Glenn Greenwald Argues That Private Companies Have No Right to Censor Genocidal Incitement

Yes, he really did
Weird • Views: 26,335

Today, MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow published an opinion piece in the Washington Post calling on companies like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to do more to stop terrorists from inciting violence. To make his case, Farrow cited the incitements to genocide by Rwandan media that led to a horrific bloodbath 20 years ago.

“The graves are only half empty; who will help us fill them?” Twenty years ago, that rallying cry on Rwandan radio helped explode ethnic enmity into one of history’s worst atrocities. In today’s Iraq, another vicious conflict between a formerly-empowered ethnic minority and a long-subjugated majority is causing the deaths of thousands. At its heart is another mass media appeal to bloodlust on radio’s modern-day equivalent: social media. And this time, the world may have a chance to stop what it failed to in Rwanda.

The Sunni Islamic State insurgents, now locked in a deadly struggle with Iraq’s Shiite majority, excel online. They command a plethora of official and unofficial channels on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. “And kill them wherever you find them,” commands one recent propaganda reel of firefights and bound hostages, contorting a passage from the Koran. “Take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State. And fight, fight!” adds another, featuring a sermon from the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The material is often slickly produced, like “The Clanging of Swords IV,” a glossy, feature-length film replete with slow-motion action scenes. Much of it is available in English, directly targeting the recruits with Western passports that have become one of the organization’s more dangerous assets. And almost all of it appeals to the young: Photoshops of Islamic State fighters and their grizzly massacres with video game-savvy captions like, “This is our Call of Duty.”

But officials at social media companies are leery of adjudicating what should be taken down and what should be left alone. “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter,” one senior executive tells me on condition of anonymity. Making that call is “not something we’d want to do.”

This is a good argument, and one that I’ve made many times at LGF; private companies like Facebook need to do more to prevent the spread of hate speech by users of their services, especially when it involves incitements to violence or genocide. These kinds of restrictions are the purview of private companies to impose, not governments, and especially not the US government.

But Farrow’s op-ed drew the attention of the all-seeing eye of civil libertarian hero Glenn Greenwald, who immediately attacked Farrow with his usual obsessions: the US and Israel.

Farrow responded:

And it was at this point that Glenn Greenwald tipped over into what can only be described as a right wing authoritarian position:

Consider what Greenwald is advocating here; he’s actually saying that private companies should not be allowed to determine what types of “political ideas” they disseminate.

Leaving aside the absurdity of calling genocidal incitement “political ideas,” this is exactly counter to the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which makes it very clear that only private companies should be able to restrict the types of speech they publish.

So who should decide these issues, if not private companies? Is Greenwald actually arguing that the US government should censor hateful or genocidal incitement? Well, it’s hard to know, because when pressed on the issue he simply decided to attack Farrow again as a mouthpiece for Israel — a very weird argument indeed.

As usual, Greenwald sleazes his way out of directly confronting the issue with non sequitur attacks like this. But his statement that he thinks private companies should have no right to decide what types of speech they promote is very revealing, indeed — because it’s exactly opposite to the usual libertarian line of argument.

In his haste to attack one of his enemies, Greenwald argued himself into an unconstitutional corner, and then tried to deflect the argument rather than defend it.

A classic performance by the Mighty Greenwald.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
Whatever You Do, Don’t Say Yes When This Chatbot Asks, ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Another in my irregular series on privacy in our era, and how to defend yourself in digital venues. For your cell phone-Get TruCaller or some other good robo call screener/blocker. If you have an Ooma phone, set your virtual ...
Unshaken Defiance
1 hour, 4 minutes ago
Views: 42 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
For Long Term Economic Growth, Fund Science ResearchVIDEO at link Avideh Zakhor is a Hertz Foundation Fellow and recipient of the prestigious Hertz Foundation Grant for graduate study in the applications of the physical, biological and engineering sciences. Here, she illuminates the difference between 'big science', which ...
Birth Control Works
5 hours, 32 minutes ago
Views: 92 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
NOT ONE WOMAN: What’s Missing From This Photo of Politicians Deciding the Future of Women’s Health? President Donald Trump met with the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus at the White House Thursday to try to hammer out a deal on Obamacare repeal. A major question in the final negotiations? Whether or not maternity care and mammograms ...
Birth Control Works
5 hours, 34 minutes ago
Views: 89 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
How to Lie in 14 Steps: The WikiHow Guide to Dishonesty Writing for Esquire in 1969, Gore Vidal laid bare a “demagogic strategy” William F. Buckley used to befuddle opponents: If one is lying, accuse others of lying. On television this sort of thing is enormously effective in demoralizing the ...
Birth Control Works
5 hours, 37 minutes ago
Views: 92 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
A Third of Black Women in Study of Disadvantaged Neighborhood Have PTSD - Chicago Tribune Nortasha Stingley doesn't remember a lot about the weeks after her 19-year-old daughter was shot and killed nearly four years ago. All she could do was cry. All she wanted to do was scream. After Stingley lost 40 pounds ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 4 hours ago
Views: 163 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
How Trees Talk to Each Other Published on Aug 30, 2016 "A forest is much more than what you see," says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 5 hours ago
Views: 188 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Classic Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies Recipe - NYT Cooking ngredients 1 cup/227 grams (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, more for pans 1 cup/200 grams dark brown sugar, packed ⅓ cup/66 grams granulated sugar 2 large eggs 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters vanilla extract 1 ½ cups/187 grams all-purpose flour ¾ ...
The Vicious Babushka
2 days, 4 hours ago
Views: 183 • Comments: 2 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Ricardo Naipes, Al NorteI love how this song is about people living in the same neighborhood where my mom grew up in Southwest Detroit way back when the accordion was for the polka music. Oh and will someone please translate,,
Mich-again
2 days, 15 hours ago
Views: 219 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Maple Scones Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients 1 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup white flour (more as needed) 2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ pound (1 stick) chilled butter ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts or cooked wheat ...
The Vicious Babushka
2 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 297 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
How Politicians Force Doctors to Lie to Women - Rolling Stone On Tuesday, the Texas Senate advanced a bill that would enable doctors to lie to pregnant patients about fetal deformities in order to coercively dissuade them from choosing to have an abortion. Specifically, SB 25 eliminates withholding information regarding ...
Birth Control Works
2 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 344 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0