Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the "morality police," controlling free speech on its platforms.
What could go wrong?
In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That's why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms."
Here's the goliath problem: Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn't like? Will Christians who don't support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?
Yes and yes. How do we know? It's already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond. Their crime? Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won't tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.
For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the "morality police" take it upon themselves to judge women's appearance, and if a woman doesn't conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.
In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.
That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn't you say?
Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they're not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people's political views and opinions or not.
You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.
In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.
The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It's disappointing that hasn't happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.
A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he'll be a one-term president.
It's time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.