One of the most shocking developments in the days following the latest Capitol riot has been the ease with which left-wing corporations and tech behemoths have been able to deny service to people on the right.
This is surprising not because of some conservative delusion that the increasingly progressive corporate world is friendly to our views. We know better. No, this blatantly belief-based discrimination is astounding because of the holy war that erupts any time a conservative attempts to deny services to another person based on constitutionally protected and deeply-held religious beliefs.
When the left refuses service due to an arbitrary standard or “civic integrity,” they’re preventing violence. When the right denies service, they’re bigots. Consider the degree to which the left has rapidly denied its services to those on the right.
The Left’s Campaign to Refuse Service
While Twitter has been testing the waters with its censorship for years, it took a giant leap by permanently banning the account of the sitting president of the United States — and got away with it — making its subsequent actions to silence objectors, such as a purge of 70,000 “QAnon-associated” accounts, seem mild in comparison. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat followed suit.
Conservatives immediately called foul, saying that if Silicon Valley giants could censor the leader of the free world, they could muzzle anyone — and they are right. Big Tech’s de-platforming campaign of right-of-center voices was just the first domino. Reddit outlawed the massive r/donaldtrump subreddit, and YouTube said it will no longer tolerate the views of people who question 2020 election integrity, promising to take down dissenting videos and to punish the creators.
Unabated crackdowns on wrongthink aren’t just about so-called social media. Many Americans have lost their jobs or licensure or status, others have seen online revenue streams cut off, and even some companies have been banished from the infrastructure of the internet. Airbnb and its subsidiary HotelTonight canceled reservations in Washington, D.C., during the week of the inauguration, citing concerns about “hate groups.” Shopify stripped down all online stores for Trump, and worse, financial tech company Stripe reportedly stopped processing payments for Trump’s campaign.
Perhaps worst of all, after Google and Apple took Parler off their app stores, Amazon Web Services cut the site off its platform, meaning the free-speech competitor to Twitter has essentially lost access to the infrastructure of the internet. And not only was Parler punted offline, but its creators reportedly can’t even access their own code.
“People need to understand the shift that’s happened,” said Federalist publisher Ben Domenech. “We’ve been talking for the past couple of years about social media, primarily the shiny object of Twitter and Facebook, but what we’re really talking about now are the guts of the internet, the infrastructure that’s underneath all of this. It’s one thing to say you can’t use a platform to share information, to advertise, or something like that. It’s another to say you can’t use the equivalent of the roads, the water, the power that’s underneath the internet superstructure.”
The left has denied the right not only goods and services, but the utilities to create and distribute them.
A Double Standard of Discrimination
This crusade to stop serving right-wingers for their views has continued unabated while the pundit class and illiberal leftist leaders cheer. But what if the tables were turned? While it’s hard to imagine conservatives controlling Silicon Valley, we don’t have to wonder how the left would respond to being denied services. We already know.
In 2012, a group of angry leftists hauled a cake artist to court after he declined to design a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding because it violated his deeply-held religious beliefs about the sanctity of marriage. It bears noting that Jack Phillips, who had been decorating cakes for the Colorado community for about 20 years, didn’t even deny service to the gay couple. He happily offered to serve them for other occasions or to provide them other already made goods from his store — but that was unacceptable.
Jack endured threatening phone calls, harassment, loss of business, his name being dragged through the mud, a state battle, and then a Supreme Court case before emerging victorious — but not for long. Not even a month later, Jack became the target of another lawsuit when he declined to design a cake celebrating a transgender person’s identity.
While that case was ultimately dropped, Jack is now ensnared in another legal fight. More than seven years and three legal battles later, Jack’s story clearly illustrates what happens when conservatives decline even a single service to anyone of an opposing worldview.
More examples abound. Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, was targeted for declining to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple, despite having served the patrons in other capacities for nine years. Two Christian artists and owners of a stationery store faced a similar fate. When a group of nuns declined to provide contraceptives, in accordance with their constitutionally protected beliefs, they too were dragged to court. The same happened for Christian family-owned Hobby Lobby.
Hypocrisy that Harms Society
Never mind that the above cases involve instances of deeply held religious beliefs and incredibly narrow denials of service, protected by the First Amendment, rather than sweeping and capricious purges by unaccountable oligarchs who have decided they can stop serving you for any reason, at any time, with zero accountability.
“The hypocrisy of these Big Tech companies truly knows no bounds,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative nonprofit that helped defend Phillips and others in many of the aforementioned cases. Tedesco continued:
In Masterpiece Cakeshop, they argued to the Supreme Court that cake artist Jack Phillips should be denied his First Amendment right to decline to promote messages with which he disagrees. But Amazon and Apple invoked these same rights where they claimed litigants were forcing them to promote unwanted messages. It’s wrong for these companies to claim this right for themselves and then advocate that it be taken away from everyone else. Through their hypocrisy and censorship, these corporations are undermining free speech, an essential foundation of our society.
In aggressively censoring viewpoints they don’t like, leftist corporations have done more than undermine free speech. They’ve exposed the gross double standard they’ve created for who is allowed to deny service and who isn’t, for who can expect to be served and who can’t.
The illiberal left isn’t about ensuring equal service for all. They love discrimination when it means nuking dissenters out of their businesses and off their platforms — but they’ll gladly drag you to court and ruin your reputation in the process if you politely decline to serve them.