American Tradition is About ‘Merry Christmas,’ not ‘Happy Holidays’

Vincent Dao, Editor-in-Chief of American Virtue, took to YouTube to explain why we need to stop saying “Happy Holidays.”

“Who cares, bro? It’s not a big deal. Oh yeah, then why did you stop saying merry Christmas,” Dao began. “If it wasn’t a big deal, then why did people change it?

“The truth is as small as they may seem, words matter, language matters, and these things can drastically change our perception of the world around us. And that’s why the leftists and secularists are doing this.”

“Every single Christmas, conservatives get into these culture war debates of ‘Merry Christmas’ versus ‘Happy Holidays,’” Dao said.

He says most people “roll their eyes” at the debate, acting as if it isn’t much of a big deal.

“It’s a part of a great war on Christmas and a greater war on American tradition,” he added.

“Realize it or not, words matter, language matters. Language impacts your perception and understanding of the world a lot more than you realize,” Dao said. “Language is a reflection of who we are and what we believe in as a civilization.”

He asks his viewers to picture “Merry Christmas” in their minds and then “Happy Holidays.”

 “Do you see the same image in your head?” Dao asks.

He also remarks on the wordage of democracy and republic and how they are drastically viewed differently.

“Don’t you see how a small change in your vocabulary can drastically change your entire perception of our civilization?” Dao asks again.

“America celebrates Christmas versus America celebrates the holidays,” he said in air quotes.

“It’s not some stupid inconsequently thing—it’s very intentional. Language matters. The left knows that language matters, which is why they try to change it,” he added.

He argues if it wasn’t such a big deal, the left would not have changed it to “Happy Holidays.”

“They say it for inclusivity’s sake—happy holidays is about inclusivity, but that’s not really ever true because the left is perfectly happy to be exclusive when it comes to Christians, or white people, or whatever.

“Inclusivity and diversity is really always an excuse to wage war on parts of America that they don’t like,” said Dao.

His main argument is that “Happy Holidays” is a war on American tradition and Christianity, both of which are “intertwined” within Christmas and are “natural enemies of American leftism.”

“American culture as a whole has always celebrated Christmas … it’s our holiday as Americans—it’s our thing—it’s been our thing,” said Dao. “Wholistically, Christmas is the American holiday.”

He also says almost everyone celebrates Christmas in some fashion, but when we cannot express Christmas, then we are rendered as less unified of a culture— “less we can share in common.”

“American identity is far less coherent,” says Dao. He says leftists are petrified of Christianity which we why we are seeing the secularization of the holiday.

“I think the true meaning of Christmas on many levels has been erased from American culture.”

He cites American commercialism and the decline of actual conversation about Christmas.

“The war on Christmas is real and is deliberate, and the only reason I’d say they ridicule for pointing it out is because they don’t actually want you to talk about it,” said Dao. “Sound familiar like most cultural issues?”

“America First” Gubernatorial Candidate Sets Sights on New York

Andrew Giuliani

Aside from taking a hardline stance on New York’s crime wave, Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani presses on traditional conservatism through his populist appeal.

“I think more than anything, this has been a problem with our institutions. I’ve positioned myself as an America First,” said Mr. Giuliani. The son of the former New York mayor went on to express his disgust with the politicizing of the January 6th committee, which he claimed violated House rules.

“Where’s the congressional investigation about the 270 plus riots that happened between May of 2020 and January 5 of 2021?” Questioned, Mr. Giuliani. “Parts of cities on the West Coast literally being taken over as autonomous zones is pure chaos.”

Regarding academia, Mr. Giuliani plans to take on private universities. He said, “They should pay their property tax. They have an exemption on their tax status.”

“We’re talking about universities that have multibillion-dollar endowments. They can afford it. They can do it,” said Mr. Giuliani. “It will take some relief off of New York taxpayers.”

With CRT in the “progressive” mix, he plans to enact legislation similar to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act. “If that did not pass, I would do everything I could from an executive fiat perspective to pass it by executive order.”

He also mentioned a tax credit system, so monies go directly into teachers’ unions. New Yorkers would then be able to decide which school they want their child to attend. Mr. Giuliani said, “It’s bringing the free market and more choice into education. If you do that now, all of a sudden, the curriculums become accountable at that point.” He said he would push back against the Justice Department’s labeling parents attending school board meetings as domestic terrorists

Mr. Giuliani insisted the lockdowns were harmful to our children’s growth educationally and interpersonally granting a susceptibility to drugs like many of the opioids filtered through the southern border. He commented on the hypersexualization and gender education, saying we can’t be teaching this and to “let our kids be innocent again.”

Pivoting to economic woes, he compared Florida’s budget to New York’s. He plans to cut the state’s budget by 20%. “Florida actually has a million more people than New York. Florida state budget is $98 billion. New York’s is $220 billion,” he said. “New York is going to be right on the path, unfortunately, of Illinois. And that’s not a place where we want to go,” commenting on New York’s population flight, particularly to Florida. Mr. Giuliani has also promised no property taxes for residents older than 60 and under the salary cap of $100,000.

With Big Tech, he plans to push Congress to repeal Section 230, protecting social media outlets from being responsible for published material. “That needs to be done on a federal level, but I would look at from a state-level how we can hold social media companies accountable,” said Mr. Giuliani, commenting that Twitter and other like platforms have “become publishers and that [Section 230] protection should no longer exist.”

Mr. Giuliani vows to secure our elections and make voter ID mandatory. He will make voting machines obsolete and maintain and update voter rolls annually.

Regarding the state’s mandates, Mr. Giuliani plans to eliminate all unconstitutional COVID-19 mandates, hire a new Health Commissioner, and rehire all state workers with backpay. He intends to end a 2019 Andrew Cuomo law that ended religious exemptions in New York.

If he loses the Republican primary, he plans to keep fighting for the America First agenda as long as he has breath. “We need to do everything we possibly could so that way we could leave a better country, a better state for our children than was left for me.”

New York’s gubernatorial primaries are Tuesday, June 28 and early voting started June 18. There are currently four Republican candidates: Mr. Giuliani, GOP designated nominee Lee Zeldin, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and businessman Harry Wilson.

Gun Violence Pressures Democrats to Revisit Gun Trace Data Laws

In response to the recent crime wave, Democrats are pressing for new federal legislation on collecting gun data, raising concerns about the privacy of legal gun owners.

Mayor Adams, in his Blueprint to End Gun Violence, calls for federal legislation that will give law enforcement access to gun data stored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

That would require repealing the so-called “Tiahrt Amendment,” a series of “riders” attached to the Department of Justice appropriations bill that safeguards gun owner data from being released by ATF.

Tiahrt also guarantees background check data to be destroyed within 24 hours and prohibits ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit inventories to law enforcement.

The original 2003 provision was made permanent in 2007. In 2009, it was amended to strengthen protections for undercover law enforcement operations and confidential informants.

Although Tiahrt prohibits the Department of Justice from creating a federal registry, gun owners express concern for ATF’s growing database of nearly one billion.

By federal law, the dealer keeps records of gun sales for 20 years. ATF scans the records into a digital database searchable only by serial number. It also collects all records from dealers who go out of business.

Decentralization protects against government abuse of gun owner data. Some worry the Biden administration’s policy on combating gun violence is clamping down on legal gun owners.

“Biden’s proposed regulation is a provision that would mean every single Firearm Transaction Record going forward would eventually be sent to ATF’s registry in West Virginia,” said Aiden Johnston of the Gun Owners of America.

“Neither ATF nor Biden’s anti-gun appointees know anything about the firearms and accessories they seek to regulate,” said Johnston.

The NRA echoed a similar sentiment while claiming the Biden administration could utilize ATF’s gun data to trace AR-15 rifles, hinting at Democrats’ “gun grab” initiatives.

Under the original Tiahrt provision, trace information is only entitled to law enforcement “in connection with and for use in a bona fide criminal investigation or prosecution” or in administrative actions by the ATF.

Still, Democrats see Tiahrt as an obstacle to federal agencies’ efficiency. For one, destroying gun purchaser records within 24 hours limits ATF’s ability to find prohibited persons who were able to purchase guns.

These records could potentially prevent casualties during emergency calls by giving law enforcement information on whether a person at the residence owns a gun. The data could also assist in the relinquishment of firearms by convicted felons.

Chuck Canterbury, former National President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), argues “firearm trace data is collected by ATF for public safety, not for civil litigation.”

Canterbury believes the average cop does not support a federal registry: “Officers in the field who are actually working illegal gun cases know that releasing sensitive information about pending cases can jeopardize the integrity of the investigation or even place the lives of undercover officers in danger.”

None of that seems to matter to Democrats, who are more focused on excessive regulation of law-abiding citizens.

“We must repeal the Tiahrt Amendment,” says Mayor Adams, “(it) has weakened law enforcement’s efforts to prevent gun crimes and limited the public’s ability to study gun violence and trafficking.”

In step with Mayor Adams, Gov. Hochul believes gun tracing to be paramount, stressing the ease of interplay between federal agencies through her “interstate gun-tracing consortium.” In her 2023 Executive Budget, she allocates an additional $215,000 for a “gun crime tracing team.”

Democrats have made it a point to stress “gun trafficking” as the primary source of gun crime. Now, they are looking to streamline data by granting federal agencies access to legal gun owner data.

The ”Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act,” sponsored by New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, aims to do just that by eliminating Tiahrt’s ban on a federal registry through the “consolidation or centralization in the Department of Justice of firearms acquisition and disposition records.”

The Democrat-sponsored bill also looks to repeal other provisions of Tiahrt, including the required deletion of instant background check records within 24 hours.

A second bill, the Federal Firearm Licensee Act, sponsored by Illinois Rep. Kelly Robin, calls for Tiahrt’s repeal and ATF to “establish and maintain electronic, searchable databases of all records regarding the importation, production, shipment, receipt, sale or other disposition of firearms required to be submitted by licensees to the Attorney General.”

The most recent of the three, the “Trafficking Reduction And Criminal Enforcement (TRACE) Act” sponsored by Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, looks to do more than just repeal Tiahrt but also add a hidden serial number to all new guns. The serial number will be “located inside the receiver of the firearm or that is visible only in infrared light.”

All three bills aim to centralize gun owner data at the expense of lawful gun owners. ATF has advocated against a central database in fear of government overreach, but it’s not the potential abuse that concerns Democrats.

In light of Biden’s poor approval rating and midterms around the corner, Democrats could leverage the “gun crime” issue to successfully repeal Tiahrt, if not make a case for further restrictions on gun owners.

Anti-Asian Hate Crime Stats Could Be Wrong, Expect Higher Numbers for 2022

Anti-Asian hate incidents could continue their upward trajectory even with inaccurate or underreporting as agencies and initiatives expand.

New York seeks to combat its largest increase in reported anti-Asian hate crimes. Incidents targeting Asians rose 343% in 2021. 538 total reports were filed in the same year–a 96% increase from 2020’s high of 275.

Federal and state agencies coordinate the recording and tracking of hate crimes. According to the Criminal Justice Statistical Analysis Center (CJSAC) of West Virginia’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the hate crime stats might be higher.

Through the Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) of 1990, the FBI established the national hate crime data collection program. It requires the attorney general to collect data on crimes committed because of the victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Hate Crime Statistics is a voluntary reporting system that certain jurisdictions don’t use, resulting in lower reported cases.

Other stats are aggregated by NGOs. For instance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) receives its data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Both agencies are considered to be at the top for accuracy.

Media outlets, such as NBC, use the University of Michigan’s Virulent Hate Project. Its Anti-Asian Racism in 2020 study reviewed 4,337 news articles published between January 1 and December 31, 2020, reporting 1,023 incidents. 112 incidents involved physical harassment and violence.

There were only 16 examples where the offenders were explicitly identified in the source articles. Three perpetrators were identified as black men.

In 2020, more than 100 Asian women were victims of a black gang in San Jose. The gang was linked to 177 robberies targeting women almost all of Asian descent. The perpetrators used ethnic slurs to refer to their victims, making the motivation apparent. This one story alone demonstrates that not all studies are accurate or equal.

Still, the CJSAC stresses the most significant problem in hate crime statistics is officer misclassification of incidents. Its studies demonstrate officers often fail to identify hate crimes in serious crimes such as murder or torture, making some experts believe they cannot detect bias in minor offenses either.

The CJSAC found that officers assigned to special bias crime units tend to face ridicule as not “normal cops.” Due to personal beliefs, officers may not enforce hate crime laws too.

Lack of personal incentive or disincentive for reporting further reduces the number of reported incidents. In some cases, victims don’t report crimes or incidents.

Many cases go “unfounded,” meaning they are reported to law enforcement but subsequently determined false or baseless. Criminal motivation isn’t always so clear-cut, but police tend to believe the crime must be premeditated for there to be a motivated bias.

Unfounded cases were found to contribute to the overcounting of actual hate incidents, according to the CJSAC. Unfounded cases falsely labeled as hate incidents add to the inflation.

The CJSAC study also found officers put extra consideration before categorizing a hate crime or incident. This may be an unwillingness to pursue a serious indictment and possible conviction.

Reporting of hate crimes is also complicated by state-determined protected classes. West Virginia, California, and Iowa recognize political affiliation, while most others do not. Protected class status differs from state to state.

Another perspective is the inflation of hate crime rates by perception. According to Pew Research Center, eight-in-ten Asian Americans said violence against them is increasing. 45% claimed to have experienced an incident tied to their racial or ethnic background since the pandemic.

Whether the reported incidents are real or perceived hate incidents is inconsequential, as they typically aren’t scrutinized further or minimized.

Democrats took the anti-Asian hate crime aiming at hate crime legislation. New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced the Hate Crimes Analysis & Review Act as a standardized system for New York police, courts, and prosecutors in reporting hate crime incidents.

Similarly, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law intended to speed up the review of pandemic-related hate crimes and provide grants to local law enforcement to improve reporting.

Both initiatives look to centralize hate crime data. Centralization may solve part of the accuracy problem, but it’s also dependent upon state level compliance and methodology.

The Ideological Walls Dividing Social Media Equality

In the postmodern era, communication accessibility has expanded to an unmatched level—not ever before seen since the abandonment of Latin within the Church. With this grand expansion and abundant freedom has come a necessity of civil responsibility. However, not all are called to uphold their duties and responsibilities. To counter the reckless, totalitarian limitations are placed, resulting in a curtailing of free speech and a forced acceptance of leftist culture.

This tension in social media is centered around ideology. Twitter, the primary platform of modern discourse, claims to promote free speech and diversity of opinion. As a platform, it does not. It is a vacuum of common ideological culture, ill representative of the populace. A lack of tolerance towards conservative or dissident thinking has also led to suppression and censorship. 

“I don’t think that’s fair or right,” says CEO Jack Dorsey in reference to Twitter’s own company environment. Twitter has become so liberal that its conservative employees “don’t feel safe to express their opinions.” Dorsey acknowledged the company’s overwhelmingly strong viewpoint in a 2018 interview with NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen. At the time, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions considered a formal investigation into the suppression of conservative viewpoints. Like other social media platforms, Twitter tries to avoid political bias with the use of software algorithms. However, these algorithms are written by humans, making them innately biased. Policy development and enforcement philosophy are thus geared towards a left-wing progressive viewpoint more representative of Silicon Valley.

Twitter claims it does not tolerate behavior that “harasses, threatens, or uses fear to silence” individuals (“Twitter’s Enforcement Philosophy & Approach to Policy Development”). Controversial, offensive, and even bigoted perspectives are allowed to reflect real-world conversations. When it comes to policy, Twitter conducts its research and drafting through its internal teams and Trust & Safety Council. Enforcement is primarily focused on the context of the messaging. Twitter considers who the behavior is being directed at, who files the report, the severity of the violation, and if the content is of public interest. Furthermore, the impact of the content and its source are also considered providing room for editorialization (“Twitter’s Enforcement Philosophy & Approach to Policy Development”).

Many conservatives allege suppression and censorship, but it may not genuinely be either. Ideological values may be the true focal point of the problem. However, Twitter is not very transparent and rather ambiguous with its rules. The primary biases, if they lie in values, must lie within what is deemed “hateful conduct” and “abusive behavior.” What is considered “hateful” and “abusive” does not correlate to each value system equally. This leaves room for bias to take root and manifest in suppression and censorship.

In June of 2018, a Pew poll found 72% of Americans believe social media companies censor views they don’t agree with. Conservatives had relied on anecdotal proof until 2019 when Quillette conducted their own empirically driven research. Still, evidence of abuse does not answer the “how.” In Quillette’s research, Richard Hanania remarked: 

Harassment and the advocacy of violence are serious issues, and there is nothing morally objectionable about social media companies removing this kind of content from their platforms. However, such laudable objectives should not be used as cover to prosecute ideological campaigns. 

Hanania acknowledges the root of the issue to be the contextualization of the code of conduct.

Twitter’s contextual evaluation came under hardened scrutiny after a New York Times tech writer’s tweet displayed anti-white racism. Sarah Jeong tweeted several derogatory tweets aimed at white people. “Oh man its kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men,” Jeong tweeted in 2014. “White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along,” tweeted Jeong. “Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.” Those are only a few of the racist tweets from Jeong, who tweeted a hashtag “CancelWhitePeople.” Twitter did not suspend Jeong’s account or remove the tweets. She also posted a graph claiming that “whiteness” resulted in being “awful.” She has claimed that it was only satire but apologized, nonetheless.

In an attempt to expose the double standard of leftist antics, prominent conservative activist and commentator Candace Owens mimicked Jeong’s tweets. She swapped “white” and “men” with “black,” “Jewish,” and “women.” Owens was banned for 12 hours, with Twitter citing her tweets about Jews as the reason for the ban. Strange how when its derogatory against Jews its bad, but with whites its not. Twitter later reinstated Owens’ account, claiming they “made an error.”

The anti-white sentiment has emerged full throttle after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer. Leftists claim the rhetoric is “antiracist.” Preaching the decline of whites doesn’t appear to be “antiracist,” though. These illiberal progressives believe in a notion of white repentance or social reparations. Many claim that it is impossible to be racist against whites. As a result of this discrimination, many alt-right and dissident right responded on Twitter with the hashtag “itsokaytobewhite.” The hashtag was almost purged from Twitter, but too many stood against anti-white racism to let Big Tech decide their values. It is odd enough that white progressives are okay with this anti-white racism. It is like they do not value their own identity. Nonetheless, the anti-white sentiment is stronger than any white identitarian belief which is why it is more palatable for Twitter’s platform. That does not excuse the racism, particularly from whites; it only demonstrates the substantial divergence of values, logos, and perspective.

Jeong is one of many who have overstepped the boundary. Former democrat congressional candidate Saira Rao has made similar tweeting decisions. Her timeline is fully dedicated to the “white man.” She has made it clear what she is about, and yet Twitter struggles to see any hate. In 2019, Rao tweeted, “White people have done everything to make my life miserable. Yet I’m supposed to not hate white people? If we were to replace white with black or any other race, she would have been suspended. She has a verified account and tweets the vilest things against white people. Rao is known in the dissident circles of the right as a “racial comic.” However, there is nothing funny coming from this first-generation American Indian. After her primary defeat, Rao said she was ready to “give up” on white people, accusing them of her loss. She has furthered the claim of racism against the DNC with rather bombastic accusations. Ironically, Rao even hosts her own club called “Race to Dinner,” where she invites white women to join her private dinners to “bear witness” to the pain of “Black and Brown” women. If it isn’t clear enough, this woman wholeheartedly hates white people.

The white guilt of modern culture has gotten out of hand, but it is a tenet of the new liberalism. How can one who values their identity adhere to the new gospel? Twitter demands adherence, and if you are to repulse the anti-white rhetoric via discourse, expect limitations on your account. Imagine if Rao’s words were about any other race. She would be shunned, publicly shamed, and banned from these platforms. Strangely familiar, that is what has happened to Donald J. Trump. And yet, we have struggled to find real racism in the former president’s words. But he said, “China virus!” Wuhan is in China, so his words seem fitting. Regardless, Twitter cannot expect white people to allow this. They have been letting enough slide by with illiberal thought, intolerance for their heritage, social classism based on racial identity, etc. It is maddening how strange the world has become, especially to the apolitical white person. Twitter should at least acknowledge the cultural reckoning and set aside some “privileges” similar to the protected classes.

Regrettably, the anti-white embracement of liberal whites prevents a conversation about equal treatment on the platform. Far-left democrats understand this while also understanding their protection as “protected classes.” No one stands up against anti-white racism except the dissidents who are falsely labeled and shamed to the corners. No one is “supposed” to advocate for the white masses. 

When Ilhan Omar tweets antisemitic commentary, things are handled differently. In June of 2021, Omar tweeted a moral equivalence between the U.S., Israeli and Afghan actions to those taken by the Taliban and Hamas. 

We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice. 

In a Morning Consult/Politico poll, 31% of voters said the tweet was antisemitic, while 41% said it was not. 35% believed it was hostile to Jewish people. Alas, Omar has apologized for her tweets, so “it’s okay,” at least according to the people who count. In 2012, she tweeted “Israel has hypnotized the world” and in 2018 she posted, “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews.” In 2019 she tweeted, “the Benjamin’s baby,” a reference to a song about $100 bills, and AIPAC, a pro-Israeli lobbying group. The Jewish Committee Relations Council of Minnesota claims the references are clearly antisemitic. Again, after racist remarks, democrats issue an apology, thus immune from responsibility and cancellation. Twitter still has yet to take any action against Omar. She is of a protected class which apparently supersedes her accountability as a public figure. This is why care ethics may be ideal but not practical.

In 2015, after Donald J. Trump declared victory in the U.S. presidential elections, comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted an image of her holding a bloody decapitated head of the newly elected president. Griffin did not provide any “context,” which might explain why the photo was up for 9 hours. It broke the sensitive media policy, which states a user “may not post media that is excessively gory or share violent or adult content within live video or in profile header, or Lists banner images. Media depicting sexual violence and/or assault is also not permitted.” The exceptions to this rule are for documentary or educational content, of which the tweet does not fit the two. Twitter claims, “to limit exposure to sensitive images and videos and to prevent the sharing of potentially disturbing types of sensitive media,” and yet the tweet had 10.9k retweets and 48.5k likes. That would extrapolate to millions of impressions at the minimum.

In 2017, Griffin posted to CNN’s White House Reporter, Jim Acosta, who observed Trump speaking at an event about protecting seniors with diabetes. The tweet read, “Syringe with nothing but air on the inside should do the trick. F*** Trump.” Such a syringe would result in a potentially fatal air or gas embolism traveling to the heart or brain. Twitter removed the tweet as it was clearly against community guidelines. Griffin wasn’t suspended or removed, even after calling for a doxing of the Covington Catholic High School students. Twitter claims, “you may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so,” and yet Griffin tweeted, “The reply from the school was pathetic and impotent. Name these kids. I want NAMES. Shame them. If you think these f*****rs wouldn’t dox you in a heartbeat, think again…”

All three of these accounts are verified; however, Jeong’s was not at the time of her indiscretions. None of the POCs were suspended, banned, or forced to delete said tweets. However, Griffin was suspended and forced to delete her tweets. Separate but equal does not exist, yet whites are treated to have more responsibility and better judgment. That seems to allege POCs do not have the capacity to understand nor the demeanor to hold civil conversation. Race eugenicists may argue for this tiered system based upon cognitive ability, but others would argue against it. It appears the hood has certainly been revealed with Twitter’s embracement of such contextualization of policy. Lowering the threshold of accountability may pave the way for equity, but certainly not equality.

Acknowledging the difference of treatment based upon “class status” is only the beginning of Twitter’s troubles. Rules should be equal for all, but understandably some individuals, not groups, may need that extra protection. It is a far cry from social justice to demand higher accountability for whites. It is also remarkable the blatant double standard attributed between different ideologies, conservative and liberal. All of the women excluding Rao offered apologies after public angst. The same right to apologize is not acknowledged among those on the right. Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is a fine example. Greene has been known to push the envelope. 

Last May, she stated, “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.” Many found her comments to be antisemitic. As a result, she was booted from her committee assignments, although she apologized. The point here is that culture has shaped Twitter, and Twitter has in turn shaped the culture. Only those “worthy” of repentance may be granted the ability. The mixing and mashing of cultural relativism with social media has transformed American culture to the very thing that has set it back. Politically correct, third-wave feminism-driven, and anti-due process social media is now the mainstream culture. As one Fordham University communications professor proclaimed, “We can’t make everyone happy.” So why do we cater to the 1%, 4%, or even 13% while admonishing the 40-50%? Strange it is how utopias work, although the decline matches its lack of practicality with hard realism.

Continuing along the lines of Twitter’s privilege system and its allowance of fact. Prominent paleoconservative journalist, columnist, and blogger Steve Sailer understands “wrong think” well. Sailer tweets data-driven analyses of crime almost daily. Last January, he tweeted, “There were 14 unarmed blacks killed by cops in 2020. Unarmed blacks are more likely to grab for other’s guy’s weapons: e.g., Michael Brown, Armaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks.” Two days later, he tweeted, “What caused 2020’s record increase in urban murders? It’s Black Lives Matter that got those extra blacks murdered by other blacks in 2020,” supplemented with a link to an article by the National Review. Both tweets granted him a 12-hour suspension on the grounds of being hateful and promoting violence. Sailer appealed the tweets citing his sources which appear to be true based on the Washington Post’s database of police killings and Brooklyn College professor Robert Cherry’s studies on murders. Twitter has removed both tweets after providing Sailer the opportunity to remove or appeal.

Sailer’s tweets did not break community guidelines of hateful conduct or promoting violence. This goes back to the protected class issue. Nothing bad can be alleged of the protected groups, regardless if they are true. Again, raising the accountability for some shuns the truth of others. At this moment, while Sailer and other crime analysts tread thin ice, Rao continues to tweet derogatory sentiments about white people. One goes punished, the other acclaimed, although both are not comparable but may seem comparable in the light of new liberalism. Context is everything for Twitter; remember that.

How can we amend this rather significant problem with Twitter? It is not about the rules per se. The contextualization is biased. The viewpoint of Twitter is progressive left-wing with a partisan “interpretation” of care ethics. Contextualization, the lens through which the conflict is analyzed, is biased. That may be due to the company’s employment, but also its philosophy. Individuals are not provided with an equal opportunity to build themselves up and effectively deliver their messaging, which is the only purpose of such platforms. Here is where there is a need for true diversity—ideological diversity.

Resolving the problem at hand may require a dismantling of the culture. The majority, the some odd 50-60% of the country, represent the whole. And yet, care ethics and this newfound liberal ideology demand representation of the few, or at least it claims. Ideological diversity has never been a part of progressivism. It just needs to appear that way. The allowance of counterpoints would strip progressivism of its perceived values showing its true worth, and that cannot be allowed. If Twitter did not embrace its platform’s culture of relativism, neutrality could be attained. Nonetheless, the ideal can still be wanted.

Twitter should consider ideological and cultural initiatives for prospective employees. Diversity can only be pragmatic in representation, so with the expansion of different minded employees, there can be nuance to the context in which problems are evaluated. Twitter should revamp its rules to represent the populace’s values. The rules should be detailed, clear, and evolving. Those who have their accounts suspended should have the opportunity to express their opinion and request to have the suspension reviewed by another Twitter specialist or team. These steps should be taken at a slow, gradual pace to maintain the platform’s current ebb and flow. Only through slow determination can a lack of ideological representation be amended.

Regarding the over policing off non-protected classes, it should be acknowledged that this distributive justice can lead to arbitrariness in interpretation and application of the rules (Sama and Shoaf 95). As a result, it can appear unfair or dishonest. Twitter should provide the ability to opt in and out of such classes. Since it is not the user’s account that is deemed protected, but the messaging of the received tweet, contextual evaluations should place its emphasis on the account before the message. Understanding that there never is “perfect information”, contextual evaluations are very important to the platform’s due process. Users would have the ability to disclose their protected status to Twitter or omit and relinquish such privileges. From the information based upon the account’s protected status, Twitter should be able to make more accurate decisions. The algorithms will have to be refined in order to decipher protected status as well. 

Over time, Twitter’s culture should become more representative of the populace. This will be a painstaking process filled with errors. Errors are where Twitter can find its flaws in order to create a sturdy foundation in which true inclusion is achieved. This does not mean the platform will foster pure harmony. What will be achieved is equality of speech for all users.

Works Cited

Chamberlain, Samuel. “Rep. Ilhan Omar Claims America Has Committed ‘Unspeakable Atrocities.’” New York Post, 2021, https://nypost.com/2021/06/08/rep-omar-claims-america-committed-unspeakable-atrocities/.

Davis, William. “Former Democratic Congressional Candidate Saira Rao Says She Hates White People And America.” Dailycaller, 2021, https://dailycaller.com/2019/06/03/democrat-congress-hates-white-people-america/.

Durden, Tyler. “Twitter Again Refuses To Censor Kathy Griffin’s Pic Of Decapitated Trump Head.” Zerohedge, 2021, https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/twitter-neglects-censor-kathy-griffins-retweet-pic-decapitated-trump-head.

Flood, Brian. “New York Times Stands By New Tech Writer Sarah Jeong After Racist Tweets Surface.” Fox News, 2021, https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/new-york-times-stands-by-new-tech-writer-sarah-jeong-after-racist-tweets-surface.

Fredericson, Colin. “Former Candidate For Congress Goes On Racist Twitter Tirade.” NTD, 2021, https://www.ntd.com/former-candidate-for-congress-goes-on-racist-twitter-tirade_339360.

Hanania, Richard. “It Isn’t Your Imagination: Twitter Treats Conservatives More Harshly Than Liberals.” Quillette, 20 Feb. 2019, http://quillette.com/2019/02/12/it-isnt-your-imagination-twitter-treats-conservatives-more-harshly-than-liberals.

Kirkwood, R. Cort. “So Far, No Twitter Punishment For Kathy Griffin After Another Trump-Should-Die Tweet.” The New American, 2021, https://thenewamerican.com/so-far-no-twitter-punishment-for-kathy-griffin/.

Mittelstadt, Natalia. “Twitter Bans Candace Owens For 12 Hours But Not Sarah Jeong For Racist Tweets.” Cnsnews, 2021, https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/natalia-mittelstadt/twitter-bans-candace-owens-12-hours-not-sarah-jeong-racist-tweets.

Murphy, Esme. “‘All About The Benjamins’: Ilhan Omar’s Tweet Criticized By Republicans, Dems As Anti-Semitic.” CBS Minnesota, 2021, https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2019/02/11/ilhan-omar-twitter-anti-semitism-aipac-its-all-about-the-benjamins/.

Omar, Ilhan [@IlhanMN]. “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.” Twitter, 31 May 2018, twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1002295140172664832?s=20.

Omar, Ilhan [@Ilhan]. “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice.” Twitter, 7 June 2021, twitter.com/Ilhan/status/1401985884191404041?s=20.

Sama, Linda M., and Victoria Shoaf. “Ethics on the Web: Applying Moral Decision-Making to the New Media.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 36, no. 1/2, 2002, pp. 93–103. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25074695.

“Twitter’s Enforcement Philosophy & Approach to Policy Development.” Twitter, Twitter, http://www.help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/enforcement-philosophy. Accessed 25 June 2021.

“Twitter’s Sensitive Media Policy | Twitter Help.” Twitter, Twitter, http://www.help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/media-policy. Accessed 25 June 2021.

Wagner, Kurt. “Twitter Is So Liberal That Its Conservative Employees ‘Don’t Feel Safe To Express Their Opinions,’ Says CEO Jack Dorsey.” Vox, 2021, https://www.vox.com/2018/9/14/17857622/twitter-liberal-employees-conservative-trump-politics.

Yokley, Eli. “Voters Are Slightly More Likely To See Antisemitism In Ilhan Omar’s Latest Comments If They Know She Made Them.” Morning Consult, 2021, https://morningconsult.com/2021/06/16/ilhan-omar-marjorie-taylor-greene-antisemitism-polling/.

American Mass Media & Censorship: A Repeating of History

A Commentary on Media History, Law and It’s Abuse

2015 sparked one of the largest movements of populism in modern times.  Big Tech, an arm of the establishment, has taken the stance of censors.  To them, under the gaze of the hypodermic needle theory, we are simply not responsible enough to be our own individuals. We, the people, bound only to our maker and the Constitution, will not be silenced. 

Since the colonial era, American media has been stifled by suppression. After lifting the monarchical restraints preceding the English Civil War (1640-60), freedom of speech and press became de facto. Parliaments passing of the 1662 Licensing Act required all printers to acquire permission from the government before the publication of any literary pieces, newsletters, or pamphlets. Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Licensing Act became defunct, allowing print without government authorization. In the 1730s, an editor-publisher of the New York Weekly Journal, John Peter Zenger, investigated the New York colonial government writing several critical publications. New York’s government accused Zenger of printing “seditious libel,” arresting him in 1734. Andrew Hamilton, brother of Alexander, represented Zenger in the libel suit. He successfully argued that if the print was truthful, it was not libelous. From thereon, truth became the defense in libel suits.

As colonial America’s thirst for freedom heightened, the crown imposed the Stamp Act of 1765. Printing firms were required to pay a tax on newspapers or pamphlets and even simple playing cards. Censorship of the printed word provided more angst, enough to fight for independence.

Post Revolution, America needed to decide how to protect its citizens’ speech. James Madison led the cause for Congress to pass the federal “Bill of Rights,” including the First Amendment, protecting free speech and the press. The interpretation of the first amendment became problematic with the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. The Sedition Act was, to some extent, intended to suppress opposition to Federalist President John Adams’ policies.  Democratic-Republicans claimed it violated the First and 10th Amendments. Political rivalry among media was just at its infant stages at this point. Federalists and Democratic-Republicans would continue to fight back and forth, even after the Sedition Acts expiration in 1801.

In the 20th century, Congress weighed in on the press’ freedom with the Espionage Act of 1917. The law allowed the suppression of pro-German or other subversive newspapers. This authorized the Postmaster-General to seize any “seditious” publications. During this period, President Woodrow Wilson’s administration established the ad hoc Committee on Public Information to regulate war news releases to the press. The 1918 Sedition Act extended the Espionage Act to prohibit attacks on the Constitution, military, flag, or United States. 

The passage of the Radio Commission of 1927 required broadcast companies to apply for federal licenses to broadcast. The Federal Communication Commission later replaced the law in 1934. The FCC created a code for broadcast regulation with enforcement through licensing control. In 1949, the “Fairness Doctrine” granted equal access to varied viewpoints. At the time, broadcast companies, not print, were required to follow such guidelines to renew their licenses. In 1987, the FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine with the exception of “personal or political statements” (Pickard 116).

Diminished regulation followed the 1996 Telecommunications Act.  Radio and television were deregulated, allowing for much more diverse viewpoints leading to the rise of “talk radio” and cable news outlets. The 20th century’s limitation on freedom of the press was through “prior restraint,” whereby the government attempts to prevent publication – the most famous case being New York Times v. United States (1971).  The Rand Corporation, a prominent American think-tank, leaked to the New York Times, Washington Post, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch a forty-seven volume Pentagon policy analysis of the Vietnam War’s origins and progress.  Employees Daniel Ellsberg and J. Anthony Russo were prosecuted for violating government secrecy pledges.  The government intervened to stop further publication after the first installment of the Pentagon Papers. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that the Pentagon Papers did not contain information that would endanger national security.

Regulation concerns came with the expansion of the internet.  “Net neutrality” or network neutrality was first recommended in 1999 by President Bill Clinton’s FCC chairman, William Kennard. In 2010, President Barack Obama’s Democrat-led FCC established internet operations subject to FCC “common carrier” rules for telecommunications. All internet content, from emails to audios and videos, would be treated equally.  Through net neutrality, a government agency obtained regulatory control over a vast internet system and its operations. However, in 2017, President Donald J. Trump, with new FCC appointees, terminated the net neutrality policy.   

Today’s social media platforms bear a striking resemblance to traditional media. Their main difference is that they do not edit content; however, they algorithmically organize it. Social media also uses excessive amounts of personal data, and its markets are more niche. Both have a significant impact on the individual and public discourse, being mediums for free expression and democratic discourse. They are also both profit-oriented, making them less likely to adhere to the public’s interest. Nonetheless, social media platforms are still expected to transmit information without bias or imposing agenda. Freedom of expression, the right to receive information and participate in public discourse are prominent facets of a sustainable democracy. Individuals are provided the opportunity to build themselves up through social media and internet blogs. Years ago, this was celebrated as providing equal opportunities to all viewpoints and elevating democracy to a level never seen before. “Cyber-optimists” viewed this as a real chance for minority views to be heard.  

Social media platforms’ purpose is simply meant to deliver and facilitate communication, not produce or edit content. They are only to intervene to alter or remove information reported by users within the community. Platform moderation is used to facilitate interaction through algorithms. Tools to amplify content are available, allowing for manipulation of the perception of content and expand its reach, affecting the public discourse. Theoretically, algorithmic design should lead to ideal outcomes. However, small aspects of the software can distort the “marketplace of ideas.”

Some believe social media is a right granted under the framing of free speech. A counter to this claim is that these social media companies are private corporations, so they hold no such legal obligation. However, considering only a handful of multinational corporations control social media platforms, these services are limited. With such a range of communication, they have become a dominant force in our democratic society. Consequently, they have a duty to provide services to customers without discrimination or bias.

Several social media platforms have systems in place to provide the “safest” user experience. The notice-and-takedown system pressures service providers to make the judgment on whether the content is lawful or not. This tends to be abused to stifle competitors’ content, leading to removal or suspension. On the other hand, notice-and-notice requires the service provider to forward the notice to the original content provider, if possible, otherwise it is removed. Original creators of questionable content are called to take responsibility for their content and manage disputes on the individual level. This method has led to abuse at the hands of copyright holders, pressuring for settlements, earned monies, or removing content.  Platforms are not beholden to any obligation to monitor content since they are not responsible for any third-party content. Since they are neither authors nor publishers, they are not responsible for activity on the platform. They simply facilitate, disseminate, profile or not, manage accounts, and cooperate with respective authorities.

Approximately one year ago, conservative comedian Steven Crowder’s YouTube channel was demonetized – losing the ability to make money off his channel. His offense was allegedly harassing former Vox journalist Carlos Maza, referring to him as a “lispy queer.” It should be noted that at the time, Maza himself used this phrase to describe himself in his Twitter profile.  Maza’s fight was not about “homophobia” or “hate speech”; it was an ideological takedown. In a series of tweets, Maza called on YouTube to ban Steven Crowder.  Crowder was eventually demonetized on YouTube.

In May of 2020, Twitter announced it would begin to label tweets deemed false or disputed concerning COVID-19. Facebook was already ahead of the curve, labeling and striking down alleged fictitious content. Misinformation is a great concern, but to add labels is simply a band-aid to the problem. According to MIT research: “when people see that some posts on social media have warning labels, they are far more likely to assume, incorrectly, that all the posts without these warning labels have been verified by fact-checks.” Selective fact-checking is indeed a form of censorship. Muzzling speech tends to amplify the speaker and the message.  The phenomenon of the forbidden fruit is a part of human nature.  Books tend to become even more popular after they are banned. Conspiracy theories are even worse.  Banning conspiratorial content drives “conspiracy-minded” individuals to push even harder, primarily because it is anti-authoritative.

In more recent days, we have seen censorship interfere with American presidential elections. The New York Post attempted to post on social media an article about Joe Biden and his son’s dealings with the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma. At the time, Joe Biden had been supervising the Obama Administration’s Ukraine policy when his son, Hunter, had been on Burisma’s board. Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook took content moderation to another level. Twitter users were unable to post a link to the Post article.  The New York Post’s Twitter account with 1.8 million followers was indefinitely locked, as well as White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany’s, the “Team Trump” campaign account, and Politico journalist Jake Sherman’s Twitter claimed the Post story violated its “hacked materials” policy. The Post claimed the emails were found on a laptop in a Delaware repair shop. The owner of the repair shop gave them to Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani. To this day, the Biden campaign never denied the authenticity of the emails or the laptop.

U.S. Twitter has even allowed China to scapegoat the fault of COVID-19 onto the American military. Spokesperson & Deputy Director General, Information Department, Foreign Ministry of China Lijian Zhao posted articles indicating the virus originated in the United States: “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” Meanwhile, Big Tech censors any American article speculating China’s role in the pandemic. Facebook has even censored a Fox News article with claims from a “top virologist and whistleblower” stating the “Chinese government intentionally manufactured and released the COVID-19 virus…”

When White House social media director, Dan Scavino, posted a video of Joe Biden stuttering: “Because we cannot get re-elect, we cannot win this re-election.  Excuse me, we can only re-elect Donald Trump,” Twitter flagged this immediately as “manipulated media.” Yet when edited content of President Trump is posted, it is not limited or taken down. Michael Bloomberg’s former senior adviser, Tim O’Brien, spliced audio clips of the President to portray he did not believe the validity or seriousness of COVID-19. Biden has tweeted similar clips without any form of restriction.   Furthermore, YouTube has removed over three hundred Trump campaign ads just over the summer of 2019. Google being ad revenue driven, refused service to conservative sites based on what its staff deemed “offensive.” 

The problem conservatives have upon them is that those aware of the censorship are a tiny sliver of the population. They may be motivated enough to take action, but they have no significant impact on the market. They do, however, have access to government power through representatives, such as congresspersons and senators. A counterargument is that social media is in the private sector and is meant to build a private community, so government intervention is not warranted. Section 230 has been considered for revocation, but that may not be the answer.

Conservatives need to call for a reconstruction of online liberties by reaching the very large indifferent audience of Americans to portray the problem. A starting point could be the Steven Crowder demonetization. The First Amendment provides free speech provisions preventing federal, state, and local governments from internet censorship, including social media. Social media companies being private and of non-governmental interests, have more freedom in restricting content on their platforms. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, social media platforms are generally not liable for their users’ content. Through “safe harbor” provisions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, they are protected from “liability for monetary damages pertaining to copyright infringement activities of their users” as long as they comply with takedown notices. This protection from liability incentivizes social media companies to monitor and remove certain content from their sites. Social media platforms use “content filtering” or “content monitoring” in order to remove content. On sites like YouTube, content is algorithmically removed before even being aired.

Becoming a user on any social media platform, the individual agrees to the terms of service. Violation of any of the terms of service can result in a removal of the account. Social media companies also reserve the right to change or revise their terms of service at any time, even without informing its users. Although individuals have the right not to participate in social media, the platforms are rather limited. The lack of transparency and consistency has been an issue, displaying blatant bias of left-wing ideology.

Section 230 uses the “Good Samaritan” technique. “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Social media companies are platforms, not publishers, and they are granted immunity from abusive content. With that, these platforms have civil liability. They are not liable for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” Platform providers are also not liable for “any action taken to engage or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described as objectionable.”

Platform providers should explain how algorithms function for the sake of transparency. Users should have access to the tools which they would like to use or not. Verification of trustworthiness should be outsourced to eliminate internal bias. With Big Tech primarily headquartered in Silicon Valley, a vacuum of “common ideological culture” exists. When there is a monoculture, opinion and belief become fact. Big Tech disproportionately draws from elite academies that tend to be the “most blue of educational institutions.” Employees consist of the young coastal elite that tend to be of the left persuasion. Some ideological diversity is a necessity to maintain fairness and balance.

Individuals who are regarded as public figures should have tightened scrutiny on these platforms. They tend to have their accounts verified, demonstrating their vast communicative power, so with it they should hold the same level of responsibility. The three categories of users should be as follows: private individuals acting on their own accord, professionals acting in their own capacities, and professionals related to public issues or service. A three-tiered approach may be better than the simple private versus public figure approach currently implemented.

A very vital aspect of social media, personal data, requires some scrutiny.  Personal data is used to tailor content and maximize engagement, but it can also manipulate opinions. This violates the users’ right to privacy and protection. Even simple social media activities of liking and sharing content provide personal data collected by advertisers without any notification to the user. The user also cannot opt-out. Personal data has become a currency for social media and its advertisers.  It may be understandable, but it is certainly not justified. The recognition of personal data ownership needs to be addressed, and companies that deal with users’ personal data should treat them as confidential. Legal liability should be opened against these platforms to ensure protection.

Government intervention might be too intrusive, and hitting these companies with antitrust will not change Silicon Valley’s leftist ideology. For starters, we should re-evaluate Section 230 to interpret it in a less broad sense. Everyone should be able to express their own opinions, thoughts, or viewpoints through social media. Rules of conduct should represent the populace, not the Big Tech overlords of Silicon Valley. Nevertheless, the Orwellian times are here, and they may be here to stay.

Works Cited

“47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for Private Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230. 

“47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for Private Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230

Bayer, Judith. Between Anarchy and Censorship: Public Discourse and the Duties of Social Media. CEPS Paper in Liberty and Security in Europe No. 2019-03, May 2019. 2019.

French, David. “Social-Media Censorship Is the Product of Culture and Commerce.” National Review, National Review, 6 June 2019, http://www.nationalreview.com/2019/06/social-media-censorship-is-the-product-of-culture-and-commerce/. 

Hall, Alexander. “Exclusive: Top 8 Ways Big Tech Has Tried to Fix the Election.” Newsbusters, 2 Nov. 2020, www.newsbusters.org/blogs/techwatch/alexander-hall/2020/11/02/exclusive-top-8-ways-big-tech-has-tried-fix-election

Halperin, Terri Diane.  2016.  The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Testing the Constitution.  Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hollis, Daniel Webster. “The American Media Experience: Freedom, Bias, Mergers.” Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, vol. 30, no. 1–2, 2018, pp. 29–47.

Kennedy, David M. 2004. Over Here: The First World War and American Society. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kluger, Richard. 2017. Indelible Ink: The Trials of John Peter Zenger and the Birth of America’s Free Press. New York: Norton.

McChesney, Robert W. & John Nichols. 2010. The Death and Life of American Journalism. Philadelphia, PA: Nation Books.

“Opinion | Twitter’s Partisan Censors.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 15 Oct. 2020, http://www.wsj.com/articles/twitters-partisan-censors-11602803394?mod=article_inline. 

Pickard, Victor. 2014. America’s Battle for Media Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Rudenstine, David. 1996. The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Schiffer, Adam J. 2018. Evaluating Media Bias. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

“Social Media Censorship and the Law.” Findlaw, 18 Nov. 2018, civilrights.findlaw.com/enforcing-your-civil-rights/social-media-censorship-and-the-law.html. 

Weinstein, Mark. “Why Social Media Censorship Is Worse than Useless.” New York Post, New York Post, 23 May 2020, nypost.com/2020/05/22/why-social-media-censorship-is-worse-than-useless/.

Google Stadia: A Bold Bust, Keep Your Receipts

With the release of Stadia Pro, Google has been receiving its fair share of backlash and criticism.  From the beginning, many techies were not confident in Stadia, and for good reason.  Maybe Google was able to coerce the eager buyer, especially by its renowned brand, but those who did a bit of research certainly knew what to expect – latency issues, pseudo-high-res gaming, and the troubling fact that games had to be purchased via the Stadia store.

Stadia’s initial release issues were expected, as it carried many technical hiccups.  Customers complained about latency issues as well as noticeable dips in graphical fidelity during gameplay.  Stadia’s promise of power-hitting resolutions up to 4K with HDR made consumers wary of its required 35 megabits per second speed.  Generally, gamers assume the minimum speed is not acceptable, thus requiring higher speeds than the mandated 35 megabits per second.

As it stands right now, Stadia has a total of 42 games.  That is, 42 games available for purchase, unlike other cloud-based gaming subscriptions that provide a library of free games.  Google will soon offer Stadia Base, which is a free subscription running games up to 1080p at 20-megabits or 720p at 10-megabits.  The problem isn’t the price of the subscription, but rather the cost of games.  The customer is buying these games strictly for Stadia at the full retail price.  Rival cloud-based gaming services allow you to either play from their library, like PlayStation Now or play from your own library, like GeForce Now. 

PlayStation Now is both available on PlayStation 4 and PC with a collection of over 600 games for $10 for a month, $25 for three months, and $60 for a year.  However, games only run at 720p.  Then there is GeForce Now, which is available on PC, Mac, and Android.  It plays almost any game from your Steam, Uplay, or Battle.net catalog at 1080p for a mere $4.99 per month.  GeForce Now recently wrapped up its beta, so it is now offering trial subscriptions and its paid Founder’s subscription previously mentioned.

Nvidia’s GeForce Now seems to be the ideal option.  It is undoubtedly making Stadia customers shake their heads, especially at the stability and pricing of GeForce Now.  Google initially pushed their $129 Premiere Edition, which covers a $69 controller that allegedly reduces latency and a $69 Chromecast Ultra – a measly $10 savings for this bundle.  The only attractive offering is the ability to play games at 4K HDR; however, according to many customers, it does not compare to traditional physical hardware, especially with its latency issues and lackluster graphics.

It is quite troubling that a company so large, powerful, and “connected” is having these technical issues.  Google Fiber is touted as the “best” high-speed internet available to the American consumer mainly due to its reliability, 1-gigabit speeds up and down, and its low cost, particularly in comparison to other pricey fiber-optic options like Verizon Fios.  Then again, Google has had problems furthering the infrastructure of Google Fiber due to legal battles for the most part.  Perhaps, Google came out too soon with cloud-based gaming.  It should have focused more on its network infrastructure, then implemented Stadia.  Stadia could even have been used to market Google Fiber and possibly been attached in some sort of combo subscription.  However, Google expecting people to buy from their store on top of paying for a subscription seems unfair.  Also, if Stadia fails, then the purchased game is gone.  At least, with physical media, cloud-based catalogs, and game licenses, purchased games are, at least, much more viable. 

Hopefully, Google will realize its mistakes as more and more cloud-based services are coming about through Sony, Microsoft, NVidia, and others.  Their “effort” is not commendable.  Consumers who want cloud-based gaming should consider using GeForce Now.  It is reliable and very cheap.  It also offers ray-tracing at 1080p resolution, a free 90-day introductory period, as well as a free 1-hour session without credit card registration.  Don’t be fooled by Big Tech; they would be wise to start appreciating their consumers and not take them for granted.

Joe Rogan and the Disappearing Experience

With over 1,500 episodes, The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the most popular and influential podcasts available. Comedian, television host, and former UFC commentator, Joe Rogan hosts a casual talk show with various guests from politics, sports, culture, Hollywood, and the music industry. Starting in 2009, partnered with comedian Brian Redban, Rogan streamed from Justin.tv.  As the podcast gained traction Rogan expanded to other platforms such as SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and, more recently, Spotify. Rogan is known to push the envelope on controversial subjects and sometimes host controversial guests.

Rogan has garnered substantial support and influence through his podcast, so much so he has given a voice to the censored, censured, and has offered a palatable option to listen to differing opinions. His show, much like a conversation, is low-key but manages to gracefully touch on subjects that are especially sensitive in postmodern America. Rogan has proven himself to be neutral to much of today’s political and social divide, making him, in essence, the “voice of reason.”

Rogan’s podcast has offered a platform for many individuals deemed to be radicals, dissidents, and alleged extremists. Outspoken establishment pundits haven’t always been happy with Rogan’s selection of guests. They claim that he gives a platform for hate, bigotry, and conspiracy. Since Rogan has amassed such a broad audience, he is, in a sense, a gatekeeper and an influencer. His podcast opens the airway to views that may appear detrimental to society and culture, but then again, who can genuinely make such judgments? Platforms don’t have the legal authority; the responsibility falls on the publisher, Joe Rogan.

It isn’t hard to see that Rogan’s podcast has been a proponent of freedom of speech. He has brought together many people, especially in these recent times of discord. Although some dislike a handful of his guests, he allows the individuals to speak for themselves. The audience is left to determine what they think about the guests. The listener should be the one to determine the “ins” and “outs” of the message. Today, many have their vocal cords cut and replaced with the stigma of “outcast.” Rogan mends that breach of civil liberty.

Although Rogan has provided societal outcasts with the opportunity to voice themselves against critics, his move to Spotify has laid siege on free speech. Rogan being a libertarian liberal embraces out-of-the-box thinking regardless of the labeling. He has moved many, demonstrating that media pundits can be more faithful to their biases. 

During his transitioning from YouTube to Spotify, episodes included Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulos, Chris D’Elia, Tommy Chong, Stefan Molyneux, Owen Benjamin, Nick Kroll, and Joey Diaz have been flagged and removed. It is no surprise that Big Tech would censor these individuals.  The repeated abuse of censorship has been rampant, especially during the last few years. Rogan has been the “middleman” too much of the censorship issues. 

Last September, he was even trending on Twitter to be the moderator for an upcoming presidential debate. His audience understands he is simply a host and remarkably without an agenda. More podcasts like his will bridge the gap between our fellow man, providing the opportunity for reconciliation and clarification. Remember, though, the host is limited by his platform, although it should not be the case due to the law. 

Since these platforms are taking up the responsibility as publishers, Congress should limit their vast freedoms and benefits and treat them like such. There is a line between publishers and platforms, and today’s platforms have been attempting to blur it in attempts to delete who they deem problematic.

Quibi, or Not Quibi, That is The Question

Quibi is a streaming service that was launched on April 6th of this year, to be the “in-between” market of movies and binge shows. Quibi specializes in “short burst” content, hence the name stemming from “quick bite.” What makes Quibi different than its competitors is that it is only available on cell phones.

Quibi hosts three different types of formats: marquee scripted titles, also known as “Movies in Chapters,” which are seasons divided up into twelve to fourteen daily episodes with one released every two weeks. Second is the unscripted titles such as reality and competition shows as well as documentaries. The last is called “Daily Essentials,” which consists of short news bites, entertainment, and lifestyle content. NBC News, the BBC, Canada’s CTV, and Telemundo will assist on the news front.  While the Dodo, E!, and TMZ will offer daily lifestyle and pop culture stories. In regards to the latter two formats, Quibi investors like Warner Bros., NBC Universal, Disney, BBC Studios, MGM, and Lionsgate will surely provide quality content. Let’s not forget Quibi’s founder, Katzenberg, was one of the founders of Dreamworks and the former chairman of Disney.

Katzenberg has been at the helm of Quibi’s launch; “I don’t think of this as revolutionary as much as it’s evolutionary, in that you’re combining together two test forms of film narrative. He claims Quibi is “setting out to do the next form of film narrative – the convergence of (film and television) together.” The idea is to condense the narrative into short bursts of seven to ten minutes designed to be watched on one’s phone. The other significant innovation with Quibi is it’s “turnstyle mode,” where the content can differ depending on viewing it in landscape or portrait. Specifically, this interactive feature has enabled directors and producers such as Steven Spielberg to innovate in creative ways.

The service is primarily aimed at millennials, Gen Z, as well as younger Gen X. Quibi claimed to Vulture its platform is for 18-to-44-year-olds, with a “very, very targeted” audience at 25-to-35 millennials.  More specifically, it is aiming for a “multicultural” and “diverse millennial audience.” I am not surprised I haven’t heard of Quibi; I am not “diverse” enough. Quibi has even stated they are not promoting family material. That’s no surprise; traditionalism isn’t a proponent of Quibi’s targeted group. A lot of the celebrities participating in this service aren’t ones I’d spend time watching. Plus, why pay for a tiered service with one providing an essentially an ad-blocker? Then again, my mind can’t wrap about the TikTok phenom, so I don’t believe people of my intellectual facilities and ideology would be keen to fork over the five dollars a month.

Regarding Quibi’s content, it doesn’t need to be good. Quibi has been explicit about what their content is meant for – the “in-between” moments.  It’s for the young millennial or Gen Z that is waiting for his or her bus, train, or subway stop.  Or perhaps just when you’re waiting for your favorite TV show to pop on.  I believe its strongest competitor is YouTube. YouTube’s growth, especially during COVID-19, has reached its peak, so much so that they have made the default resolution as low as possible to conserve bandwidth. YouTube’s content isn’t so much “commercial,” though, which makes it not a direct competitor to Quibi. As it stands right now, Quibi is in a market of its own, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Quibi-like services emerge.

Quibi release during the pandemic hasn’t hurt it either.  If anything, it has given Quibi a bit of a boast. In its first week, Quibi hit over 1.7 million downloads. Entertainment is almost a necessity at this point in time.  However, with Comcast and Verizon providing free films and channels, a paid service with ads doesn’t sound too friendly. Quibi has allowed studios to become investors, giving them the incentive to create entertaining projects.  The fact that Quibi is allowing the intellectual property to the owners and creators of their own IP is significant. Exclusivity rights cease after seven years, so owners and creators will be more driven through a profitable push for a better product.

Recently, reports surfaced showing that Quibi users’ email addresses were leaked through third-party advertisers, allowing them to track users and target them with ads.  Quibi claimed to Digital Trends that “Data protection is essential to Quibi and the security of user information is of the highest priority.” A spokesman also stated that “the moment the issue on our webpages was revealed to our security and engineering team, we fixed it immediately.” To an extent, this is understandable, especially for a new company. As Dr. Noah Johnson, co-founder and chief technology officer of data security startup Dasera says, “When thousands of insiders – analysts, data scientists, contractors – are using consumer data daily, there is always the chance that one instance of carelessness or malice can cause users to lose trust with your brand.”

Regarding Katzenberg’s appearance on The Today Show, Katzenberg backpedaled a bit on the main focus of Quibi. He focused more on the tech behind it.  To make watching on cell phones “beautiful.” I don’t believe he used the correct word, immersive would have been more fitting. He demonstrated “turnstyle mode,” and it seemed not only to be immersive but practical for cell phone users. Katzenberg also dove into Spielberg’s new show on Quibi, but it sounded very Orwellian. “Our phone knows where we are, what time of day it is, and when the sun will set to the minute.” That’s a little off-putting to say, especially after their “data breach.” Nonetheless, some will neglect those comments, the same who relinquished their privacy to TikTok.