Is it possible Americans are watching the death of free speech and therefore liberty? The defiance of the 1st and 4th Amendments of the Bill of Rights from March-May by Democrat governors has been beyond mind boggling and demonstrates that the Constitution, at least in these states, is on a ventilator.
But the growing collusion between Big Tech and government has been even more threatening as the former seems hell-bent on political censorship in favor of the left. At a time when the world is threatened by an unknown virus dissenting speech from physicians who work with the virus would be most valued, but it was stifled.
The examples of big tech censorship are many, we identify only two. Dr Knuit M. Wittkowski, former head of biostatistics epidemiology and research design at Rockefeller University, argued that massive lockdowns, mass quarantines, were a mistake, “We will see more cases among the elderly, because we have prevented the schoolchildren from creating herd immunity.” A dissenting view that conflicted with that of the government. “Google decided that disagreeing with the government is forbidden” (Tucker Carlson Tonight, May 19, 2020).
In mid April two Bakersfield, California physicians, Dan Erickson and Arten Massihi reported similarly, “Our immune system is used to touching. We share bacteria, staphylococcus, streptococcal bacteria, viruses. We develop an immune response, dealing to this stuff…. When you take that away from me,” Erickson continues, “My immune system drops as I shelter in place…. You keep me there for months, it drops more. Sheltering in place decreases your immune system and then as we all come out of shelter in place with a lower immune system, and start trading viruses, bacteria, what do you think's going to happen? Disease is going to spike” (https://youtu.be/xfLVxx_lBLU). YouTube, decided to back lockdown state governors and removed both videos because they conflicted with the government’s position.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, in an interview with CNN, admitted that, “Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations, would be a violation of our policy.” It would be classed as unsubstantiated or harmful misinformation and therefore removed (Tim Hinchliffe, “Big tech COVID-19 surveillance data & censorship threaten privacy & free speech: op-ed,” The Sociable, April 22, 2020).
In effect Big Tech has created an unholy alliance with Big Government and Big International agencies against the people to control the parameters of acceptable opinion and speech world wide. Harmeet Dillon, civil rights attorney, acknowledged that these companies, although private, have exceeded the rights of being just private. “But where the government is actually instructing and conspiring, which is happening with some of these states, contacting and working with Google, Facebook, Twitter and others to say take down the misinformation. That is the government using these tech companies as their tools and all of a sudden, it's a whole different scenario in terms of legal liability, as well as in terms of the terrible impact on America.” (Tucker Carlson Tonight, May 19, 2020).
Facebook, defining political speech it disagreed with as hate speech, in 2018 banned Infowars’ Alex Jones from his Internet audience of millions. More recently, using the virus as an excuse, it began removing what it called misinformation speech, basically blocking anything out of harmony with the WHO. Now it is removing “event posts for anti-lockdown protests in various US states, in tandem with state officials”—specifically in California, New Jersey and Nebraska. “Facebook ‘reached out to state officials to understand the scope of their orders’ and resolved to ‘remove the posts when gatherings do not follow the health parameters established by the government and are therefore unlawful’, such as when protests intend to flout social-distancing rules.” They have made themselves “arbiters of truth” (Tom Slater, “We need to stop the spread of Big Tech censorship,” Spiked, May 8, 2020).
Facebook and YouTube both “monopolize huge arenas of public discussion. Writers and thinkers unable to promote their work on Facebook, or video makers unable to upload their work to YouTube, are effectively denied access to a significant portion of what now constitutes the public square. At a time when billions of people are under house arrest, and the literal public square is largely off-limits, this is an even more sinister development. As is the fact that governments and powerful organizations seem to be working hand in glove with tech firms to enforce conformity” (Ibid.).
Emboldened by their new power they will only accelerate it. “Facebook has stressed that state governments did not ask them to remove specific posts. But what seems to have happened is almost worse. Facebook moderators appear to be banning events posts on the basis of what they reckon the laws of a particular state constitute” (Ibid.).
How serious is this? Social platforms were already important theaters for democratic participation and deliberation; now they’re the only game in town (Sam Adler-Bell, “Facebook Is Removing Protest Pages. That’s a Terrible Precedent,” Harvard Law Today, April 24, 2020).
Tucker Carlson assessed the damage to liberty, “The right to have your own opinions, to think for yourself, to disagree with your elected leaders, politicians, was the most basic right that every American enjoyed for 240 years, it was the signature right of this country.” He warned, “They’re going to try and censor Fox News next, you watch” (Tonight, May 19, 2020).
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.