“A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.” — Frank Herbert
When I see certain rhetorical formulations, I’m immediately alert to sententiousness that wishes to go unrecognized. One of those formulas is “no reasonable person.” What follows it is a half-concealed definition, proposed by the writer, for what constitutes a “reasonable person.” Invariably, it’s someone who agrees with whatever he’s claiming to be true.
We have a fine example of this before us today:
On Friday, the digital media company Starboard announced that it had acquired Parler, the conservative social media platform. According to Starboard, the deal went through on Good Friday and it bought Parler for an undisclosed amount.
Following Starboard’s announcement on Friday, the company immediately shut down Parler’s website. A note on Parler.com(opens in a new tab) reads “no reasonable person believes that a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business any more.”
The formula is quite blatant. The import takes a few CPU cycles longer to register. But just in case you, Gentle Reader, are alert to Starboard’s actual agenda, the writer of the article is willing to pound that “reasonable person” standard home with a 16-lb. sledge:
To be clear though, this isn’t an anti-conservative statement from Starboard. It’s strictly business. Starboard’s statement goes on to praise former Parler CEO George Farmer for Parler’s more recent move into providing alternative IT and cloud services solutions through its former parent company Parlament Technologies.
“We focus on working with groups that are advocating for or otherwise advancing conservative causes or conservative beliefs,” Starboard CEO Ryan Coyne told the Daily Caller News Foundation in 2021, back when Starboard was known as Olympic Media.
And I’m sure Coyne has lots of [Jewish | Catholic | black | insert your preference here] friends, too.
When alternatives to Twitter began to arise, one segment was hostile to persons on the Right, while the other wasn’t. Parler was one of the latter group. I don’t know if Parler’s management actively solicited participation by conservatives, but as it advertised a commitment to freedom of expression, conservatives could hope they would be treated fairly there. Persons on the Left were welcome to join, but few did, and most who did soon left the platform. This was also the case with Gab.com and other Twitter-alternatives.
The import of that trend was clear: Persons on the Left had little interest in a platform that showed equal hospitality toward persons on the Right. They preferred the environment at Twitter, where conservative sentiments were routinely disfavored and suppressed. And so, over time, the preponderance of sentiment at Parler, Gab, and other free-speech-oriented sites shifted to the Right, just as Twitter’s “content moderation” system has shifted it to the Left.
The Left absolutely hates the idea that persons on the Right have places where we can communicate freely with one another. Suppressing our ability to find and talk with one another is one of the Left’s major priorities. They’ve put a lot of effort into it: by denying hosting services to such sites; by suppressing the distribution of smartphone apps; by denying access to third-party-payment services; by slandering the operators and users of such sites; and in other ways. Is it unthinkable that a left-leaning company might purchase a site with the intent to destroy it?
“But Starboard is conservatively inclined!” comes the rejoinder. “It supports conservative causes and conservative beliefs!” Does it? I know next to nothing about Starboard. Readers who know more are welcome to contribute their thoughts in the comments to this piece. But I have a hard time believing that a genuinely Right-oriented company would arbitrarily and without warning close down the flagship offering of the company it’s only just acquired…as a “strictly business” decision.
Does that make me an unreasonable person?