Missing the point on free speech

If I have not made myself 100% perfectly clear: Alex Jones is an evil man. Alex Jones is a liar. He is not crazy. Alex Jones is a perfectly rational person who knowingly and intentionally lies and defames innocent people (including the families of murder victims) for monetary gain. Alex Jones worships a demon named Mammon. Christians should not support this evil man.

With that said, Christine Emba misses the point regarding free speech. Legally, Apple, Google and Facebook have the right to ban Jones or anyone else, and Jones’ rights under the First Amendment are not violated. But the concept of free speech is bigger than just the First Amendment and what government is and is not allowed to do in response to speech the government dislikes.

If social media companies pulled my accounts, or if my blog hosting service took down ConservaTibbs.com, my free speech would be restricted. It is legal, but it absolutely is censorship because I would not be permitted to state my opinion on their servers. If we believe in free speech, we should encourage social media companies to allow a wide range of opinions on their services, with limited exceptions such as exposing private information (doxxing) or direct threats of violence. An environment where free speech is encouraged is healthy for democracy, and allows the worst ideas to be exposed and debunked.

It is important to remember that Facebook and others silenced the evil Alex Jones not because of slander or libel (which is legally actionable) but for the nebulous concept of “hate speech.” No one knows what hate speech really is, which is why rules banning “hate speech” will always be arbitrary and subject to the whims of the moderators. And we should be very clear: The extreme social justice warriors draw no distinction between someone who screams invective and argues that transgenders should be executed and someone who simply argues that there are two sexes and refuses to use a pronoun that does not match someone’s biological sex. Alex Jones is only the first step toward a wider ban of mainstream conservative thought.

However, we should not support having the government regulate social media companies to prevent them from censoring opinions. Just as the government may not restrict free speech, government may not compel anyone to say things. Compelled speech is an even worse violation of First Amendment rights than censorship, because government forces people to endorse an opinion they oppose or even hate. I would argue that having government force social media companies to keep speech they consider anathema is forced speech, as their servers (their private property) is used against their will to promote objectionable content.

Private censorship of free speech does not eliminate undesirable opinions. Censorship only creates resentment and hardens the minds and hearts of those who hold undesirable opinions. By sending “hate speech” to an internet ghetto, we also lose the opportunity to refute it for the general public or even convince people why they are wrong. The best solution, then, is not banning people from social media, and it is certainly not creating a mob that ends the careers of people who say objectionable things. The best solution is open, unrestricted debate, trusting that the best ideas will prevail in the marketplace of ideas.

Our culture needs Biblical Masculinity

One commercial I saw online caught my eye: Tillamook cheese. A big block of cheese is smashed by a sledge hammer, an axe cuts through a stack of cheese slices, and a grilled cheese is on a pitchfork. The commercial was a cascade of masculine images, and the fact that appealing to masculinity is an effective marketing strategery is an indication of where our culture is and where our culture is going.

Masculinity has been under attack for generations, since before I was ever born. Traditional “gender roles” are disparaged. Women are doing much better economically while men – especially working-class white men – have fallen behind. Girls do much better in schools designed in such a way that suits female strengths. Men are lost and looking for a way to have purpose, and regain what was lost. There is a reason why speakers who urge teenage boys to “clean your room” are resonating with those boys.

Women, meanwhile, are increasingly tired of lazy men who do not work, play video games for dozens of hours to the exclusion of their responsibilities, and have little to no interest in raising children. They are tired of men who watch porn and expect sex free of commitment.

The answer to this is not to be macho. As much as conservatives hate to admit it, feminists have a point about “toxic masculinity.” While masculinity is good when properly channeled, it must be grounded in something to get the best out of it. Men are brutes and barbarians when we are not properly channeled. Masculinity without a guiding set of principles does become toxic. Axes, beards and muscles will never fill the void we have in our culture and our hearts. It certainly will not satisfy the father-hunger we have in our society.

What we need is Biblical Masculinity. We need men who will protect and provide for their wives, protect and teach their children, work diligently at whatever job they have, and embrace responsibility. We need men who are willing to die for their families and will sacrifice each and every day – not grudgingly, but with love. Yes, a man who is masculine in the Biblical sense can play video games, but gaming (and other recreational pursuits) will not be something that prevents him from fulfilling his duty.

So clean your room. Stand up straight. Look people in the eye. Work diligently. Make babies and then protect, care for, teach and provide for those babies. Treat others with respect. Love sacrificially. Take your family to church. Hold the door for people. Do housework. The essence of manhood is responsibility. If you want to be a real man, then be responsible.

Wise advice

Andrew Klavan had some very wise advice for aspiring writers on his podcast last week. Get a job to pay the bills, then write as much as you can (freelance, part time, whatever) until you can make enough money writing that you can leave your day job. I have seen many content creators follow this exact plan, and are now very successful.

This is not the path I am following, of course, but being a professional writer is not my goal. This is my hobby. 🙂

Can we all stop panicking over everything?

Here is a hidden truth about the Trump Administration, which has been evident since January 2017: Trump’s policies have been pretty standard, boilerplate Republican policies. There have been a few hiccups here and there, but on policy Trump has not been much different than Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush would have been. The big difference with Trump is that he is an entertainer and is used to being able to shoot his mouth off whenever he wants.

In other words, we are not facing a radically new situation that will result in the destruction of these United States. Freaking out every time Trump does something does not help his opponents. It may galvanize the Democratic Party base, but it does not convince moderates and certainly will not convert any Trump supporters. In reality, things are going pretty well. We have a great health care system, the economy is growing, and we have lived in relative peace for 70 years.

On the other side of the same coin, Hillary Clinton would not have destroyed this country. Yes, she would have been harmful, and would have gone after gun rights, free speech and freedom of religion. But our nation survived eight years of Barack Obama’s radical regime. We survived eight years of Hillary’s husband, coming out of that time with a strong nation. Clinton did some damage, to be sure, but nothing that would end the nation. A nation that survived Obama would certainly have survived four or eight years of Mrs. Clinton.

This is because we have a remarkably stable country, and because the electorate is pretty evenly divided with a wide swath of moderates that contains the worst extremes. We have perhaps the most well-designed system of government in world history, which has maintained stability though incredibly volatile times – including a war that nearly split the nation in two. The people who were determined that 2016 was a “Flight 93 election” have remarkably little faith in this nation, our system of government, our constitution, and the strength of the American people.

This is why all of the hysteria surrounding Trump – and the hysteria surrounding Mrs. Clinton two years ago – is so detached from reality. It is also very harmful. By keeping people on edge all the time with apocalyptic doom and gloom, we make people feel like radical action is necessary to “save” the country. This irresponsible hysteria is promoted by both the Left and Right. The apocalyptic rhetoric is what is driving violent confrontations, and what could actually get much more bloody despite the remarkable stability and prosperity we enjoy as a nation!

Chillax, people. Obviously we have some serious problems, especially the crushing national debt. But it is not nearly as bad as the pundits on either side would have you believe.

What is township government?

There are many times that I talk to voters and they have no idea that township government even exists, confusing it with city council or county council. This is one of the reasons I am running, to increase visibility of township government, make sure voters know what the township is doing and how the township is spending our tax money.

Monroe County has 11 townships. Imagine the county is sliced into twelve segments – three townships east-west and four townships north-south. (One of the townships is the geographical size of two townships, which is why we have 11 instead of 12.) Each township has four elected officials – a township trustee who acts as administrator, and a township advisory board that approves the budget and advises the trustee.

So why should you care what township government does? Perry Township spends $1.1 million dollars a year. According to IFIOnline.org, Perry Township government spent $1,109,989.17 in 2017. That is a large sum of money, and we need to make sure we are watching what township government is doing. The money involved is why my first campaign statement was to increase transparency by making sure all agendas are posted online and that meetings are held after the work day is over so taxpayers can attend. With that much money, there is simply no excuse not to go above and beyond the minimum legal requirements of transparency.

So what does township government do? Primarily, Perry Township provides social services. If you are about to be evicted from your apartment, if you are homeless, if you are about to have your electricity turned off, or if you have a financial emergency, the Perry Township Trustee is where you can go for help. Perry Township assistance is not an “entitlement” program, as benefits do not continue automatically. The township provides emergency assistance and points people where they can get ongoing help.

Township government also mows overgrown vegetation, resolves fence line disputes and maintains abandoned cemeteries.

Originally published at VoteForTibbs.org. Follow my campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Ownership of Twitter accounts

Should a former employee be forced to relinquish his personal Twitter account when he leaves his employer, if he used that account for work purposes? Generally, I would say no, but this HuffPo article makes an important point:

The paper says Bitter signed a company handbook acknowledging social media accounts “are the property of BH Media.”

If this is true, this should be an open-and-shut case.

It also seems like the Roanoke Times should have had procedures in place to gain control of an account when an employee leaves. That is not difficult to do. This is as much a story about lack of forethought as a conflict between an employer and a former employee.

Denying a platform to despicable liar Alex Jones

Alex Jones is not crazy. Alex Jones is a liar, which is much worse. He peddles conspiracy theory nonsense, ruining the lives of innocent people and putting lives at risk, not because he is crazy or stupid enough to believe what he says but because he has built a financial empire by feeding lies to gullible people.

So in case I have not made myself 100% perfectly clear, I think Alex Jones is a truly evil man. He ruined the life and business of an innocent pizza shop owner in Washington DC with his evil “pizzagate” lies, inspiring an armed member of his cult to show up and terrorize the business. He ruined the lives of the victims’ families at Sandy Hook, spewing false conspiracies that the massacre never happened and inspiring members of his cult to harass and stalk the parents of children murdered by another evil man.

The world would be a better place if Alex Jones had never been born.

With all of that said, I vehemently disagree with tech giants de-platforming Jones and his evil show. The problem here is that wide swaths of Big Tech see all conservatives as Jones. There is no difference in their minds between Jones, Richard Spencer, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, and Ted Cruz. That is the worrisome thing about it, and what it means for free speech on the Internet, especially since so much of the Internet is controlled by a few Big Tech companies. Denying a platform to Alex Jones is the first step to banning conservative voices generally.

Note that free speech is a larger concept than just First Amendment rights. We do not have a First Amendment right to post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Gab, and they have the legal right to ban anyone they want, but if we are censored our free speech is nonetheless silenced. The goal is to shrink the “Overton Window” so that only Leftist or Center-Left opinions and commentary are acceptable, and even the most civil conservatives are smeared as “fascist” operatives of the “alt-right.”

Big Tech, in their stupidity, also drastically increased the reach of Alex Jones’ despicable and evil lies. Had they let him be, taking the position that they are a neutral platform, Jones would still be spewing his lies but it would happen on a platform where many people can expose and counter those lies. With Jones confined to the InfoWars ghetto, his cult can still follow him where he would not be challenged. Banning Jones does not in any way prevent his cult from sharing his lies on their own social media profiles.

Finally, “hate speech” is a nebulous and undefined concept which can encompass virtually anything, especially in an age where innocent “microaggressions” are a thing that is condemned as “hateful.” It is no accident that Big Tech cited “hate speech” in banning the liar Jones, because that sets the precedent to ban others. Make no mistake about it: Alex Jones is only the first step. He was targeted first because he is (rightly) despised by many on the Right. Big Tech will be coming for other conservative commenters and sites next.

AFA is right and Holcomb is wrong on “Hate Crimes”

An important update from the American Family Association of Indiana, posted with permission:

Never Let a News Story Go to Political Waste

There was an unfortunate incident in Indianapolis over the weekend in which some lawbreakers spray painted graffiti on a garbage shed at a Jewish Synagogue. The vandals painted a German cross and WW2 style Nazi flag with a swastika on the property of the congregation Shaarey Tefilla. Surveillance video reportedly caught the criminals in the act.

If caught and convicted, an Indiana judge could sentence them severely under current Indiana law with an enhanced sentence for such a crime, but you’d never know this reading the news stories or listening to Governor Eric Holcomb who was quick to exploit this for political purposes.

Continue reading

Voting for local office based on national issues

Hyperpartisanship breeds corruption. Voters in Monroe County should have learned that lesson thirteen years ago, but we have failed. A letter to the editor last week urges readers “don’t vote for anyone who supports Trump!” So no matter what you are running for, if you support President Trump you should not win.

Here is the problem with that thinking. It is not a one-for-one equation between national and local issues. Local government deals with different issues than the state or federal governments. Many of these issues are brick and mortar issues like paving or plowing the streets, collecting trash, managing the fire department or even something as basic as properly counting money.

That last one is important. People in Monroe County voted for three consecutive county auditors who proved themselves to be corrupt or incompetent or both, simply because those candidates were Democrats. No human resources manager would have hired any of the Democrats running in 2016, 2012 or 2008 over the Republicans running, because the difference in qualifications, character and experience were so vast. If county auditor were a hired position instead of an elected one, the Republican would have gotten the job easily.

Administrative offices should not be decided by party loyalty. They should be decided by which candidate has the best skills, experience, management style and personal character. That a Republican candidate supports Donald Trump does not mean he cannot maintain the county’s documents in electronic and paper copies in the Recorder’s Office. That a Republican candidate supports Donald Trump does not mean he cannot maintain voter rolls, sign wedding licenses, or deal with traffic tickets in the Clerk’s Office.

Get out there and vote, but do not just blindly vote based on party affiliation, and certainly do not vote for local candidates based on national policies. It is your responsibility to educate yourself about the local candidates on your ballot and choose accordingly. You can hate Donald Trump and still vote for qualified candidates to serve in local government. Cast an informed vote, not a hyperpartisan vote.