A lot of conservatives love to claim they’re uniquely, horribly oppressed. They’re denied writing gigs for harmless tweets about executing women who get abortions. They’re criticized for saying stuff people disagree with. And now Facebook has blocked Alex Jones, which is exactly like Kristalnacht in Nazi Germany! Or that covering religious leaders who don’t support Trump is “trying to steal the microphone” from his supporters (because there’s only one mike?).
This is, unsurprisingly, bullshit. A private company denying Alex Jones (the guy who claims the dead in the Sandy Hook shooting were all fake and that the government has child sex-slaves on Mars) access to people’s FB feeds isn’t censorship or “unpersoning Alex Jones” As Infowars is still up and running, they ain’t “deplatforming” him either (LGM mocks them some more). It’s FB deciding it looks better if it’s not in bed with a Trump-allied bullshit artist (I assume Jones lies his ass off about this stuff, rather than being delusional). If conservatives want to argue that private companies shouldn’t be allowed to regulate free speech, fine; so far they’re focused entirely on FB and Twitter because they’re cracking down a little on hate speech and right-wing bullshit.
While they do enjoy posing as persecuted victims, I think this is just a case of working the refs. If FB caves, great; if it doesn’t, they can tell readers and listeners that the liberal power is growing and getting ever more scary. Never mind that going by Infowars’ terms of service for commenters, Alex Jones would have to ban his own content. Throughout this century the right-wing has been whining about liberals saying mean things (or dominating college campuses)while claiming persecution if anyone questions their own bullshit.
Case in point, Sarah Jeong, the tech reporter hired by the NYT. She’s said some outrageous and funny things on Twitter. For instance, in response to Andrew Sullivan, who thinks it’s perfectly rational and not at all racist to consider whether black people are genetically dumber, Jeong tweeted ““Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins?” So the right wing started screaming about how this should not disqualify her for a job — oh, wait, their free-speech beliefs evaporated and they demanded the Times axe her. To its credit, the Grey Lady kept her on.
And then there’s supposed persecution of Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Self-proclaimed liberal feminist Lisa Blatt insists she knows Kavanagh, he’s a really nice guy, and his intellectual qualifications are great. So his actual policies should be irrelevant, right? Why, she doesn’t even know how he’d rule on abortion, but she’s sure it’ll be a really awesome reading (at the link someone describes this as “West Wing fanfic”). I’m sure it’s completely irrelevant to Blatt’s assessment that she might be arguing cases before the court and she likes how he votes. Though she’s not the only one to make similar bad arguments.
As Dahlia Lithwick points out, Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, was perfectly nice and perfectly qualified, but Republicans didn’t care. They know perfectly well it’s not about competence or how nice you are (and being nice to people in his set doesn’t mean Kavanagh is actually nice), it’s about politics. Blatt may somehow have missed this but before Kavanagh got picked, conservatives were touting him precisely because he’d be a dependable anti-abortion, pro-business, pro-religious conservative vote. Just as one National Review writer thought George W. Bush getting his second term, thereby getting to appoint Roberts and Alito, the Iraq War was worth it. What are 100,000 dead compared to a solidly conservative Supreme Court?