Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

The Tyranny of the New York Times

Jerry Stratton, August 9, 2018

As a case in point about just who is the tyrant here, take a look at this headline and subhead from Kara Swisher at the New York Times:

Rules Won’t Save Twitter. Values Will.

The platform won’t ban the dangerous liar Alex Jones because he “hasn’t violated our rules.” Then what’s the point of these rules?

If we can’t ban someone we disagree with based on the rules, then what’s the point of having rules? is a very familiar logic. It’s the logic of tyranny. In a free society, rules should exist to outline what is against the rules. You start with generalities: what actions are so wrong that they cannot be tolerated? You make rules—or laws—to codify this and serve as a general warning to everyone, politician and non-politician, journalist and non-journalist. Then you enforce the rules against everyone.

The New York Times, like all tyrants, has a completely different viewpoint. First, you decide who disagrees with you. Then, you make rules to sideline them: put them in jail, silence them, punish them. The rules aren’t going to be used against anyone but who you’ve already decided they should be used against. They certainly won’t be used against the people who made the rules.

If those rules don’t let you sideline people you disagree with, what’s the point of the rules? To the Times, there is none.

Those are “the words of a tyrant”. Not vehemently disagreeing with someone, as Jefferson did and Trump does. Jefferson’s and Trump’s are the words of freedom. It’s CNN, and the New York Times, who explicitly and knowingly use the words of tyranny.

Explicitly. Take a look at this section from the article:

Let me say that I have nothing but admiration for the long-suffering trust and safety team at Twitter, which has been tasked with the Sisyphean job of controlling humanity and scaling civility, armed only with some easily gamed and capriciously enforced rules. How are these people supposed to do that when the company has provided them with no firm set of values?

Values would require that Twitter make tough calls on high-profile and obviously malevolent figures, including tossing them off as a signal of its intent to keep it civil.

This whole section obviously comes from the tyrant’s view of rules, that their capricious enforcement is used as a signal to keep everyone else in line, not that they’re meant to be enforced in general. That’s why you need values alongside the rules, to decide who the rules are enforced against. But the giveaway is the language about what Twitter’s enforcement job is: not enforcing the rules, but “controlling humanity”. Since Twitter’s rules obviously aren’t very good at controlling humanity, Swisher knows they’re flawed and must be improved. It simply doesn’t occur to her that “controlling humanity” is not the point to begin with.

This is precisely what is meant by the rule of law vs. the rule of man. There is no freedom under the rule of man, not for those outside of the oligarchy, just constantly hiding and hoping that the oligarchy in charge doesn’t decide that you disagree with them enough to be punished. The Times is angling for the oligarchy.

The mob howls before the palace gates, “Hateful tyrant, we demand that you assume more despotic powers”; and the tyrant thunders from the balcony, “Vile rebels, do you dare to suggest that my powers should be extended?” There seems to be a little misunderstanding somewhere. — G. K. Chesterton (The New Jerusalem)

In response to First, CNN came for InfoWars: “When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant.”