Special Opinion to the Mirror by Paul Plante
As we here in the United States of America continue to ponder and explore the question of alleged foreign interference with our supposed “democracy” in this country, and the role the “press,” a very ill-defined term, as is the word “media,” play in that foreign interference, presuming it actually exits, which I believe does based on my own research in the matter, we must step back as citizens ask ourselves, if we truly care about “democracy” in this country, as opposed to merely mouthing an empty, meaningless word, such as “democracy” has become, is it really the “press” that is the true enemy of the American people?
Or is it really corporate control of the press and the media in America today that is the true enemy of the American people?
And more importantly, how exactly is it that that that corporate control of our “media” and “press” is being gained, and by whom?
And truthfully, if one has been taught even rudimentary American history, as we all supposedly were, one knows well from the “Citizen Genet Affair” from back in the days of the presidency of George Washington at the beginning of this nation’s political history that foreign influence in our internal affairs has been with us since we were nothing more than a collection of separate and distinct British colonies,
As to foreign influence in our internal political affairs extending to control of our social media in America today, which is a modern-day version of the “press,” as this very on-line publication well proves, 231 years ago now, on December 19, 1787, a political writer here in America which the nom de plume of “Anti-Cincinnatus” writing in the Northampton Hampshire Gazette posed this question on that very subject as follows, to wit:
The Constitution grants no power more nor less with respect to the liberty of the press; but leaves it just as it found it, in the hands of the several state constitutions: but to enervate this argument, my author sagely observes, “that where general powers are expressly granted, the particular ones comprehended within them must also be granted:” and with keen sagacity discovers a general power granted to Congress “to define and punish offences against the law of nations,” and after a plausible parade or inconclusive argumentation, assumes to have proved, “that the power of restraining the press is necessarily involved in the unlimited power of defining offences against the law of nations, or of making treaties, which are to be the supreme law of the land.”
To clear off the obscurity and confusion which involve the ideas and reasonings of this author, concerning the law of nations and public treaties, and set this matter in a clear convictive point of view, it is needless and would be to no purpose to pursue him through an intricate maze or winding in a pompous declamatory harangue; it is needful, to that end only to consider, that by the law of nations, is intended, those regulations and articles of agreement by which different nations, in their treaties, one with another, mutually bind themselves to regulate their conduct, one towards the other.
A violation of such articles is properly defined an offence against the law of nations: and there is and can be no other law of nations, which binds them with respect to their treatment one of another, but these articles of agreement contained in their public treaties and alliances.
These public treaties become the law of the land in that being made by constitutional authority, i.e. among us, by those whom the people themselves have authorized for that purpose, are in a proper sense their own agreements, and therefore as laws, bind the several states, as states, and their inhabitants, as individuals to take notice of and govern themselves according to the articles and rules which are defined and stipulated in them: as law of the land they bind to nothing but a performance of the engagements which they contain.
How then doth it appear “that a power to define offences against the law of nations, necessarily involves a power of restraining the liberty of the press?”
Have we the least possible ground of fear, that the United States in some future period will enter in their public treaties an article to injure the liberty of the press?
What concern have foreign nations with the liberty or restraint of the American press?
What concerns do they have, indeed, people?
And how about control of our political thought and speech, as a starter?
So the question 231 years later, based on developments that “Anti-Cincinnatus” writing in the Northampton Hampshire Gazette 231 years ago, such as the intersection of rise of venture capitalism in America and the development of the internet as a means of mass communication, should be “what concerns should we in America today with foreign nations interfering with our liberty by restraining the American people’s press that the internet in America has become.
To answer that question, this paper seeks to explore the role of so-called “social media” like the Cape Charles Mirror and an internet site known as “The Livyjr Files” on what in participatory democracy in America today, which question was the subject of a scholarly paper entitled “THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY: A CASE STUDY OF THREE FACEBOOK GROUPS” presented in 2018 on the University of Maryland website by author James Gachau, as follows:
As far back as 1918, John Dewey cautioned that democracy should not be identified with “economic individualism as the essence of freedom of action” (Dewey, 1954).
He saw freedom as grounded socially in the human experience of “communicative (not merely economic) exchange through which individuals orient themselves to the world” (Couldry, 2010, p. 133).
These communicative exchanges are necessary for people to live an authentically human life.
In the widely dispersed societies of the twenty-first century, journalism and mass communication are necessary for this communicative exchange.
This dissertation argues that Facebook, through purposefully designed and organized groups, can facilitate such communicative exchanges for social classes that are given short shrift by the mainstream media.
I posit that due to their ability to select, control, and filter media content according to their specified needs and concerns, rather than have media fare dictated to them by the dominant classes, social media users in general, and Facebook groups composed of subordinate classes in particular, have the capacity to cultivate and nurture discourses that challenge the views and opinions of the dominant publics in which these groups are located.
Using counterpublic theory à la Nancy Fraser, Catherine Squires, and Michael Warner, this dissertation analyzes the media content that members of three Facebook groups shared on their groups’ Facebook walls, and how this content helped them articulate oppositional voices and identities.
Based in Kenya, the first group, Freethinkers Initiative Kenya (FIKA), identifies with freethought and atheism in a society that is predominantly Christian.
The second group, Pan-African Network (PAN) promotes the interests of Africans across the globe, campaigning for the advancement of a proud black identity in a world increasingly perceived as hostile to Blacks and people of African descent.
The third group, Women Without Religion (WWR), espouses a feminist atheist identity that opposes “white male supremacy,” and speaks against the perceived oppression of women occasioned by the patriarchal religions of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
Such is the political power foreign groups are able to gain in this country through dominant social media sites like Facebook, which was started with venture capital funds from Accel, formerly known as Accel Partners, an American venture capital firm that works with startups in seed, early and growth-stage investments, with offices in Palo Alto, California and San Francisco, California, and with additional operating funds in London, India and China (through a partnership with International Data Group (IDG-Accel)).
Thus is foreign capital and foreign influence infiltrated into American political thought through control and censorship of social media sites in America like Facebook and a corporation named Tapatalk, Inc., which has just gained operational control of an American social media site formerly called Zetaboards, out of the state of Maryland in the United States of America.
According to Wikipedia, Accel has funded technology companies including Facebook, Slack, Dropbox, Atlassian, Flipkart, Supercell, Spotify, Etsy, Braintree/Venmo, Vox Media, Lynda.com, Qualtrics, DJI, Clouder, Jet.com, GoFundMe, Vectra Networks Inc. and BrowserStack.
In 1983, Accel was founded by Arthur Patterson and Jim Swartz.
In addition to Accel’s continued investments in early-stage startups from the Accel early stage fund, the firm announced a $480 million growth fund in December 2008, focused on growth equity opportunities in information technology, the internet, digital media, mobile, networking, software, and services.
In March 2016, Accel raised $2 billion, $500 million for an early stage venture fund and $1.5 billion for growth investments.
In April 2016, Accel raised a separate $500 million fund for investments in Europe and Israel.
In November 2016, Accel’s India arm closed its fifth fund with $450 million, about two years after closing its fourth fund with $325 million.
Accel is a venture capital firm that concentrates on the following technology sectors, to wit: Consumer, Infrastructure, Media, Mobile, SaaS, Security, Customer care services and Investments, which pretty much represents the gamut from soup to nuts, giving them a large amount of control over out lives as American citizens, to our detriment.
With respect to that thought, way back in 1919, United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis stated the opinion that suppression of ideas worked a great hardship on society, which happens to be all of us in America, and not just those who happen to be citizens of Facebook.
Another well-respected Supreme Court Justice at that time named Oliver Wendell Holmes rested his First Amendment views on what he called the “marketplace of ideas,” reasoning that because we cannot know immediately which ideas are good and true and useful and which are not, we must let them vie against one another in the faith that after full exposure and discussion, the truth will win out.
But what happens when large social media sites such as Facebook and Tapatalk intentionally skew the playing field so that there is no real discussion, as the censors out there in society would like to see imposed in here, in the pages of the Cape Charles Mirror?
Supreme Court Justice Brandeis saw free speech as an essential aspect of citizenship in America.
According to his view, men and women in America both had the duty in a democracy such as ours is supposed to be, but isn’t, to be good citizens, which means being informed on the issues confronting us.
Mused the Justice, how can individuals make intelligent decisions about those issues without having basic information about them?
How can citizens, which means all of us, and not just some of us who are Facebook citizens, judge which side has the better argument unless we can hear both sides of an argument and then join in the debate, as we can do in here in the Cape Charles Mirror?
Brandeis thus provided a positive justification for protection of speech, that being the necessity for the citizenry, which happens to be all of us here in the United States of America, and not just some of us, regardless of what Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook might think about it, along with a foreign national named Huang Dongri, aka Winter Wong, who was born in Hong Kong, and who now is the CEO of a corporate entity named Tapatalk, Inc., with corporate headquarters located 2051 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, California 90404, which corporation in 2016 acquired Yuku, and in July 2017 migrated the contents of that service to their own bulletin board platform, and in July 2017, also acquired Zetaboards and zIFBoards (formerly Invisionfree), the forum services operated by Zathyus Networks, to be fully informed about issues and to be aware of all viewpoints.
But when these powerful corporations like Facebook and Tapatalk are using venture capital funds to swallow up social media sites in America like Zetaboards to impose their own corporate rules on the users that serve to limit discussion and debate, can we today be said to be fully informed about all issues, and not just those Mark Zuckerberg and Huang Dongri want discussed, and to be aware of all viewpoints.
Think about it, people, and please stay tuned, for more discussion on this subject is forthcoming.
And thanks to the Cape Charles Mirror for being one of the few social media sites here in America, with the recent demise of Zetaboards, to really take seriously that positive justification for protection of speech set forth by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis back in 1919.