Free Speech in 2021

So, a bunch of people suddenly discovered they care deeply about free speech immediately after a handful of racists faced even mild consequences for plotting a literal insurrection.

That does not reflect well on those people.

We’ve received quite a few emails (and signups) from them in the past week or so. They appear to believe that “free speech” means they can say whatever they want without repercussions. (It does not.) They expect us to agree with them about that. (We do not.) And they believe they’re entitled to our reassurance and, in some cases, assistance. (They are not.)

We have zero time and even less energy to waste on such nonsense. It is also difficult to express the full magnitude of our disinterest in passing some Internet Randolorian’s “free speech” litmus test. So we close all such inquiries without responding.

But I do want to make some things crystal clear.

First, we’ve been in the free speech business for nearly 20 years. We are experts at this. (We are capable of seeing through even sophisticated arguments like: “I said it. Therefore, it’s speech. Free speech is speech. Therefore what I said is free speech!”) So if getting your content online depends on your web host misunderstanding what free speech is, please save yourself some time; we’re not the right service for you.

Second, yes, hosting illegal content on our system will get you kicked off. You won’t get a refund. But it does not end there. There’s a school of thought that we can’t possibly be a “real” free speech host if we ever cooperate with the authorities. We didn’t go to that school. If you abuse our service to break the law, we will not only cooperate, we will turn you in ourselves.

When we cooperate with law enforcement, we do not do so blindly. We review their activities, both for abuse of power and to make sure proper processes are followed to protect our members’ rights. Such things are vanishingly rare, not (as they are sometimes depicted) the default. So if you’re expecting that we will automatically say, “Shove it, coppah!” anytime the police come calling about your site, we’re not the right service for you.

Finally, if you’re a racist, we’re not on your side. We are not your allies. We are not sympathizers. The “Free Speech” in our company name is not a secret dog whistle to you. We believe that America accomplished what it has despite the hatred and bigotry that has always plagued us, not because of it. We believe diversity is America’s spicy secret sauce, which we love. And we have no interest in living in a sea of mayonnaise. We do not want you to host your garbage here. We will not lift one finger to help you do that. We will kick you off the instant you give us a reason. We’re not the right service for you.

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