Montana: The New State of Censorship

For years, I have tried to make my actions consistent with what I believe to be true. Sometimes this has required a course change, occasionally abrupt. There have been times in which I have had to eat my words. I have also tried to encourage others to act in the same manner and have, at times, called them out for blatant violations of this principle. In politics, I consider Republicans and conservatives (not always the same) to be the worst offenders because they claim to be defenders of freedom and advocates of limited government, but often leap at the chance to expand control into areas of personal affairs where they have no business being. Listed below are two articles I wrote a few years ago about this phenomenon.

Just a few days ago, Montana’s Legislature sent a bill, SB0419, to the governor, Greg Gianforte for his approval to completely outlaw and ban TikTok from operating in the state. This bill would prevent any entity from making the app available to download on any device and would impose crushing fines and penalties on any violations of the rule. As the bill describes itself,


This immediately showed up as an article on ZeroHedge, emphasis theirs, with the prediction that the signature of the governor would inevitably result in a tsunami of lawsuits.

“Montana became the first state in the nation on Friday to ban TikTok from operating in the state, after lawmakers gave final passage to a bill that will undoubtedly face a tidal wave of legal challenges.”

Of course, being that Montana is a mountainous, land-locked state not even remotely close to an ocean, the more apt metaphor would be a massive rockslide, but who am I to criticize the editors at ZeroHedge for the wording. The important thing is that they are probably correct and that Montana’s taxpayers will, more than likely, foot the bill for many legal defenses challenging this obnoxious interference into the lives of private citizens.

Yes, you read that right. I said obnoxious interference, as in blatant censorship pertaining to what we can view, read, watch, follow, download, save, send, share, et al, online and in our own private lives! On this matter, I am not and cannot be ambivalent nor favoring. If I was to support this legislation while preaching the philosophy that people should be free and at liberty from government oversight, regulation, and law, then I would be inconsistent and the opposing viewpoints would be tearing my mind apart in open conflict. Cognitive dissonance on steroids.

Let’s unpack this bill. Getting through the preamble is sufficient to make my point.

“WHEREAS, the People’s Republic of China is an adversary of the United States and Montana…”

I will say this about the author. She did not waste any time proclaiming that there was an adversarial relationship between the PRC and the PRUSA along with its vassal state, Montana. China is “our” adversary because Shelley Vance said so. You could be forgiven if you read this as “state of war” instead of adversarial relationship and you probably would not be far off the mark.

Supposedly, Vance is a proponent of smaller, less intrusive government. That is, until it suits her not to be. But I repeat myself about inconsistency in politics.

“Vance believes in less government and regulations,…”

The idea that an adversarial relationship exists is strange because, since Richard Nixon first approached China, the US has always seen the PRC as an essential production hub for all the cheap, shoddy stuff that Americans wanted to consume. The US deliberately de-industrialized itself, moving its manufacturing prowess to the land of insanely cheap labor, all in the name of profit. Now, because China has essentially caught up with the PRUSA and is beginning to seriously compete in the dirty business of international politics, she has to be contained and opposed. All in the name of profit, mind you. When China could be controlled and milked for maximum benefit, she was fair game, but now…well, you know. Politics, and all that.

Moving on.

“…and has an interest in gathering information about Montanans, Montana companies, and the intellectual property of
users to engage in corporate and international espionage; and…”

Not a word about “our” domestic data-gathering corporate behemoths Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, et al., who have been conducting their own “business” across the US and around the world for decades. Will Vance next propose to forbid these from operating within the boundaries of Montana? Don’t hold your breath.

“WHEREAS, TikTok is a wholly owned subsidiary of ByteDance, a Chinese corporation; and…”

TikTok is a wholly owned subsidiary of ByteDance, a Chinese corporation. So bloody what? Totally irrelevant to the bill. That is a legal arrangement which happens all the time, anywhere and everywhere around the world. It certainly is not sufficient reason to outlaw it in Montana.

“WHEREAS, the People’s Republic of China exercises control and oversight over ByteDance, like other
Chinese corporations, and can direct the company to share user information, including real-time physical
locations of users; and…”

You mean in like manner as the People’s Republic of the United States of America exercises control and oversight over corporations in this country, including the above-mentioned and many, many more.

“WHEREAS, TikTok gathers significant information from its users, accessing data against their will to
share with the People’s Republic of China; and…”

When will we see outrage against our home-grown versions, accessing significant amounts of information AGAINST the will of their users? I address this below.

“WHEREAS, TikTok fails to remove, and may even promote, dangerous content that directs minors to
engage in dangerous activities, including but not limited to…”

Cue the long list of dangerous things which TikTok encourages young children to do. Really now, someone ought to put a stop to that and since the parents of these young children obviously are not going to protect them from themselves, then The State has to pick up the slack. It is completely beside the point that The State has spent the last 100 years or more working to disenfranchise parents from their children in order to gain power over both. Someone has to be the scapegoat and the parents win the booby prize.

Depending on one’s viewpoint, this clause might apply to watching porn, reading gun magazines, watching videos about fine tuning car engines to gain more power and speed, participating in online “conspiracy theories”, or using websites to gamble away hard-earned money. At what point does it become the responsibility of The State to step in and protect us from being stupid?

“WHEREAS, TikTok’s stealing of information and data from users and its ability to share that data with the Chinese Communist Party unacceptably infringes on Montana’s right to privacy; and…”

This would be hilarious if it were not so serious. TikTok steals information and data from the people who give it to them in the first place? TikTok’s ability to share with the CCP infringes on someone’s “right” to privacy? Come on, now, cut me a break and cut the crap! Anyone who has ever gone online and registered with a web entity for some perceived benefit has always been required to give up some information and data about themselves. It might be nothing more than submitting one’s name and email address or it could be more extensive, intrusive even, but the fact of the matter is that everyone ALWAYS, ALWAYS has the option of refusing to divulge that information. In fact, to say that TikTok “steals” what users voluntarily post is like saying that Facebook does the same thing when they accumulate data which its users voluntarily post…and hundreds of millions of people do that all the time. Does this mean that TikTok is a criminal organization if (when) it shares that information with its government? Is Facebook?

Well, yes, they are, as are all the other digital conglomerates who collect voluntarily supplied information and then transmit that to power-hungry governments all over the world. It is not just TikTok which is guilty as sin, but this is where so many “conservatives” and Republicans fail to be consistent with what they say they believe. What’s fair for the gander is NOT fair for the goose, especially if it is a Chinese goose.

For the record, I have never been on TikTok. I have never seen it. I do not know what it looks like. It is nearly certain that I will never use it. Why, then, am I so adamantly against this bill? Well, the easy explanation is that I do not want the state of Montana or any other State telling me what I can watch, look at, see, view, listen to, record, share, send, download, save, talk about, contribute, and post. What I do with what is mine is my own business and, to maintain consistency, if I want to be at liberty to engage in any particular activity, then I have to protect the right of others to access that same freedom. I cannot expect to be free while trying to close the damper on someone else’s liberty.

We are currently living in an era in which censorship of opposing viewpoints is rampant and widespread. More often than not, this is uni-directional, that is, the progressive/liberal side has the upper hand and tries to shut down and squelch the conservative voice. Many times, they are quite successful and conservatives are well within their rights to protest the infringement. However, the answer to censorship is not more censorship, it is liberty and freedom of speech and everything that goes along with it. Unfortunately, most Republicans and conservatives have never learned this. Instead, they bellyache and complain about “leftist censorship”, but have no reservations about using their power to censor others when it suits.

In this case, the users of TikTok.

In my opinion, they do not hate TikTok because it is evil and dangerous, but because it is effective and belongs to someone else. If TikTok had American roots, it would be highly praised as the primary Destroyer of Impressionable Foreign Youth, whose government “we” are at war with.

5 thoughts on “Montana: The New State of Censorship

  1. Hi Roger,
    Great article! Good point that what is tick tok doing the rest of them are not.
    Not familiar with the issue but you are correct if there are business dealings that our illegal then yes, a ban could be justified outside of that it is censorship.

  2. Thank you, Alan,

    I think the only reason a ban could be rightly justified is when behavior crosses over into criminality. Every criminal act is illegal, but not every illegal act is criminal. If TikTok were proven beyond a shadow of doubt that its actions are criminal, then I could endorse putting it out of business or forcing it to pay heavy, serious compensation to those it deliberately harmed.

    Here’s the question to answer. Does providing a vehicle for another person who then drives at high speed into a large tree constitute criminal behavior? Does providing a social media site where people can be really stupid equal criminal action? It may be, depending on the circumstances, despicable and reprehensible but to claim it is criminal is a stretch too far, in my opinion.

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