It's Apparently Bipartisan To Threaten To Punish Companies Via Antitrust Law For Speech You Don't Like

from the not-how-any-of-it-works dept

A little over a week ago, we wrote about how Senator Elizabeth Warren clearly went over the line in threatening to punish Amazon for its speech through the use of antitrust laws. As we noted (pretty clearly, though many ignored it) at the time, there may be plenty of other reasons to use antitrust laws against Amazon, but no government official should ever even jokingly suggest that he or she would use the power of the government (via antitrust) to punish an entity for speech.

In response, many Warren supporters got incredibly mad at me, insisting that because (1) Amazon is big and (2) Warren has supported this position before, then it's perfectly fine for her to have said what she did. It was not.

On Friday, we got to see the same thing from the other side of the aisle. After Major League Baseball announced that it would move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of Georgia's new voting law, Rep. Jeff Duncan from South Carolina, stated out loud on Twitter that he intended to punish the company by drafting legislation to remove MLB's somewhat infamous antitrust exemption.

As we said with Warren, there may be very good reasons to remove MLB's antitrust exemption. In fact, I'd argue there are compelling reasons to do so. But, announcing plans to do so as punishment for MLB's clear protest over Georgia's voting law is pretty clearly an affront to the 1st Amendment. Rep. Duncan is stating directly that he wants to punish a company for protesting a law that he agrees with. This creates a real chilling effect. It may not chill MLB directly, but it likely would chill many other companies from speaking out for fear of retaliation from Duncan and his colleagues in Congress.

It was wrong when Senator Warren did it, and it's just as wrong with Rep. Duncan does it. It's also wrong for Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to do it, jumping on Duncan's new bandwagon.

Punishing companies using antitrust laws (even if there are good underlying reasons to explore those antitrust issues) for their expression should never be supported, cheered on, or allowed. Just as we called on Warren to take back what she said, we now are saying Duncan, too, should take back his direct threat of punishment for speech. Unfortunately, since everything in politics these days seems to be it's okay to punish "enemies" and to support "friends" this will never happen. But it sure would be nice if we had politicians with principles who knew that it's wrong to punish anyone for speech, even if you disagree with their speech (and agree that the "punishment" is warranted for other reasons).

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, antitrust, chilling effects, elizabeth warren, free speech, georgia, jeff duncan, mike lee, speech, ted cruz, threats, voting rights
Companies: amazon, mlb


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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 1:11pm

    Re: punitive antitrust

    I'll just repeat what I said in the Elizabeth Warren thread about being against politicians using antitrust as a weapon for punishing speech:

    Principles matter, even if you far more prefer the offending entity than the defending one.

    I said this when my politics were far more aligned with the punitive politician (Elizabeth Warren), and it still stands with politicians I don't like (Jeff Duncan, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee).

    Antitrust is a good tool to have, but using it in a petty way is a sure way to lose the argument.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:19pm

      Re: Re: punitive antitrust

      As Peter Thiel showed, if you're the last one standing, it doesn't matter what your arguments were.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:20pm

      Re: Re: punitive antitrust

      Cathy Gellis of Techdirt and the Copia Institute made the same argument about "principles" when she was defending someone posting papers on the doors of minorities telling them to leave the country, with Cathy trying to pass it off as "prosecuting for thoughtcrime", "hurting feelings", and "expressing a disfavored view".

      This is the final evolution of First Amendment Brainrot that people like Cathy and Mike have reached, where "principles" that've never been applied equally and have been used as cover for abuse have to be defended or else they'll... end up not being applied equally and be used as cover for abuse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rocky, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:38pm

        Re: Re: Re: punitive antitrust

        I see you can't just stop yourself from lying. At no point did she defend anyone, if you think I'm wrong, please provide the quote where she did it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 4:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: Re: punitive antitrust

          Cathy believes that said person shouldn't face charges. This is despite the fact that the person posted threats on people's doors to tell them to leave the country by a specific date and time. She's defending the act of going up to people's houses and taping targeted harassing and threatening messages to their doors. Cathy posits that people shouldn't be arrested for that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 6:17pm

      Re: Re: punitive antitrust

      Has antitrust been used in a non-petty public serving way in the last twenty years?

      And why are there antitrust exceptions? Isn't a crime of trust a crime of trust regardless of what large establishment company is doing it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2021 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re: Re: punitive antitrust

        The original "trust" scandals haven't exactly been reached again and even they were often outright criminal in themselves like the Beef Trust or fools going from a large fortune to bankrupting themselves and then going to jail trying to buy up the gold and/or silver markets.

        They are limited to more matters of rumors and slaps on the wrist which while not keeping them from being naughty keep them from those huge fuck ups. Look at various e-book price fixing cases. "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered." is the general rule - don't outright fuck up the flow of something important speculating.

        So weirdly the slap on the wrist enforcement may be doing something and may even be a game theory local maxima - if the enforcers hit hard whomever they catch it would encourage "go big or go home" and they don't have the resources to swat all of them.

        The biggest flaw with this theory is the 2008 financial crisis as that did fuck up an essential market without any swatting.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 7:20am

        Re: Re: Re: punitive antitrust

        And why are there antitrust exceptions?

        'Aside from Alito... almost everyone else who has studied the matter has considered it one of the worst decisions ever handed down. It’s been called “infamous,” “clearly wrong,” “[a] curious and narrow misreading of the antitrust laws and/or [an] utter misunderstanding of the nature of the business of baseball,” “remarkably myopic, “willfully ignorant,” “simple and simplistic,” and “an embarrassment for scholars of Holmes.”. Even judges have said so in their own opinions, with a federal appeals court judge once calling the decision an “impotent zombie void of vitality in light of the Court’s more recent decisions.” Another judge has said that “Federal Baseball was not one of Mr. Justice Holmes’s happiest days.” '

        https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2019/05/29/happy-birthday-to-baseballs-antitrust-exemption/

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 1:36pm

    Oh look, that foot-shooting gun had more bullets

    In response, many Warren supporters got incredibly mad at me, insisting that because (1) Amazon is big and (2) Warren has supported this position before, then it's perfectly fine for her to have said what she did. It was not.

    It would be interesting to know how many of the people who supported Warren's threat are now flipping out over Duncan's, despite the two being the same thing, threatening a company for engaging in legal actions that politicians don't like.

    Similar to what I noted in the Warren article Duncan just shot himself in the foot here, as not only has he shown himself to be spiteful, petty and an enemy of the first amendment but any attempted use of anti-trust law against a company/organization will now be tainted with the question of his motivations, something I'm sure will be brought up by the target(s) of any such attempts as he's made clear that he sees nothing wrong in punishing companies via anti-trust actions for doing something he doesn't like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 1:41pm

    I didn’t like it when Liz Warren did it. I’m sure as shit not gonna like it when a fuckwit like “Fled” Cruz is doing it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David Good (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 1:43pm

    All bluster, no bite

    These politicians are all posturing. They'll make no move against these corporations because that risks their valuable corporate political donations. These companies donate thousands of dollars to keep these politicians in line.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:16pm

      Re: All bluster, no bite

      That's probably a true point, but completely irrelevant to the problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:05pm

      Re: All bluster, no bite

      Setting aside the problem of politicians threatening penalties for legal actions the threats themselves are still extremely worrying, as if they're willing to threaten large companies that indicates that they have the mindset that would allow them to justify actually following through on those threats when made against smaller companies and individuals.

      They might not be willing to follow through against a target that can fight back but one that lacks those resources would be completely out of luck.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2021 @ 6:31pm

        Re: Re: All bluster, no bite

        Or more to the point, it's a demand for additional bribes as a punishment for defying the politicians.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 1:46pm

    These days it's bipartisan to punish everyone for speech you don't like by any means available.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:15pm

    Another issue here is that these positions imply the converse: We didn't care about serious antitrust (or other) issues as long as we were happy with you for some reason. We were more than fine with letting such things slide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      Unfortunately, antitrust law isn't going to improve competition in Broadband. Or at least not on a human-perceptible time scale. See how all those baby bells have grown up!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        freakanatcha (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:38pm

        Re: broadband

        Funny, no senator seems to have an issue with real monopolies like Comcast.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2021 @ 6:34pm

          Re: Re: broadband

          See how all those baby bells have grown up!

          Laws require enforcement to have meaningful impact on society. Real anti-trust penalties haven't been seen since the days of Ma Bell. Of course the babies became Trusts themselves.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2021 @ 6:24pm

        Re: Re:

        That was exactly the problem, antitrust law backpedalled mightily after AT&T, and all the Bells were allowed to merge back together. Kind of like oil companies and gas stations post-Standard Oil. Now AT&T is a juggernaut but without the public benefits of solid equipment manufacturing and a research arm that developed basic tech that underlies much of the modern world.

        As if the goal is to make everything shit.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:25pm

    In response, many Warren supporters got incredibly mad at me, insisting that because (1) Amazon is big and (2) Warren has supported this position before, then it's perfectly fine for her to have said what she did. It was not.

    Mike, when I pointed out that Warren has supported this position before, it was as a counter to the claim that it's retaliation for Amazon trolling her on Twitter.

    Warren's position on breaking up Amazon following Amazon's tweet is identical to her position on breaking up Amazon prior to Amazon's tweet. If she were threatening to break up Amazon as a result of Amazon's tweet, then that logically implies that Amazon's tweet made any difference whatsoever in her views on breaking up the company. It did not.

    That's the difference between Warren's tweet and the threats you've highlighted by Jeff Duncan and the Georgia legislature. Warren's position on Amazon is not actually a response to Amazon's speech, it's a position she held well before the speech at issue. The same is not true for Duncan or the Georgia legislature.

    I think Warren made a dumb tweet. I think she was responding to a troll shit-talking her with a failed attempt at shit-talk of her own. I think that's foolish and beneath the dignity of an elected official, and I think that, at the very least, she should have left that jab about bothering senators out of it.

    But I think your (now three posts deep) response is disproportionate to a dumb half-sentence at the end of a tweet, even a tweet by a US senator.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      Amazon was fishing for responses like Warren's so that they could get people like Mike to keep hammering on this in a disproportionate manner.

      It’s similar to when right wingers poke and annoy, “just asking questions” of a disingenuous nature to left wing individuals on social media, the left wingers tell them to fuck off for being dishonest and then the right wingers and their friends run with it, saying “so much for the ‘tolerant left’!” and other garbage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2021 @ 6:26pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, this is true. Their normal Twitter army even reported it up the food chain, suspecting the account was compromised.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:53pm

      One and counting I see

      And again for emphasis:

      'And fight to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets.'

      As I noted in the Warren article if she's always held the position on display in her tweet then her position has always been terrible, because US Senators making a threat to shut a company up so they can no longer 'heckle senators with snotty tweets' is a position that has no place in politics no matter what party someone belongs to.

      If she didn't want people to think that her position was at least based in part upon her desire to shut someone up because of what they said then she shouldn't have expressed a desire to do just that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:15pm

        Re: One and counting I see

        The only people who think that her position is "at least based in part upon her desire to shut someone up because of what they said" are people like you who fell for Amazon's trolling bullshit that attempts to use the half-sentence that Warren wrote as proof that her years of advocacy on this issue was a lie.

        Continually pinning Warren for one thing she said on social media out of anger with a megacorps that has more cash and power than God, and taking the years of her hard work on the issue out of the equation is utter garbage.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:27pm

          Re: Re: One and counting I see

          The only people who think that her position is "at least based in part upon her desire to shut someone up because of what they said" are people like you who fell for Amazon's trolling bullshit that attempts to use the half-sentence that Warren wrote as proof that her years of advocacy on this issue was a lie.

          Or people who read what she wrote, where she explicitly expressed a desire to do just that...

          If they were merely trolling for a response then she was stupid enough to give them a whopper of one, and if you're willing to toss any concern about a US Senator making a threat to shut someone up aside because the target is rich then you've shown just as much contempt for the first amendment as she did.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: One and counting I see

            If you really want to keep insinuating that that her half a sentence in a tweet was actually actionable "explicitly expressed desire" and believe that this shows "contempt for the First Amendment", feel free. But at this point you're just a dupe doing Amazon's work for them when you recognize that a they trolled out a response that they wanted and side with the troll rather than the person who told them to fuck off. Tone-policing and continually expecting decorum is part of the "You Go High, We Go Low" strategy. Amazon can say and do whatever the fuck it wants but a politician has to be perfect and maintain decorum at all times and any missteps the politician makes will be zeroed in on and amplified as atrocities.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 4:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: One and counting I see

              If respecting the first amendment and not being okay when a politician attacks it makes one a 'dupe for Amazon' then I'll wear the label with pride, as that's much better than being someone willing to throw it under the bus the second they don't like the speaker.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 5:34pm

              People criticize Amazon plenty. Its responses to tweets about employees peeing it bottles proves as much. But people didn’t elect Amazon executives/employees/Amazon-employed executive asskissers to public office.

              A public servant is elected to serve all peoples and uphold the Constitution. When one such lawmaker says something that sounds like an attempt to route around the protections of the First Amendment, all citizens — regardless of political affiliation — have a duty to call that lawmaker on their bullshit.

              As I’ve said before, I like Elizabeth Warren. I like both the policies she tends to endorse and her expressed political ideologies in general. But none of that matters if she’s threatening, even off-handedly, to punish speech via government action. I consider that behavior unacceptable no matter how I feel about a given lawmaker. That one I like is doing it makes even more unacceptable.

              Amazon deserves a metaphorical ass-kicking. But how (and for what reason) Liz Warren threatened to do it isn’t the way.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 11:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: One and counting I see

              "Amazon can say and do whatever the fuck it wants but a politician has to be perfect"

              Amazon can say whatever it wants with its Twitter account, yes (within the terms of service, anyway). In response, a leading government official is duty bound to allow them to have their free speech rights. None of this means that Amazon can or should get away with other things it does.

              Warren is being criticised for overstepping her bounds in that one instance. Amazon are being criticised for overstepping its bounds in the instances where they were in the wrong.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:30pm

          Re: Re: One and counting I see

          Continually pinning Warren for one thing she said on social media out of anger with a megacorps that has more cash and power than God, and taking the years of her hard work on the issue out of the equation is utter garbage.

          Say stupid things, win stupid prizes. If you are a politician, loosing your temper publicly have always meant winning stupid prizes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 11:16pm

      Re:

      "Mike, when I pointed out that Warren has supported this position before, it was as a counter to the claim that it's retaliation for Amazon trolling her on Twitter."

      I'm not sure that anyone criticising her didn't understand that it wasn't a new position for her. BUT, it's not in question that when she made the threat in that particular instance, it was both in direct response to Amazon criticising her and it was utterly moronic (it doesn't matter how much Amazon is broken up, if they were left with no employees apart from the guy running the Twitter account they could say the same stuff).

      Warren may have a point, but she undermines it by clearly forming it as a threat because someone exercised their free speech rights, even if she's never done that before or since.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2021 @ 6:27pm

      Re:

      I see your point, and rather imagine others do as well, but that dumb half-sentence is a doozy and deserving of criticism.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:37pm

    Amazon was deliberately acting like a dick and fishing for replies from politicians of the tone that Warren espoused in that tweet so they could then point and go “LOOK, LOOK, THERE’S THE VIOLENCE INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM!!!” and getting people wrapped up in a debate about the first amendment & semantics, doing their damnedest to distract from the fact that Amazon is a union-busting piece of shit that treats its workers terribly.

    Luckily, it didn't pan out, as Amazon is still mainly in the news for admitting, finally, that their drivers have to relieve themselves in bottles because the quotas Amazon forces on them are abusive and insane. And also today it comes out that Amazon illegally fired two of its employees for speaking out against the company.

    But damn, Mike; you, Devin's Cow, Patterico, Kathryn Tewson, and more got duped hard into wasting y'all's time and energy trying to defend a megacorps with more money than God against a lone Senator.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      Amazon was deliberately acting like a dick and fishing for replies from politicians of the tone that Warren espoused in that tweet so they could then point and go “LOOK, LOOK, THERE’S THE VIOLENCE INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM!!!” and getting people wrapped up in a debate about the first amendment & semantics, doing their damnedest to distract from the fact that Amazon is a union-busting piece of shit that treats its workers terribly.

      Ah, your famous "doublethink", conflating things. Smart people can actually understand that Amazon being a shitty employer has nothing to do with politicians ignoring the 1A, but you just mash things together to make stupid illogical arguments.

      But damn, Mike; you, Devin's Cow, Patterico, Kathryn Tewson, and more got duped hard into wasting y'all's time and energy trying to defend a megacorps with more money than God against a lone Senator.

      Can you explain how pointing out politicians who want to walk all over the 1A in an effort to "punish" someone is "defending megacorps"? Or is this your usual dishonest self that twists, misconstrue and conflate whatever is said to mean something completely different so you can rail at TD?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:34pm

        Re: Re:

        But apparently those smart people can't also understand that maybe what Warren said was spur-of-the-moment anger of the like that one gets when they want to tell a persistent troll to fuck off, but isn't of Earth-shattering First Amendment consequence, and that the bigger issue is that an obscenely rich corps like Amazon can get away with acting like a churlish troll fishing for responses like Warren's, all while trying to lie about their drivers being forced to piss in bottles.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          But apparently those smart people can't also understand that maybe what Warren said was spur-of-the-moment anger

          And Trump was angry at losing an election, and his angry words created an insurrection. Politicians always have to watch their words, as what they say has much more impact than a random,guy on he Internet.

          all while trying to lie about their drivers being forced to piss in bottles.

          Also, given the lack of publicly accessible rest rooms, what can Amazon do about that?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:54pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            And Trump was angry at losing an election, and his angry words created an insurrection. Politicians always have to watch their words, as what they say has much more impact than a random,guy on he Internet.

            Trump's angry words over literal years caused an insurrection. Warren's half a sentence at the end of a tweet =/= years of stochastic terrorism ending with a final incitement on Jan. 6th.

            Also, given the lack of publicly accessible rest rooms, what can Amazon do about that?

            Loosen up their quotas to actual reasonable levels so that their drivers don't get reprimanded or fired for meeting inhumane expectations of packages delivered per amount of time, which gives the drivers time to stop by a gas station or somewhere else, buy themselves a snack or lunch and use the restroom, and set back out on the road with renewed focus and energy. This problem is entirely of Amazon's making and Amazon can fix it by treating their workers like human beings.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 4:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Amazon delivery drivers spend a lot of time on back roads and in residential areas. Both places where there are a lack of gas stations or other rest facilities. It is all too easy for am Amazon driver to be a dozen or more miles away from facilities for hours at a time.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2021 @ 12:18am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Based on my experience with public restrooms, I think I'd prefer peeing in a bottle most of the time.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 5 Apr 2021 @ 4:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          and that the bigger issue is that an obscenely rich corps like Amazon can get away with acting like a churlish troll fishing for responses like Warren's, all while trying to lie about their drivers being forced to piss in bottles.

          Considering your posts, you don't need to have money to act like a churlish troll and I doubt you would be very happy if a politician threatened you for trolling them, even if they did it in anger.

          And that is exactly the point you don't get, politicians threatening someone shouldn't be okay depending on who that someone is. Saying otherwise means that you think the law should be applied unequally at the whims of politicians or any other frivolous criteria, and if you don't find that scary I don't know what will.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2021 @ 4:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            politicians threatening someone shouldn't be okay depending on who that someone is.

            If the "someone" is an abusive megacorps, then I don't really care. It's called Power Dynamics. Look it up in between your sessions of sucking off Masnick and Bezos, Bukakke Rocky.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Rocky, 5 Apr 2021 @ 4:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ah, the childish insults from a churlish troll. I do so enjoy those salty tears of frustration they exude.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 5:37pm

              If the "someone" is an abusive megacorps, then I don't really care.

              At first, they came for the free speech rights of the megacorps, and I did nothing because I was not a megacorp…

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 11:37pm

                Re:

                This whole discussion is fascinating. Amazon are abusing its employees, and no legal action is being taken against that action, which suggests that what they're doing is totally legal. But, instead of fixing whatever's so horribly broken in the law that allows them (and presumably others) to get away with such things, the answer being pushed for is some non-specific individual action to be taken against Amazon specifically, leaving the road open for many others to abuse employees in the same way.

                I don't personally care if it's Amazon abusing people like this or Fred's Haulage running 3 trucks out of the arse end of Nebraska, it shouldn't be legally possible. But apparently some people are OK with Fred doing it because he's not as big as Amazon.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 11:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "If the "someone" is an abusive megacorps, then I don't really care"

              So, you're fine with the law and rights being abused as long as it's someone you don't like, while others are calling for the equal application of law and equal access to rights. Hmmm...

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2021 @ 6:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              then I don't really care

              Neither do we about you idiotic comments and childish insults. Now what?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 7:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If the "someone" is an abusive megacorps, then I don't really care.

              William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

              Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

              William Roper: “Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!”

              Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!”

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 11:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "But apparently those smart people can't also understand that maybe what Warren said was spur-of-the-moment anger"

          We understand that. We also understand that a politician in power who threatens to destroy private property in retaliation for the exercise of free speech rights is not a good thing, even if she later claims she didn't mean it.

          "an obscenely rich corps like Amazon can get away with acting like a churlish troll"

          Everyone can and should get away with that without retaliation from government figures. There are other repercussions available from non-government entities, and there are other reason for Warren to legitimately take action against Amazon.

          "all while trying to lie about their drivers being forced to piss in bottles"

          If they are lying about that in court, punish them. Otherwise, provide proof and take legal action (or change the law so that nobody can legally do that), and it's up to their customer to punish them outside of the legal system.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 2:55pm

    Republicans: Cancel culture is bad.

    Also Republicans: Non-Trumpians are unamerican.

    Also Republicans: Cancel baseball for being unamerican.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:07pm

      Re:

      Trump wants to out cancel the cancel culture by cancelling everything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 3:09pm

      Re:

      Every accusation a confession, every self-appointed label a rejection of, and every condemnation of speech or action carrying with it an implied '... when we're not the ones saying/doing it'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 5 Apr 2021 @ 11:20pm

    Forest view, anyone?

    Usually lost in "tree view" discussions of issues of bipartisan evil-do, or just plain failure, is the admission that both "parts" have being doing the same shit for many decades (swapping sides occasionally, but the same shit nonetheless), and the admission that what we really need to do is kick both parts of our multi-generational bipartisan failure of a government to the curb and go with another option.

    The bipartisan Punch & Judy / professional wrestling shit-show of corruption has been going on for far too long, and most of the issues covered by Techdirt provide rather clear evidence of that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Federico (profile), 6 Apr 2021 @ 2:48am

    McConnell and "consequences"

    'Stay out of politics,' Republican leader McConnell tells U.S. CEOs, warns of 'consequences'
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell lashed out at corporate America on Monday, warning CEOs to stay out of the debate over a new voting law in Georgia that has been criticized as restricting votes among minorities and the poor.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-georgia-mcconnell/stay-out-of-politics-republican-lead er-mcconnell-tells-u-s-ceos-warns-of-consequences-idUSKBN2BS1R8

    I wonder what "consequences". Maybe McConnell will support Yellen's corporate taxation plans? :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Apr 2021 @ 4:53am

      Re: McConnell and "consequences"

      It's funny how times change, isn't it? It's not so long ago that McConnell was demanding that the horrific Citizens United decision be pushed through to enable corporations to have free speech rights. Now, he's demanding they have none. I wonder what changed...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rocky, 6 Apr 2021 @ 6:48am

        Re: Re: McConnell and "consequences"

        I wonder what changed...

        Apparently not money....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Apr 2021 @ 10:51am

        Re: Re: McConnell and "consequences"

        It's funny how times change, isn't it? It's not so long ago that McConnell was demanding that the horrific Citizens United decision be pushed through to enable corporations to have free speech rights.

        This is nitpicking and slightly off-topic, but it's a pet peeve. Citizens United did not enable companies to have free speech rights. That happened long before (and is actually a good thing, because it protects companies like... Techdirt). Citizens United was about a narrow change to federal campaign finance laws where they intersect with the 1st amendment, and is both a lot more complex, and a lot more narrowly tailored than people think.

        https://youtu.be/Rhpy1uzOvrY

        I have lots of issues with campaign finance these days, but I think the demonization of Citizens United is often... wrong.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 6 Apr 2021 @ 12:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: McConnell and "consequences"

          Well, it's an oversimplification and I'll admit that despite taking an interest in US politics I'm probably not fully aware of all the finer details, so I'll leave that in your court.

          But, I don't think I'm wrong in stating that McConnell and his ilk were very happy for corporations to get involved in politics, and indeed actively encouraged them, until the moment they weren't on their side. If Trump's imagined victory had come to pass and these same companies were boycotting a state that had flipped R in the election, they wouldn't be saying anything like what they're saying now.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 6 Apr 2021 @ 2:53pm

            I have no doubt whatsoever that if a company were to boycott a state law beneficial to democrats then McConnell and the people freaking out over the current corporate responses would be silent if not cheering those companies on for exercising their 'free speech', it is only the fact that the companies are objecting to a republican voter suppression bill that's got them upset.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 11:45pm

              Re:

              It's the typical right-wing mantra - "it's OK when we do it!".

              They'll whine all day about private companies making business decisions they don't like and whine about "cancel culture", but then immediately shift to boycotts the moment they do something they don't approve of, and they'll do so without understanding the hypocrisy.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 2:42am

                Re: Re:

                It's the typical "bipartisan" mantra - "it's OK when we do it!".

                FTFY

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 6:36am

                  Re: Re: Re:

                  Nah, the BSAB mantra only work when both sides are demonstrably as bad as each other. I'm yet to find a centre-right position as openly hypocritical as the right wing, let alone anyone on the "left" with any actual influence.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 7:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: McConnell and "consequences"

            But, I don't think I'm wrong in stating that McConnell and his ilk were very happy for corporations to get involved in politics, and indeed actively encouraged them, until the moment they weren't on their side.

            McConnell statement 1: Corporations should stay out of politics.

            McConnell statement 2: I'm not talking about campaign contributions!

            Not making it up, he actually said both of those things out loud.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 11:43pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: McConnell and "consequences"

              He's now backtracked on his statements. I'll bet some major donors reminded him that they'd like to continue affecting politics outside of contributions.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2021 @ 8:57am

      Re: McConnell and "consequences"

      You got the Reuters link, here is the Politico one:
      https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/05/mcconnell-corporate-america-woke-parallel-government-47904 2

      What happened to government keeping their noses out? There appears to be an increasing power-madness in Congress. It was always there but now they don't even attempt to hide their 'dictator-in-waiting' asperations

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    restless94110 (profile), 6 Apr 2021 @ 1:00pm

    Confused

    You are confused.

    The screaming totalitarian harpy who lied about her "heritage" and can't even drink a beer without looking like a phony has now shown her true colors (known to almost all who have been in her presence in the last 4 decades) and wants the Amazon monopoly to remove (i.e., burn, as the Nazis used to do) books.

    You seem to think that equates with the attempts by totalitarian corporations to "punish" voters for supporting voter integrity (popular by huge margins even by Democrat voters).

    This is somehow equivalent for you? In what universe?

    I know they have legalized some drugs in some parts of the United States, but I am asking you, nee begging you: put down the pipe before you write your next article pretending there is anything remotely similar between a totalitarian schoolmarm and a people's movement fighting giant monopolies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 6 Apr 2021 @ 3:16pm

      Re: Confused

      wants the Amazon monopoly to remove (i.e., burn, as the Nazis used to do) books.

      Several things:

      1. I’m not going to take seriously an argumentum ad Nazium from the same person who unironically used the term “lügenpresse”.
      2. Unless Hillary Clinton was in government at the time (actually, even if Hillary Clinton was in government at the time), using one’s position of power to ask a large company like Amazon to remove content—while vile—is not remotely in the same league as burning a book. If Amazon removes a book from sale, it is still accessible through alternative channels. If a book is burned, it’s gone forever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tom T, 7 Apr 2021 @ 9:00am

    Was not one of the original primary purpose of anti-trust to break the political power of the monopolies?

    If companies are using their monopoly market power it control politics is that not one of the very purposes of anti-trust to stop?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 9:33am

      Re:

      Was not one of the original primary purpose of anti-trust to break the political power of the monopolies?

      I think they were concerned with market power, not political power. But I would be interested in any information to the contrary.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Antitrust_Act_of_1890#Background

      If companies are using their monopoly market power it control politics is that not one of the very purposes of anti-trust to stop?

      Current jurisprudence focuses almost exclusively on harms to consumers. I haven't heard of any cases about excessive political power. Not that it isn't a problem, just that antitrust hasn't been a tool used to address it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Tom T, 7 Apr 2021 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re:

        I'm fully aware of the current jurisprudence, it begs the question how we allow a system where if a particular chief justice likes a book they can make the thesis book law with no action from the elected government needed at all.

        I like to call the "harm to the consumer" standard the Sliders Standard or Sliders Paradox, from the science fiction classic Sliders. Since we exist in only one universe and we cannot slide into an alternate universe it is not possible to prove to a legal standard that the consumer has been harmed as there is no null case to compare to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 2:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          how we allow a system where if a particular chief justice likes a book they can make the thesis book law with no action from the elected government needed at all.

          Likes a book? What are you talking about?

          Since we exist in only one universe and we cannot slide into an alternate universe it is not possible to prove to a legal standard that the consumer has been harmed as there is no null case to compare to.

          There have been a non zero number of successful antitrust cases on the basis of consumer harm, which proves that it is in fact possible.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Tom T, 7 Apr 2021 @ 4:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Its also possible for pigs to fly out of my ass. There hasn't been a single large breakup since Rehnquist wrote the 'harm to the consumer' and 'consumer welfare' standard into law on his own.

            The book is The Antitrust Paradox 1978 by Robert Bork.

            It ironically creates a paradox of its own. As to a legal standard. Unless you catch the monopoly with its hand in the cookie jar intentionally harming the product, which is what just happened with leaked FB e-mails where they talked about removing privacy features from FB after Google+ was dealt with, you cant prove it to a legal standard.

            There is no alternate universe you can slide into and show what the market would be like if the monopoly/oligopoly didn't exist. That's why its such a ridiculous legal standard. Sure it sounds good on its face but when you think about it the glairing question is "How do you prove this?"

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Tom T, 7 Apr 2021 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re:

        "Moreover, one of the most sinister manifestations of great corporate wealth during recent years has been its tendency to interfere and dominate in politics." ~ Theodor Roosevelt, American Problems, 1910

        This has been a problem for a long time and its more than just great corporate wealth. When large monopolies and oligopolies control entire markets there don't have the same kind of market pressure forcing them to spend their capital on newer, better, cheaper products for consumers. Instead they are able to move their capital into politics as they see no threat to their market share, politics can even be the vehicle to help the preserve and even expand their market share.

        When Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of nations he wasn't writing about socialism he was writing about the monopolies of the 18th century how they broke markets and influenced politics.

        "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Tom T, 7 Apr 2021 @ 12:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Most people who claim to be "free market capitalists" clearly never read Adam Smith.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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