Should Parler be suppressed? Dead-ender parlyaree is going to find an outlet somewhere, and a strong argument holds that it is best at least to be able to keep track of where that is, rather than forcing it further underground. On the other hand stochastic terrorism is a real thing, when so much indulgence of violent phantasms online spills over the containing wall and triggers someone to act on it, and no amount of casuistry will ever be able to determine where the true line between free expression and criminal incitement to violence really lies. This will always be a matter of competing forces with competing interests, and for now the forces are ascendant that see violent right-wing fantasies as criminal. It will probably diminish the harm that the dead-enders can cause to push their speech further out beyond the bounds of what is permissible by the corporations that control the circulation of speech. And it will also diminish the harm they cause to conflate the violation of these corporations’ terms of service with the limits of the Constitutional right to free speech. But this also brings us much closer to a world with no room for Red Scare, but plenty of room for Bridgerton, in which social-media users become ever more unfamiliar with the very notion of critical dissent or of what until sometime in the early part of this century we could still call “the counterculture”, and ever more accustomed to a life of vapid consensus-reinforcing “content”-absorption. I don’t know what the answer is.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor