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

Yes, he really did
Weird • Views: 26,250

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
Larsen Ice Crack Continues to Open Up The rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf has grown a further 10km since 1 January. If the rift propagates just 20km more, it will free a tabular berg one-quarter the size of Wales. That would make it one ...
Thanos
2 hours, 6 minutes ago
Views: 72 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
​Uber Pays $20M to Settle FTC Claims It Duped Drivers More rulings against GIG economy exploiters need to come down because they are draining the lifeblood from lower and middle class job sectors by exploiting labor. The contractor economy is just flat wrong. Uber has agreed to hand over ...
Thanos
2 hours, 12 minutes ago
Views: 64 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Brazilian Corruption Investigator Killed in Plane Crash You would think the people of Brazil would be hard to shock after the turbulence that they have endured in the past few years, including a deep recession, and the impeachment of a president. But today's sudden death of ...
Thanos
2 hours, 18 minutes ago
Views: 56 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
El Chapo, Mexican Drug Kingpin, Is Extradited to U.S. Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the notorious drug lord known as El Chapo who twice slipped out of high-security Mexican prisons and into criminal legend, was extradited to the United States on Thursday night, officials said, drawing to a close a ...
Thanos
2 hours, 23 minutes ago
Views: 70 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Rick Perry’s Coming Around on Climate Change?From Gizmodo: Perry was nominated for the position despite the fact that he once proposed completely eliminating the agency. The New York Times also noted yesterday that he had no idea what the Department of Energy actually does until very ...
jhncsy
2 hours, 24 minutes ago
Views: 45 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Gambia Now Has 2 Men Who Claim to Be President West African troops have crossed the border with Gambia in an effort to uphold the result of the country's presidential election by force. The winner of the Dec. 1 vote, Adama Barrow, was officially sworn in as president at ...
Thanos
2 hours, 24 minutes ago
Views: 53 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Planned Parenthood New Campaign Generation Z Videos Kids these days. They're all about their Snapchat, drones, and being cool right? Wrong. With its latest campaign, #IDEFY, Planned Parenthood is hoping to make Generation Z into a group of revolutionaries that will fight for what they believe ...
Birth Control Works
5 hours, 42 minutes ago
Views: 133 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
NYT: With All Due Disrespect -Rep John Lewis Not Attending Inauguration As you might expect, this statement provoked a hysterical, slanderous reaction from the president-elect – who, of course, got his start in national politics by repeatedly, falsely questioning President Obama’s right to hold office. But Mr. Trump — who ...
Birth Control Works
5 hours, 47 minutes ago
Views: 177 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
Donald Trump Might Cut Violence-Against-Women Programs Donald Trump has big plans to reduce the federal budget. The Hill reported on Thursday morning that his transition team has been working off a Heritage Foundation blueprint and pulled together a list of government agencies they hope to ...
Birth Control Works
6 hours, 1 minute ago
Views: 166 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
World Party ~ Ship of Fools World Party - Ship of Fools videoclip + Lyrics We're setting sail to a place on the mapFrom which no-one has ever returnedDrawn by the promise of the joker and the foolBy the light of the crosses that burnedDrawn ...
Thanos
13 hours, 17 minutes ago
Views: 232 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0