“Free speech isn’t free” the saying goes. Certainly not when we count on private institutions like colleges, Twitter or Facebook to keep it that way.
Twitter is in an uproar as conservatives are exiled, silenced or abandon the venue in protest. Facebook is increasingly using its power to silence views it opposes. And colleges, once bastions of freedom, now limit speech they don’t like and intimidate those who dare speak out.
Conservative Ben Shapiro got a scary reminder of just how bad things are. He was first disinvited from California State University, Los Angeles and then needed police escort to protect him and his supporters last Thursday from berserk lefty protesters intent on disruption.
The left wants to turn the world into one giant unsafe space for anything they oppose. And it’s working.
This fight has been especially visible on campuses. Mizzou’s resident academic activist Melissa Click just found out that she had lost her job for urging an assault on a student photographer. That was some rare good news.
Williams College went from protecting free speech to dropping a speaker because allegedly “many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech.”
On most colleges, that means you dare disagree with the party line.
As Shapiro found out recently. Left wingers tried shouting, blocking doors, pulling a fire alarm and even violence to stop the Breitbart editor from speaking. -- If conservatives had treated Black Lives Matter protesters this way, it would have become a major national news story. Instead, journalists just don’t care.
The University of South Carolina even interrogated two of its own students for … a free speech event about campus censorship.
The fight online is just as rough.
Twitter was founded nearly 10 years ago and has grown into an essential site for breaking news with 320 million active users. But PC executives seem intent on breaking what they built.
To address complaints of harassment and cyber bullying, the company created the Soviet-sounding "Trust & Safety Council," including groups like GLAAD, which despises the right.
Twitter unverified Breitbart technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos’s account in January and ignored repeated requests to reinstate it.
It was a shot across the bow of the conservative movement.
Popular blogger Robert Stacy McCain was suspended and then kicked off of Twitter for the vague thought crime of “violating the Twitter Rules.” The hashtag “#FreeStacy” trended for a while on Twitter. Even his book account was shut down.
Conservative actor Adam Baldwin called to “disband the 'Trust and Safety' Council,” and said he was quitting Twitter. Baldwin, who starred in the cult classic "Firefly" and the current apocalyptic drama "The Last Ship," has been one of Hollywood’s more visible conservatives. And now Sci-fi author Larry Correia all-but shut his account down in sympathy.
Conservative blogger Ace of Spades declared: “I no longer use Twitter except to exploit it as a promotional tool. It's for ads only. Censorship is the art of idiots, cowards, and thugs.”
Somehow new Twitter CEO claims, “Twitter stands for freedom of expression.” Really?
Facebook, while not as bad, seems to be trying to catch up. The lefty organization once instituted more than 50 gender options to placate its supporters. It recently took down the page for the controversial comic Viz and shut down sales of guns on the site. It has also been slow to pull posts attacking Jewish people. Remember, anti-Semitism remains a liberal virtue.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now fighting a PC war against his own staff “after incidents in which employees crossed out ‘Black Lives Matter’ and wrote ‘All Lives Matter’ on the walls of the company's Menlo Park, Calif., campus,” according to USA Today.
Things will only get worse. Americans have turned over our constitutional rights to third party tech companies that pretend to believe in free exchange, but really bow to every left-wing agenda. And we can no longer trust to academia. Administrators have made it clear the ‘60s free speech movement is dead and only liberal speech is now welcome.
Ultimately, when free speech isn’t free, neither are we.
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.