Reply to letter misses the point
Ms. Dara Quast’s recent letter entitled “Letter writer takes statements out of context” published in the Citizen’s Opinion section on Jan. 25, 2021, is a distortion of the wording and intent of my original letter.
She outlined Angela Merkel’s conviction that limiting free speech should be the work of government and laws. Fine. Most people concur that speech advocating violence should be restricted, if necessary, by governments. But the idea that a deliberate attempt was made by me to obscure this fact is specious.
The point of my letter was that Big Tech is wielding undue influence and power and that millions of people realize this, including the governments of major nations. Apples and oranges, two different topics. It’s remarkable that Ms. Quast could come to the conclusion that I was employing some kind of sinister manipulation.
Ms. Quast ignored my mention of the ACLU, a generations old civil rights organization. ACLU senior counsel Kate Ruane said “It should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions.” Is the ACLU not relevant? Perhaps they should be chided for not mentioning government’s role.
Merkel did not just say that it should not be “up to tech platforms to police themselves.” She condemned them outright saying that the fundamental right to freedom of opinion should be determined by law and government not “according to the decision of the management of social media platforms.” This reinforces rather than detracts from my point. Again, there was no stated objection on my part about the role of government in extreme circumstances and no attempt to hide the importance of it.
President Obrador also said “I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away the right to post a message on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that. A court of censorship like the Inquisition to manage public opinion: this is really serious.” Perhaps he should have been condemned for not providing a proviso about government and should therefore have been accused of manipulation. I could provide endless similar examples.
Finally, imprecise language plagues Quast’s letter. “What is not being said is that Trump should be able to continue his incitement.” This makes little sense given the previous sentence. Is someone saying this? Who? She mixes the issue of platform vs. publisher with Trump and incitement. Not the same topic. The end of her letter in which she (I think…) accuses me of promoting a position “geared to the spreading of hate, violence and lies” is invalid. At no point in the letter did I advocate any of those things. The last statement also is interesting. “This is not 1984ish ‘right think,’ this is 2021 think.” Everyone understands the 1984 reference to George Orwell’s famous novel, and what “right think” means. Actually, the frightening reality is that “2021 think” is truly becoming “1984 think.”