states where some sort of controversy or irregularity has arisen in the election process. The latest of these was in Maine, where the Washington County caucus was postponed due to a relatively benign (for Maine) weather forecast of 1-3 inches of snow. The Ron Paul campaign’s official statement pointed out that the Girl Scouts went ahead with one of their events in the very same county.

Washington County is one of Paul’s strongest in the state. It will hold its contest on Saturday February 18 and a lopsided victory there and in other towns that have not yet voted could conceivably allow Paul to win the state. However, Paul will have been denied the real value of his victory – the post-election, nationally-televised victory speech where all of those future primary voters see him firing up a raucous crowd of supporters.

In addition, Maine GOP Executive Director Michael Quatrano says that the Romney win on Saturday won’t be reversed even if Paul does end up finishing with more votes based upon the remaining counties. This is in stark contrast to Iowa, where Rick Santorum was announced as the winner several weeks after a Republican Party victory. Why the different treatment? It’s a legitimate question to ask.

It is not reasonable to assume that this all adds up to some sort of dark conspiracy against Ron Paul. There are many possible explanations, the simplest one being ineptitude. At the same time, it is naïve to deny that Paul’s campaign is opposed by the party establishment or to believe that this process is ever squeaky clean in any election year, regardless of who’s running. As government privileges give the two major parties a virtual monopoly on the political process, all primary elections should be watched closely for signs of corruption or fraud.

One shouldn’t rush to judgment on a charge that serious in a presidential election without compelling proof. That proof hasn’t been presented by anyone so far. However, when irregularities continue to occur and only in states where Paul has a good chance to win, an odor starts to arise that doesn’t smell like coincidence anymore. If this trend continues, then the GOP leadership shouldn’t complain if Ron Paul supporters start crying foul.

There are three contests left before Super Tuesday: Arizona, Michigan, and Washington. The Washington caucuses are Ron Paul’s best chance for a victory. Fairly or not, the pressure is on the Washington GOP to ensure that no appearance of impropriety occurs during this contest, especially if Ron Paul is in contention for the win. There is one way that they can avoid contributing to an unnecessary controversy. Run a clean and transparent election. Follow your own rules and don’t make any suspicious changes to procedure. Given the GOP’s performance so far this election cycle, one more coincidence will turn that funny odor into a downright stench.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Can Ron Paul Really Be Right About Everything?

I was in Jacksonville last Friday for an event called “Ron Paul on the River.” The Republican presidential candidate was supposed to speak there, but had to cancel at the last minute due to a Libya vote in the House scheduled on short notice. While it was disappointing that the congressman would not appear, the keynote speaker that appeared in his place was well worth the trip.

Doug Wead is a self-confessed former member of the Establishment. In addition to being a best-selling author and world-renowned speaker, Wead has worked as a special advisor to President George H.W. Bush and on the campaign of George W. Bush. According to Wikipedia, Time magazine called Wead “an insider in the Bush family orbit.”

A good portion of Wead’s speech in Jacksonville focused on issues on which he had formerly disagreed with Paul. At one point, he made the startling statement, “but now I agree with him on everything.” He encouraged Paul supporters to persevere through the difficulties of supporting an anti-Establishment candidate and to remember that “logic and the truth are on your side.”

It is not fashionable to admit that you agree with someone “on everything.” To say that you do is to invite the accusation of belonging to a personality cult whose members blindly follow their leader no matter what position he takes. Indeed, this criticism is leveled at Paul’s grassroots supporters, who are called “Paulites” by detractors, implying that they have a pseudo-religious devotion to Paul rather than informed positions on the issues.

In modern American political thought, where only the results of political action are considered rather than the rights of the parties involved, it is not considered reasonable to agree with anyone 100% of the time. For someone like Wead, whose living depends upon his credibility as an expert on those things he writes and speaks about, there is a certain amount of risk in making this statement. Yet he did it in Jacksonville without hesitation, emphasizing the words “on everything” to ensure that no one missed the point.

This immediately struck me, because it was the second time in as many weeks that I had heard a statement like this from someone who had something to lose by saying it. Appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, John Stossel answered O’Reilly’s assertion that Ron Paul hadn’t won the New Hampshire debate by saying, “But he’s right about everything and you’re wrong.” O’Reilly retorted, “Everything?” Stossel repeated, “Everything.” When O’Reilly pressed yet again with the same question, Stossel finally backed up to “Just about everything.”

Stossel is a television journalist, so credibility is arguably even more important to his living than it is to Wead’s. That is not all the two have in common. Stossel also admits that he regrets much of the first 20 years of his career when he attacked the free enterprise system and championed increased government regulation over business. Like Wead, Stossel was a member of the Establishment, albeit from the other side of its aisle. Now, despite the risk to his credibility, he says that Ron Paul is right about everything.

So is this some sort of quasi-religious devotion? Are Paul’s followers simply caught up in a mass hysteria over someone who is likeable and has demonstrated his integrity for so long that they abandon their reason to avoid critical examination of his positions? Isn’t it impossible for an intelligent person to agree with someone on everything?

The answer to all three of these questions is “no.” In fact, contrary to what conventional wisdom tells us, it is actually illogical to agree with Paul on some things and not others.[1] As I’ve said before, Paul is simply applying the central libertarian axiom to each issue. As long as he applies the axiom properly and does not make an error of logic, he is going to come out with a position that is consistent with libertarianism 100% of the time.

For those in the grip of this “conventional wisdom” that has led us to the brink of societal collapse, Paul’s answers are anything but consistent. On economic policy, he seems like a hardcore conservative, surpassing all other Republicans in his zeal to eliminate regulation and taxes. On foreign policy and social issues, he seems to be some sort of lefty hippie, arguing to legalize all drugs, allow homosexuals to marry if they wish to (he wants government out of marriage even at the state level), and to immediately order home every soldier stationed on a foreign base.

Those just learning about libertarianism might conclude that it is some sort of “compromise” between conservatism and progressivism/liberalism. This is untrue. Libertarianism evaluates political issues from a completely different perspective than either mainstream political philosophy. Sometimes, conservatives happen to agree with libertarians, but for different reasons. Sometimes, the same is true for progressives/liberals. Libertarians care not for who agrees/disagrees. They follow one simple principle and let the chips fall where they may.

Walter Block sums this up best in terms of understanding how libertarians like Paul formulate  their positions.

“This is because libertarianism is solely a political philosophy. It asks one and only one question: Under what conditions is the use of violence justified? And it gives one and only one answer: violence can be used only in response, or reaction to, a prior violation of private property rights.”

In order to understand Ron Paul’s platform, there are two conclusions one must reach. The first is that libertarians are correct that violence is only justified in response or reaction to a prior violation of private property rights. Block does not limit the definition of “private property” to land ownership or even physical property in general. Instead, property includes all of one’s life, liberty, and justly acquired possessions. So, any murder, assault, theft, fraud, or coercion would be violation of a private property right. Based upon that understanding, ask anyone if they agree that violence should never be initiated, but instead only used in defense, and you will almost always get agreement. So far, so good.

The second thing that one must conclude in order to understand Ron Paul is that all government action is violent action. This is where it gets difficult for conservatives and liberals alike. While it is easy to see the government’s use of its military as an act of violence, it is harder for people to see that other government activities represent violence. How could providing healthcare, ensuring workplace safety, or licensing barbers be violent acts?

This is the great truth that hides in plain site under every human being’s nose. In order to recognize it, one must disengage the deep, emotional attachments that almost everyone has developed to some or all government activity. Once you get someone to that point and they are truly ready to reason, they will come to the libertarian conclusion every time. To the genuinely interested and rational person, only one question is necessary:

“What if you do not cooperate?”

I cannot count how many times I have asked this question and received in response a stare – not a blank stare, but a thoughtful one. You can see the wheels turning. Sometimes they will begin to speak, then stop themselves while they think some more. They are looking for a hole in the theory. They are unable to find one. They are genuinely interested in either proving or disproving your argument. By that time, you have won.

For those who do not immediately “see the light,” you can pick any government action and walk them through that reasoning process:

You: Suppose that I do not wish to participate in Medicare and withhold only that percentage of my payroll taxes that would otherwise go to fund it. In return, I agree not to make use of any of the Medicare benefits. What will happen to me?

Him/Her: You will be charged with income tax evasion.

You: What if I don’t answer the charge?

Him/Her: You will be arrested.

You: What if I do not agree to submit to the arrest?

Him/Her: You will be physically forced to submit.

You: And if I resist further?

Him/Her: (reluctantly) You will be killed.

You: So, you now agree that we are forced to participate in Medicare under the threat of violence, correct?

Him/Her: (Even more reluctantly) Yes.

You: Is there any government tax, law, or regulation that we are not similarly forced to participate in under the threat of violence? Are not all of these answers the same in relation to even the least significant government regulation, like a parking ticket?

Recall the final scenes in the 1999 movie, The Matrix. After Neo’s “resurrection,” he stands up to once again face the agents that had apparently killed him a moment before. However, when we see the matrix through Neo’s eyes, as he sees it now, the whole world is made up of lines of green code. Neo had been told early in the movie that the matrix is a computer-generated illusion. He heard it, but did not know it. He is now seeing that world as it really is for the first time. His mind has reasoned through and understood all of the implications of what Morpheus has told him. Once he truly understands, he is invincible.

This is a wonderful metaphor for the libertarian “conversion.” Once one has had the epiphany that all government action is violent action, there are only three choices. 1) You come to the same conclusions that Ron Paul does on every issue, 2) You disagree with Walter Block and conclude that it is morally justifiable to initiate violence against other people, or 3) You abandon logic and stop acknowledging reality. This is why Paul told the Today Show’s Matt Lauer that “economic liberty and personal liberty are one and the same and foreign policy that defends America and not police the world [sic] – that’s part of the package as well.”

Doug Wead, John Stossel, and millions of Paul’s supporters have had this revelation. This is why they agree with Paul without exception. They refuse to accept the other two choices available to them: to support the initiation of violence or to abandon logic and refuse to acknowledge reality. This is not fanaticism. It is the inevitable conclusion that one must come to if one employs logic and faces reality. That is why Doug Wead said, “logic and the truth are on your side.”

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Ron Paul lost the Washington state primaries by a considerable margin. However, he won big in Spokane. Why? Because that was the one part of Washington in which Paul’s campaign was able to schedule an appearance. During that campaign, Howard Stern remarked about his exposure to Paul’s message just as Wead, Stossel and millions of Paul supporters have: “I think I agreed with everything that dude just said.” Stern went on to say that he had never heard of Paul before and that it was a shame that the Republican Party was not taking him seriously.

Once a reasonable person hears the libertarian message, it is inevitable that they will not only agree, but agree completely and without exception. This is the antithesis of fanaticism. It is reason. It is recognizing the real world for what it truly is and applying logic to those observations. It is the consistent application to separate political issues of one undeniable principle, which can only lead to libertarian conclusions. It is actually illogical and fanatical to come to any others.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Establishment media had a strategy to combat this very troublesome dynamic: Don’t let the message be heard. That is no longer a viable strategy. Paul’s grassroots supporters have forced his platform into the mainstream. The media is simply unable to ignore Paul’s campaign this time around. The libertarian message will be heard. Whether or not Paul wins the presidency is secondary. Every day, more Americans are hearing the truth for the first time and its power is irresistible. The revolution is underway. Whether it takes a year, a decade, or longer, liberty is going to prevail.

Check out Tom Mullen’s book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

© Thomas Mullen 2011

[1] This assumes that Paul continues to apply libertarian reasoning consistently. It is certainly possible to disagree with him if he misapplies the theory. There are also fine points of theory that libertarians would take Paul to task for, but not on his general positions on the domestic and foreign policy of the federal government.