Deradicalization activist Daryl Davis and Minds co-founder Bill Ottman have teamed up to announce an initiative to promote dialogue amid the permeation of cancel culture throughout the social landscape.
Speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Davis told the host that the social media platform and Davis published a paper to outline how “deplatforming actually intensifies extremism,” calling for a new approach to moderating speech in online spaces.
Davis, who earned a reputation for deradicalizing members of the Ku Klux Klan by having reasonable conversations with them, told Rogan that “a missed opportunity for dialogue is a missed opportunity for conflict resolution. It’s as simple as that.”
“But it’s not just about having a dialogue or a conversation or a debate. It’s the way we that have it, how we communicate, that makes it effective,” said Davis. “Like for example, I’ve been to 61 countries on six continents. I’ve played in all 50 states. All of that is to say I’ve been exposed to a multitude of skin colours, ethnicities, religions, cultures, ideologies et cetera. And all of that has shaped who I’ve become.”
“Now all that travel does not make me a better human being than somebody else,” Davis explained. “It just gives me a better perspective of mass humanity. And what I’ve learned is that no matter how far I’ve gone from our own country, right next door to Canada, or Mexico, or halfway around the globe, no matter how different the people I encounter may be — they don’t look like me, they don’t speak my language, they don’t worship as I do, I always conclude that at the end of the day we are all human beings.”
“And as such, we all want these same five core values in our lives. Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants to be respected. Everybody wants to be heard. We all want to be treated fairly. And we all basically want the same things for our family as anybody else wants for their family,” he continued.
“And if we learn to apply those five core values when we find ourselves in an adversarial situation or a cultural or society in which we are unfamiliar, I can guarantee that the navigation will be a lot more smoother,” Davis continued.
“And essentially that’s what’s happening here at Minds,” concluded Davis. “We’re allowing people to be heard. We’re showing them that kind of respect. We don’t have to respect what they’re saying but respect their right to say it. And we provide that platform because you know, when you don’t do that, you’re driving people to a platform that will embrace them and that becomes an echo chamber, and essentially it could become a breeding ground for a cesspool of nefarious activities, whether it’s extremism, violence, or conspiracy theories or what have you.”
Minds CEO Bill Ottman, who co-authored the paper with Davis, said that the company’s objective is to build long-term relationships between people of opposing viewpoints.
The introduction to Minds’ research paper claims to examine the “adverse effects of social media censorship and proposes an alternative moderation model on free speech and Internet freedom.”
“This research is critical to our mission as it provides clear evidence that censorship is actually amplifying radicalization and polarization and demonstrates why we must protect our Internet freedoms at all costs,” the description reads.
Efforts to deplatform dissenting voices from social spaces online has gone far beyond censoring people for “hate speech.” Indeed, cancel culture has reared its ugly head with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, with average Russians now banned from participating in dialogue on mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. On platforms like YouTube and Twitch, Russian content creators have been denied their earnings.