By Robert Wenzel
Some libertarian fellow travelers are up in arms over the banning of certain personalities from Twitter and other Silicon Valley mediums of mass communication.
What needs to be understood here is that this type of effort to stop libertarian communication is far from new
The old right-wing journalist and radio commentator John T. Flynn, who had
his own broadcast studio in the1940s, had his radio show banned by many radio stations because of his opposition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and to American entry into World War II.
An issue of the magazine, the American Mercury, which was edited by H. L. Mencken was once declared obscene by the Solicitor of the U.S. Post Office and therefore sending it through the mails was a federal offense (Fortunately, the issue was delivered to most houses before the ban went into effect.).
And if we go back to the Soviet Union, all kinds of writings were banned, which resulted in the emergence of the Samizdat.
Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader. This grassroots practice to evade official Soviet censorship was fraught with danger, as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials. Vladimir Bukovsky summarized it as follows: "Samizdat: I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself."The point is that whatever the means of communication that is popular at any given time, the powers that be will not tolerate aggressive dissent. Censorship may come from the government itself or from private entities sympathetic to popular central power themes.
Until libertarianism becomes much more popular then it is now, libertarians must recognize that mainstream communication outlets will continue to be enemy territory,.
We are going to be extremely limited in the messages we will be able to get out through such vehicles. Outlets like Twitter can be valuable to us because they are a method to reach a large audience, however, they should be used carefully. Step over the line and they will take you out.
Our more radical stuff must be saved for venues where we have more control. That is, the mainstream venues that practice aggressive censorship should be used just to get our names out, allowed messages out, and to carefully drive people to our more radical venues.
To be sure, if a libertarian or libertarian fellow traveler gets banned by Twitter or other current top instruments of commentary distribution, we should scream "Censorship!" because it is, and we should call out the power-catering hypocrites, but we should also be wise and recognize the limits of these instruments for libertarians. It's to attract the curious to dig deeper because the operators of these instruments are most certainly not going to allow us to tell the full story on their venues.
Know the limits of each instrument and what you can, and cannot get away with, but always attempt to drive the audience deeper and deeper into where the truth can be spoken without censorship.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Sunday Morning with Robert Wenzel.