Cultural Revolutions

Holding Onto Your Views

Paleoconservatives often refer to “the limits of permissible dissent” in describing the struggle to hold on to their views in the realms of the media and academia against the censure of both the left and the “mainstream” right.  Now, this struggle has been extended into the realm of the internet, the supposed last frontier of unregulated speech and capitalism.  Indeed, we may be witnesses, as Frederick Jackson Turner would say, to the closing of this frontier, not just because of the collapse of the dot-com economy but because of the new limits imposed on speech and content, which will only become more pronounced as the War on Terrorism progresses.

In 1996, Fresno, California, resident and internet surfer Jim Robinson had a problem: His posts on Prodigy message boards and chat rooms, particularly his strong criticisms of President Bill Clinton, were being censored by Prodigy’s administrators.  So he started his own website—Free Republic (www.freerepub-lic.com).

Free Republic was more than just an ordinary message board in the early settlement of the internet.  Surfers could post whole articles from publications and make them topics of discussion and debate.  And it was more than just another chat room.  Free Republic’s likeminded members could be connected from across the country to organize activist projects and...

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