“Spanking” Social Media: Donald Calls a Summit

“Spanking” Social Media: Wrong President, Wrong Reasons

A conference/investigation/summit is being convened at President Trump’s request Thursday afternoon, 7/11/19 to accuse social media of being biased against him and his peeps. This is patently ridiculous. Although there are a number of issues to discuss about the unexpected outcomes of having free speech on social media platforms that are open to global participation, this President will not explore any of these valid topics. That is why no major social media representatives are invited to this summit, only Conservatives. Even some Trump allies on the right are excluded from the list of invitees.

President Trump does not like, cannot tolerate, dissent. Trump has filled his administration with “yes” men and women, who do not oppose even his most undemocratic wishes but rather help him find creative ways to get his wishes fulfilled, no matter how damaging they might be to the form of government we inherited from the nation’s founders. Now the President wants a nation full of only affirmation of his every whim, full of “yes”. When has any leader had this kind of support from a nation without using the fear of death to inspire it?

Whenever the media, in any form, criticizes Trump, which thank goodness it still does, Trump lets us all see that if he had his druthers he would ruin that particular media outlet or make life so existentially difficult for them that they would have to get in line and praise his “very stable genius” every day and in every article. That would be fun, wouldn’t it. (I am sticking my finger down my throat in that don’t make me puke gesture.) How many media outlets could survive such toadyism? We would only need one state newspaper, one TV station, etc. We would be Russia.

Every book I have ever read about how to succeed in business warns against the danger of surrounding yourself with only those who agree with you (or pretend to). Eventually your ideas will become stagnant and there will be no infusion of new energy and you begin to lose your market share to companies that encourage more diversity and fresher ideas. This can happen to countries also. Once again look to the example of Russia which seems to exist on a sort of perpetual mobius strip, going forward and yet doomed to go backward in an endless loop. So not only are Trump’s tendencies unconstitutional in a republic such as ours, but to require the constant stroking, and the absolute acceptance that he alone knows what is best for America, is also counterproductive.

What Trump intends is to punish social media for allowing people to dissent. He wants to claim victimhood again. He wants social media to create algorithms that will send comments that say negative things about Trump and his policies to the trash and to take membership on social media away from individuals who post dissenting opinions.

Although he should be trying to be sure there is no foreign meddling in the 2020 election and that fake accounts, bots, and memes that are offering false information do not get into the social feed, that is not his main concern in this meeting. Instead he is whining about the unfair coverage he gets, this time from some of the American people, and he is blaming social media for letting this happen.

Free speech is a difficult thing. When, if ever, does free speech step over a line? Is using a bot a free speech right or, in the case of elections, is it a cheat? Do we really want hidden foreign intervention in our elections? Aren’t we producing enough home-grown propaganda? The issue of what constitutes free speech on social media is complex and it will be on-going because as one clever attempt is banned, new techniques, cleverer ones, will pop up. Can we ever “clean” the web the way Panera says it cleans food? What will we lose if we are able to stop bad actors from abusing social media? Will good things be lost also? Will the whole world find free speech curtailed to the detriment of the thing many call “the liberal world order”. A lot of people are very concerned about the answers to those questions.

The world seems to have devalued democracy these days and “illiberal” democracies (dictatorships) seem all the rage. Will America throw away 243 years of relative freedom to join the ranks of those who put their trust in one person only. If we follow where Trump seems to lead and where the GOP functions as his wing man then we will find our freedoms disappearing one by one. Trump sees the media as the enemy and thinks he can kill all media opposition to his authoritarian style and his thuggish policies, his style that uses lies and distractions to manipulate the media and the people until it sounds like he rules, oops, governs by affirmation. Then he will be the most popular President ever – or else! Social online media is replacing print media and is currently in a position of power. It probably will not be so easily “spanked”.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – The Daily Beast

Our Free Speech Conundrum

Our Free Speech Conundrum

Fox News and right wing media (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, Alex Jones and Info Wars, et al) are broadcasting fear and hate to anyone who will listen. They bear a huge share of responsibility for the current attack on our Democracy.

But

Since we believe in our 1st Amendment, since we treasure free speech, even if it is propaganda, lies, skewed “facts”, and conspiracy theories, we believe that such speech must be tolerated and we expect citizens to see through and ignore it. It’s our free speech conundrum.

It seems the speech on the right is carefully designed by intelligent, although twisted, people who have been able to analyze the unhappiness, disappointment and anger of people who got shafted by a changing economy and to use this negativity to foment anti-government sentiment (and anti-liberal sentiment), to whip up once-complacent middle class white folks to accept a twisted interpretation of those economic changes that shocked them.

The Real Long Con

It was really a massive con job to get “extraneous” Americans to blame the liberal agenda (the safety net, the regulations, the unions, the human rights laws, the protections of undocumented immigrants, the acceptance of rights for women and same-sex marriage, and much more) for deeds that were perpetrated by the wealthy (The Great Factory Migration, The Great Recession). To me this truly is the greatest long con of all, the one that prepared the way for this “President for the haters and the frightened, and the dispossessed”, and this Republican party who only intend to sideline the middle class and the poor even more than they already have been.

It is a terrible irony that the right-wing media gets to exploit the left wing’s passion for protecting free speech and other rights that are cornerstones of a democracy, of our Republic. The right wing is, meanwhile, using free speech to take away free speech and freedom of religion and human rights, and to steal money from the poor to give to the rich. The right wing also has convinced a segment of Americans that redistribution of wealth down the ladder is wrong (socialism), but redistribution of wealth to the wealthy will somehow benefit us all.

If we lose our Democracy because we love it so much that we have no offense against lies and propaganda, will that be sad, or patriotic? Are there any strategies Dems could use that do not trample on our rights but will stop this assault on the American government and the American people by the right-wing media and the entire Conservative-Republican bloc? The Dems are playing defense, not offense while the GOP is aiming, for some unfathomable reason (money, religion, fear) to dismantle our Democracy and sell it to the highest bidders on the right.

Defense or Offense

Dems are on offense in terms of finding fresh American folks who will run for office in 2018 and there is a strong grassroots resistance — but the right-wing media is a powerful force, continuously pumping skewed information, that we have not found a way to combat. This right-wing media now energizes the Trumpers who are aggressive and arrogant, who feel entitled, and who bash anyone who gives voice to “liberal” speech. They feel no compunctions about depriving others of free speech because, apparently, à la Animal Farm (George Orwell), they feel some speech is better than other speech.

The Trumpers love to turn liberal complaints about the right back at the person who levels the complaint (I’m rubber, you’re glue; everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.) It is like arguing with a toddler. You cannot converse with a right winger because they refuse to engage and only spew brainwashed nonsense and that brings us back to the right-wing media.

The right-wing media should, of course, be able to speak, but they should not have the right to dominate the conversation. They should not have such a giant chunk of network time and they should not be allowed to call the propaganda they broadcast “news.” 45 is trying to shut up mainstream news because it does not skew as far to the right as he would like. This is one front that requires that the left brainstorm to create an effective strategy of offense. We are losing the propaganda war but we are correct in not wanting to use more propaganda to win the war. If we can’t cheat by employing mind control strategies, can we at least stop the President’s campaign to proliferate right wing news and denigrate any other news? Is just calling the real “fake news” out whenever we see it going to be enough to counteract it? Do we have any laws on our side now that the FCC is obviously in “enemy” hands?