Another agitator gets tossed off social media

“Andy Ngo is the latest conservative voice to be CANCELED by Big Tech: SoundCloud bans his podcast,” the headline reads.

“Journalist Andy Ngo became the most recent voice to be banned from a Big Tech platform after SoundCloud has permanently banned him from its platform,” the story begins.

This is from a story in the Daily Mail, a U.K.-based tabloid (read it here). While this blog has some attributes of a tabloid, I wouldn’t call Ngo a “conservative” or a “voice.” That’s too polite. He’s an agitator for political extremism.

SoundCloud is “a Swedish-founded online audio distribution platform and music sharing website based in Berlin, Germany, that enables its users to upload, promote, and share audio, as well as a digital signal processor enabling listeners to stream audio,” according to Wikipedia (here). Which makes you wonder why that website was hosting an American political rabble-rouser in the first place.

In any case, Ngo (bio here) is not a “journalist,” no matter what Daily Mail or Wikipedia calls him, and “covering and video-recording demonstrators” doesn’t make him one. As Wikipedia points out, “the accuracy and credibility of his reporting have been disputed. He has been accused by some of sharing misleading and selectively edited videos,” which makes him a fiction writer, and “described as a provocateur,” which makes him a propagandist, “and accused of having links with militant right-wing groups in Portland,” which, if true, makes him an activist. Real journalists are none of those things.

Let Ngo whine all he wants to. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, websites are private property. They don’t have to give anybody a soapbox. If SoundCloud wants to throw him off their platform, that’s their prerogative. He had it coming, and their terms of service gave him fair warning, but they didn’t need a reason. It’s their website. 

A newspaper doesn’t have to publish your letter to the editor. This blog doesn’t have to post your comments (and won’t, if you can’t do any better than Ngo with facts, truth, and accuracy; he wouldn’t get published here, either).

Of course, Ngo’s shortcomings as a “journalist” were no excuse for physically attacking him (photo, left; I’m not a fan of “whataboutism” — it’s not a valid debating technique — so I’ll skip the Trumper attacks on real journalists, they’re not relevant here, and that’s a discussion for another day).

What I want to talk about here is distinguishing between news and propaganda, and between those who report news (“journalists”) and those who manipulate facts to promote a preconceived point of view (“propagandists”). Many Americans, it seems, can’t tell the difference. And that’s a problem.

I also want to distinguish between “conservative” politics (small government, low taxes, individual freedom and responsibility, free enterprise) and the Trump movement and hard-right politics promoted by the likes of Ngo (racism and fascism). They’re not the same, either. Conservative ideology isn’t inherently anti-democracy; Trumpism is.

Republicans were suppressing voting rights long before Trump came along, but reprehensible is that is, it was only a tactic for winning elections; Trump wants to overthrow the entire system of democracy and replace it with autocratic rule, and he has plenty of followers, some of them willing to use violent means to attain that end. That’s a problem, too.

Nearly all of America’s domestic terrorism comes from the right these days, beginning with the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1994, and recently culminating in the Capitol insurrection, armed incursions into state capitols, and threats and kidnapping plots against public officials. There are some violent actors on the left, too, but that’s not a proper or legitimate response to rightwing political violence.

We should deal with political violence through the institutions of society, by prosecuting those who commit it, and meting out sentences proportionate to their offenses. That’s what separates civilization from the law of the jungle.

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0 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adams #

    Rather than being thrilled by this action you should be appalled. Andy Ngo fits the definition of journalist. He even has managed to upset some people maybe yourself. There is no way to determine if anyone is or is not a journalist. Actually anyone can be a journalist, as it does not take much. Most newspaper men who wrote for newspapers did not have a college degree, and only got training in the newsroom education of hard knocks.
    Julian Assange is a journalist, even the Obama administration acknowledged he was and that administration hid actions against Assange because he is just that.
    Sound Cloud is not just a web site. It offers distinct services. Those services are much more like the services any telco office offers. You know the telephone company. Everyone gets to have a phone, and any negative consequences or actions because someone said or did something on a phone toward another has to be adjudicated in a court room. Even if one is horrible on the phone you are not going to lose being able to have a phone in the future.
    And I am sure SoundCloud really is upset for Turkey kicking them out of the country and have fought and bitch about that nations actions, which brings into question their current action as the basis is all about speech. If Turkey was wrong to kick them out of the country then SoundCloud is equally wrong in kicking Andy Ngo off their platform at least without due process and a day in an actual court of law. Could happen as Soundcloud is a European based platform and the Europeans can be supporters of free speech. Our laws and constitution may not be the ruling set of laws the company must abide by.

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    If SoundCloud banned Hemingway’s work from their platform, I wouldn’t be appalled. It’s a private website. They can do as they like. I would be appalled if a government agency told SoundCloud they have to publish Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. If Ngo wants a platform for his views, he can start his own blog. In fact, he has, so what’s the beef?