Stop the Digital Inquisition
By Jeffrey Wernick and Amy Peikoff
In the last week, along with achieving a #1 ranking in Apple’s and Google’s app stores, Parler has become the #1 target for media outlets. We’re being targeted not because of our recent success per se, but because of its source: our refusal to adopt speech-restrictive Community Guidelines like those of their allies, Facebook and Twitter.
At the head of the class was The Verge, which last week attempted to shame Parler—and Discord—for providing a platform for “Stop the Steal,” a group banned by Facebook after having grown “to over 300,000 members in less than 48 hours.” The Verge’s Zoe Schiffer wrote:
“Organizers [of ‘Stop the Steal’] have found the most success on Parler, a social network designed for conservatives put off by moderation practices of the major platforms. On Thursday, there were 8,697 posts on Parler with the #StopTheSteal hashtag. Many of these posts also mentioned — without evidence — the silencing of conservatives on Facebook and Twitter. Videos of Stop the Steal protests got upwards of 2,000 votes (Parler’s version of likes). The hashtag #VoterFraud had 18,426 posts, much of it focused on unfounded rumors regarding Democrats tampering with the vote.
“The lax moderation standards have proved attractive for conservatives like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) as well as former congressional candidate and right-wing conspiracist Laura Loomer who was previously banned on Twitter.”
Just yesterday NBC News published an article in which it called Parler “a Twitter for conservatives,” part of the “red internet,” and spent a couple paragraphs issuing an engraved invitation for Google and Apple to drop Parler from their app stores, and for credit card companies to “use their clout…to hobble” Parler.
The goal of the tech-media cabal is to make their content curation practices the standard for the entire Internet. A free-and-open public square is anathema to them. This isn’t about Parler—or even about its unfounded reputation for being a “conservative” platform (which they’re eager to propagate). It’s about the fact that Parler dares to remake the Internet as originally imagined by its creator, Tim Berners-Lee.
Parler is currently the symbol for free speech on the Internet—and therefore the target of the enemies of free speech. Of all 2020’s horribles, perhaps the most disturbing is the emergence of a culturally and financially influential group of people who believe that some human beings simply aren’t worthy of an online presence. This group wants a censored internet, controlled by their fact-checkers, their curation algorithms, their moderation standards and procedures. And because they know only a government mandate can guarantee this, they’re vying for a regulatory framework to seal the deal and will demonize anyone who stands in the way. Right now, that just happens to be Parler.
Why should you care? Recall the eras when fact-checkers, working at the behest of authority figures, reigned. When everyone who disagreed with the authorities’ narratives was deemed a blasphemer—and treated accordingly.
From Socrates, who dared to ask pointed questions in defiance of the authority of the mob in Athens; to Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600 for challenging the Vatican’s views on our Earth in relation to the Heavens; to Galileo, who was put under house arrest until he denied the evidence of his own senses, and recanted his observations that our Earth moved around the Sun; to those prosecuted and hung for “witchcraft” in colonial Salem, Massachusetts; to Robert Fulton, whose commercially successful steamboat, the Clarmont, was deemed “Fulton’s Folly”; to the Wright Brothers, who were first smeared, and then stolen from, after their mastery of, and contributions to, the technological feat of manned aviation; to Einstein whose theory of special relativity challenged the British physicists’ conception of ether, and so was initially dismissed as “totally impractical and absurd.” All of these innovators questioned the status quo on the path to achieving knowledge and improving human life.
Throughout most of history, we’ve had cultural or political authority figures attempting to control thought and steer the narrative in furtherance of their ends. These authorities—and their many adherents—saw any challenge as a threat. The honest way of dealing with the discomfort of being challenged is to marshal more evidence for your view, or more evidence contradicting your opponents’. But authoritarians are not honest. Their approach is to mandate acceptance of their view by any means possible, including the use of force if necessary. They either don’t have facts on their side or can’t manage to integrate the facts into a convincing argument. So instead they cite “authorities,” or “tradition,” which are not subject to verification and are supposed to be beyond question or reproach. Your role is only to accept. To believe. Or else.
Without the freedom to doubt and speculate, human beings cannot advance knowledge. And without knowledge, we cannot achieve and protect the values necessary to sustain our lives. The enemies of free speech are, quite literally, anti-life. (Anti-human life, that is.) That is the tech-media cabal’s ultimate agenda.
Let’s stop the digital inquisition and reboot the Internet. Before it’s too late.
Jeffrey Wernick and Dan Bongino are investors in Parler, and Amy Peikoff is Parler’s Chief Policy Officer