Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of the opposition, it has only one place to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
Harry S. Truman
While America was busy celebrating the Fourth of July, it became apparent that the Biden administration has no respect for our First Amendment right to free speech. On July 4th, a Federal Judge issued a ruling and a wide ranging preliminary injunction in Missouri v. Biden against the Federal Government’s ongoing activities to proxy censor speech on social media through numerous agencies including The Department of Health and Human Services, The CDC, The FBI, The Department of Homeland Security, The Department of State, and The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
At issue is the practice of various government agencies asking/demanding/threatening social media to delete posts and block accounts, which they deem guilty of spreading “disinformation.” Our government saw fit to pressure Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Twitter and even Pinterest to censor posts by US citizens primarily regarding COVID, but also addressing climate change, gender, abortion, the Hunter Biden laptop, and even economic policy.
Some main stream media is questioning the decision, because the judge is conservative, but it is telling that the Biden administration is appealing the ruling, taking the position that ending their censorship practices could cause “grave harm.” This is not about malign foreign influence – but about protected political speech by Americans.
Banning free speech is wrong. There has been much recent controversy over banning books. This case, instead, involves limiting speech through government influence on social media. This type of activity is known as proxy censorship. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Blum v. Yaretsky that the state can be held responsible for actions of private business when it has “exercised coercive power” or “has provided such significant encouragement that choice must in law be that of the state.”
John Stuart Mill famously addressed the question of free speech in what is known as Mill’s Trident, an argument presented in his 1859 piece “On Liberty”, which can be summarized:
- You are wrong; in which case freedom of speech is essential to allow people to correct you.
- You are partially correct; in which case you need free speech and contrary viewpoints to help you get a more precise understanding of what truth really is.
- You are 100% correct; in which case you still need people to argue with you, to try to contradict you, and try to prove you wrong. Why? Because if you never have to defend your points of view, there is a very good chance that you don’t really understand them, and that you hold them the same way you would hold a prejudice or superstition. It is only through arguing with contrary viewpoints that you can come to understand why what you believe is true.
The federal government has been conducting bi-weekly 4:00PM meetings with the social media companies to ban speech that they do not want Americans to hear. The voices impacted include, not surprisingly, Tucker Carlson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and The Gateway Pundit, but also PhD epidemiologists from Harvard and Stamford and countless other accounts. Lead FBI agent, Elvis Chan, testified that the intention was for these meetings to continue at least through the 2024 election cycle. Stop this nonsense right now! Let the American people debate the issues from all perspectives.
American is built on freedom of speech. We should all be allowed to speak and listen to whomever we chose.
Free speech does not need to be nice, kind, or even true. Let us recall the vitriolic election of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson hired propogandist Thomas Callender who wrote for his campaign that Adams was, “a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, not the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
The American people may well decide some, or even much of, what we hear is bunk, but we must be able to listen to all sides of an argument before making up our minds. It is not up to our government to decide what we should read or hear.
History shows that nations fail when only the government approved narrative is available. Perhaps the most moving piece ever written about government-controlled narratives is Live not by Lies by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, released on February 12, 1974, the day he was arrested and sent to the Gulag.
Daniel Ellsberg, the hero who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 so Americans could know what was really going on in Vietnam, passed away a few weeks ago. He must be rolling in his grave.