The GOP proves Republicans never really cared about 'free speech'

Rep. Kevin

Office of the House Republican Leader (2019), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite all the preening about "free speech" on the right, the truth is complaints about "cancel culture" have always been code for "conservatives can say whatever terrible things they want, and liberals can shut up about it." And while play-acting as the victims of censorship because liberals mock or criticize them, Republicans have been busy actually silencing free speech: from demanding that athletes be fired for kneeling during the national anthem to, memorably, Donald Trump ordering the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park. While conservatives whine about oppression because people call them "racist" on Twitter, they are actually using complaints about "wokeness" as an excuse for the literal government censorship of discourse that acknowledges the reality of racism, as Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times chronicled.

That's conservatism, of course: Always projecting their own sins onto their liberal opponents.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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