Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Michael Barone: Speech Suppression is Habit-Forming

 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 noted, "There are no institutions in America where free speech is more severely restricted than in our politically correct colleges and universities, dominated by liberals."

    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.

    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 major 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 multibillion-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 that she said were spreading "misinformation" about COVID-19 vaccines. These accounts, she said July 15, were "producing 65% of vaccine misinformation on social media platforms."

    "Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful, violative posts. 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 Joe 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 is 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.

    There's a long list of things once believed to be "misinformation" about COVID that are now widely accepted. One prime example: the possibility that the coronavirus was accidentally released from the 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 wrote, "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." 

    If you think that's extravagant, consider that, as Townhall's Guy Benson argued, 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 noted, his paper's negative stories about Hunter Biden's shady business dealings, which were largely blocked from public view in the weeks before the 2020 election.

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

    Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.



Anonymous said...

I really miss the common sense no nonsense Thomas Sowell. Really reconsidering our bequests in our wills to colleges and universities.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kangfish, if you’re so for free speech, why don’t you stop censoring and moderating the comments section on your posts? lol right

Anonymous said...

boycott disney..

Anonymous said...

"Speech suppression is a habit that the Biden administration and its liberal supporters can't seem to break."

"It's easy to imagine this administration pressuring Facebook and other social media to suppress information on other issues."

Today's top-performing Facebook link posts by US pages are from:
Fox News.
Fox News.
Occupy Democrats.
Fox News.
Ben Shapiro.
Ben Shapiro.
Ben Shapiro.

Do the followers of these right wing nut jobs not stop and think about how they read these stories of "oppression" by Facebook ON FACEBOOK?

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from the Special Ed kids on the left, the group that says jogging is racist, crossword puzzles are racist, and birds have a racist past? Just go to their websites, watch their shows, watch their news, and see the stupidity of these “college educated” morons. Of course they want to suppress speech, the ministry of information wants to control the narrative and the programming.

Anonymous said...

You are just as brainwashed and delusional as the “left” you so vehemently deride. You are ao clueless and believe that you are actually more informed by the opposition that is appealing to your confirmation biases.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, do you take offense to this article? He’s calling you the Biden administration and a liberal. Are you gonna take that from this loser at the Washington examiner?

Anonymous said...

I am bot at all surpised that Mark Zuckerberg permits controlled opposition pundits like Ben Shapiro while silencing opposition that doesn’t conform the false left/right paradigm of acceptable discourse. Ben and Mark both have a singular goal and work both sides of the false paradigm to ensure that your interests align with theirs. A major component of that shared interest is a divide and conquer stratagem that keeps the focus of the sheeple directed at shadow boogiemen and not the real enemy of every American.

Anonymous said...

This reads like a job interview for the onion.

Anonymous said...

The right has put this country in a no win situation. Their inability to distinguish when someone is blatantly lying to their face has left us with no good options. We obviously can’t force them to be competent, so we either let them kill us all in their pursuit of ignorance or start making some changes.

Anonymous said...

This according to the person who still believes that the Steele Dossier was real.
Q anon people do not have a monopoly on being gullible victims of sophisticated psychological operations.
This isn’t a left or right issue. It is an issue of our government and media are controlled people who are intentionally manipulating the right/left into hating each other more than the conspirators themselves.

The conspirators worst fear is for their names to become household names.

Anonymous said...

If only one could actually suppress the speech of Jordan and Greene just for a few minutes of calm and civility!

Crazy, rude, and loudmouth have never stopped being legal.

As always, those who are civilized get to ostracize and reject boors. They can still holler as long as they don't disturb the peace or harm others.

15% of the mentally ill, whatever the percentage is of the elderly with Alzheimer's and dementia, and a percentage of those whose IQs are below average, found a way to bond and feel good about themselves on social media.

Anonymous said...

“When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

Anonymous said...

If you really want to blow your mind then dig out a copy of Radiohead’s 1997 album “OK Computer”

Re-read all of the song titles and note they have names like “Electioneering” and “Paranoid Android” and lyrics such as “Overthrow the Government. They don’t, They Don’t Work For Us” in the song “Karma Police” and I can’t tell is the bullshit of the last decade has just been repeating for centuries. Or, are Radiohead actually prophets?

I was born in 1999 btw so all of this is new to me.

Anonymous said...

Those that believe there is a left, right divide in the political world, will never be able to arrive at the truth. The only divide is between the haves and the have-nots. Money, lots of it, or the lack thereof is the parting line.

Anonymous said...

I would expand that to “The Money Masters” vs “The Debt Slaves”

Anonymous said...

What we need is a thread on blog censorship, so Kingfish can really get his rocks off.

Anonymous said...

@10:12 Absolutely correct. They divide us on left versus right, black versus white, mask vs no mask, pro police vs anti police to distract us because they know if the average Americans unite, then all hell would break loose against the elites and DC swamp members and its propaganda arm (corporate media) who believe they know better how to run our lives than we do. The independence of the States used to be the ultimate hedge against that "tyranny" until they allowed themselves to be at the mercy of the federal teat financially.

Wasted Keystrokes said...

Interesting thread posted by the number 1 speech suppressor in the Metro. With stupid shit excuses like: You typed in all caps. Your post was fine except you called somebody a bad word. I knew your opinion was not true so I culled it. Your post goes against my racial narrative (today). You referred to me as KF or Fish or Kingfart instead of The Kingfish.

Dayum man...relax. It's a forum. Let people talk. You'd be a great professor controlling a Milsaps classroom and kicking people out of the class for good.

This attempted post is not intended to result in it being up on the page.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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