Trump, he declares, secured all those votes, yet those in charge of Twitter and Facebook didn’t get any, thus forgetting the excuse his press pals use every time their lack of democratic accountability is broached: ah yes, the answer will come back, but the press has to earn its readers’ votes every day, otherwise it would quickly go out of business.
Moreover, O’Neill is plain flat wrong when he posits Trump’s Twitter ban as silencing anyone. Trump can get himself on any number of broadcast outlets, and into as many newspapers. He has the entire White House press operation at his disposal. And when he talks of “power to dictate what political opinions it is acceptable to hold”, well, no.
Let me digress for a moment, in order to show just what “authoritarian”, “purging”, and the dictation of what opinions are acceptable actually entails. As I’ve told many times, in the living memory of those of A Certain Age, countries on the southern fringe of Europe were ruled by totalitarian dictatorships: the Falangist régime of Francisco Franco in Spain, the military junta of the colonels in Greece, and the Estado Novo in Portugal.
In December 1973, I was on a short holiday in Spain. One evening, the bar area in the hotel fell silent; the expected band did not appear; there was no music. Government had decreed that this had to be so: it was the evening after the assassination in Madrid of Luis Carrero Blanco by Basque separatist group ETA. And orders were orders.
It’s highly probable that there would have been no consequences, had one or two hotels disregarded the decree, but that was not the point: no-one could know who might inform on them. The climate of fear was real. The night-time knock on the door was equally real. People disappeared, were detained, abused, brutalised, tortured. So when a decree was received, one did not debate the issue. One complied. Or else.
The same applied to freedom of speech: those of inconvenient opinion were regularly jailed, or murdered. What happened in Spain happened also in Portugal. One complied, and one did not make any noise about it. Thus the reality of genuine authoritarianism.
To equate that with companies deciding at long last to enforce their own Ts and Cs, and especially drawing the line at becoming embroiled in an attempt to overthrow democracy, is the most transparently dishonest and false equivalence. That social media platforms might not want to expose themselves to ruinous lawsuits for enabling, and indeed promoting, domestic terrorism is entirely understandable.
Instead, O’Neill whines once again about Woke. And the mythical left, which is asserted to be “cheering this on”. He talks of interference in the democratic process, but no election has been subverted, overturned, or delayed. It is mere hyperbolic nonsense.
Meanwhile, he ignores Trump’s attempt to actually subvert democracy. What a clown.
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