PayPal changes its terms of service

by on August 17, 2017 at 12:56 am in Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink

PayPal, the popular online payment platform, announced late Tuesday night that it would bar users from accepting donations to promote hate, violence and intolerance after revelations that the company played a key role in raising money for a white supremacist rally that turned deadly.

The company, in a lengthy blog post, outlined its long-standing policy of not allowing its services to be used to accept payments or donations to organizations that advocate racist views. PayPal singled out the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups — all three of whom were involved in last weekend’s Charlottesville rally.

“Intolerance can take on a range of on-line and off-line forms, across a wide array of content and language,” the company wrote. “It is with this backdrop that PayPal strives to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and open dialogue — and the limiting and closing of sites that accept payments or raise funds to promote hate, violence and intolerance.”

Here is the full Wonkblog article by Tracy Jan.

So far I see the backlash to recent events as very much harming the noxious elements behind the Charlottesville protests.  I wonder how many businesses — including those who do not supply essential services to such groups (or maybe not any services at all) — will move to make similar announcements.  I feel the country has reached a tipping point where businesses will not find neutrality across extremist or fringe or possibly violent groups a profitable or acceptable attitude in the public eye.  I applaud this move from PayPal, as I don’t think we are close to a “slippery slope” point where it becomes problematic to decide who should be banned from PayPal services and who not.  Nonetheless I do wonder what it will look like when American business gets to the more difficult cases of judgment.  Sooner or later, the ideological computational burden placed on businesses will rise considerably, as Twitter and Facebook and YouTube discovered not long ago, and are still struggling to deal with.  It will be a kind of mandate placed on business, but put there by public opinion and social media, rather than government.  I’ve yet to see a good, data-based research paper on that topic, but it seems that boycotts and refusal to deal are headed back into the public limelight.

1 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 1:07 am

I think the slippery slope has already been slipped. The very fact that they are making decisions not on content but on ideology should be frightening. Luckily, I think it is far easier to employ content neutral policies than to hire a bunch of people to identify and toss the outgroup. On the other hand, to use AI to kick out the out group is bound to catch a lot of false positives in the net.

2 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:02 am

When the political leadership is such a shitshow, corporate America has to set the tone, establish the norms, basically run shit. This would be similar if Hillary were president.

It’s not ideology here, it’s competence. There is no one worth a damn in charge of anything (Dems or Reps), people trust and wish to emulate corporate/capitalist leaders more. This is what America has become, as someone would say around here.

3 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 2:17 am

This sounds good but I’m skeptical because it seems to be cynical reaction. It’s like congress passing a law based on one high profile outrage.

4 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:24 am

Why would the cynical reaction NOT be the most likely in this day and age?

5 Chip August 17, 2017 at 5:10 am

The Klan has been marching for decades and no one gives a damn. The idiots in Charlottesville numbered a couple hundred at most and that was all they could muster from across a country of 330 million.

They’re only in the news because they’ve rubbed up against a real and serious mass movement that’s been shutting down speeches, beating people in the streets, murdering policemen, shooting politicians and turning colleges into reeducation camps.

And this is just the thuggish tip of the spear. The corruption of supposedly agnostic institutions like the IRS, DOJ and NSA for political ends effectively mean the end of rule of law.

The radical Left is starting to shake the foundations of civil society, so of course the media and so-called elites have donned their armor, mounted their horses and charged the imaginary nazis.

Charlottesville is a ginned up distraction that would have made the NKVD proud. The Left and the media are stirring a whirlwind of fear and paranoia because they no longer recognize the democratic process.

And it’s crazy to think that a narcisstic real estate hustler with Tourette’s is the only prominent leader pushing back.

6 Judah Benjamin Hur August 17, 2017 at 6:14 am

Trump made a political calculation that he can’t afford to alienate the Nazis. It was a mistake, but it was based on his accurate understanding that they are a significant minority (3-5%) and a crucial part of his base.

The Left is made up of fascists, perverts, Communists, and morons. And the Right is much worse.

7 Bob from Ohio August 17, 2017 at 11:35 am

“significant minority (3-5%) and a crucial part of his base”

So you think 2-3 million of the 63 million who voted for Trump are Nazis.

How come they can only muster a few hundred for a march?

You are like the people who think 20% of the population are gay.

8 Judah Benjamin Hur August 17, 2017 at 2:27 pm

I wouldn’t expect a lot of people for one march in Charlottesville. 3-5% is probably about right. Could be more. At this point, I’m not willing to ignore the alt.Nazi threat. I’ve read way too many comment sections to realize it’s not that fringe. Moreover, polling data suggests I’m being conservative. For example: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/25/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-supporters-for-intolerance.html

9 Hazel Meade August 17, 2017 at 11:49 am

The Left is made up of fascists, perverts, Communists, and morons. And the Right is much worse.

You and I should do lunch.

10 Rich Berger August 17, 2017 at 7:06 am

BLM is not going to like the new policy.

11 Careless August 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

Why?

12 TMC August 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

Rich expects the no hate policy to be evenly applied.

13 Bob from Ohio August 17, 2017 at 11:36 am

Rich is going to be disappointed in that.

14 BC August 17, 2017 at 12:14 pm

@Chip No, Charlottesville is attracting outsize attention because of Trump’s unwillingness to unequivocally denounce the neo-Nazis without muddying the waters with false equivalences. The biggest wave of corporate responses (Paypal, CEOs leaving the advisory councils) happened after Trump’s disastrous Tuesday press conference (which was supposed to be about infrastructure). Some happened after his Saturday statement about “many sides”. That, in turn, is forcing companies (and individuals) to make very public, explicit condemnations of hate groups so that they will not be viewed as “pulling a Trump” or otherwise sympathetic to the alt-Right. If Trump had just issued the standard anti-bigotry condemnations that most other Republican leaders have, then the issue would have faded. When everyone is unambiguously against neo-Nazis, then no one feels the need to make special efforts to demonstrate that they too are against neo-Nazis.

Trump has also made it harder to defend free speech and oppose McCarthyism (blacklisting of hot dog vendors that attended the rally, for example) because no one wants to sound like Trump or otherwise look like they are sympathetic to the alt-Right.

15 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Good point.

16 Rich Berger August 17, 2017 at 4:24 pm

No, Charlottesville is being lied about because the Russian collusion theme has collapsed and now Trump Is Hitler is the slander du jour. Do not look at the fasco-commies (aka Antifa – how cute) no matter how many times they have reenacted their intimidation. They wear masks so as not to be identified and charged. Trump dared to tell the truth and the usual suspects are outraged. There is a lot of hypocrisy around but Tim Kaine stands out for his outrage about Charlottesville. Meanwhile, his son was in the news for his counter-protests -http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/335395-tim-kaines-son-charged-with-gross-misdemeanor-after-trump-rally-incident

17 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Oh man are you triggered right now.

18 Anonymous August 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Losing the debate?

Accuse your opponent of being “triggered.”

Which ends the argument.

Allowing you to claim victory.

19 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Yep, I win.

20 BC August 17, 2017 at 5:27 am

I think Tyler makes a mistake in conflating PayPal’s situation with facebook, twitter, etc. Even PayPal makes this mistake in referencing “freedom of expression”. PayPal is a payments system, not a social media platform for speech. PayPal serves a purely economic function (to the extent that we distinguish between economic freedoms and “fundamental” freedoms). They are choosing to not economically partner with hate groups, i.e., to not help those hate groups collect payments. Social media platforms, in contrast, allow users to communicate with each other. Censoring content is equivalent to the phone company blocking calls based on what people say during phone calls. So, I don’t put PayPal’s actions in the category of censorship.

Tyler’s broader point may be about doing business more generally, rather than just about freedom of expression. Interestingly, when it comes to wedding cakes and photographers, we seem to have been going the opposite direction, many people declaring that it should be illegal for those business owners to follow their own consciences or, at the very least, denying that participating in economic activity is an act of expression or conscience.

In terms of a “slippery slope”, I think we can use the McCarthy Era as one guide. How would we feel if the fringe group in question were Communists rather than Nazis? That allows us the benefit of historical hindsight rather than purely speculating about the future.

21 belisarius August 17, 2017 at 10:34 am

Correct, Christian. For reasons that few people, if any, are discussing. 1) If businesses (or consumers) base their economic decisions upon their own ideology, then we revert to the warring factions of past and open up a lot of new methods of discrimination. For example, if an advertiser will not allow a neo-Nazi group to advertise on their billboard, could not another advertiser decide to not allow Muslims, or businesses to cater to the extra tall or extra short, or people who are on food stamps. It will be claimed that some of these are disallowed by law, but that is what the slippery slope is about; the constant erosion of established norms by seemingly extreme cases, whether those norms are legislated or societal. Remember the unrest caused by settlers moving onto the “free and open” land of the ranchers in the 19th Century, the decay of society when women first started wearing pants or the proclaimed collapse of the country from rock and roll. We cannot base laws or allow the country to be run based upon each person’s personal ideology.

22 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 10:57 am

Base laws, no. But this is exactly how norms evolve. There are things we do and don’t do today different from how we did them 100, 50, even 25 years ago based on new norms not new laws.

23 belisarius August 17, 2017 at 11:27 am

Really? I have car insurance because it’s a law, we tie our children down in cars because it’s the law, we use seat belts and pay income taxes and a fine for being alive because it’s the law. A 10 year old can’t buy cigarettes for her mother anymore because it’s a law. The cashier at a convenience store is now a law enforcement agent because it’s the law. We cannot take the medication we wish, for our afflictions because it’s the law. We cannot buy milk straight from the cow because it’s the law. I cannot have my best friend cut my hair and pay her for it because that would be illegal. Banks treat their customers like criminals because it’s the law. Law enforcement agents can take a person’s money without arresting them because it’s the law. I could go on, but there isn’t enough room to list all of the laws that perniciously affect our lives today; laws that weren’t in existence just 50 years ago. You are right, and I agree, social norms are very powerful and exert nearly as much, if not more influence than legislation..The difference is that violating social norms gets one ostracized, or possibly brutalized; while violating legal norms can get one ostracized, brutalized, indebted, imprisoned and dead.

24 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I just meant this issue we are discussing is about norms not laws. It’s about companies deciding what’s good for business, not the government making it illegal to do business with hate groups.

25 Hazel Meade August 17, 2017 at 11:45 am

The very fact that they are making decisions not on content but on ideology skin-color should be frightening.

I mean, what’s worse, excluding someone because they have the wrong skin color or excluding them because they advocate the oppression of people based on skin color?

26 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 12:06 pm

“they advocate the oppression of people based on skin color?”

What, exactly, do you think the positions held by the antifa left on holding current white people accountable and responsible for the acts of past white people look like in practice? A white tax, a requirement that whites speak second to POC in public, a requirement that whites preface statements with acknowledgements of guilt, an unequal application of law and enforcment by race such as higher penalties for white on black crime than the reverse? That looks an awful lot like oppression, and that isn’t even breaching the antifa left’s desire to establish a communist dictatorship.

27 OldCurmudgeon August 17, 2017 at 12:03 pm

>I think the slippery slope has already been slipped

Which brings up the tech company’s next problem; they are now implicitly endorsing any content that they allow to remain. That is, the tech companies can no longer rely on the twin shields of “free speech principles” and “common carrier obligations” when the next political storm rolls in.

28 firingline August 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Good point, it’s going to fun watching these companies dance around the inevitable hypocrisy stemming from this decision.

29 Tom T. August 17, 2017 at 1:08 am

“First they came for the Communists…”

30 UncleMartyPants August 17, 2017 at 2:15 am

Over the years, this very blog has exposed me to many new ideas. I am very grateful for that. But the left deems many of these ideas hate speech.

Not even a month ago he drove traffic to this Hitler sympathizing Dunkirk review: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/07/saturday-assorted-links-120.html

Does this site promote hate speech?

Maybe a running list of that “unacceptable” content from this blog would help remind Tyler to how plausible it is for him to be lumped in with these Alt-right Nazis.

31 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 2:35 am

Who knows if this site promotes hate speech? However, the owners of this web site are quite diligent in removing any speech they consider unacceptable, as is their perfect right as private citizens.

‘Hate’ speech is not (and hopefully never will be) a crime in the U.S. Other American citizens expressing their opinions and basing their private actions on what other people say is exactly what the 1st Amendment defends. Only losers complain about how their fellow citizens, enjoying their own 1st Amendment rights, treat them with contempt and disgust for their opinions.

32 UncleMartyPants August 17, 2017 at 2:43 am

There will be no need to make hate speech a crime if corporations succeed in eliminating it all together.

33 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 3:08 am

If there is any profit in ‘hate speech’ (however one tries to define it, which is not really important, as however defined, it is clear that hate speech is fully defended by the 1st Amendment), I have no concern that an American company will take full advantage of its economic freedom to make a buck off of it.

Like these people, who are likely, at least in part, motivated by a desire to make money – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gab_%28social_network%29

The marketplace of ideas and services and goods is really, really large – one just needs to work a bit more than merely whining that people aren’t treating you like you want to be treated.

34 Simonini August 17, 2017 at 11:52 am

Tyler gets his money directly from billionaires, he doesn’t have to worry about his crowdfunding being shut down.

35 firingline August 17, 2017 at 1:18 am

>It will be a kind of mandate placed on business, but put there by public opinion and social media

Nice cop out. Of course you would’ve supported such an action against, say, Trump and his “noxious” elements early in the campaign and you would’ve rationalized it the same way. Turns out he had quite a bit of support. How much of the “attitude in the public eye” is actually there and how much of it is wishful thinking and expedient contrivance on your part? The “alt-right” certainly did themselves a disfavor by associating with the Nazi flag wavers but this is just an convenient opportunity for left leaning tech corps to do what they’ve been chomping at the bit to do all along, on ideological grounds.

36 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:05 am

Dude’s got way less support now, as most of it was simply him being Not-Hillary. That’s gone now, and so is at least half his support. Even the mopes here who are so psyched he won, all they can say is “better than Her”. Maybe so, but now what?

37 Andao August 17, 2017 at 2:18 am

Disagree. Based on my reading of Midwestern family and friends posting on Facebook, they are more fond of Trump now than ever. I think the GOP knows this thru their internal polling, and that’s why so few reps/senators are willing to call out Trump by name.

38 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:23 am

I guess we’ll see.

“Based on my reading of Midwestern family and friends posting on Facebook” LOL Nate Silver watch your back.

39 Tanturn August 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

We all know how right Mate Silver was about the 2016 election.

40 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

Another mope who doesn’t understand margin of error or statistics in general LOL

41 firingline August 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

msgkings: does saying something like “x has a y% chance of happening” mean something or not? If it means something then presumably there is a way for the speaker to be wrong which you can tell us about since you seem to understand “margin of error and statistics in general”. If it doesn’t mean anything, then why were Nate Silver and company saying these kinds of things?

42 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Saying Trump has a 30% chance of winning means exactly that. It means 3 out of 10 times he will win. And the result was one of those times. It’s like saying the NY Giants have a 20% chance to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and then they win. The 20% chance happened.

This is exactly what Silver said on election eve, Trump had a 30% chance. And that’s a pretty big chance and he won.

43 Tanturn August 17, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Silver predicted a 2% chance for Trump to win the primary.

44 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Good point. Andao probably has a better method. Like I said, Silver better watch out.

45 Tanturn August 17, 2017 at 6:40 pm

“Andao probably has a better method. Like I said, Silver better watch out.”

But both are insignificant compared to the grandmaster: msgkings.

46 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Aww, you made me blush!

47 firingline August 17, 2017 at 6:56 pm

“Saying Trump has a 30% chance of winning means exactly that. It means 3 out of 10 times he will win.”

What does it mean for one time events?

48 Anonymous August 17, 2017 at 7:20 pm

“What does it mean for one time events?”

It means you need a lot of them to tell whether or not someone is accurate. That’s why I’m unimpressed by all the lists of “X has a 60% chance, Y has a 75% chance” lists from bloggers. I supposed if they continued doing that over decades, you might get some legitimate numbers. But their blogs won’t last that long.

49 Steve Sailer August 17, 2017 at 1:20 am

You just offshoot the decisionmaking over who is Good or Bad to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Morris Dees is infallible.

50 f43 August 17, 2017 at 2:15 am

Letting someone utilize a service you provide is just as much of a decision as forbidding them from doing so. The fact is, so many people hate you that it is literally more profitable to slam the door in your face. Why don’t you stop crying about it and instead try building out an internet infrastructure that caters exclusively to white nationalists. At least that’ll be funny to watch

51 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:20 am

+1000 year Reich

52 TMC August 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

I think the point is that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a really shitty organization.

53 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

“Letting someone utilize a service you provide is just as much of a decision as forbidding them from doing so.”

Another piece of data in support of my long held theory that leftism is based on an inability to distinguish action from inaction.

54 Millian August 17, 2017 at 4:48 pm

We’ve been trying to convince you of the equivalence of apparent action and apparent inaction, of seen and unseen, since Bastiat.

55 TSB August 17, 2017 at 1:25 am

The ideological computational burden will be outsourced, as it already generally is for treatment of animals, ethical investment, fair trade – all the virtue signal marketing services.

56 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 1:26 am

Here is my prediction of how the slip plays out. Company abandons a “neutral” tos in order to signal disapproval of certain group. Company now implicitly condones the politics of every customer it takes money from. Activist groups attack company any time they get wind that a group they don’t like is using company’s services. Activist groups research this stuff as a weapon against groups they don’t like. Equilibrium is somewhere to the right of WaPo and way to the left of, say, Vdare. The sad but hilarious irony would be if MR got caught in the dragnet. Give it 3 years.

57 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 1:47 am

Disruptj20.com is already in the mix. Trust a few notorious MR commentators, DNC members, and Tim Kaine’s son to come up in the criminal conspiracy.

58 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:08 am

That conspiracy in the pizza place you mean? Or the Seth Rich one? Or….

59 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

No, the conspiracy that the DOJ is investigating and that made headlines a few days ago for its very broad subpoena. Earth to msgkings.

60 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Oh I was busy looking at the story about the broad subpoenas concerning Trump, his family, his administration, and all things Russia. Or is that fake news too?

61 firingline August 17, 2017 at 6:58 pm

msgkings: why don’t you go to reddit or something if you need to jab at every comment in the thread with a snarky retort.

62 belisarius August 17, 2017 at 10:53 am

Correct again Christian, see my post above. Now extend your prediction to each person and that reveals the new, even more insidious and pervasive discrimination that is being established. For example, A person doesn’t like a performer or an athlete; Why? Because they have a speech defect, they are tall, they live in a certain town, or the celebrity promotes a particular idea or cause. This new state of affairs encourages people to judge and react to others based upon their own personal beliefs, not just to avoid someone they might not like, but to take proactive steps to intimidate and devastate the recipient’s lives. Remember the three movements in the late 1970’s and 1980’s; Tipper Gore going after rap lyrics, televangelists going after Hustler magazine and parental groups going after Married with Children. Now think of that fervent, pursuing, self justified anger multiplied millions of times. Welcome to “the Republic for which it Stands”

63 Prankeapple August 17, 2017 at 1:32 am

It’s been astounding to me to witness public intellectuals, many of whom are significantly older than me and who have witnessed massive social change in their lifetimes, readily abandon the principles of free speech, free thought, and free expression because they don’t like the content of what’s being expressed. Free speech is precisely about allowing unpopular views to be aired, and the way the Left has shifted the Overton window has caused many people to forget this. White nationalist movements are mirroring what the Left has done for decades with its focus on identity politics and aggrievement-based policies and rhetoric, conducted beneath the gilded mask of ‘social justice.’

The demographic replacement of European-Americans (and the concomitant changes in social values, social trust, productivity, and government policy that have already occurred and will continue to occur as a consequence) is a serious issue, and the way it’s taken off the table for debate and labeled ‘noxious’ or ‘hateful’ is incredibly unhealthy to public discourse. Driving the issue underground, ignoring scientific facts and letting extremist groups have a monopoly on the truth will only drive people into their ranks, increasing the possibility of violent conflict and civil upheaval in the future.

I’ve made millions of dollars through investing in the past few years by being the first to spot several trends which later became big. I’ve been contemplating purchasing real estate in South America or Southeast Asia as a getaway plan in case the shit hits the fan in the US, because I see no signs of de-escalation or willingness to engage in dialogue from the Left, which will only prompt the presently underground alt-right to grow even bigger.

64 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 1:44 am

This is loss of version. The Communists have supported free speech and tenure because free speech and tenure tended to lean toward communism. When one side believes that a specific set of morals is correct and another side believes that no set of morals is correct, you can always depend on the former being principled and the ladder being dishonest. The idea that the same people who argued that 9/11 was justified care about 1 murder is laughable. NPR and CNN sent their assassin 2 months ago and he failed

65 Prankeapple August 17, 2017 at 2:07 am

I don’t understand this comment. Communist regimes have historically been avid opponents of free speech – hence, gulags, secret police, state-enforced ideologies, etc.

Also, to NPR and CNN’s defense, I don’t think they’re necessarily communists (left-leaning, yes, but not in favor of full government-mandated redistribution – perhaps you could call them cultural Marxists) or that they thought 9/11 was justified. They’ve certainly played up the woman’s death because it fits their narrative of the alt-right being ‘violent thugs’ (while conveniently ignoring the extreme violence directed at Trump supporters during his rallies) but I think their views are just expressions of a wider-scale memetic/ideological underpinning that permeates ‘elite’ coastal cities.

66 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:11 am

Yeah there actually IS a lot of free speech going on. Stuff gets said, some more free speech happens in the reaction to it, including corporate reaction. Free speech has never been freer, including reactive speech. Government is not involved, as they are forbidden to be.

67 Prankeapple August 17, 2017 at 2:48 am

Your comment is superficially correct. However, suppose I’m a corporation and refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple; I can be prosecuted by the judicial system for refusing to do so. The same principle applies for any number of traditional socially conservative actions a corporation might want to undertake. What if PayPal had cut off donations for organizations that give hormones to children for gender reassignment? I have a feeling the public (and possibly, federal/legal) reaction would be quite a bit different.

68 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 3:02 am

‘However, suppose I’m a corporation and refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple; I can be prosecuted by the judicial system for refusing to do so.’

Do you bake wedding cakes for anyone else? This then is no longer a free speech/free exercise discussion, it is one involving public accomodation essentially – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_accommodations

People certainly have different opinions, but the history behind this framework is quite clear, as around 50 years ago, a baker was completely within their rights to not sell a wedding cake to a black person. Even if their reason for not selling was based on their own interpretation of a biblical text, such as not wanting to sell to any son of Cain.

69 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 3:04 am

Probably so. Corporations decide what will make them the most money. Paypal tries to figure out which way the wind blows and acts accordingly. So they do this and not that, we’ll see if they played it right. I’m guessing yes.

70 Judah Benjamin Hur August 17, 2017 at 6:22 am

“This then is no longer a free speech/free exercise discussion, it is one involving public accommodation essentially ”

The baker is being forced to express support for gay marriage, not merely to provide a service. The Christian bakers are more than willing to bake for the gay couples.

71 Bernie August 17, 2017 at 8:28 am

How is PayPal different from a baker? I mean, not literally, I realize the ingediants are slightly different.

The question is, could PayPal refuse to provide service for a gay Nazi wedding gift registry?

72 Bernie August 17, 2017 at 8:28 am

How is PayPal different from a baker? I mean, not literally, I realize the ingredients are slightly different.

The question is, could PayPal refuse to provide service for a gay Nazi wedding gift registry?

73 Careless August 17, 2017 at 9:48 am

Yes, if it was because they were Nazis. No, if it was because they were gay.

74 Josh August 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

What if it is because they are pro choice? Or a democrat? Or a republican? Or a socialist? Or an atheist? Or a satanist? Or a Christian? Or if the couple getting married believes homosexual sex is wrong?

75 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

‘The baker is being forced to express support for gay marriage, not merely to provide a service.’

No they are not – they are selling a wedding cake. Just because a bunch of tiki torches were sold to people who then shouted ”Jews will not replace us’ does not mean that the sellers (or manufacturers) of those torches support such contemptible human beings. Nor does it mean that those sellers are allowed to not sell tiki torches to such customers again, assuming they keep selling tiki torches.

If you don’t like the law, you are free to change it. Do note, however, that around 50 years ago, a baker selling a wedding cake to a black and white citizen getting married could have also claimed to being forced to support miscegenation, and they were perfectly within their rights to refuse to participate in such a disgusting process, even if the objections were not religiously based. I believe the term of the art for the tiki torch carriers involves the word ‘mud,’ though I most certainly am not up on the latest terminology. You will have an extremely hard time getting past the losing legal arguments the last time a group of people in business claimed they were being forced to do something they did not want. Hard as it might be imagine, no one cared that much about white supremacists opinions concerning how white supremacists were being oppressed by having to allow a white person and a black person to dance together, much less bake a cake to celebrate their wedding.

76 Judah Benjamin Hur August 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm

The Christian bakers are happy to sell a generic wedding cake to anyone. Some are unwilling to participate in the creative process of making a specifically gay wedding cake.

It’s not an issue of great importance to me, but I totally reject the comparison with racism. I actually think the bigotry involved is against Christians. If I were gay or getting a cake for a gay family member, I wouldn’t search out religious bakers to harass. I also wouldn’t go to a Palestinian baker and ask him to make a Israel Independence Day cake with a big Star of David in the center. A little courtesy and common sense doesn’t hurt. It’s also a good idea not to piss off the people preparing your food.

77 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 5:22 pm

‘but I totally reject the comparison with racism’

You are welcome to, of course, but the history of Christians being opposed to racial mixing as regards marriage is not exactly a proud period of American Christianity. Obviously, it may be hard for someone who is younger to actually believe that this was written by a Commonwealth of Virginia judge when justifying banishment or imprisonment for a couple breaking not only the laws of the Commonwealth, but of the Lord – ‘Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia

Personally, I cannot tell the difference between someone arguing that two people cannot marry because God never planned for it to happen, and someone else arguing that two people cannot marry because God never planned for it to happen. Good luck trying to make it clearer.

‘I actually think the bigotry involved is against Christians.’

Sure you do – just like those people following God’s plan to keep the races separate felt oppressed when their opinion was no longer recognized as being compatible with the supreme law of the land – hint, it is not the Bible. I’m pretty sure these people felt oppressed for years, until someone not named Jones came up with a new, IRS compatible, biblical interpretation. ‘In his first meeting with the University cabinet in 2014, the fifth president Steve Pettit said he believed it was appropriate for BJU to regain its tax-exempt status because BJU no longer held its earlier positions about race. “The Bible is clear,” said Pettit, “We are made of one blood.” By February 17, 2017, the IRS website had listed the university as a 501(c)(3) organization, and by May of the same year, BJU had forged a working relationship with Greenville’s Phillis Wheatley Center’ – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Jones_University#Racial_policies

‘If I were gay or getting a cake for a gay family member, I wouldn’t search out religious bakers to harass.’

And if only those Northerners hadn’t made a point of sitting in the wrong part of the restaurant, we wouldn’t have any problems in our fine segregated establishment either. Buying a wedding cake is not harassment, by the way, no more than sitting in the white section and attempting to order a meal as a black person in a southern restaurant was harassment in 1961.

‘I also wouldn’t go to a Palestinian baker and ask him to make a Israel Independence Day cake with a big Star of David in the center.’

And yet if you did, you would have every right to expect that an American business would serve you the same way it serves all its customers. That is the law of the land, and any business unwilling to abide by the law is welcome to stop being in business.

‘A little courtesy and common sense doesn’t hurt.’

Of course not – uppity people really do cause problems for everyone. Though sometimes, it is strange how different people have different opinions of who lacks in courtesy and common sense.

‘It’s also a good idea not to piss off the people preparing your food.’

Assuming you care about eating it – it is quite possible that the black person in the white section of that not mythical southern restaurant was not all that interested in eating the food either.

But if you can come up with a single argument in such a case that was not repeated, and rejected, more than 50 years ago, congratulations – you would be the first. Partially because so much of this stuff tends to get swept politely under the carpet, with pretty much everyone agreeing not to notice the bulge it makes, so that younger people are unaware of it.

78 Judah Benjamin Hur August 17, 2017 at 8:11 pm

“the history of Christians being opposed to racial mixing as regards marriage is not exactly a proud period of American Christianity”

Because some Christians were racist 60 years ago, Christians today should be forced to participate in gay marriage activities. Okay.

“Obviously, it may be hard for someone who is younger to actually believe that this was written by a Commonwealth of Virginia judge…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia

I’m actually in an interracial marriage which would be illegal in Virgina (also South Carolina and Missouri) before the Loving decision. I’m still seeing apples and oranges even if some Christians didn’t like both types of marriages. I realize it may be hard for someone who is younger to actually believe there was time when a President would say something so deplorable as “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” But I lived through it, it really happened! Seriously! I still don’t want to take down any Obama statues.

Nevertheless, I’m not debating gay marriage, but religious and speech rights.

“Buying a wedding cake is not harassment, by the way, no more than sitting in the white section and attempting to order a meal as a black person in a southern restaurant was harassment in 1961.”

You keep confusing buying a product, with designing a specific theme. I shouldn’t ask a black person to make a lynching party cake either. If the baker says, “I won’t serve gays or married gays” then I’m in agreement with you.

“And yet if you did, you would have every right to expect that an American business would serve you the same way it serves all its customers”

I’m 100% certain they wouldn’t design the cake according to my specifications, nor should they.

“uppity people really do cause problems for everyone.”

No, but rude and obnoxious people (not you, but some of the harassers) do create a lot of unnecessary conflict.

79 Melmoth August 17, 2017 at 4:14 am

Problem is the right is its own worst enemy. There may be plenty of people in a silent right who share some of your views, but the handful of extremists and weirdos take over the debate or get the attention, and make any right wing expression unacceptable.

80 Z August 17, 2017 at 6:11 am

“I’ve made millions of dollars through investing in the past few years by being the first to spot several trends which later became big.”

That’s a bit of a non sequitur. Is it proof of your superior euro-American intellect that you made a lot of money at a time when basically everyone else with investments made a lot of money as well?

Even if many follow you, white flight out of the States by folks who can’t deal with change won’t be much different than white flight out of American cities when people couldn’t deal with much more transformative cultural change… it’ll reverse eventually.

81 Borjigid August 17, 2017 at 10:07 am

None of this would have happened if the alt-right had restricted itself to speech and other protected forms of expression.

Instead, one of them decided it was a good idea to engage in terrorism. That decision has consequences, as it should.

82 Josh August 17, 2017 at 10:29 am

Is there a principle we can use for when to apply collective punishment?

83 Borjigid August 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, when the collective has committed a crime, i.e. material support, incitement, or conspiracy. I don’t know whether there’s enough evidence for a prosecutor to charge the organizers of the rally, but a private company has a much lower bar to clear before they can deny service.

84 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Can we punish you for your support of James T. Hodgkinson?

85 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Depends on what you mean by punish. Scorn them. mock them mercilessly, ask that others join in your boycott of their business? Perfectly acceptable ‘punishment’ according to the 1st Amendment.

Do you mean physically attack them? Clearly illegal, so no, you are not allowed to punish them that way.

Do you mean charge them with a crime when there is zero evidence of a crime? No, that tends to leads to sanctions by a judge.

86 Borjigid August 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm

@Thomas

No, because I have never supported James T. Hodgkinson.

87 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 1:36 am

The scariest thing is that Tyler is very smart and he just wrote this post. He knows. Straussian reading and new book: “The really, really complacent class.” Michel Houellebecq sues for copyright infringement.

88 Mike B August 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

This was my initial reaction too. It seems out of character, or perhaps wildly over-rationalized.

89 Crikey August 17, 2017 at 1:39 am

I suggest the US government provide a public good to reduce business costs and routinely investigate and charge people who make multiple threats of violence. (Threatening to kill, rape, etc. is a crime where I am. I assume it is also a crime in the US.)

90 Careless August 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

What does this have to do with the post?

91 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm

In many places, companies can just hand over evidence of hate speech to the police, and the police will deal with it. In other words, a company need merely follow the law, and the state handles it.

This, of course, is not possible in the U.S. with the 1st Amendment (except in extremely egregious circumstances, and even then, it is a crap shoot at best).

92 Careless August 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm

This is both completely false and completely irrelevant.

93 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 4:46 pm

It most certainly is not completely false in Germany, and no company in Germany needs to bother with having an explicit policy banning hate speech so as to justify not providing service. Someone posts ‘Juden vergasen,’ it is explicitly illegal, and if the company is not careful, it too will suffer legal consequences for not deleting and/or reporting such speech.

Crikey seems to be Australian, by the way, if previous comments are anything to go by. Australian has a similar framework, to the best of my knowledge.

94 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 1:39 am

The question is whether hate speech is being banned. Already every single high-level Democrat has circled the wagons around the black-clad antifa communist revolutionaries. The ignorant media is comparing communist revolutionaries two World War II soldiers. It’s time to end the Democrat slush fund that is the CFPB.

95 Tom Murin August 17, 2017 at 1:45 am

Look into “Operation Choke Point.” The Department of Justice in the Obama administration utilized the banking industry to “choke off” the ability of certain “fraudulent” businesses in “high-risk” sectors to operate by cutting off their access to financial services. They went after legitimate legal businesses like firearms manufacturers.

96 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 1:53 am

Obama was the chosen one, if the Trump Administration did this, leftists would try to bomb the White House.

97 UncleMartyPants August 17, 2017 at 1:48 am

Will PayPal ban transactions for hormone replacement for children? Of course not. This is how crazy society is right now. Child abuse is perfectly acceptable in the name of liberalism but one diagnosed schizophrenic who had pepe memes on his Facebook page murders someone and first centuries of 1st amendment rationale go out the window. Tyler you know better than this and I hope you come around to realizing how dangerous your acceptance of this corporate behavior is.

98 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 1:51 am

“Children can decide their sex” bigot -> ” children can decide to have sex” bigot

99 Judah Benjamin Hur August 17, 2017 at 6:41 am

I’m sympathetic to your POV regarding the insanity of the left, but I’m not about to dismiss the significant alt.Nazi phenomenon so quickly. The more I see of them, the more I feel disinclined to sell them the proverbial rope. Good for Paypal, let them use Reichsmark.

100 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 1:49 am

‘So far I see the backlash to recent events as very much harming the noxious elements behind the Charlottesville protests.’

One does hope you fully approve.

‘I applaud this move from PayPal, as I don’t think we are close to a “slippery slope” point where it becomes problematic to decide who should be banned from PayPal services and who not.’

Yes, you do fully approve – of a private company being free to do as it pleases. Economic freedom über alles.

‘the ideological computational burden’

Well, that is a new term. It used to be called editorial judgment, back before the entire world became its own publisher, particularly online. Such platforms are caught in crosshairs of their own making, after all – anyone can buy a Raspberry Pi and run WordPress. Pretty much returning to those unimaginably primitive old days before Twitter and Facebook and YouTube existed. After all, it remains true enough that anyone able to actually understand how to use the Internet can still interpret censorship as damage and route around it, with a minimal ‘ideological computational burden.’ Especially when the motivation is something other than the direct pursuit of profit, as in the case of Facebook or Google’s YouTube. If such social media companies were not interested in profit, boycotts would have no effect, after all.

101 Thomas August 17, 2017 at 1:52 am

Is this all an elaborate plan to establish that the Bill of Rights applies to private companies? No. Try another terrible argument.

102 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:14 am

These are people, as corporations are people says the highest Court in the land. Why wouldn’t the Bill of Rights apply?

103 Careless August 17, 2017 at 9:52 am

Go home, msg, you’re drunk

104 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

Insightful reply. Compelling and rich.

105 Careless August 17, 2017 at 12:56 pm

hey, I’m not the one babbling nonsense about SCOTUS declaring corporations people.

106 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 2:14 am

The 1st Amendment does not apply to private companies. That is not an argument, that is a fact.

107 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 2:24 am

Time to again cite one of the greatest known sentences in human history – ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’

Note that not a single word means that a company with a ‘No shoes, no shirt, no service’ sign is acting against the 1st Amendment, even if nothing in the Constitution or Bill of Rights says you must wear shoes and a shirt, and even if some companies will provide service to someone not wearing shoes or a shirt.

108 ivvenalis August 17, 2017 at 9:29 am

It does apparently mean I can’t hang up a “no blacks” sign though. You can’t explain that.

109 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm

See the wiki link about public accomodation, which is not a 1st Amendment issue.

However, if you wish, the 1st Amendment guarantees you not only the right to work to try to change such laws (pro tip – don’t chant Nazi slogans while attempting to garner public support), but also call for a boycott of any business that treats all American citizens in the same way.

110 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 2:01 am

Russ Roberts had a great talk with NNTaleb a couple days ago and they spoke of the minority rule (what Moldbug called the law of sewage). Businesses are kosher now.

111 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 2:13 am

This will be a fascinating set of comments to read – so many commenters here apparently hate America’s proud tradition of economic freedom, and seem to have a real problem with letting the marketplace, and not only that of ideas, decide who wins and loses. Buy a Raspberry Pi and set up WordPress if you feel that Facebook et al are anti-speech meanies (which they have been for years anyways). It’s the way that people used to do things back in the bad old days of 1999, after all, without needing to worry about Paypal. Or Peter Thiel’s secretly funded anti-media lawsuits, for that matter.

That many commenters apparently do not understand that America’s proud tradition of free speech and free expression is based on preventing the government from deciding what is and what is not allowed, and instead relies on individuals to express themselves freely was clear from the very first comments concerning the google memo writer, where they seemingly were ignorant enough to believe that a private employer has any obligation to consider itself bound by the 1st Amendment, especially during working hours in the employer’s workplace.

Speech has consequences, and that is precisely the point of the 1st Amendment. It does not shield whiners complaining that they are being treated unfairly by everyone else who are also exercising their 1st Amendment rights. Hard as it might be to imagine, most American citizens still believe this when it comes to neo-Nazis – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MReV9dkAVhY

An excerpt from that classic song –

‘When der Fuehrer says we is de master race

We heil heil right in der Fueher’s face

Not to love der Fuehrer is a great disgrace

So we heil heil right in der Fuehrer’s face

When Herr Goebbels says we own the world and space

We heil heil right in Herr Goebbels’ face

When Herr Goring says they’ll never bomb this place

We heil heil right in Herr Goring’s face

Are we not he supermen Aryan pure supermen

Ja we are the supermen (super duper supermen)

Sadly, the lyrics cannot adequately express how most Americans heil Nazis – anyone interested will just have to listen.

112 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 2:30 am

What are you talking about? Who are you responding to? I haven’t seen a single post in this thread suggesting Pay Pal was out of bounds. America has a long tradition of “free speech” (arguably not real but that is a long conversation). It is an interesting question what corp America will do here. Will it be a good thing? Free Speech is a big thing in the USA. People are going to want to talk about it and every person who does knows that “speech has consequences” and the rest of the glib catechisms the Dour Authoritarians like to recite. Of course you are right that American’s also don’t like Nazis. That said, I doubt they feel the need to pick between the two. Most will be perfectly happy loving freedom and hating Nazis.

113 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 2:45 am

The first two lines from your very first comment – ‘I think the slippery slope has already been slipped. The very fact that they are making decisions not on content but on ideology should be frightening.’

‘and the rest of the glib catechisms the Dour Authoritarians like to recite’

No, the fact that the 1st Amendment allows everyone to directly express their opinion is not the sort of thing a Dour Authoritarian likes to cite, because Dour Authoritarians want to make sure that only their viewpoint rules, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Which just might be why several groups of people – those who believe that hate speech should be illegal in America, and those who feel that their speech should be consequence free – have such a hard time understanding why the 1st Amendment exists, and how it works.

114 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 3:01 am

My claims are positive. Not normative. I’m just predicting what I think will happen at least in the short term. As for Dour Authoritarians. That was a cheap shot in response to the consequences remark. Everyone knows speech has consequences, but what those consequences are is a big part of what free speech is in America. The constitution is just paper. What free speech really means lives in the hearts of the people. I hate the idea of hate speech, for instance, but given the acceptance of the concept in so many “free” nations, I think it could find its way into America. I don’t think that is a good thing. My suspicion is that the current SCOTUS is a hard block against government attacks on free speech but the culture is always leads the way.

115 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 3:19 am

‘I’m just predicting what I think will happen at least in the short term’

No, you used the past tense with ‘slippery slope has already been slipped’.

‘The constitution is just paper.’

No, the Constitution is the law of the United States of America, as noted in Article VI – ‘This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.’ It is considerably more than paper, though you are of course free to believe that. It is the words themselves that matter, not what they are printed on.

‘What free speech really means lives in the hearts of the people.’

Especially when they disagree with you.

‘I think it could find its way into America’

Not as long as the 1st Amendment exists in its present form (clearly, the Constitution can be amended, but what I would consider the United States of America would die if the 1st Amendment was replaced).

Other countries are other places – I am not arrogant enough to tell Russians that banning Stalinists calling for a return of the gulags, the KGB, and mass starvation of Ukrainians is a violation of some right to free speech, as the Russians have already experienced exactly those things, and are completely within their rights to try to prevent it from happening again.

116 Anon7 August 17, 2017 at 4:37 am

The textualism rings a bit hollow (and of course is entirely devoid of the acerbic wit of Scalia). Our black-robed masters could easily gut the 1A in the name of our living, evolving Constitution–no amendment required. And it is only being hypocritical if exceptions are made to the principle (not merely the tradition) of free speech simply because bad things happened in the past in Russia, Germany, or the USA.

117 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 5:02 am

‘Our black-robed masters could easily gut the 1A in the name of our living, evolving Constitution‘

And space aliens could appear tomorrow. Things do change, so in that sense, you are not wrong. You are also not right merely by observing that something could happen at some point in the future.

For example, Americans could elect a president who, to use a German expression, is blind in his right eye when it comes to watching torch lit parades, with the marchers chanting such charming things as ‘blood and soil,‘ and pointing out what nice people they are, in the main.

One can wonder what all the Mormons who voted for Trump are now thinking, to be honest. Though one expects they are likely to have more faith in the Supreme Court than you.

118 Christian Hansen August 17, 2017 at 9:41 am

You are being pedantic and picking nits. Also, I completely agree with your last paragraph. The USA is quite unlike the rest of the world with respect to free speech. Let the Germans be Germans and the Russians be Russians. I doubt I would run into any problem in either place as this conversation is about as extreme as I get.

119 Anon7 August 17, 2017 at 5:20 pm

One can have greater faith in SCOTUS after Trump appointed Gorsuch.

120 KM32 August 17, 2017 at 7:25 am

I have the complete Donald Duck box set, and this clip, as well as several others, comes with a little warning ahead of it about its insensitivity (mainly the depiction of the Japanese character, I suppose), but Disney would never, ever make that cartoon today. The swastikas, the sieg heil, etc. . . . all things that people in the 1940s could handle seeing, but are too sensitive 75 years later.

121 Steve Sailer August 17, 2017 at 2:13 am

This is hardly a new idea. Way back in 1999 the Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy front page article denouncing Morgan Guaranty Trust for not embargoing a client’s money back in the 1960s when a client had the bank transfer some of his own money to a legal lobbying effort on The Wrong Side of History.

I dug up the article and it’s as bizarre as I remember:

http://www.unz.com/isteve/wsj-in-1999-banks-should-embargo-their-clients-money-if-they-are-racist/

Of course, in the future, it will seem perfectly reasonable that your bank won’t let you have your own money to spend on purposes it disapproves of.

122 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 2:18 am

Maybe the alt-right can help make Bitcoin happen.

123 Peter F August 17, 2017 at 2:18 am

this rules, and is a good idea. if the bank took your money and didn’t give it back i would laugh

124 Anonymous August 17, 2017 at 11:20 am

How about when the bank takes your money and won’t give it back? Equally hilarious?

125 Vivian Darkbloom August 17, 2017 at 3:17 am

“Way back in 1999 the Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy front page article denouncing Morgan Guaranty Trust for not embargoing a client’s money back in the 1960s when a client had the bank transfer some of his own money to a legal lobbying effort on The Wrong Side of History.”

My first reaction to this statement was “what was the WSJ doing “denouncing” Morgan in an article on the front page”? After all, it’s not the opinion page (and, I’m aware journalistic standards have been slipping, even before 1999). So, I read the article as reproduced at the link you provided. I’ve come to the conclusion that the article fairly reported both sides of the issue (but most extensively Morgan Guaranty’s rationale) without passing judgement on, much less “denouncing” anything.

The biggest problem I have with large public corporations being the gatekeepers of public “morality” and speech–be it a refusal to (legally) transfer money to arguably racist causes or a refusal to bake wedding cakes for legally married gay couples– is that they are not operated in a particularly democratic manner and the views of management don’t necessarily reflect those of its shareholders.

It appears that big business leaders are the new darlings of the progressive movement and, having hit an electoral roadblock, the primary vehicles for furthering their social agenda. Forget about the evil Koch brothers (who at least don’t play politics with other people’s money) and evil big business generally. Now we’ve got Bezos and Zuckerberg, et al. So, it’s all good now. At least I feel much better now that I know we’ve got plenty of time to hit the brakes before we hit that slippery slope…….

126 Steve Sailer August 17, 2017 at 6:04 am

“both sides of the issue”

Actually, in 1999 there was no issue: the notion that a bank should not let you make use of your own money because it disapproves politically of what you will do with it was shockingly novel.

Now it sounds like old hat.

127 Vivian Darkbloom August 17, 2017 at 7:33 am

Apparently, the professor quoted in that article would disagree.

But, more to the point: How did the WSJ in that article “denounce” what Morgan Guaranty did or did not do?

128 Vivian Darkbloom August 17, 2017 at 8:08 am

Also, for a more complete record, here’s the text of the entire original WSJ article:

http://ferris-pages.org/ISAR/Institut/pioneer/silent.htm

Your original blog post condemning the WSJ quoted this:

“Morgan did close the asset-management account it maintained for the Pioneer Fund after the furor erupted over “The Bell Curve” in 1994, according to people familiar with the situation. The bank won’t give details on why it did so.

That option is something banks should consider, says Thomas Donaldson, a business-ethics professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “Good bankers should have the words ‘Know thy client’ tattooed somewhere on their chests,” Mr. Donaldson says. “When the activities of the client or customer reach the point where they offend vital, deeply held values of the institution, you have to say no.”

But, you did failed to quote the passage immediately following:

“But many banks aren’t comfortable with that posture, and with good reason, says George J. Benston, a banking professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta. “One would like any institution to operate with its customers neutrally. You don’t want some bank officer making a judgment on whether a customer’s donations are moral.”

All in all, I found the WSJ piece to be balanced, well-written and informative. Thanks for pointing it out. What that piece did not do was invent a new issue of business ethics and, most certainly, the WSJ did not “denounce” Morgan Guaranty. It strikes me that the author (and, by extension, his editors) went to great lengths to allow Morgan to explain their actions, even though that explanation came nearly 40 years later. I find myself agreeing with Morgan Guaranty and Professor Benston and this informative article allowed me to make a better informed judgement.

Normally, I find you to be very astute, well-informed and generally honest in your writings here and elsewhere. I’d be more impressed if you were to either justify your characterization of the WSJ’s work or admit that maybe you got carried away.

129 Axa August 17, 2017 at 3:19 am

The OFAC, depending on US treasury, ensures money is not spent on the wrong side of history such as: early 1800s England, the Confederacy during US civil war, the original WW2 Nazis, etc.

130 Millian August 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Bank with your fellow white supremacists then, iSteve.

131 Impolitic August 17, 2017 at 2:59 am

“I don’t think we are close to a “slippery slope” point … Nonetheless I do wonder what it will look like when American business gets to the more difficult cases of judgment.”

“When”, not “if”? What, do you think we’re on some sort of slippery slope towards them?

132 Mike B August 17, 2017 at 10:04 am

All it would take to make it a slippery slope if for PayPal to also ban Antifa.

133 Brian McDaniel August 17, 2017 at 4:19 am

“I don’t think we are close to a “slippery slope” point … Nonetheless I do wonder what it will look like when American business gets to the more difficult cases of judgment.”

Does the Damore firing show that we have already slipped down the slope and are already at (or beyond) more difficult cases of judgment?

134 prior_test3 August 17, 2017 at 4:26 am

‘Does the Damore firing show’

No.

135 Anon7 August 17, 2017 at 5:03 am

The only thing that should matter to the company is whether it will maximize profits (or follow the wishes of the owners). Everything else is just PR window dressing to achieve that end.

136 rayward August 17, 2017 at 6:02 am

I recently read that Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, supporter of the Donald Trump campaign (Thiel donated $1.25 million to the campaign), fervent defender of the Trump presidency, and Cowen’s friend, has pulled back from his enthusiastic support of Trump, supposedly stating that there’s a 50% chance the Trump administration will end in disaster. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/08/peter-thiel-sours-on-donald-trump My observation is that we would not have a Trump presidency absent the explicit and tacit support from Thiel and other business leaders. Did they overlook what was obvious to any sentient person during the campaign, including sentient Republicans, that Trump is grossly unqualified to be president, because they are stupid or because they had visions of large personal income tax cuts swirling in their brains that blinded to the reality? Cowen’s faint praise for PayPal (i.e., Thiel) and other business leaders who now wish to distance themselves from Trump (it is faint praise isn’t it?) reveals as much about the quality of our business leaders as it does about Trump.

137 Ali Choudhury August 17, 2017 at 6:33 am

They were probably thinking he has been at least somewhat successful at real estate development and handling complex projects therefore he would probably meet the competency threshold for being president. They were probably lulled into complacency as the most recent occupant had a reasonable tenure and his past private sector jobs were community organiser and part time law professor.

138 Loki August 17, 2017 at 6:16 am

Web based services, including financial services, already have long lists of prohibited activities in their Terms of Service (you know, the long text that you skip over before clicking upon ‘agree’).

All that has happened is that PayPal has decided to enforce the rules it has set for a long time).

All the Terms of Service that I’ve read include similar restrictions. Everytime Tyler or other commenters have clicked upon ‘agree’ they have consented to those companies being able to do so. (Which isn’t meant to be a criticism, it seems to be pretty much impossible to use web based services without agreeing to a very extensive list of terms of service).

Here’s some extracts from PayPal’s terms:

“9.1 Restricted Activities. In connection with your use of our website, your Account, or the Services, or in the course of your interactions with PayPal, a User or a third party, you will not:
[…]
Breach any law, statute, contract, or regulation (including, without limitation, those governing financial services including anti-money laundering, consumer protections, unfair competition, anti-discrimination and false advertising);

Infringe PayPal’s or any third party’s copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy;

Act in a manner that is obscene, defamatory, libelous, unlawfully threatening or unlawfully harassing;

Provide false, inaccurate or misleading Information;

Fail to provide us with further information about you or your business activities that we may reasonably request;
[…]
Refuse to cooperate in an investigation or provide confirmation of your identity or any Information you provide to us;
[…]
Use an anonymising proxy;

Control an Account that is linked to another Account that has engaged in any of these Restricted Activities (an Account is deemed to be “linked” to another Account for the purpose of this section 9.1.k where PayPal has reason to believe that both Accounts are controlled by the same legal personality or group of legal personalities (including, without limitation, individuals), which is more likely when both Accounts share certain attributes, including, without limitation, the same recorded user name, email address, funding source (e.g. bank account) and/or recorded ID used to receive services from PayPal’s partners (such as an eBay ID));

Conduct your business or use the Services in a manner that results in or may result in complaints, Disputes, Claims, Reversals, Chargebacks, fees, fines, penalties and other liability to PayPal, a User, a third party or you;”

The list goes on, see here: https://www.paypal.com/ie/webapps/mpp/ua/useragreement-full#09

139 Axa August 17, 2017 at 8:56 am

Indeed, it would be interesting to clarify if conditions of service changed or they were just applied to organizations that are get a lot of public attention.

140 Albert August 17, 2017 at 10:50 am

PayPal definitely has a history of striking against erotica authors and erotica websites. They have a special deal with Smashwords (and maybe Excitica) but otherwise will block any new business selling erotica (hardcore or extreme erotica only, which is the only kind that really matters honestly) from using PayPal. Visa and MasterCard do the same.

141 TGGP August 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

Which part of the list is at issue here?

142 Careless August 17, 2017 at 10:02 am

Is the problem that you don’t understand the words used in the TOS and think these groups are in violation of them?

143 chrisare August 17, 2017 at 7:29 am

Why is having or expressing racist views now seen as just about the worst offense you could commit, even if you don’t act on them in an illegal way?

144 The Anti-Gnostic August 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

Because the Left is totalitarian. The Beast is never sated.

145 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Who says that’s the worst offense you can commit?

146 Haywood Sterling August 18, 2017 at 9:40 pm

Apparently, the Left either thinks that these “racist” arguments are correct and will persuade a critical mass of folks if enough people hear them, or that these “racist” arguments are wrong but citizens in a democracy are so stupid that these arguments will persuade a critical mass of folks if enough people hear them. Either of these options kind of puts the Left in a bad spot, though, doesn’t it?

147 Ted Craig August 17, 2017 at 8:28 am

How are you going to define these groups? If you look at the list of entities labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, it’s a somewhat wide range, from the Aryan Brotherhood to the Family Research Council.

Also, what happens now if groups start boycotting PayPal?

148 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 1:11 pm

PayPal is probably expecting exactly that, in fact there are already stories about the shadow economy for hate groups. They did the math and figured they will make more money shunning these jerks than catering to them. Good PR with everyone else for example.

149 firingline August 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm

What was the downside? Do you think people were suddenly going to abandon service like Google and Paypal for maintaining neutrality? Where would they have gone? In another comment you seem to laugh at the idea that the alt-right will be able to create parallel institutions…

150 lbc August 17, 2017 at 9:19 am

thank you paypal for doing your bit to stop these neo-nazi lunatics…

at this point i wonder how can anyone buy anything from Trump businesses…

151 The Anti-Gnostic August 17, 2017 at 10:25 am

Sure is nice to decline to business with people you find repugnant.

152 Hazel Meade August 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Yeah, black people are so repugnant.

153 Careless August 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm

In before Sailer can bring up projection

154 msgkings August 17, 2017 at 1:12 pm

You think A-G meant something else? Maybe gays instead?

155 Steve S August 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

Emotion aside, can you hold different views to this case and the “public accommodation” gay wedding cake case and not be a hypocrite?

Is a bank (or whatever PayPal is) subject to public accommodation? Is public accommodation protecting only who you “are” and not what you think? If so, how do we delineate between being gay is something you are vs. being a racist as something you are?

Some commenters are hitting on this with quoting Paypal terms of service and such, but I’d like to see some actual legal arguments for how both of these actions hold up under the law, rather than mood affiliation.

156 Nick August 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Currently, to my understanding, most of the actual legal arguments for how the things are different end up being related to the physical presence of the companies being compared. As in: the reason the baker has to accommodate, legally speaking, is because they operate a public building that they invite people to walk into. They have to accommodate under the same logic that requires them to provide a wheelchair ramp.

I am a fool, so take this as you will.

157 Zorn's Lemma August 17, 2017 at 9:19 pm

That line of reasoning would only create an obligation to bake the cake for onsite pickup, not to deliver it to the wedding reception.

158 Karl Lembke August 17, 2017 at 11:18 am

Hatred of what or whom?
“Hatred” as defined by whom?
Violence against what or whom?
“Violence” as defined by whom?
Intolerance of what or whom?
“Intolerance as defined by whom?

159 belisarius August 17, 2017 at 11:40 am

All this talk about free speech and I can’t find anyone discussing the real problem. It’s not the speech it is the medium. This is why I disagree with the idea that social media is a tool for liberty and human rights. If Martin Luther had attached his theses to a social media post, or the constructors of this country had posted the Federalist papers to social media, neither of those revolutions would have occurred. The powers that were would have deleted them and prevented their dissemination. Any disagreeable idea on the internet can be compartmentalized and eliminated, but revolutionaries could find a foothold for the ideas when it was on thousands of pieces of paper that could be hidden from the state or society at large. That is one of the reasons that the Arab Spring did not spread and succeed. Top down control of the means of communication always favors the established regime.

160 Scoop August 17, 2017 at 11:50 am

If this sort of thing increases profits (and is legal), then the managers of publicly traded businesses are legally obligated to do them.

If, on the other hand, they are money losing, then I’d reckon company execs and board members are leaving themselves open to shareholder lawsuits. A CEO cannot legally use shareholder money to signal his or her virtue peers and the media.

I’m sure the financials would vary with every decision, too, so the cognitive load really will be increased.

I’d wager most businesses would just like a law that forbid them from cutting anyone off so when the protests came, they could fling their hangs up and say, “I’d love to cut those bastards off, but I can’t.” Rather like that law that forbids US companies to join foreign anti-Israeli groups.

161 Urso August 17, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Maybe, but it depends on PayPal’s corporate governance documents. In any event they can always say that, in their estimate, the benefit of the good PR outweighs the loss of funds they get from payments to the KKK & Nazis (which are assuredly minimal anyway).

162 Hazel Meade August 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm

There are definitely real questions about where social norms suppressing racism ought to draw the line. How those norms evolve is a complex process involving push back from all sides. It is a self-organizing process.
There probably is a real danger of things going overboard, because that is what tends to happen – people zealously enforce new norms and defend old ones that are under threat – and that’s really what is going on now. Some people think it should still be cool to tell racist jokes in public, others think that asking where someone is from is a microaggression. We already had a cycle of going overboard and now we’re in the middle of the pushback. I’m confident the pushback is not going to go back as far as making it cool to tell racist jokes again, although some people wish it would.

163 Phil August 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

The next step will be to engrave our currency with, “this note is legal tender for only those purchases deemed acceptable.”

164 James Anderson August 17, 2017 at 2:13 pm

I believe some of the terms and conditions are not good at all and only causes problem for people not solving it. This is why I never buy too much into this. I believe it is better and far more beneficial that we use payment that’s simpler and free of unnecessary restrictions. It’s easier through broker like OctaFX, as they are very special having small spreads at 0.1 pips, zero balance protection, swap free account and then there is even 24/5 support.

165 Lindsey H August 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm

I embrace tech companies enforcing their policies because it is an opportunity for burgeoning businesses to assert content neutral standards. Trump is a disaster, but most Americans agree with him on the matter of confederate memorials. http://maristpoll.marist.edu/nprpbs-newshourmarist-poll-results-on-charlottesville/ .

The “inflection point” is only evident in mass media. Company policy informed by very loud activists and a media less popular than Trump is doomed to fail.

166 KevinH August 17, 2017 at 2:48 pm

It is an odd fusion of modern day capitalism and old-school honor/propriety models. I think you are right that it will serve us well in the coming years.

My worry is not so much about the slippery slope, but of coordinated attempted manipulation of this. Social media bots are already a weapon in politics, but in this brave new world they could both be used as a economic weapon against small groups, or possibly as a corporate-espianoge type attack to get your rivals to pre-emptively cut themselves off from viable market segments.

167 Urso August 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm

A more realistic interpretation is that they’re going to do this for show. Ban the obvious, high-profile bad guys, but as people start to move on to the next concern they’ll start to get complacent (!) and apply these rules more and more sporadically. Until the next brouhaha.

168 JK Brown August 17, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Of course, having moved to adjudicate, the company loses the common-carrier defense.

But this should spur competitors even if they are niche.

169 ottinoz August 17, 2017 at 7:31 pm

I am shocked, shocked I say, that (((Tyler Cowen))) has taken a strong stance against hate speech. I am certain that (((Tyler Cowen))) has no ethnic interests in this game. I am absolutely certain that said hate group does NOT have a coherent, though admittedly very crude, criticism of market dominant minorities that compromises (((Cowen)))’s ability to objectively critique this issue.

(((Tyler Cowen))) is a real hero. An unbiased academic that deserves the position and megaphone afforded him. I, for one, welcome our echoey overlords.

170 Judah Benjamin Hur August 17, 2017 at 8:18 pm

“(((Tyler Cowen))) is a real hero. An unbiased academic that deserves the position and megaphone afforded him. I, for one, welcome our echoey overlords.”

Tyler Cowen is not Jewish, but thanks for pointing out that alt.Nazis are everywhere and need to be crushed by any legal means.

171 ottinoz August 18, 2017 at 11:01 pm

You’re absolutely right. I was misinformed. I apologize immediately for the comment. Though I continue to disagree strongly with his stance on free speech and deplatforming. In fact, I think you validly proved the point. When you drive opinions underground that may be incorrect you inevitably do not allow that opinion to be corrected.

Look at the comment made. It took all of 12 hours for the error in my reasoning to be exposed. And that was in the comments section of a small blog. Imagine if these opinions are deplatformed. Instead of having that incorrect opinion corrected it festers off beyond where one can see. That is more dangerous than the misconception itself.

172 Name Withheld August 18, 2017 at 8:02 am

Pay Pal helped convicted terrorist Mohamed Elshinawy in 2015 according to the DOJ.

173 David August 18, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Funny, isn’t it, that no one made these arguments when it was bakers and photographers unwilling to practice their trade for gay customers. I wonder if professor Cowen would be as sanguine if PayPal suddenly decided to refuse service to blacks, or women, or gays, or Communists, or Muslims?

I also think it’s safe to say that many people applauding this–professor Cowen NOT among them, I’m guessing–would be outraged if PayPal or Facebook or Twitter were shutting down people they liked, as opposed to people they disliked. I’m guessing there’d be plenty of calls for Federal investigations, oversight, anti-trust, yada yada.

…By the way, I wonder how many people are aware that the Obama Justice Department implemented an effort–I believe it was called Operation Choke Point or something similar–in which they put pressure on banks and other financial institutions to deny service to pornographers and other impeccably legal businesses they thought dubious?

How professor Cowen can say with a straight face he sees no slippery slope problem here is frankly beyond my capacity to understand. This is practically the classic example.

174 auntturtle August 20, 2017 at 1:07 am

Money is how people support stuff, good or bad. The transfer of money is a service (that’s why they get a cut) and it should be neutral unless disavowed legally. This is why the proposals to eliminate cash are so scary–your transfers will be subject to bottlenecking or elimination by the transfer agent using, using God-knows criteria.Real time example: PayPal has cut-off JihadWatch.

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