Opinion Speech suppression is habit-forming

22:50  21 july  2021
22:50  21 july  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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Speech suppression is a habit that the Biden administration and its liberal supporters can’t seem to break. Many staffers may have picked up the habit in their student years: colleges and universities have been routinely censoring “politically incorrect” speech for the last 30 years. As Thomas Sowell notes, “There are no institutions in America where free speech is more severely restricted than in our politically correct colleges and universities, dominated by liberals.”

Jen Psaki holding a sign: White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a briefing at the White House, Tuesday, May 4. © Evan Vucci/AP White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a briefing at the White House, Tuesday, May 4.

Now the Biden administration seems to be giving the colleges and universities some serious competition. Like many Democrats during the Trump presidency, they have come to see suppression of “fake news” as the ordinary course of business and indeed a prime responsibility of social media platforms.

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For decades print and broadcast media have been dominated by liberals, but Facebook, Google and Twitter have developed a stranglehold over the delivery of news which exceeds anything that the three broadcast networks and a few national newspapers every enjoyed. If they suppress a story or a line of argument, it largely disappears from public view. And to the extent that it lingers, it can be stigmatized by these multi-billion-dollar companies as “misinformation” or “fake news.”

Speech suppression was exactly what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had in mind last week when she called on Facebook to suppress 12 accounts which she said were spreading “misinformation” about COVID vaccines. These accounts, she said, were “producing 65% of vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” she said July 15.

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“Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful, violative posts," she said. "Posts that would be within their policy for removal often remain up for days, and that’s too long. The information spreads too quickly.”

And she wasn’t aiming her demand at just Facebook. “You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others,” she added a day later. The message was surely not lost on these companies, whose fabulously successful business models are vulnerable to government disruption.

Like most speech suppressors Psaki protested her good intentions. As did her boss, President Biden, who when asked about Facebook on Friday said simply, “They’re killing people.” The implication is that any advice contrary to the current recommendations of public health officials — contrary to The Science — is bound to increase the death toll.

This in more in line with Cardinal Bellarmine’s view of Science than Galileo’s. As Galileo knew, science is not acceptance of holy writ, but learning from observation and experiment. Today, in dealing with a novel and deadly virus, current science is a body of hypotheses only partly tested and subject to revision based on emerging evidence.

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There’s a long list of things once believed to be “misinformation” about COVID but now widely accepted as true. One prime example: the possibility that the coronavirus was accidentally released from a Wuhan lab. For more than a year, this was widely treated as a wacky right-wing conspiracy theory. Facebook slapped “warnings” on it and boasted that it reduced readership — i.e., suppressed speech.

Then in May, former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, in an article that Facebook let slip through, argued a lab leak was likelier than animal-to-human transmission and a group of 18 bioscientists called for a deeper investigation. The Biden administration, to its credit, soon reversed itself and opened its own investigation and reportedly multiple officials now believe the lab leak theory is likely correct. Some “misinformation!”

That example provides powerful support for Galileo’s view that debate over scientific matters takes place best out in the open. But of course the urge to suppress speech is not limited to science. As conservative commentator Stephen L. Miller writes, “Removing information on vaccines will translate right over to anything they think is misinformation on gun violence, or climate, or healthcare or what defines a man or woman. Which is why they are doing this.”

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If you think that’s extravagant, consider that, as Townhall’s Guy Benson argues, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been stretching its ambit to studying gun violence and climate change even while letting its core mission of advancing public health atrophy, as shown by its inability to produce a COVID test.

It’s easy to imagine this administration pressuring Facebook and other social media to suppress information on other issues — for example, as the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin notes, his paper’s scoops about Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings, which was largely blocked from public view in the weeks before the 2020 election.

Speech suppression is evidently habit-forming. This is why, back in the 1790s they passed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing “freedom of speech, and of the press.” Or is that obsolete in these modern times?

Tags: Opinion

Original Author: Michael Barone

Original Location: Speech suppression is habit-forming

Americans, Not Government, Are the Arbiters of Truth .
Don’t let the government dragoon Big Tech into censorship.This scheme to end-run the Constitution by secretly working with tech platforms to censor Americans’ speech is not only disturbing but also wholly inconsistent with the government’s constitutional role in American life. It is completely contrary to the foundational principles embedded in the First Amendment to our Constitution. That’s why I’m taking action, working with Senate colleagues, to ensure such efforts aren’t hidden from the American people.

usr: 3
This is interesting!