Monday, November 25, 2019

Sacha Baron Cohen Calls for Internet Censorship

Sacha Baron Cohen
On November 21 at the ADL's "2019 Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate," Sacha Baron Cohen, in a confused speech, called for internet censorship.

By an extremely deceptive highlighting of the worst that free speech delivers, Cohen argued that free speech must be censored. He pointed to hate speech and antisemitism.

When discussing posts at Facebook, he said, "Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach." And viciously attacked Zuckerberg leanings toward free speech(to the degree he has such leanings).

Cohen referred to a speech Zuckerberg gave at Georgetown University last month outlining where he thinks Facebook should draw the line on regulating free speech on its platform.

"First, Zuckerberg tried to portray this whole issue as 'choices around free expression.' That is ludicrous," Cohen said. "This is not about limiting anyone's free speech."

But then he went on to advocate free speech.

He said, "We have, unfortunately, millions of pieces of evidence for the Holocaust — it is a historical fact. And denying it is not some random opinion. Those who deny the Holocaust aim to encourage another one."

There are many problems with this. First, Facebook is a private company so Zuckerberg should be allowed to decide what he wants on his platform and what he doesn't want.

But Cohen has a problem with this:
It’s like we’re living in the Roman Empire, and Mark Zuckerberg is Caesar.
What's Cohen's solution? This:
Here’s an idea.  Instead of letting the Silicon Six decide the fate of the world, let our elected representatives, voted for by the people, of every democracy in the world, have at least some say.
But this is just confused thinking by Cohen. Earlier in his talk, he explained how easy it was to lead people in terrible ways:
 [W]hen [my character] Borat was able to get an entire bar in Arizona to sing “Throw the Jew down the well,” it did reveal people’s indifference to anti-Semitism.  When—as Bruno, the gay fashion reporter from Austria—I started kissing a man in a cage fight in Arkansas, nearly starting a riot, it showed the violent potential of homophobia.  And when—disguised as an ultra-woke developer—I proposed building a mosque in one rural community, prompting a resident to proudly admit, “I am racist, against Muslims”—it showed the acceptance of Islamophobia. 
So who is to say the majority (via democracy) is always right and the arbiters of what should be allowed as free speech?

Is Borat not aware that there were once Salem witch hunts? Would he have advocated that those in the minority who spoke out against the witch hunts be banned?

In Hitler's Germany, many believed that Jews should not own businesses and their money should be taken? Would he have advocated that those in the minority who spoke out against anti-Semitism be banned when we now know that it led to much worse than the taking of Jewish wealth?

Internet censorship is always about central planning.

Central planning creates a power center. The evil will always seek to control such power centers. And they will sometimes succeed.

The alternative is freedom, where there is no central power center,  and truth and civility will always have a voice.

Cohen's call for censorship is a call for free speech roulette. During any given period, almost any speech could be blocked if there are rules for blocking speech.

It is extremely naive and shallow to think otherwise.



  1. Portraying the characters he does in face of a divisive country as we have now to maintain his fame, this is particularly cowardly of him to try to play a serious consciousness card.

    Cohen is POS me too pansy that is more hypocritical than most and nothing of value to the debate.

  2. Maybe I am humor deprived but I never found Cohen or his movies the slightest bit funny.