Rhetoric and Ethics of Free Speech Discourse on Gab
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Gab is a social media platform that brands itself as a champion of free speech. Users engage in a variety of extremist speech, including arguments for free speech absolutism. I argue that if free speech arguments on Gab are allowed to play out to their logical ends, the ethical consequences will undermine not only the free speech rights Gabbers purport to love, but the foundations of liberal democracy on which those rights are based. This is a mixed methods study using contextual analysis to examine key exigencies of political correctness, trolling, Constitutional fundamentalism, and the candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump; danah boyd’s ethnographic technique of “deep hanging out” to select representative textual samples; and Dana Cloud’s theory of “frame-checking” to critique doxastic (belief-based) arguments presented in the samples and critique those arguments based on their ethical ends.
- Communications