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Stop Big Tech Censorship: Anti-Discrimination Writ Large
As a public accomodation, Big Tech shouldn’t be allowed to censor
One of the principal justifications for outlawing private companies to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age or religion is NOT that it’s morally wrong – private companies can still be immoral on all sorts of issues!
This is why Big Tech is currently allowed to censor. It’s a private company, and can do what it likes, so long as it’s not in the realm of sex, race, age or religious discrimination.
But, if ethics is not the reason per se for why private companies cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age or religion, what IS the reason?
One really good justification is this: Once you’ve chosen to be a “public accommodation” (i.e., a private company open to the public), you’ve entered your business into the realm of the public.
A society benefits greatly by having a category of business that the populace can presume they’re able to patronize. They can plan their day and their life accordingly.
In addition to being morally wrong, a society where each company has its own discriminatory rules based on sex, race, age or religion would require the public to constantly check whether, say, “that grocery store I’ll be passing still accepts Middle Easterners like me.”
A private business choosing to become a public accommodation effectively amounts to agreeing to be non-discriminatory, allowing the public to “count on it” as one they can patronize w/out checking whether they’re on their personal potentially ever-changing discrimination list.
But – and this is key – this utilitarian justification for sex, race, age and religious anti-discrimination also applies to anti-discrimination more generally.
If you patronize Facebook or Twitter, say, you’re under a general impression that you’re able to express yourself freely, without discrimination on the basis of politics or viewpoint.
They’re public accommodations, and in order to plan your life you need confidence that they won’t suddenly tomorrow decide to discriminate against you – censor you, suspend you.
Point being: There needs to be a push for anti-discrimination among all public accommodations, especially Big Tech. You shouldn’t be allowed to be the grocery store that suddenly might ban you because of your viewpoint.
If anti-discrimination is justifiable from a libertarian perspective for sex, race, age, religion, then it’s justifiable much more broadly.
This would be one giant step forward in putting our societal mechanisms of free expression back together again, which are deeply broken.
But, some might say, this itself is just more government control, and not consistent with libertarianism.
First, we’re already there! If you’re going to do anti-discrimination for utilitarian reasons, then do it fully, as it should be.
Second, companies can still choose not to opt in as a “public accommodation.” They’re then like a private club, with “members” or some other distinguishing criteria.
The key to being a public accommodation should be that one is thereby committed to being *generally* non-discriminatory, and remaining so.
Just as we all cringe if we hear of a business that discriminates on the basis of sex, age, race or religion, we all need to cringe when we hear of a business that discriminates more broadly, engaging in censorship and intolerance.
Censorship and intolerance from private businesses and the general public is now a greater risk than from government, and this would go some way to help.
Companies like Twitter who may, to be charitable, truly want to respect free expression, can find themselves under tremendous political pressure to censor. Such anti-discrimination laws would provide the needed bulwark.
(Note that this presumes that Big Tech censorship isn’t, in fact, government censorship. We have seen repeatedly that it appears to be.)
I talk about this issue in the Science Moment below. Watch and subscribe to my channel.