Arvin Vohra Pens Open Letter to Libertarian National Committee

Arvin Vohra, former Vice-chairman of the Libertarian National Committee and a 2020 presidential candidate, wrote the following open letter to the Libertarian National Committee concerning social media censorship:

Recently, you spoke out against the violence at the Capitol. As a believer in nonviolence, and someone who lives just a few minutes away, I appreciated that you spoke out. While the enemies of the American people do work at the Capitol building, violence is fundamentally wrong.

But you have remained entirely silent on the censorship over the last few days; in fact, you’ve remained silent on the censorship over the last few years. Today, Ron Paul was deplatformed. Many libertarian groups, including Punk Rock Libertarians, have been deplatformed.

I believe, as I’m sure most of you do, that a private company has the right to censor anyone it wants. Christian bakers should not be forced to bake gay wedding cakes. Jewish bakers should not be forced to bake Nazi cakes. And left wing social media sites should not be forced to host conservative or libertarian content.

But those tech giants should also not be getting government support. Governments do not have the right to outsource censorship to the private sector; it should not use its reach or our tax dollars to support the companies whose behavior is just plain wrong.

Governments, if they exist, must treat businesses equally. Today, governments post information on Facebook and Twitter. They pay Amazon AWS for hosting: https://aws.amazon.com/federal/

Censorship is irrational and repugnant. Companies have the right to do it. But our tax dollars should not fund those companies.

I ask you to support a resolution against government using our tax dollars to essentially outsource censorship to private companies.

This is the worst kind of crony capitalism. It’s like when the government hires mercenaries who ignore the rules of war in order to circumvent those rules. The government is using private companies to circumvent the first amendment.

Would you remain silent if a public utility cut the electricity off to the LP headquarters because the CEO disliked libertarianism? If not, why are you remaining silent when crony capitalist companies are deplatforming or cutting off internet hosting to those whose views they disagree with – including our former presidential candidate, Ron Paul?

I ask you to support a resolution to the following effect:

Whereas censorship is irrational and repugnant

Whereas the federal government is using tax dollars to support companies who are engaging in staggering levels of censorship

Whereas outsourcing censorship to private companies is a cheap way to circumvent the First Amendment

The Libertarian National Committee demands that Federal, State, and Local governments to cut off all ties with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Stripe, including cancelling any existing contracts.

Respectfully,
Arvin Vohra
Former Vice Chair
Libertarian National Committee

16 thoughts on “Arvin Vohra Pens Open Letter to Libertarian National Committee

  1. dL

    Today, Ron Paul was deplatformed.

    It took 30 seconds to look up that Ron Paul was locked out his Facebook account, not deplatformed, and his account status was restored. Facebook says it was a mistake. Who knows. But that kind of stuff happens with Facebook all the time.

    Today, governments post information on Facebook and Twitter. They pay Amazon AWS for hosting: https://aws.amazon.com/federal/

    Facebook does not rely on AWS; it has its own global data centers.

    Christian bakers should not be forced to bake gay wedding cakes.

    By the logic of this open letter, they would. Is the bakery publicly accessible from a road built from a government contract? Is the bakery conducting e-commerce that in any way relies on a public cloud(like AWS)? Then by Vohra’s own rope, they must advertise and bake that gay wedding cake. Christian book stores would be forced to sell books on atheism, satanism and XXX-rated porno videos. All things that are constitutionally protected speech.

    Vohra should spend a little more time researching and thinking through the implications of his open letters. The original raison d’etre of Section 230(as part of the CDA that was later struck down by SCOTUS) was to pour concrete down the rabbit hole of Internet platforms being sued for moderating/blocking objectionable(but constitutionally protected) content based on 1st amendment claims. If AOL wanted to put a porn filter on its services, they didn’t want the ACLU suing AOL on first amendment grounds. And if was actually a forum post on AOL that contained a false attribution quote(RE: the Oklahoma City Bombing) by another individual(and posted that individual’s phone number, resulting in that individual getting death threats) that set the legal case for indemnifying internet platforms from civil liability of user content. The individual erroneously quoted sued AOL for defamation. The circuit dismissed the case based on Section 230 wording. SCOTUS declined to review. (Zeran v. America Online).

  2. David Pratt Demarest

    As always, Mr. Vohra cuts to the chase with his rational logic. I support his call for an LNC resolution stating that the government must immediately cease and desist using tax money to outsource first amendment violations to any type of media, including not only censorship but also using mainstream media as a thinly disguised government mouthpiece to regurgitate propaganda and captive audience reeducation.

    Thoughts?

    David Pratt Demarest

  3. SocraticGadfly

    Re Amazon AWS? Totally contra Libertarians who support privatizing much of the gummint, the answer is to stop such shite. (See “Snowden, Edward” and “working for contractors.”)

  4. Be Rational

    Where should the government post information?

    Should the government not be allowed to buy cakes from Christian and Jewish bakers who don’t bake cakes for gay couples or Nazis?

  5. dL

    Totally contra Libertarians who support privatizing much of the gummint

    This libertarian certainly doesn’t support “privatizing the state.” One obvious reason made clear from this “open letter”: the more the state is privatized, the more the calls/arguments that nothing is actually private.

  6. dL

    Where should the government post information?

    Governments, like enterprise business, have been moving to cloud computing because it is economically more efficient. AWS has a separate, isolated infrastructure for government services called GovCloud. While the majority of Amazon’s operating income comes from the e-commerce side, the majority of operating profit actually comes from the AWS side. AWS effectively subsidizes the e-commerce side. And government contracts are increasingly a bigger slice of that AWS pie.

    There is a left Libertarian, corporate liberal deconstruction/analysis of all this, but it’s not an analysis that concludes with communism as a remedy.

  7. William Saturn Post author

    I noticed this comment from Be Rational was in the trash:

    “Where should the government post information?

    Should the government not be allowed to buy cakes from Christian and Jewish bakers who don’t bake cakes for gay couples or Nazis?”

    I assume the comment was self-deleted. Is that right? I notice paulie restored it earlier today.

  8. Jose C

    An executive from Parler (According to a post in Wikipedia she is a libertarian.) in an interview on NewsMax said whenever a private company at the direction of the state performs censorship on behave of the state they can be held to be in violation of free speech laws. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have been told by Democratic Party officials at the local, state, and federal level to censor President Trump, Republicans, and others e.g., doctors, scientists, researchers who do not conform to the political correctness or orthodoxy of the Democratic Party and the liberal, left wing elite. For two days this summer Jo Jorgenson’s campaign was censured by Facebook. Should we put up with this?

    What is happening is Orwellian, Nazisk, and unAmerican.

  9. Gene Berkman

    Libertarians should oppose government subsidies to private companies, but outsourcing is necessary to cut the costs of government functions. The alternative to outsourcing is government employees performing all the functions government is currently authorized to do. Payments made for services rendered is not the same as subsidies, although prices paid and auction methods should always be subject to investigation.

    It is a contention without evidence that the state “outsourced” censorship to the tech platforms, except in the sense that, under existing laws and joint & several liability, there is an incentive to remove material which may lead to litigation. Certainly the tech platforms do see possible litigation – wrongful death lawsuits that target social media on which violence prone neo-Nationalists plan activities, etc.

    The tech platforms are being responsible removing President Trump’s ability to continue to promote his lies about the election, and his provocative language (“we will never stop fighting” -“if you stop fighting you lose your country” – etc). Trump is right, if we don’t fight the neo-Nationalists, the Storm Trumpers and the Sore-Loser-in-Chief, we will lose our country to a violent mob motivated by lies and a power grab.

    The question is whether a company that accepts government contracts should be required to either censor or not censor, and here would be where Mr Vohra could provide evidence that the censorship of Trump was required by government, or just the kind of voluntary community service that all libertarians and limited government conservatives should applaud.

    Mr Vohra charges government action without providing evidence, in order to promote government action. When you talk about regulation, don’t you know you can count me out.

  10. Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

    As David Demarest said, you cut to the chase. I was not paying attention to Trump’s rally until videos from those attending began to percolate onto the web, at least they were there for a while. The issues are ownership of the technologies which make censorship a seemingly private issue; the obvious relationship between Big Tech and a segment of individuals who seized control of the government is definitely on point. (While I have disliked Trump since he used eminent domain to steal private properties for his own use decades ago, it was clear to me the election was stolen. I spent some years looking over how this is accomplished after discovering multiple incidents of this by both major parties from the 1970s on while working on Libertarian campaigns and also saw the use of removing long time voters, who were Democrats, from their status as active voters in the Central Valley of CA in the 2000s. At that time I was working with clean election groups due to the theft of the 2000 election and then the 2008 elections by BushCo. Our group has programmers working on an unhackable app for our Interactive TV shows, which will be tested by millions. Never have so many been so frustrated at being shut out of deciding our direction and over the disappearance of the free market. As they should be.

  11. Thomas L Knapp

    “Libertarians should oppose government subsidies to private companies, but outsourcing is necessary to cut the costs of government functions.”

    If it can be outsourced, it shouldn’t BE a government function.

  12. Be Rational

    MPF …
    The election wasn’t stolen.
    Trump lost the election through his own words and deeds.
    Had Trump led the fight against the virus, he would have been a hero. The virus could have been virtually stopped by the end of April 2020.
    Had Trump recognized the realities of 2020, he would have encouraged mail ballots throughout the election season to maximize his own vote totals.
    Doing those two things would have resulted in a resounding Trump victory.
    Trump’s mental illness caused him to self-destruct and give away an election he could have easily won.
    Donald Trump’s greatest enemies are his own mental and emotional incapacity and his low IQ.

  13. Gene Berkman

    Tom, I do think we need to take many functions and powers from the government – I have been saying so for 56 years. But is clear that many of these functions are still being done, and libertarians and other supporters of limited government have not been able to take some of these functions from government, so until we can, outsourcing is a legitimate way station to accomplish things more efficiently, and show that these functions can be undertaken by private entities.

    My main point is that since government for the forseeable future will have functions, including many we think it should not have, contracting out functions to private entities is a means of being more efficient. At the same time, a private company that contracts with government should still have rights to run its own business, including the right to set terms for access to its facilities.

  14. Thomas L Knapp

    “libertarians and other supporters of limited government have not been able to take some of these functions from government, so until we can, outsourcing is a way of letting politicians reward their ‘private sector’ cronies, who will then spend part of their rake-off lobbying to ensure that government never stops doing those things, and in fact does more of them.”

    Fixed, no charge.

  15. Tony From Long Island

    He states that “private companies have the right to censor . . . ”

    But they are not “censoring” anyone. That is not “censorship.” None of these companies are stopping anyone from speaking.

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