Carnes: Don’t ban the banners
Warning: The following sentence is pure, unadulterated satire.
Aspen has the class of a Trump tweet, the style of a Putin land grab and retains its status as a leader in the ski industry like Bill Barr has retained his status as a reputable lawyer.
This newspaper, being a publisher and thus responsible for its content, has (hopefully) published the above because it is simply a spoof on the pretend and never-ending friendly rivalry between our respective ski resorts.
It’s all in good fun, just a bit of a laugh, and in today’s culture is no different than loyalty to sports teams, like berating the New England Patriots over their inability for happy endings without their boss cheating with a deflating massage first.
Facebook, on the other hand, and other social media sites like Instagram and Twitter, has a legal status as a platform — not a publisher — and therefore is not responsible for its content.
The distinction is enormous.
Last week Facebook banned a number of “individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.”
From the conspiracy-laden Alex Jones to the admitted anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan to the KKK’s David Duke and others of their ilk (fearmongering bigots), each are instigators of hatred, racism, lies and division whose only agenda is to promote violence and pit people against one another while making a nice living doing so.
While a few might be shouting this is an obstruction of free speech (that pesky First Amendment), understand everyone banned has their very own website where they are free to spew and publish whatever nonsense they wish, thus they are merely being denied access to a specific private platform.
While freedom of speech means our government cannot slap your butt in jail for saying words it doesn’t like, it certainly does not guarantee you can use those words on any private platform you wish.
Just like “no shirts, no shoes, no service” outside a restaurant, Facebook is a luxury not everyone has a “right” to use, nor is it the designated arbiter for public discourse. It’s a private company that accepts no public funds and can allow, or suppress, any content it so chooses for whatever reason. Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and the rest do this daily.
The FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine,” adopted in 1949 but dropped in 1987, fit for a while back when we only had three networks. It was put in place to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance,” but is completely unmanageable with today’s thousands of media publishers and platforms.
The only form of censorship I fear is when the government attempts to direct what can and cannot be published, for that would truly be a threat to freedom of speech. However, I will admit a mild form of suppression is perfectly acceptable when some moron starts posting spoilers for “The Avengers” or “Game of Thrones.”
While I actually enjoy and admire Aspen, these spoilers need to be castrated or forced to watch every episode of “The Apprentice” using headphones and a tiny screen with Metallica playing at “11” except for every time the orange TV clown speaks.
They deserve it.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.