During the 1984 Super Bowl, a young company that had been founded less than a decade earlier in a garage in Los Altos, California, spent $ 1.5 million to its first significant commercial for a new personal computer, the Macintosh. The company was Apple, and the advertisement was a defining moment that distinguished Apple as a company willing to go against the grain and rescue humanity from conformity.
The ad had been inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 and featured a woman escaping police pursuit, running through a movie theater. She runs to the front of the theater and throws a hammer through a screen portraying a man’s face meant to represent Big Brother. As the camera pans to the audience, fully in shock from the movie screen’s explosion, the commercial concludes with black text that reads: «On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.»
Nearly 40 years later, it is hard to recognize the company that paid to air this ad and established itself as a company that thinks differently. Unfortunately, that company no longer subscribes to a belief in free individual thought. It has demonstrated as much in recent weeks, taking a 180-degree turn.
Apple now finds itself, along with other major Big Tech companies such as Google and Twitter, serving as Big Brother through the censorship and surveillance of conservative voices they and their political allies in Congress don’t agree with.
Following the tragic and despicable events that occurred at the United States Capitol on January 6, Facebook and Twitter announced that former President Donald Trump would be permanently banned from their platforms. Shortly after this announcement, Google and Apple announced that they would no longer allow Parler, an alternative social media platform, to be accessed through their app stores.
Given their combined control of 99.8% of the U.S. mobile operating-system market, these companies’ drastic measures are all but certain to put Parler out of business and remove a public square where conservatives have recently gone to express themselves freely.
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, it is not just the Big Tech oligarchs in Silicon Valley who have begun their full assault on conservative thought in the days following the Capitol riot. Like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s novel, educational institutions and news outlets have pitched in to stamp out segments of society that dare to disagree with their ideas.
Harvard University recently removed my former House colleague, Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, from its Senior Advisory Committee. Throwing a young, female congressional leader off of its board may seem like an odd move for Harvard, given its commitment to diversity. But Stefanik is a dissident, and her effort to raise the issue of election integrity now serves as a vulnerability and an opportunity to kick her out and shut her up. Harvard students have also called for revoking the degrees of individuals who served in the Trump administration and from Republican members of Congress. That includes Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, who did not even vote to object to either Arizona’s or Pennsylvania’s Electoral College results.
Democratic officials in the House and the Senate are also wasting no time to capitalize on the Capitol riots as a way to narrow the range of thought. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently made shocking comments about her intention to form an investigatory committee to “rein in our media” and deal with “media literacy.” Sounds like the implementation of Newspeak to me.
These types of comments and actions should frighten all freedom-loving Americans and serve as a motivation to fight now more than ever against impediments against our First Amendment rights, not allow Big Tech and its friends in and out of government to launch an assault on our rights in the name of protecting our country against an assault similar to the one that occurred at the Capitol earlier this month. We must prosecute those who carried out the Capitol breach and root out extremism in all corners of our nation, but we must make sure we still have the “freedom to say that two plus two make four.”
In order to do so, this new Congress must take a long, hard look at amending or removing the legal immunity afforded to Big Tech companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Discrimination against conservative thought should be unacceptable and not rewarded through continued preferential treatment from a government whose first priority should be to protect its citizens’ freedom of speech. If we do not act, I fear that we are destined to live in a world similar to the one depicted in Orwell’s novel. We’re a few months out from April, but let’s make sure when we get there, we don’t allow our clocks to strike 13.
ORIGEN AUTORAL: Roger Marshall