Flat White

Fire! Fire! Fire!

17 July 2021

4:33 PM

17 July 2021

4:33 PM

The Spectator Australia’s Twitter account was suspended for 12 hours last night for the terrible sin of ‘violating community standards’. 

This was admittedly my fault. 

After all, not only was it my article that caused the outrage – I wrote the blurb that upset the Faceless Men of Silicon Valley. 

I am hardly a stranger to upsetting our digital overlords, but of all the things that have been written in the past few months, the tweet in question is rather mundane. What is especially concerning is that Twitter actively censored a media publication – again. 

Roughly one billionaire was created every 17 hours in 2020, resulting in 493 new billionaires. Forty of these can trace their fortune straight back to #Covid19, with the industry increasing its wealth by $32.2 billion.

This is not some outrageous statement or flurry of misinformation. Instead, is a paraphrasing of the Forbes Rich List of 2020. There are dozens of articles alive and well on Twitter with similar content while the data that appears to have caused offence is undisputed by all the companies named. 

For a platform that prides itself on the promotion of facts, what is Twitter doing suspending media accounts for posting facts? 

How can facts break the community terms of service? 

Or is it that the facts are embarrassing for government and private entities who continue to murmur ‘we’re all in this together’ like monks chanting into the Medieval darkness while the King fills their coffers… 

It’s a little tricky to keep locking people in their homes, shutting their businesses, and robbing them of all natural rights when those who are supporting the medical mandates rake in eye-watering fortunes. Far from ‘we’re all in this together’, we have seen politicians use Covid to vastly increase the boundaries of their power and corporations expand their wealth by over a trillion dollars. 

The article was intended to hang a lantern on the extraordinary amount of money being made by a select few during the Covid pandemic, while the rest of the population watch their savings and all hope of a future drain away to nothing. 

Someone doesn’t want us to talk about Covid billionaires. I’ll leave it up to you to ponder who that might be. 

We made a mistake, as a civilisation, when we decided to place limitations on the expression of free speech. 

What our ancestors knew and what we are soon to work out for ourselves, is that it is much safer to grapple with the forest of untruths, unpleasantness, ugly facts, and unfortunate reality than to allow the government and its mega-corporate cronies to decide what we may or may not say. 

It used to be a matter of consensus among libertarians that it was perfectly acceptable to censor speech which compelled others to action. How wrong they were. Most speech of any value is about compelling the narrative of civilisation into action. Without it, society would stagnate, never evolving – never adapting to the advances of each Age. 

It makes perfect sense that governments comfortable with the status quo or those who have engaged in unpopular actions would wish to silence citizens who ask too many questions or compel their neighbours to do the same. If we really believed that compelling actions was reason enough to censor speech, protests and rallies would never be organised. 

Defining speech as an action is all that’s required for a government official to knock on the door of a pregnant woman and threaten them with jail for ‘liking’ a Facebook post. 

Questioning government medical mandates is defined as an action by both the government and social media, allowing them to completely silence the genuine and valid outrage of the citizenry who have been robbed of their civil and international rights. 

Dissent in general can be defined as an action and prohibited in the interests of ‘public safety’ to which I ask, what is ‘safe’? Is it ‘safe’ to allow government and big tech to control the conversation of civilisation? Are we to let those who are profiting from our misery decide when and if we may speak against them? 

To steal a line from the woke establishment, How dare!’

The late, great, Christopher Hitchens is no longer with us. Instead, I will leave you with the opening of his ‘Freedom of Speech’ debate at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Debating Club. 

Fire! Fire! Fire!

Now you’ve heard it. Not shouted in a crowded theatre, admittedly. As I realise, I seem to have shouted it in the Hogwarts dining room… But the point is made.

Everyone knows the fatuous verdicts of the greatly overpraised Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who when asked for an actual example of when it would be proper to limit speech or define it as an action gave that of shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre.

It’s very often forgotten that what he was doing in that case was sending to prison a group of Yiddish-speaking socialists, whose literature was printed in a language that most Americans couldn’t read, opposing President Wilson’s participation in the First World War and the dragging of the United States into this sanguinary conflict from which the Yiddish speaking socialists had fled from Russia to escape.

In fact, it could be just as plausibly argued that the Yiddish speaking socialists who were jailed by the excellent and over-praised Oliver Wendell Holmes were the real firefighters – who were the ones shouting ‘fire!’ when there really was fire in a very crowded theatre. And who is to decide?

There is an economic apocalypse coming. There is a fire burning across Australia. All we are doing here at the Spectator Australia is pointing at the flames. 

Editor’s note: Our Twitter suspension came only a few hours after we published an item entitled What’s there to celebrate about Twitter’s fifteenth birthday? As Dame Edna might say “Spooky!”

Alexandra Marshall is an independent writer. If you would like to support her work, shout her a coffee over at Ko-Fi.

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