The Public Square

If you wanted to start a delivery service, you would need vehicles of some sort to make your deliveries. You would need to hire drivers and people to help figure out the logistics of delivering whatever it is you intend to deliver. The other thing you would need is permits to operate your delivery vehicles on the road. The reason for that is the roads belong to the public. The job of the state is to maintain the roads and part of that is regulating how the roads are used. That means you have to obey the rules in order to use the roads.

This may seem obvious, but it is not something that was always obvious. For most of human history, the concept of a “public good” did not exist. In a feudal economy, everything belongs to the king or lord. The common grazing lands would be used by everyone, but they belonged to the king and so did the animals. The military, which defended the king’s lands, was the king’s army, because it was explicitly for the use of the king to defend his possessions. In feudalism, there were no public goods.

Under communism, in theory at least, everything is a public good. The people own the land and the capital that is accumulated through labor. In reality this is a fiction, of course, as it is the state that owns everything. The party controls the state and those who control the party essentially own everything. This is not a lot different from feudalism, except that the guy in charge is not the leader of “his people” in the ethnic sense. Otherwise, all goods, excludable and nonexcludable are held by whoever runs the party.

It is only in participatory government where we have to think about public goods. Things like parks, highways, seaports, rivers, the military and even the air are considered public goods. How these are used and regulated is determined by the people’s representatives in government. All of us get the benefit of these things so all of us have a say in how they are regulated. It’s why a city has to issue permits for parades and protests, when the participants are unpopular. Even the ugly and annoying get to use public goods.

The concept of public goods, like the concept of participatory government, did not spring from nothing. It evolved over time as people worked through how to conserve and manage things like natural resources. The American national park system was created because it solved the problem of managing the great natural wonders of the country. The government manages fisheries, because we slowly figured out, due to over fishing, that even the coastal waterways are public goods and must managed as such.

This notion of public goods is what drives the idea of universal suffrage. The government itself is seen as a public good. The military does not just protect property holders or natives. The police don’t just patrol the streets of land owning white males. If all of us are going to get use of the government, good and ill, then all of us should have some say in how the government runs, within reasonable limits. We bar criminals from voting, for the same reason we ban the insane from voting. These are exceptions that prove the rule.

This link between democracy and public goods is important to keep in mind when thinking about the on-going efforts by Progressives to shut-off dissent from the Internet. Like trucking companies, outfits like YouTube could not exist without the information super highway, owned by all of us. It’s why these big content providers fight to prevent the ISP’s from throttling their content. If Comcast can block NetFlix from its networks, Comcast can suddenly operate like a protection racket, stripping these services of their profits.

Now, it is not unreasonable to demand companies like YouTube pay some special tax for their use of the Internet. They use this resource way out of proportion than anyone else, so a special use tax is a way to address it. Trucking companies pay special use taxes, because heavy trucks are more damaging to the road than your car. Similarly, parade organizers are often charged for police details and other security measures, because these are above and beyond normal use of the streets.

Like the parade route or the public park, there is an overriding issue and that is these public goods are intertwined with our democratic form of government. Controlling access to the park for a rally, is no different than controlling access to the public square for a political speech or access to the ballot for a political party. Even if a public park is managed by a private operator, a common thing these days, the rules governing this public good still apply. Regardless who who cuts the grass, the park is ours.

That’s what needs to apply to these large social media companies. Like it or not, the internet is now the public square. These services like Twitter and YouTube only exist because the public square exists and the concept of the public good exists. If Twitter goes away tomorrow, the internet still exists. If the internet goes away tomorrow, all of the social media platforms go with it. In this regard, they are no different from a vendor operating in a public park. They must abide by the same rules as the public.

As far as the argument that these are private companies goes, well, that is true, but again, they cannot exist without this commonly held thing called the internet. If FaceBorg had to build out its own infrastructure to deliver cat videos and virility ads to your grandmother, it would have to charge granny millions for the service. In other words, these services benefit from this public utility we call the internet, the trade-off for them, like a public broadcaster, is they have to adhere to the rules the public sets for regulating that utility.

The rules we apply to holding rallies in public parks, holding parades on public streets and issuing permits for conducting commerce on public thoroughfares need to be applied to businesses that operate on-line. If Twitter wants to charge users like a private club, then they can impose ideological rules. If they want to operate as a public square, then they must operate like one. This is the California model that is now going to be used in a lawsuit against Twitter. It needs to be the model nationally so we can have a public square back.

85 thoughts on “The Public Square

  1. So let’s say our side wins the lawsuit and Twitter has to behave as stated. Who will pay to join the private club? not the users clamoring for elimination of badthink; they rarely put their money where their mouth is. I suppose at worst they wind up paying to be in their own little bubble, and a few of us pay to peer in the windows and watch their antics.

    I fail to see a downside here.

  2. There is no public space called the Internet. There are private networks that use a common protocol, internet protocol, to connect their individual computers and routers, to make a local area network. Then a mess of private networks (not all) exchange data with each other at agreed points (like MAE east in NJ) forming a larger seamless network, the Internet.

    So if you are on your company network and it is connected to the internet every host on the internet is reachable just like the local printer or file server. Each is reachable by traveling over private leased lines and routers.

    Data packets do not travel through the air for free, it is not an unowned commons, every packet travels over numerous private networks (try traceroute). One network that spills too many packets to another sometimes pays transit so the other network accepts all their packet traffic. They pay for transit so their customers get a full internet connection – which is the main thing their customers want. Networks that exchange near equal amounts of data pay each other nothing judging that each give equal value to the other just carrying the other’s traffic.

    When you purchase a connection to some local network, like the telephone company or the local cable company, they currently promise to carry packets of data from and to your computer to anywhere else connected to the Internet. So you can get to facebook. If they sold partial connection to the internet (everything but netfliz and youtube) very few people would subscribe to their service. So no one tries to sell partial access to the internet. They could. There is just no demand for it.

    It is all private. There is no commons.

    You can start your parallel internet tomorrow. Invite your neighbor to network his computer to yours with internet protocol. Maybe no one would join your new internet because everything is already on the existing internet (network effect), but physically and technologically you have the same thing as the existing internet. If more and more computers and local networks joined your new internet and exchanged data with you, your network could spread across the neighborhood, then the state, then the country. Just how the existing internet grew.

    • Libertarianism is suburban white boy astrology. And yeah, that’s an insult to reasonableness of astrologers. Your argument is so delusional and ridiculous, it is hard to believe it was stated by an adult.

      • i was not really making an argument. I stated what I think are facts about computer networking and the nature of the internet. It is called the internet because it is a network of networks.

        LAN A connects to LAN B which Connects to LAN C, suddenly LAN A B and C are one big network.

        I made no statement about libertarianism or politics at all. I merely said that there is no commons. merely private networks of computers that voluntarily agree to exchange data with each other. Sort of like if the whole neighborhood agreed to carry letters to each other, that is all it is, nothing more nothing less. But each private house in the neighborhood that agreed to carry letters to each other would be private property, no commons is created by carrying data where directed even thought you can use it to speak to a crowed.

      • I did have a few Kirkland bourbons (quite good) so, although I do not think a wit of good will come of it I will point out that:

        You said I am a libertarian which there is no evidence for in my post. I tried to state facts. I am willing to listen and respond to any counter factual claims.

        You said I adhere to a suburban white boy ideology. Not relevant to anything. A suburban white boy can be as correct as anyone else.

        You said I am delusional and ridiculous. Seems to me conclusions without any evidence. It is almost as if I said you were demented. What did that get us?

      • Bravo.

        Its also true as astrology occasionally makes useful predictions about human behavior and I can’t say the same for Libertarianism

    • Here is a traceroute of the route to your blog:

      traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets

      4 ( 9.427 ms 9.503 ms 9.639 ms
      5 ( 9.578 ms 12.057 ms 12.060 ms
      6 * * *
      7 ( 27.062 ms 29.466 ms 29.298 ms
      8 ( 29.139 ms 29.192 ms 29.381 ms
      9 ( 31.429 ms 29.232 ms 31.344 ms
      10 ( 33.690 ms 29.563 ms 24.704 ms
      11 ( 26.773 ms 26.743 ms 26.686 ms
      12 ( 31.359 ms ( 29.036 ms 26.957 ms
      13 ( 26.748 ms ( 34.444 ms ( 26.864 ms
      14 ( 29.621 ms 29.413 ms 29.318 ms

      Alternet, Zayo and, all private companies who exchange data with each other.

      • Lots of privately owned trucking companies out there, but the roads remain a public good.

        Your problem is you don’t understand the material.

    • Weird, that dumb fuck, Tim Berners-Lee, (you know the guy who invented the world wide web), doesn’t agree with you, at all.

  3. Is one of the niche issues I feel quite strongly about; regulating social media as public utility

  4. In addition to treating these social media platforms like common carriers, what I believe would help is strengthening laws against slander. You shouldn’t be able to call someone a “racist” or a “Nazi” just because you feel like it. Frankly, I don’t understand why there are not more slander lawsuits filed, as Twitter is nothing but a giant slander-fest.

  5. Odd, a month ago, my hard left friends- not one original thought in their parroty heads- were demanding that “we ought to make lies illegal!”

  6. Great argument, Z, but bad analogies. Individuals built Twatter and Fecesbook and did it on their own merit and initiative with their own funds. They were not built as public parks or utilities and therefore can’t be treated that way. And unlike the roads where you have a finite amount of space requiring regulations in order that all may use them – the internet is infinite. I don’t have the time of day for Twatter – but I love Gab! The rude and often racist jokes are worth the price of admission alone – never mind the freedom of speech! I don’t have time for internet morons and I have a proggy family – so I don’t do Fecesbook – but there is no reason they can’t be forked the same way Twatter was.

    Ultimately there are two things about the internet that everyone forgets:

    – if ya don’t like it, or ya don’t like the content creators… don’t read their stuff!

    – if ya HAVE to read it – understand that you CANNOT lie to a rational adult. When you read in the New York Times that Hakuna Wakanda is the best movie that ever came out of Hollywood, everyone with a triple digit IQ knows they are full of it. When the pasty faced environmentalists scold you on your power bill and tell you that you are an energy hogging slob – you know they are full a beans too. In fact – the liars, rage heads, axe grinders and idiots in the media are so predictable and stupidly dishonest – I can literally set my watch and warrant to them and get the info I need to make an informed decision – despite their best efforts. It’s easy to forget amidst the anger and the vitriol that even in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany – you can’t stifle free speech. The people know, they are resourceful and they may SAY the right things and make the right noises… but in private they will say and do what’s in their hearts and minds. Propaganda only works for stupid people and phonies.

    The social media is hell bent on learning these same lessons the mass media did. Consider the outcomes of that too – CNN is a laughing stock, the NYT can’t sell a subscription or pay their writers, and the fags at the NRO are hemorrhaging readers. I would kinda like to see the same happen to Fecesbook and Twatter to be honest.

    • I see your point, but get back to me after Google and Facebook have throttled the net in the name of “niceness” and “fairness”.

    • No, they did not. The internet was not built by FaceBorg or Twitter. These companies are free riders on a system built by public utilities, universities and the state.

      • Then so is this blog. I trust you will welcome your government regulatory overlords. Will they be on the left or right ten years from now? Who knows?

        • Look. You are not arguing in good faith. You can’t make the libertarian nonsense fit reality, so you keep trying to muddy the waters. There’s a reason no serious person takes libertarianism seriously. It’s a nonsense religion for unserious people.

          • Libertarian?!?!? How RUDE!!! Them’s fightin’ words!!!! 🙂

            No bad faith here at all – I would love nothing more than to see these censors and scolds at Faceborg fired en masse and horse whipped on their way out.

            Here’s why your argument breaks down: At some point, we ALL have to use public utilities and services. We have to ride on roads to work, if we get in an accident, we have to use hospitals. Cops, ambulances and possibly the fire dept have to come out and control the accident scene, etc. etc.

            I don’t have to use Fecesbook.

            I don’t have to use Twatter.

            The only way you could make the argument that those things are public domain is if at some point – I have to pay for them. THEN you would have a case. As it is, I don’t. I don’t pay any more for Twatter than I do for The Z Blog.

            Is that a more rational rebuttal, Z?

          • Facebook just admitted that they keep files on people who are not actually Facebook users. Google tracks all of your on-line usage. You do not have to use them, but they certainly use you, and you are not the customer in the arrangement. If you use a phone, tablet, or desktop for your internet access, Google monitors you. They sell information about you to third parties, without your knowledge, and with no disclosure on who are the buyers of the information about you, or what they might want to do with the information.

            There are supposed “work-arounds”, but I am certain that Google documents your use of those as well, even if some or all of your content is obscured.

            Just like the old “Mission: Impossible” episodes where they plant a bug in the bad guy’s car. In this case, you are the “bad guy”, whether you like it or not.

          • I think if you were running for office or rallying people for
            a religous or petition type activity you would need fakebook and twitter
            just to communicate. Im not well informed enough to know whats at stake
            but I recognize killing the signal is discriminitory and limiting
            for civic participation in good government.

          • I find it odd that you think potential government regulation of the contents of your own blog is “muddying the waters” or arguing in bad faith. It’s not even a hypothetical. Try running the ZBlog as a Chinese national within China.

            Our government and our citizenry become progressively less supportive of free speech over the past century. We have well-known public intellectuals who look at China as a system to emulate. Trusting the government to decide how businesses police the content on their own platforms is a dangerous and double-edged sword.

          • To answer your question, even though it is unrelated to the topic and exasperatingly so, this blog is a content provider. I write something every day. I could turn off comments and the blog does not change. Twitter provides no content. It is an exchange mechanism riding on the much larger public square that is the internet. Twitter exists to enhance and supplement the public square. My blog does not.

            It’s why comparing tow completely different things is rarely informative.

          • Forget about Twitter and FB for a minute, Vizzini, I want to know your opinion on what was done to The Daily Stormer.
            Was that ok? Do you think that Cloud Flare was just in their actions?

        • So what , the minute the left gets enough power they’ll regulate away your ability to express their view anyway.

          They are totalitarians not honorable foes and deserve no consideration

          Honestly the Laissez faire/ muh principles approach the Right has been flogging for the last half century or more has brought us this mess as surely as the machinations of the Left

          I know Vox Day isn’t exactly as popular here as in some quarters but he makes this point just today

          Those who believe in a path to victory through “the moral high ground” inevitably find themselves outflanked by those who are willing to surrender even more nobly. That is why no successful strategist in history has ever designed a strategy that relies upon moral posturing. And appealing to the moral sense of an immoral people whose morality is constantly in flux is neither a rational strategy nor a winning one.

          and this well Vox and Nassim Taleb

          N/T Start by being nice to everyone person you meet. But if someone tries to exercise power over you, exercise power over him.

          Vox This philosophy means that every individual who attempts to infringe on our Second Amendment rights, in any way, has lost any claim to our consideration for their First Amendment rights.

          and me not in the article

          or any other . Rule or be ruled. And if this leaves us with a little less economic liberty for a while. So be it. If we are as principled as we say we are, once the existential threats to our way of life is quelled we can roll back.

          • Voxxie is correct as far as that goes, and so are you, AB. But we do so have to consider morals and ethics. If we start putting all our prisoners to the sword, or lobbing mustard gas our enemies – we had damned well better be prepared for them to do the same to us – and that’s the problem I have with all this. Z argues that the social media providers are public utilities and maybe that’s valid. Vizzini makes the argument that blogs are too and that the argument Z is making has a double edge to it. Definitions are important in stuff like this. It’s like the Second Amendment: to Lefty, “a well regulated militia” clearly refers to uniformed military and law enforcement personnel and that’s it. To Bubba – it refers to himself and all the good ol’ boys down at the rod n’ gun club.
            If the wrong people define the terms the wrong way we could all find ourselves in a heap of trouble. In our case, we have to define the term ‘public’ and agree on it. I am not sure I like Z’s definition, or the potential blow back that could come from it.

          • NO!NO!NO!NO!NO!NO!

            The Internet is a public good. Therefore, we, the public, through our government, get to set the terms of use. That’s it.

    • Individuals built Twatter and Fecesbook and did it on their own merit and initiative with their own funds.

      You didn’t mention Google but it’s relevant to the discussion: the PageRank algorithm was developed using an NSF grant and then patented by Stanford University to ensure monopoly use.

      • If your intent is to attack these entities I have no problem with it – I despise their politics and abuses as much as you. To me, that attack is also much more valid given our rules against monopolies, the abuses of same, and the conflicts of interest that go along with them.

        • Just wait until Google sells your internet usage records to your employer…

          The sanctity of keeping personal information private was always the norm in this country. The Stasi “spy on your neighbors” thing in East Germany was a huge ongoing breach of that sanctity, over there. Google and Facebook have now silently, and without fanfare, breached our privacy in a big way, and people can’t quite wrap their heads around the implications.

          In the old days, you could see visions, have personal and private bad habits, or privately let your kinkiness run wild. Your public face and professional behavior allowed all this other stuff to go on behind closed doors, with no one the wiser (as long as nobody got hurt). Not anymore. We are all living under Stasi rules now, you just can’t see it going on.

          If the SHTF, the files can be used by the authorities to either intimidate, or to determine who is worthy of one-way helicopter rides…

  7. It is a little more subtle than that. First, Stefan Molyneux made a parallel argument in that if Twitter and Facebook said honestly they would be throwing anyone to the right of McCain off their platforms, few would have gone there in the first place. They use “hate”, “harassment”, but you find threats of violence by the left still up while some discussion of guns of the bell curve gets banned.

    I can extend that if they said they would heavily curate content (think China), some would have gone there for their G or PG rated version.

    But initally it was sold and advertised as a free speech platform. This is bait and switch. Fraud.

    Techncally, they said they could change their ToS anytime, but it is evil if not illegal to do it in this way.

    Consider if you are invited to two parties, and go to the one that sounds better, but in the middle of eating your dinner the host says “Get Out or I’m calling the police to arrest you for trespassing” – for no apparent reason. You gave up going to the other party.

    If Facebook was honest, it wouldn’t exist and Myspace might be thriving.

    • tz;
      Or they got taken over by SJW’s because when they were small upstart market disrupters they lacked the antibodies against the FI (feminist imperative).* To begin with, they failed to understand how The Cloud jobs program works.

      It started with political pressure from The Cloud. I remember how Silicon Valley saw itself as the epicenter of rugged, libertarian, venture capital individualism during the Reagan-Bush I era. Then in came The Clinton Machine. After erstwhile radical Eric Holder filed a couple of anti-trust suits, particularly the one against Microsoft, the tune changed radically towards social justice. The SEC leaned on the VC’s too, IIRC. No doubt there were dinner discussions at Davos to line out what accommodations would have to be made to make the heat go away.

      Dabbling with adding a few useless SJW’s in HR at first seemed a safe move because the customers didn’t seem to notice or care. The stockholders were happy with the market cap from their up-ramping reported earnings.

      But now the easy money has been made from the tech revolution, the only earnings growth to be had comes from using their monopoly power and the imbedded SJW’s demand ever more tribute. So they’re using their market power to placate the SJW’s instead of their stockholders. Finally, the customers have started to notice.

      It’s like the case of the railroads from 130+ years ago: Innovators to oligarchs in one generation. In 1860 railroads were leading edge technology. By 1890 they were corrupt oligarchs exploiting the farmers. So in that year came The Sherman Anti-Trust Act:

      It needs to be updated and revived today for Silicon Valley.

      * FI = no female can be made to feel bad, ever. Especially if they caused the trouble themselves in the first place.

  8. Z Man;
    So did our guys give up the ‘market power’ argument used in most anti-trust suits in the past_? Such suits usually result in a lot of cunning obfuscation about what constitutes the market in question and what defines market power. IOW, if the market is defined as ‘internet searches’ Google is in potential trouble but if it’s defined as on-line transactions of all sorts, then likely not.

    Maybe they decided that their chances were better on a narrower ‘view-point’ discrimination complaint. But on that basis this suit doesn’t break up the tech oligarchs, which is what needs doing.

  9. Just as an aside, some fire departments used to fight fires only in buildings that had paid for fire protection and displayed the plaque attesting to the payments. Our take on things changes over time.

    I think of Google and Facebook as on-line gangs with their own gang culture. They have established their digital turf and now police it for their own benefit, just as a gang does in the physical neighborhood. I am all for gang abatement, as long as those applying the abatement don’t act like a gang themselves.

      • Last i was there, this is how fire service was handled in Arizona. You don’t pay? Your house burns and they protect people who did.

        This is a dyscivic way to handle fire protection

        Now understand I’m an authoritarian Right winger, not a Libertarian one. I have zero issue with using the government to get what I want or need so long as it isn’t counterproductive to do so. Government is a tool same as any and its not evil any more than an AR15 or a hammer is

        Frankly this gap between the minarchist/ muh Constitutional/corporations can do what they want Republicans and us public order Republicans is pretty vast and when the left issue is resolved, will have to be negotiated. Happily both sides being Right wingers we can negotiate in good faith and live with each other after unlike the left

  10. “It’s why a city has to issue permits for parades and permits, when the participants are unpopular. Even the ugly and annoying get to use public goods.”

    Oh, yeah? Let me take you back to August 11th, 12th, and 13th of 2017, Charlotteseville, VA…I was there when a permit was issued, then revoked last minute, then restored IN FEDERAL COURT, last minute, only to have the governor declare a state of emergency and effectively revoke the permit, all before any speeches were permitted and any violence, past some elbowing, spitting, and yelling, occurred.

    As Jean Francois Gariepy calls it, “de pooblic spaayz,” only occurs online, and that’s being eroded by the day.
    These companies aren’t private companies, they are public/private companies fed by their use of DARPA and tax exemptions and H1B VISAs, & the like. Bust ’em up.
    And I don’t like that welfare whore, Elon Musk, either.

  11. Most of the internet infrastructure in the U.S. is not publicly-held. It’s privately-owned fiber.

    • That’s like saying the electric grid is privately owned. No one would say the power company can stop serving republicans. The reason is we have long understood that the people can contract the development and management of public goods to private firms. The goods remain public.

      • So you do a really good job at something and provide service to enough people, and at some point that means you lose control over it?

        I’m a landlord. In some countries, housing has been defined as a public good. So has farming. Why is it that it is wrong to confiscate South African Whites’ farms, or fix prices, as in Venezuela, but “public good” to tell a fiber transit company, web hoster or ISP who it has to provide its services to?

        • “So you do a really good job at something and provide service to enough people, and at some point that means you lose control over it?”

          That’s almost the reasoning behind forcing bakers to make cakes they don’t want to..
          The sevice of baking a cake has become a “public good”; therefore you must be forced to bake it.

          There is already case law that says once a (for example) Country Club gets above a certain number of members, then it’s a public accomodation, and must open its membership to almost anyone. We could make a similar arguement in favor of privately held Fiber being a “public” accomodation. Possibly we could aver that Facebook is also a public accomodation, and therefore they can’t discriminate against users based on political persuasion.

          • Actually no, this is completely wrong. The courts are forcing the baker to bake the cake because of the insane notion of protected classes.

          • Which is a thing, with respect to bakers and other similar cases, due to the notions of public accommodations in the Civil Rights Act.

        • Yes, it most likely does. The closer they edge to monopoly control of the service, the closer they edge to being either nationalized (less likely) or broken up (more likely).

          Edison wasn’t out there wiping the floor with his competitors because he wanted to nationalize the electrical grid. And, AT&T operated as a government-tolerated monopoly for 107 years.

          Also, as Americans, we should be increasingly concerned about the political activities of these ISPs who are too comfortable bowing to the PRC and other dictatorships to police content inside – and outside – that nation’s physical borders.

          • I’m not talking about the practical realities of the statement, I’m talking about establishing principles. It is right? Under what circumstances. If someone can’t tell me why in one case government intrusion is right and in another case it’s wrong, then I can’t take their statist impulses seriously, because that sounds just like leftists, to me.

        • “So you do a really good job at something, because the government gave you special privileges to it, and provide service to enough people, and at some point that means you lose control over it?”

          That makes more sense now, doesn’t it. Without the state, there would be no internet. Without the state, there can be no internet. Therefore, the state, the agent of the people, gets to set the rules.

          • What special privileges did the government give Google or Facebook?

            ETA: It’s also not self-evident that without the government there could be no internet.

          • Since the government literally invented the internet, this should be self-evident. The reason we have a billion miles of wire and fiber is the state gave the telco’s special rights to bury this stuff in the ground. Often, they forced private property holders to give these companies access to land for laying cable. If you doubt this, try starting your own cable company and asking the state for the right to start burying lines in your town.

          • We’re a long way from the original DARPANet in terms of the percentage of public vs. private investment in the internet. But that aside:

            We don’t regulate the content or distribution of books and magazines that are shipped over public roads and often via the U.S. Postal Service — another public entity. Some magazines are only available to members of private organizations. Some only accept content from people with certain political views. Since the roads and post are public goods, should we not allow products to be shipped unless those products support all viewpoints?

            If Facebook and Google have to obey government mandates on whose content they allow, then do Breitbart, American Renaissance, Taki’s Magazine or PJ Media also have to provide “opposing views?” Does your blog? Because they are accessed over the internet? Are you willing to subject yourself to government content-based monitoring?

            If someone makes an explicitly conservative video site, must they be compelled to offer left-wing content?

            You can make the case that Facebook and Google have violated their own published terms of service which claim to be content neutral, but what if they simply rewrote their terms of service? What if YouTube came out and said “We accept no videos that promote guns, white identity politics or which oppose open borders immigration policies, etc.?” Would it be OK then? Why or why not?

          • Your response is just a grab bag of logical fallacies, factual nihilism and slippery slope arguments.

            The nonexcludable private good of Facebook exists because of the public good that is the internet. Therefore, it is subject to the rules of the public good.

          • Facebook simply isn’t a nonexcludable good. Neither is YouTube. It’s perfectly possible to participate in the exchange of public ideas without either platform.

          • That’s not the standard. That’s never the standard. You can defend yourself without a gun. You can have free speech with newspapers. You can petition the government for redress without assembly. Having a handful of ideologues policing the main exchange of political ideas is a threat to civil society. The orderly way to prevent this is to treat these companies the same way we treat restaurants and hotels. No one is taking anything away from these firms, other than their ability to wreck our political culture.

          • Good grief, you make terrible arguments. Are you by any chance a woman?
            I ask that, as a woman myself…
            We could also get into how these companies manage to run on importing labor through government H1B Visas and all the other cushy credits and subsidies they get.
            They are NOT *wholly* private companies. They all started with a leg up, (don’t take my word for it, just read what Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the World Wide Web says), and they are still being propped up.
            Make them sign something akin to Paul Nehlen’s “Shall Not Censor” idea.

        • So the electric company can shut down your electricity because you have a confederate flag avatar.

          Neat argument.

          • I’m down with letting them try that. There would certainly be consequences on their part, as well.

            I’d rather they saw the error of their ways than force them to provide a service they didn’t want to provide.

            It would probably be a remarkably clarifying experience for the redneck population that they were really hated that much.

            Sometimes open hostility is better, cleaner to face, than this slow, corrosive culture war we’re embroiled in now.

          • Really? You think they’d suffer from it? You think the redneck population would have some big awakening?

            Facebook has made it abundantly clear that it hates the redneck population, but the rednecks still use Facebook.

            Convenience >>> principles. This is true for almost everyone. That’s why so many conservatives complain about Facebook on Facebook instead of abandoning the service.

            The power grid works through network effects just like the big tech companies. You and the other 3 guys in your town that really care about the rebel flag gonna build your own power grid? Or is it more likely you’d just roll over and do what the power company wants?

        • If said farmers were deliberately starving citizens on ideological grounds or otherwise engaging in harmful practices and the States action would prevent this from occurring , its fully moral

          same with housing,

          Private property is not a trump card in a developed society and stability takes precedence over personal rights . We’ve already had genetically modified organisms used in lethal political attacks (the Chipotle incident a few years ago) and its getting simple enough for midwits

          Should the public safety require it, heavy regulation and it hasn’t ye is fully moral and is more important than your currently legal home research lab

          Same with say a home honey wax lab, its illegal do to public danger

          Now the reason we typically don’t regulate too much is its not necessary and often counterproductive

          As for firearms, same there. The difference is an armed population is more important than the occasional spree shooting or in the founding fathers day, the odd chance some knucklehead might resolve a dispute with a cannon full of grapeshot

          There are also political concerns, seizing weapons creates political chaos. The militia-3% resurgence was caused by taking weapons in NOLA and a lot of people said “we won’t let that happen again.”

          • Ironically, it is only governments, as far as I know — certainly in the vast, overwhelming number of cases — that have starved people on ideological grounds. That’s why proposing expanded state power on the grounds of hypotheticals that have never occurred does not seem convincing to me.

          • The Left will use the private sector if they can’t use the State and deplatforming, harassment and protests/efforts to make people unemployable are part and parcel of how they operate

            For them all that matters is the goal and the firewall the liberty minded right puts between State and Private doesn’t exist

            I get not trusting the State. I’m with you on that but until the Left can be crushed or expelled from US/Europe/Anglosphere for good we have to use what we have.

        • If all the farms are nationalized, that’s a public good. If only the farms owned by whites are nationalized, then it’s just discrimination.

          It’s actually pretty easy to understand.

          • You really think nationalizing all the farms is a justified public good just because it’s not done in a racist way? Stealing all those peoples’ property? Not even to mention the long history of the horrors that visit societies that do things like nationalize their agriculture.

          • I didn’t say it’s a good idea, but you seem determined to miss the point of everything everybody else is saying on this thread so I won’t try to explain it to you.

            As far as your redneck awakening fantasy, well like I said, the tech companies have already done the same thing as the hypothetical power company and the rednecks are still using Facebook. Keep dreaming.

      • Wouldn’t the internet end up controlled by a regulatory agency. What reason is there to think the state actors wouldn’t be like the EPA, or DOJ except with more power. It seems likely this regulatory agency would get populated with former Google executives where bad thinkers can face fines.

        I’m not convinced declaring the internet a public good reduces the tech giants control.

        • Indeed, the history of government regulation is the history of regulatory capture by incumbents and/or powerful political interests.

          • The history of everything is the history of someone complaining about the history of everything.

            Perfection is never on the table. My preferred solution to the problem of domain registrars colluding to ban certain people is to bring back the iron maiden, but that’s not happening either. Our civic discourse now happens on-line, on dominant platforms like FaceBorg, Google, Twitter, etc. If you want to live as a slave, give a monopoly of opinion to these twats. Otherwise, that monopoly cannot be allowed to exist.

          • My perfect solution for 35 yrs has been to install guillotines in town squares.
            And use them regularly.
            I am still right.

        • Men are not angels, so there can be no guarantees. Perfection is not the standard. We know, as a matter of experience, that the electric company does not shut the power off to Nazis or Communists, because of politics. The water company does not tell anyone they violated their terms of service because they said bad words on their blog.

          Whatever the internet was, whatever moon-eyed libertarians would like it to be, does not matter, because what it is now is the public square. We have a pretty good handle on how to keep the public square open to the public.

        • You can call your buddy and talk all day and all night and refer to various groups of people with any/all of the slurs that you’d like, 24/7, 365, and the phone company doesn’t shut off your phone.
          Do you get it now?

      • Distribution power companies are fully regulated because:
        1. They have too many “right-of-ways” through public and private land to count. The business model would be unworkable without government intervention.

        2. They have agreed to be regulated. It’s not a bad deal since there is a guaranteed rate-of-return. It does put a ceiling on profits.

        I don’t think either of these factors apply to internet providers.

        • That’s why I opened with the example of the highway system. We use lots of private firms to build and maintain roads, but the roads are a public good. Even so-called private toll roads are treated the same as public roads. That said, the phone companies laid the wire for the internet and they did so as utilities. In most jurisdictions, a cable monopoly was created by the local municipality to lay cable.

          None of that really matters. What matters is the fact that the internet is now the public square. As it stands, the registrars could take me off the internet tomorrow and I have no legal recourse. FaceBook, a monopoly for all practical purposes, could ban all non-liberal speech tomorrow. Sure, it would be great if there were ten competing Internets. It would be great if there were ten competing electric companies. That’s not reality and it is never going to be reality.

          If you want to have something resembling a free country, then you need a free and open marketplace of discourse. If that means telling Jack Twitter or Mary Jane YouTube they are no longer allowed to censor users, I can live with that.

    • Viz;
      It’s a murkier case than you postulate: Much of that fiber is already owned by public utilities such as AT&T and sublet to various ISP’s or cable companies. Only the so-called ‘last mile’ is privately owned in most cable systems, for example. Plus, almost all fiber runs through public utility owned conduits under the street, along railroad (a public utility) rights of way or is attached to public utility owned poles above the street regardless of ‘ownership’, whatever that means in such circumstances.

      It’s not like the tech oligarchs built anything from scratch themselves. Just like Uber, their huge market cap is largely a result of using technology to circumvent regulations set up for another era.

      • Some interesting background info:

        Of course you’re right about public rights of ways and conduits. But what are the real implications of that? How much power over content is it legitimate for the state to exercise because of shared use of public rights of way?

        Except as it impacts public safety or criminal law, we don’t really police what people use the roadways for. Paper magazines and newspapers shipped over roads, but that was never justified as reason for content control of magazines.

        Shared public airways were used as excuses for content regulation, but that seems more and more obsolete every day, given that cable and internet news outlets haven’t been subject to it. Nor do I think they should be. A lot of the deep infrastructures of progressive education and politics were established when the media was largely in the hands of the elite, because entry was expensive.

        35-40 years ago the Z Man would have been a guy mimeographing angry leaflets and passing them out on the street corner.

        All in all, I think we’ve done pretty well opening up public discourse and I’m not sure that the answer to the expected elite pushback is to use the old tools of top-down control. On the contrary, I think we should be dismantling the top-down structure of thought control as much as possible.

        If our ideas are right, if there’s an audience for them, if there’s a vast, silent majority of normal Americans feeling disenfranchised by the leftist-controlled news, entertainment and social media, then their edifices won’t stand. There are too many cracks. Too many ways for information to get out now. Google, Twitter and Facebook look more and more ridiculous and cartoonishly authoritarian the more they try to crack down, and people are noticing. They’re their own worst enemies.

  12. We are somewhat right now in the chaotic period of a transition period in a revolution. Much like the Industrial Revolution was very chaotic for the people caught in it during the transition period (think of the Luddites, farmers moving to the budding industrial towns, children put in orphanages, etc.), we are caught in the same chaos.

    The previous assumptions about free speech were implicitly made based on the economies of scale. Based on the fact that big media conglomerates controlled a large portion of the free speech and that dissenters to an existing order had to rely on independent publishing, with people only able to buy their books in second hand bookshops, or pamphleteers only able to distribute their material on the street corner or putting them up on campus walls.

    The transformation of social media is that people can cocoon themselves into news that reflect their viewpoints, along with being inundated easily with dissenting material that big media companies would have normally screened out. The good things is that it allows for massive online learning and a potential breaking of the college monopoly (MOOCs). The flip side is that people with sensitive temperaments, those who would have easily screened out material that would have offended them don’t have the ability to do so anymore. It’s why progressives are now moving into active censorship. Their senses are being overloaded to a degree that they aren’t used to. (R-K theory by Anonymous Conservative is instructive here).

    Expect this chaos to continue until some sort of equilibrium is established. That may take a while though, so expect all sorts of interesting changes in our social mores to continue for a while.

  13. I stopped being a libertarian when I started understanding the public square argument. Libertarianism is even more absurd when you consider how online properties do business.

  14. Social media is a primary tool of mass indoctrination and mindset manipulation. It is also insidious, highly effective, and operates below the level of acute perception for most people. It’s a bit like becoming an alcoholic slowly over a long period of years. One day you may wake up and find that you are not the person you thought you were. Danger to person used to be individual, obvious, and in your face. Now it’s far more sinister and systemic.

  15. Taylor’s suit will be”the ” test” case for all of this, if he can’t win with all the arguments on his side, then what?

    On another level, why doesn’t everyone run to a friendlier site like Gab? If someone like Trump went there and other influential people wouldn’t that be a major blow?

    • Eventually, such cases will end up in higher courts. There are too many unanswered questions to leave it at the decision of a state court, particularly California.

      Moving to Gab is orthogonal to the question. It is the goal of the right to force liberal institutions who claim public square status to play by their public square rules.

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