Free Speech Is Killing Us
Noxious language online is causing real-world violence. What can we do about it?
There has never been a bright line between word and deed. Yet for years, the founders of Facebook and Twitter and 4chan and Reddit — along with the consumers obsessed with these products, and the investors who stood to profit from them — tried to pretend that the noxious speech prevalent on those platforms wouldn’t metastasize into physical violence. In the early years of this decade, back when people associated social media with Barack Obama or the Arab Spring, Twitter executives referred to their company as “the free-speech wing of the free-speech party.” Sticks and stones and assault rifles could hurt us, but the internet was surely only a force for progress.
No one believes that anymore. Not after the social-media-fueled campaigns of Narendra Modi and Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump; not after the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va.; not after the massacres in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a Walmart in a majority-Hispanic part of El Paso. The Christchurch gunman, like so many of his ilk, had spent years on social media trying to advance the cause of white power. But these posts, he eventually decided, were not enough; now it was “time to make a real life effort post.” He murdered 51 people….
How many Iraqis did the NYT help murder? What about Ukrainians, Syrians, Libyans and Afghans. What about the decades of US-funded death squads and torture regimes in latin america? When was the last time time they pointed out the inconsistencies and psych-drug conections in establishment gun violence narratives? Ever?
There are literally millions dead and devastated because of NYT editorial policies pursued while they had access to the facts at all times.
They have a hell of a business model: parrot whatever the dominant interests dictate. They don’t even have to put lipstick on it, the corporo-governmental psyop experts package it very neatly for them.
The internet presents us with a choice we hadn’t had before: can we trust the emergent intelligence manifested by masses of mostly well-meaning empathic people (and the occasional eyewitness) sharing information that the NYT is accustomed to parsing out and mixing with lies as needed by the most corrupt and psychopathic interests imaginable, interests which have led this country down bloody rivers of endless war to the brink of catastrophe.
At least the internet self-corrects over time, unlike the MSM which has latched onto one big lie after another.
Gee, I can’t make up my mind.