by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
While social media services like Twitter had banned individual provocateurs such as Chuck Johnson and Milo Yiannopoulos prior to this, the wave of bans following Charlottesville included credit card companies, financial services, booking sites, and domain registrars.
I worried this set a precedent whereby those with views far enough outside the mainstream, whatever that may mean, would be denied not only the ability to voice their ideas publicly, but the ability to function in the modern world. …
… We’ll return to Twitter and other online services shortly, but let’s shift for the moment to another major story of the past few weeks: China’s new comprehensive “social credit” system, which tracks and rates citizens according to various government-approved and -disapproved behaviors. The stated goal is that citizens who have demonstrated sufficiently “anti-social” behavior will be “unable to move a single step.” Millions of attempts at booking flights and train trips have already been blocked for those with too low a rating.
With few exceptions, the Western reaction to a system wherein dissenters and troublemakers are locked out of the ability to function in everyday life has been horror. “So dystopian and authoritarian as to defy belief” commented Yale sociology professor Nicholas Christakis. Such a fusion of technology and totalizing control ought surely to remain in the pages of Orwell, right?
Absent from the discussion is the recognition that we in the open, liberal, tolerant West have been in the process of developing our own such system. True, our system is not implemented by the state. But the result, of denying “anti-social” elements access to the services most of us take for granted, is already occurring.