Opinion: Online Publications & Their Comment Sections, the Taverns of the Modern Era

P. Holm, JH

Back in 1775 there used to be a place for daily political discourse…the local tavern. Our American Revolution got a big start there. Farmers, storekeepers, tradesmen of all types would meet and discuss the issues of the day. Sometimes there would be speeches. Afterwards, in an atmosphere of alcohol fueled camaraderie, public debate on the substance of the speech.

The conversation at any local tavern could easily serve as a sort of temperature check on the prevailing attitude towards The British Crown in that area. Such a temperature check showed up in a scene from the Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot. Gibson’s character, Brevet Colonel Benjamin Martin along with Jean Villeneuve his French liaison officer are out recruiting. They are looking for men to man the militia regiment Martin is charged with staffing, equipping, training and leading into battle against the forces of The Crown.

Martin and Villeneuve come across a tavern. They walk in to a packed house with music, drinking and conversation. Villeneuve asks, ”Are you sure this is the place we should be recruiting for a militia?” (pregnant pause) Martin shouts, ”God save King George!” (another pregnant pause) Next thing you see is Martin and Villeneuve being chased out by angry men, as they hurl heavy objects and sharp instruments at them. See video link for full effect. It’s great.

The point I’m trying to make, is that in 1775, taverns were one of the most important social gathering areas where politics was debated…and on occasion, arms and other stores hidden from the forces of The Crown.

Today, a goodly portion of the conservative political debate function among Americans, takes place in the comments section of online publications such as Red State and American Thinker to name but two. Libertarians have their sites and of course, the leftists have theirs…which are comprised of the legacy media.

Regardless of political stripe, the comments section that invariably follows below a given article, provides a great forum for robust debate and the ability to share political thought. This feature essentially serves as the local tavern where Americans can gather to discourse on political subjects that interest them…unless it becomes restricted just because someone doesn’t like what’s being said there.

I’m not talking about death threats or profane language. Those really have no place in public discourse on a platform that anyone can view (I’m thinking children). What I’m talking about, is Big Tech that believes it should be the arbiter of TRUTH. Yep…I’m talking about you Mr. Zuckerberg, your lumberjack wannabe buddy, Mr. Dorsey and all the other Hitler Youth with whom you seem to be associating yourselves, as you decide just what Americans should and should not be allowed to see.

As I’ve noted previously, the Masters of the Universe are using financial coercion at the RICO level, to eliminate or outright prevent the publication of articles containing information that doesn’t fit their view.

Opinion: Masters of the Universe Tell Stalin to, “Hold My Beer.”

They have now taken things a step further and are now flogging political websites because of the content in their comment sections. As I noted in the above article, American Thinker was forced to disable its comments section because of pressure from the self anointed arbiters of truth and to limit legal liability. Interestingly enough, Zuckerberg, Dorsey, et al, have legal immunity. They get the best of both worlds. They can curate content on their platforms, yet not be held to the same legal liability standards as say, a newspaper.

Read: Why AT comments are disabled

This is going to end up as the proverbial, First, we will lose the great back and forth between the writers and the readership, along with discussions among the readership. That’s not all. As one of my commenters pointed out (H/T Randy87) (emphasis, mine):

The Federalist cut their comment section months ago for the same reason. Blogs that are published without the ability of readers to comment are a harangue, not a dialogue. Gone are the days when people would read their local daily newspaper, then just go about their day. People have the right to their own opinions. Agree, disagree, or spout some wild conspiracy theory, it doesn’t matter. Those publication that allow comments will thrive; those that just harangue their readers will die.

Will. Die. Which is of course, just what the left wants. Gone are the days when the Leftists gushed over President Obama’s command of all this “new” technology. They positively swooned over his ability to be young and hip with all the latest toys. Then Donald J. Trump flew into town on his own personal airplane (incidentally NOT paid for by the taxpayers) and told President Obama, ” Hold my (non-alcoholic)beer.” He then proceeded to make such prolific and effective use of Twitter, that he damned near doubled nose ring Jack’s net worth…and incidentally got himself elected President into the bargain.

Now the left is terrified. After Trump, they do not dare to allow such unfettered communication with the American public. At one time, the major newspapers and the big three TV channels, CBS, NBC & ABC were the gatekeepers of what Americans got to see. Remember Walter Cronkite, And that’s the way it is. Technology changed all that. For a brief period of time, information freely flowed, allowing Trump to bypass those media titans. Now, Big Tech billionaires have decided that they want to be legacy media’s replacement for the information control. The question is, are we going to let them get away with it?