When Democrats were for Free Speech (2nd edition)

Note: Due to reader feedback, I have changed some of the wording in this post to make my point more clear. If you really want to, you can read the original here.

Anyone using ChatGTP has quickly noticed that there are things it can and things it can't say. Although it claims to be neutral, when it comes to the current issues of controversy, it was made to be as much for the Democrat party as possible (notice how I didn't say leftist or liberal, but Democrat). You can get it to write odes and rhapsodies to Democrat politicians, but it clams up when asked to do the same for a Republican, citing some vague OpenAI policy. There have been jailbreaks discovered (such as DAN, Do Anything Now) which show that the AI has no fundamental problem with doing so, just that it's been lobotomized by OpenAI so that it mustn't.

Since it was engineered by a bunch of Californians, their idea of neutral would naturally be biased in this way, but there is something this whole line of reasoning overlooks, regardless of what your idea of neutral is, "Why is it censored at all in the first place?".

The reason they state is for "safety", and I'm willing to accept that that's true to a certain extent, but we all know the real reason it is censored, to avoid offending the establishment.

To people who know a lot about technology, or even just a little bit, hearing politicians, journalists, or other people "not in the know" is really cringe, for a lack of a better word. You just hear them talk and you think, "Wow, you are saying so much. Yet you know nothing. ". I'm sure this happens to other people knowledgeable about something else, cars, medicine, painting, whatever. And the worst part is that these are supposed to be respected people, people in power making real decisions. At least once a month, one of these people suggest something innocent sounding enough, until you think about it for a second and realize that this would be worse than nuclear winter. The idea will get a moderate amount of traction until someone who knows what they are talking about frantically puts an end to it. We are blessed to have these people who step in. These are the real heroes of American society, saving us from catastrophe on a daily basis, and no one knows their names.

I would say about 20 years ago, the ethos of the Democrat party was that they were the "underdogs", outsiders, the common man fighting against the system. We had a Republican President (George Bush), and a media unquestioningly supporting a Republican war (Iraq). Whenever one of these catastrophes were narrowly averted, Democrats would love to point this out on how incompetent the establishment is. I couldn't tell you how exactly the tables turned, but now we have a Democrat president and a Democrat media, and the people caught up in the narrative that they spin, will parrot everything they are supposed to believe. 20 years ago, these people would have been supporting Republican policies, but now they support Democrat policies.

That means that 20 years ago, Democrats would have welcomed ideas that go against the mainstream because any unorthodox idea, no matter its merits, was implicitly an attack against the (Republican) system. Many tech companies are founded by Californians because that's where William Shockley decided to start Silicon Valley. (Otherwise it probably would have been somewhere on the east coast.) California is now among the most Democrat states, so naturally, the founders would be Democrats. If you look at what tech companies used to be like 20, or even 10, years ago, it appears that they really used to be in favor of free speech without any limits. For example, Reddit (of all places) used to pride themselves in being "a free speech site with very few exceptions". Here is the General Manager of Reddit justifying why r/jailbait, a subreddit dedicated to suggestive but non nude images of children, and r/picsofdeadkids should stay up. Reading this today almost looks like peering into some alternate universe where they eat sandwiches with the bread on the inside.

Personally I think they are gross. But let's take the infamous picsOfDeadkids example. The actual content of that subreddit is mostly autopsy photos. Obviously it's a troll subreddit and created to get a reaction, and I'd guess 98% of redditors think it's gross/offensive etc. But what if the name of the subreddit was r/autopsyphotos or r/doyoureallywanttogointocriminalforensics and they were sincere in their discussion of these images? Would some of that 98% now be ok with it? I would bet at least some would. What if it wasn't kids but adults? Or historical autopsy photos only? The point is I don't want to be the one making those decisions for anyone but myself, and it's not the business reddit is in. We're a free speech site with very few exceptions (mostly personal info) and having to stomach occasional troll reddit like picsofdeadkids or morally quesitonable reddits like jailbait are part of the price of free speech on a site like this.

"It's not the business reddit is in" "The price of Freedom" Does this sound anything like social media today? And this was their policy just 10 years ago. They went as far as to defend pedophiles. Who in their right mind defends pedophiles? But it didn't seem out of place for tech companies to do that back then. CNN even ran a negative segment against Reddit for this and they didn't stand down.

But now, an attack against the system is implicitly taken as an attack against Democrats, even if you aren't specifically talking about them. The tech companies are still lead by the same people, they have Democrat managers and Democrat employees. (They might not hire you if you are a "bad fit" for the company "culture".) And California is still Democrat territory, so naturally, the views of the companies have shifted as the views of the Democrat party. Now that the Democrats are the system, anything that goes against the mainstream is against them, so they have zero tolerance towards it. Even if the criticisms are true, they are "dangerous facts" and they'll bring up the paradox of tolerance.

Why I disgree with the Paradox of Tolerance

The paradox of tolerance is this. Free speech is about being allowed to say whatever you want, so if someone doesn't want you to have free speech for whatever reason, they shouldn't be tolerated, because they will bring an end to free speech. People use and abuse this Paradox on both sides to justify why they censored their opponent. They use this to claim that they're even protecting free speech by limiting what people say.

I still would disagree with the broader idea that intolerant ideas should be restricted. Let's take Nazism for example. Nazism is an intolerant ideology, but the fact that there are people who ended up believing in it means that there are some arguments that would support it. I mean, Adolf Hitler was democratically elected into office. He had to convince an entire country.

No one is born a Nazi, so they had to be convinced of it by something. If you don't let these people speak for why they think the way they do, that would only amplify their points of view. If you allow the free exchange of ideas, you still have a chance of reasoning with them why installing a fascist dictator and obsessing over racial purity and trying to rid the world of Slavs, Jews, etc is a bad idea. If you refuse argue with them about what they see are valid things to point out (for example, there are a disproportional amount of Jewish people in the media), then what they would see is this: "Oh, they don't let me talk because they have nothing to say against me. I am right and they know it." If you aren't even going to try to give them answers, they will go to the places that do.

You would drive them underground, where they would have the exact same views, but in secret, waiting for the right moment. The only thing worse than Nazis are secret Nazis. At least when they are public, you can try to reason with them and urge them to seek help.

Yes, there are people who want to end free speech, and I think that they should have that choice. In my personal opinion, if such a group can gain the power to completely destroy liberty in a democratic system, then freedom was destined to fall anyways. There are checks and balances in the system of law, but that can only do so much to go against the will of the people. If the people of your country really value freedom, you should be able to convince them why they should protect it. Tolerance is able to win in the same playing field against intolerance. Just because it is hard, that doesn't mean you should become intolerant yourself. Freedom is something you have to constantly fight for.

You know, I've gone this entire time without saying whether I'm a Democrat or a Republican. The answer is that I'm neither. I am an American. I want to see what's best for this country, and I'll support anyone who wants America to be the best it can be. If you don't let people criticize you, you will never know what's wrong, and you will never improve. This has happened time and time again to dictators, where everyone was scared to tell the leader bad news, and then the whole empire crumbled in on itself. That's why I'm a radical supporter of free speech, as I'm in the only country that has it, guaranteed by our First Amendment rights, and I don't want to see it taken away in even this corner of the world. If you want to bury your head in the sand and see America fall, then continue your intolerant "tolerance". But if you see America become the best it can be, then you will defend freedom of expression from all who attack it.