Campus Culture: “you have about 10% of the student body who controls the other 90%, mostly through internet shaming”
“Our lawyer” Ron Coleman cross-examined me on his Coleman Nation podcast about Legal Insurrection’s history, copyright trolls, how “intellectual property” litigation threats are used to silence political speech, repressive Big Tech, and the toxic campus atmosphere.
Ron Coleman is a long-time friend of Legal Insurrection, having provided us with pro bono legal assistance on matters regarding copyright, and serving as a sounding board on a variety of other matters. Ron now practices law with Harmeet Dhillon, in one of the premier civil liberties law firms in the country.
If you scroll way down to the bottom of the right sidebar on this website, you will see Ron listed as “Our Lawyer.” That serves two purposes. One, to thank and recognize Ron’s help over the years. Two, as a warning to others, don’t **** with us.
In late December 2021, I was interviewed on Coleman Nation, Ron’s podcast, which was just broadcast. We talked about a lot of things, including (“but not limited to” – as lawyers like to say), how Ron and Legal Insurrection have interacted over the years, the problem of copyright trolls, how “intellectual property” litigation threats are used to silence political speech, problems Legal Insurrection has had with YouTube and Amazon, repressive Big Tech, some personal background on me, toxic campus atmosphere, and the anti-Israel movement.
Normally, when I’m interviewed we prepare a complete or almost complete transcript. But given the nature of the format, with a lot of back and forth, it didn’t really lend itself to a full transcript. I have a few excerpts transcribed below the video.
[Note: In the interview I mistakenly said Legal Insurrection Foundation, our non-profit 501(c)(3) operating entity, launched in 2009. In fact, it launched in 2019.)
(Aut0-generated, may contain transcription errors. Time stamps approximate.)
…. Bill Jacobson, Legal Insurrection, everybody knows his website. Everybody knows Bill. Thank you for joining us. I’m gonna throw up just a shot of what the website looks like these days. Awful handsome these days. Very slick. What is Legal Insurrection, Bill, is at a blog. Is it a magazine? Is it a hippie hangout? What, what, tell me, tell me, tell us the story.
Yes, I think it’s all of the above. So it started as a solo blog that I started in October, 2008 on Google blogger and I was solo for two years. So back then blogs were very common and added a third person who was a student in year three. And over time have expanded. We now have people who work for us. So Legal Insurrection instruction is our main platform….
… also at one point had a website called College Insurrection, which we ended up folding into Legal Insurrection. And then the big change that we had was in 2009 , we became a 501(c)(3) and launched Legal Insurrection Foundation. So there are now two pieces to Legal Insurrection. They’re all part of the same entity. There’s the traditional website, which is news analysis, a lot mischief making whatever you wanna call it. And then there’s the foundation side, which is more research oriented, more deep research on a variety of issues, publication of a variety of issues, and does a lot of other things. We do a lot of public records requests, things like that. So we have a bit of a split personality. So is it now a blog or website, whatever? Yes, it’s all of the above….
…. Well, actually, why don’t you actually tell Coleman Nation listeners, how it is that you and I came to know each other, because it’s actually going to be a segue into our discussion.
Well, it’s so long ago, I can’t remember the first instance I, that we met I’d really have to go back, but it’s probably been 10 years or more, ou know, there, I would think. Sso there is an industry out there, that I guess they’re called, what are they called? Copyright trolls, who hounded us and everybody else, and fortunately with your advice, we haven’t gotten that in a [while] cause we’re much better than we used to be, but you know, 12, 14 years ago you’d see a picture, you’d grab it. And then all of a sudden you get a demand letter from somebody. So we learned not to do that. So that’s how we first met. And you were extremely generous. Your listeners may not know that you were really, your host was one of the heroes of the conservative right. Of center right blogosphere [who gave]… pro bono work for little tiny blogs who made no money. Maybe generated 50 bucks a month in advertising. But we’d get these demand letters. So I wanna pat you on the back, if you’re not willing to pat yourself on the back,
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You know, it’s not quite deplatforming, but we’re, there’s no question we’re throttled on Facebook and Twitter. I mean, perfect example. We, every Christmas Eve for years, we used to post a post that I wrote, called Christmas Eve in the Ardennes about U.s. soldiers on Christmas Eve during the Battle of the Bulge, always a huge hit on Facebook. I mean, four, five, 6,000 shares, which for our page is pretty good. All of a sudden, a couple of years ago they started throttling us and now we get 50 shares, 70 shares. They don’t show our stuff to anybody. We have 350,000 followers on Facebook. We’re lucky if they show our content to three or 4,000 people. So there’s deplatforming in a different way.
So Bill, you know, you’re a lawyer, your background is a securities lawyer, certainly you understand a thing or two about supply and demand and how markets work. Isn’t it astonishing that companies would agree to throttle the sales. And we have to think of every page was a sale for them. Every engagement is a sale for them to their own customers, to their own users, to reduce the options of what they offer to their customers. It seems so counterintuitive to what guys, our age grew up learning about how markets work
Well. They’re so big, to them, there’s no market. There really is no alternative to Facebook. There’s not. There are pockets where you can reach a specific audience, but there’s no alternative to Facebook. There’s no alternative to Twitter. There’s just not, I mean, there are, you know, Facebook of course bought Instagram, which might have been a competitor to Facebook. So there’s not, there is no market force here. They can do whatever they want.
And one thing we’ve always covered since day one is this campus culture, this campus anti-free speech culture, cancel culture before they called it cancel culture. and how it has migrated into big tech. All the crazy stuff that you thought was like, so out of line 10, 12 years ago on campus that you read about it, Oberlin college or someplace like that, well guess where those people are working. Now, those students are now in their late twenties and early thirties, and they’re in positions of responsibility at major tech companies. And they’ve brought those campus anti-free speech values to high tech and that’s obvious and to public at the public education….
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Do you well, how about interacting with faculty?
Well, you know, I stand alone at Cornell pretty much, not completely alone, but mostly alone in terms of, certainly at the law school, there are no openly, politically conservative professors, other than me. There might be people who harbor those thoughts, but there’s nobody who’s public the way that I am. And the same is true at Cornell university, 16, 17, 1800 faculty members, something like that, across the university. I am far and away the most vocal, there are some who agree with me. I know that, but they are mostly quiet. There are a few who might dabble in things, but you know, there’s a professional price and emotional price that gets paid by anybody who is an openly conservative. I wouldn’t even say openly conservative, I’d say openly, not liberal. You don’t have to be conservative, whatever that means these days.
… I’m very familiar with what’s going on at Cornell because I’m the faculty advisor who most of the right of center student groups, because they literally have nobody else to go to. I hear stories about what goes on and students live in absolute fear of social media and what will be said about them and how they’ll be attacked on social media if they were to speak out on any of the hot button issues. So, you know, I, I think the students, I don’t know that the student opinions have changed that much, the will willingness of students to express those opinions have changed. And you have about 10% of the student body who controls the other 90%, mostly through internet shaming. And it’s also true for faculty that, you know, most faculty will not speak out….
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Yeah. I mean, Twitter basically killed both the left and right wing blogospheres. Because think about it, you start your own blog. It’s a lot of work. You gotta create a lot of content. You gotta get it out there. And you’re doing all this work and 200 people a day are visiting you. Twitter comes along. And if you scream loud enough and if you’re outrageous enough, and even if you’re not, you can pick up thousands or tens of thousands of followers right away. It’s not a lot of work. There’s no expense to it. Of course there is a price we now know which is that they’ll kick you off or they will shadow ban you or whatever the phrase happen to be. So there is a price to it. So if you’re a small bloger, why would you maintain a blog when you can just go on Twitter and reach a lot more people, and you’re not making any money anyway. So what difference does it make that Twitter doesn’t pay you?DONATE
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