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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , First Amendment, r/The_Donald,   

    Is Reddit’s quarantine of r/The_Donald censorship? 

    Is Reddit's quarantine of r/The_Donald censorship?

    For those of you who may not know, Reddit is a website that calls itself ‘the front page of the internet.’ It’s essentially a repository of message boards that discuss just about every subject imaginable broken down into what they call subreddits. For example, if you were to be a pro-wrestling fan then the subreddit called SquaredCircle is said to be the premier place to discuss sports entertainment with other fans on the internet. However, as with most internet communities, with the good comes the bad.

    Reddit is also home to the largest group of supporters of President Trump. Their subreddit is known as ‘The_Donald’ and is said to be the largest subreddit on the site. This past Wednesday The_Donald was quarantined by Reddit. This means it was effectively suspended by the site. How long it will remain offline is unclear. The reason it was reportedly taken offline was that a number of the group’s members threatened violence against police.

    Some users had apparently encouraged violence against law enforcement, angry that officials in Oregon were trying to bring back GOP state senators who fled the state to avoid voting on a climate-change bill.

    This is not the first time that Reddit has had to quarantine or outright ban some of their more tasteless or controversial subreddits.

    Since President Trump was elected there has been a theory among conservatives that social media outlets have been actively censoring conservative speech and ideas. Is this another instance of conservatives allegedly being silenced? To put it bluntly, no. First off, Reddit is a privately owned company and is free to choose what language it considers objectionable. Secondly, Reddit is not a branch of the government so your First Amendment Rights are not being violated. You are free to go to any other website that may tolerate such kind of speech. Lastly, even under the First Amendment, threats are not a form of protected speech. You may have heard the phrase ‘yelling fire in a crowded theater’. It’s a lot like that.

    So maybe if the r/The_Donald’s members could have better behaved they wouldn’t have had these problems.

     
  • Geebo 9:57 am on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , First Amendment, , , Sheldon Adelson   

    Why is Peter Thiel doubling down on Donald Trump? 

    Why is Peter Thiel doubling down on Donald Trump?

    Donald Trump’s campaign for President took a massive publicity hit recently after recordings of misogynistic comments he made in private were made public. This doesn’t help with Trump’s image since many already view him as being xenophobic and racist. So one would have to wonder that after all this controversy, why would venture capitalist Peter Thiel double down on Trump by donating an additional $1.25 million to the Trump campaign?

    As TechCrunch points out, Thiel is not only an immigrant to this country, having been born in Germany, bur he is also openly gay. These are two camps of voters that have not exactly been supportive of Trump. A Thiel representative told TechCrunch that the reason Thiel supports Trump is…

    Thiel is motivated by his view that feels the country ‘needs fixing’, and thinks Mr. Trump pull it off.

    So the question remains, what does Peter Thiel think needs fixing in our country?

    If you go by history, what may need fixing in Peter Thiel’s mind is a free press that he may view as being a little too free. BY now we all should know about Thiel’s backing of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker in revenge for Gawker outing Thiel as gay. This is not to mention that there was an alleged Thiel backed motion to threaten Gawker further over a piece they wrote about Donald Trump’s hair.

    You could also surmise that the Trump campaign is friendly to a less free press due to another one of its financial backers, and that’s casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson also bought the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper that was previously critical of him. Since the purchase of the Review-Journal it’s long been rumored there that stories about Adelson are not viewed as newsworthy as they used to be.

    Trump is no fan of the media himself so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Trump and his uber-rich supporters to form a cabal of billionaires that are willing to buy their way around the First Amendment.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on June 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: First Amendment, , , , ,   

    Gawker needs to beat Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel for all of journalism 

    Gawker needs to beat Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel for all of journalism

    Everyone wants to root for the good guy. Even more, everyone wants to be the good guy.

    Take Terry Gene Bollea, more famously known as Hulk Hogan, for example. For the better part of his professional wrestling career Hulk Hogan played the good guy against the series of villains who always fell to the power of Hulkamania. Behind the scenes Hogan wasn’t all that much of a good guy. Due to his success he had massive political pull within the World wrestling Federation. He often used his clout to not only protect and promote his friends but he would often also refuse to work with up and coming stars who he felt threatened his position at the top of the company.  As most of you may know Gawker.com leaked a sex tape of Hogan and his best friend’s wife that was recorded without Hogan’s knowledge. A second leak of the tape showed Hogan talking to his bedmate about his daughter’s singing career and during that conversation Hogan let a few racial epithets fly. Because of the second leak Hogan lost a very lucrative ‘legends’ deal he had with World Wrestling Entertainment and has been persona non grata in the pro wrestling business. In interviews Hogan still tries to portray himself as the good guy who was victimized. Hogan sued Gawker on the grounds of privacy invasion and was awarded a $140 million settlement. That amount is being appealed by Gawker since if they have to pay that amount to Hogan they’ll essentially be out of business.

    Recently it was made public that Silicon Valley investor and big-wig Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit to the tune of $10 million. Thiel feels like Gawker’s sister blog Valleywag outed him as being gay in 2007. By most accounts Mr. Thiel had only told a number of close business confidants and friends but didn’t advertise his sexual preference, although it was said to be known to most movers and shakers in the alley.  SInce then he’s been allegedly ‘helping’ people who have been supposedly wronged by Gawker Media. Thiel seems to think that he is the good guy by trying to shut down this supposed media menace in Gawker Media.

    In reality neither of the above mentioned entities are the good guy. So who is? Much like in pro-wrestling storylines the good guy has to face what seems like insurmountable odds before triumphing over the man or men that wronged him. The underdog good guy in this scenario is the First Amendment.

    While what Gawker did may seem distasteful, Thiel is continuing a dangerous tradition that harkens back to WIlliam Randolph Hearst. Thiel is using his money and influence to strong-arm Gawker Media out of existence simply because he doesn’t like them. You may say that Gawker deserves it but where does it end? Say that there’s a strangely coiffed billionaire running for federal office and a large media outlet that has a large influence in the country decides to endorse his opponent. In theory that billionaire could buy that media outlet and heavily influence what stories they report about him. Before you know it other billionaires get into the game and have the news skewed in their favor. If you don’t think that will happen you may already be too late. While he has yet to commit any egregious overreaches of journalism Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. A better example might be Las Vegas business magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who bought an entire newspaper that was often critical of him in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reports have said that Adelson is squashing any story that may be critical of him. Before you know it most media will be skewed one way or another, not necessarily by political view but by how it can benefit their billionaire owners.

    For those reasons the $140 million settlement awarded to Hogan should be denied on appeal. If not it will set a dangerous precedent where those with the money can buy any kind of news coverage they want. While some of us were worried about the government possibly curtailing the free speech of journalists we should have been paying more attention to the financially elite. Sometimes a bad guy needs to win so the good guy’s triumph is more impactful.

     
  • Greg Collier 4:09 pm on November 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , First Amendment, , University of Missouri   

    Freedom of the Press is Freedom for the People 

    The press has often been referred to as the Fourth Estate of government, a powerful entity that has long served as the eyes, ears and voice of the public, the watchdog charged with asking tough questions and revealing the truth, no matter how much some might not like it.

    With that said, it should come as no surprise that politicians are traditionally among those who most often battle with the press – especially in an election season. And this season, what with colorful candidates such as Donald Trump in the lineup, the press has frequently taken the blame when news stories put the candidates under a negative spotlight. So far this season, Trump has engaged in public battles with the New York Times, NBC, Fox News, Univision and even the Wall Street Journal – and the election is still almost a year away.

    Despite their battles with the press, politicians do have an understanding that freedom of the press is among the most sacred of rights that Americans have. Politicians may try to control the line of questioning or the focus of the story and even might play favorites among media outlets. But they understand that significance of the First Amendment and the right that the media have in chronicling the events of the day.

    That’s the most disturbing attack against the press this year didn’t actually occur on the campaign trail. Instead, it took place during the midst of an historic event at the University of Missouri. Senior university administrators resigned earlier this year after campus protests raised awareness about a series of racially charged incidents that the university was slow to respond to. The resignations were seen a huge victory for the protesters..

    But when journalists converged on a public area of the campus to chronicle the event, a large group of people blocked members of the press from the self-declared “safe zone” of campus and, in one video that went viral, verbally berated student journalists sent to the scene to cover the event. In particular, a professor was caught on camera trying to force a journalist out of the area, even calling out for “some muscle” to physically remove the journalist.

    In some scenarios, when journalists are chronicling an event where passions run deep and everyday citizens are caught up in the moment, it’s easy to understand that not everyone understands the type of rights that come with the First Amendment. But that should be no excuse for a college professor, a woman who holds multiple degrees and, in a ironic twist, actually teaches classes in communications? She should have known better than to try to physically remove a member of the press from any public event in any public location.

    Sure, it’s easy to understand why people have a lack of trust in the press. In today’s online world of news, the various outlets are all trying to get more clicks than their rivals and use baiting headlines and out-of-context soundbites to lure in more readers. The outlets are accused of having an agenda, of writing slanted stories and using selective information to tell the stories they want. Sometimes, it’s so blatant that it’s hard to defend the press.

    But it’s never an excuse for blatantly dismissing the First Amendment of the Constitution.

    The news media plays an important role in our society and, with the rise of the Internet and video-equipped smartphones, even everyday citizens are taking on the role of journalist. No where does it say in the Constitution that the First Amendment only applies to credentialed reporters and photographers.

    That’s why it’s so important to protect the First Amendment. It doesn’t just protect credentialed journalists. It protects everyone who witnesses and records an event – whether through words, photos or video.

    It’s the job of all of us to make sure we preserve that right.

     
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