Remember when Donald Trump got sued for blocking a couple of idiots on Twitter? It was a big deal, because it was a government official somehow limiting the rights of idiots to tweet insults at him. But then when Twitter and other Big Tech companies ganged up to completely ban Trump from social media, it was suddenly no big whoop. Funny how that only worked one way, huh? Well, that original case against Trump wrapped up finally. And here’s a nice surprise. Justice Clarence Thomas offered an amazing solution to Republicans in Congress over how to solve the Big Tech collusion against conservatives once and for all.
Aside from being way too slow and cowardly to deal with Big Tech collusion against conservatives, Republicans in Congress are making this issue way harder than it needs to be. It would take five minutes to write a bill telling Big Tech “Don’t discriminate against anyone for their political beliefs or we will throw your CEO’s rear-end in jail for a year and fine you a gazillion dollars.” Instead, Republicans in Congress treat us to boring lectures on something called Section 230 and then go back to whining about repression in Cuba.
The case of the idiots suing America’s real president for blocking them on Twitter was resolved this month. The Supreme Court bravely declared the case to be “moot” since Donald Trump is technically not in office anymore. (So many layers of irony there you could peel them back like an onion.)
Clarence Thomas, however, took the opportunity to write a brilliant concurrence that attacks the problem of Big Tech censorship. Thomas wrote that while Trump barred a handful of people from interacting with him, Twitter turned around and barred ALL Twitter users from interacting with Trump.
“As Twitter made clear, the right to cut off speech lies most powerfully in the hands of private digital platforms.”
Thomas points out that there are two historic legal doctrines in America that limit the right of private companies like Twitter, PayPal, Facebook, YouTube/Google and others to exclude people from using their services.
The first doctrine involves “common carriers.” Railroads, phone companies and other common carriers are required to “serve all comers.” The next doctrine involves “places of public accommodation” like hotels, movie theaters and restaurants; those types of private businesses are not allowed to refuse service to certain classes of people.
Thomas really starts to get revved up then:
“It changes nothing that these platforms are not the sole means for distributing speech or information. A person could always choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail. But in assessing whether a company exercises substantial market power, what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable. For many of today’s digital platforms, nothing is.”
“The similarities between some digital platforms and common carriers or places of accommodation may give legislators strong arguments for similarly regulating digital platforms.”
Are you listening, Republicans in Congress??
This is a brilliant legal solution to a problem that’s been plaguing conservative and other internet outlaws for more than a decade – and the problem just keeps getting worse and worse.
PayPal, for example, is now teaming up with the Anti-Defamation League’s shakedown artists to identify and block conservatives from using the service. PayPal is the largest free bank-transfer system in the world. It’s virtually impossible to do business online without engaging with PayPal in some way.
Mental midgets like Ben Shapiro and Libertarians will argue that PayPal is a private company, so you should just build your own PayPal if you don’t like it. Oh, and pass the bong while you’re at it.
Really, Ben Shapiro? PayPal is valued at $16.9 billion today. It has more money than the GDP of most countries in the world. And I’m supposed to… what? Build my own PayPal?
Clarence Thomas is absolutely right. There are no comparable alternatives in the marketplace for us to turn to. Sure, there are a few social media alternatives: Gab, Rumble and so on. But they’re not comparable to the giants that pretty much amount to monopolies that now control speech and discourse over a large swath of the population.
Thomas has offered a rational legal argument for treating the Big Tech companies like a lot of other businesses are already treated, in order to limit discrimination. Treat them like common carriers and places of public accommodation, because we already have long-standing laws in place that do the same thing.
The question is whether Republicans in Congress are listening, or if they even care when they’re offered great advice like this.