‘Shaddup,’ the Government Said


    by Clarice Feldman, American Thinker:

    If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t find common factual ground with liberal friends, the reason may be that not only have private outfits worked successfully to censor news, but that government agencies as well, from the CDC to the CIA, have successfully censored it by proxy. It’s not just the major media that have been corrupted by the government (acting as megaphones for government agencies and so fearful of offending their sources that they help them cover up wrongdoing), but the new media, which we had supposed would allow alternative sources of information to become more widely available, is severely compromised. This week, following the exposure of pre-Elon Musk-takeover Twitter and the revelations of government censorship of the website, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government began its hearings.

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    The focus to start was on Twitter, but I cannot believe that higher-ranked sites like Facebook are any different. We just do not yet have access to their inner operations. (Speaking as one who never has bullied others or posted pornography or incited criminal behavior there, I am perpetually denied full exposure on Facebook for defying the unclear “community standards” which they claim to be enforcing.)

    Yes, as usual, there were the cameo appearances of the now-fired Twitter executives who admitted they “erred” in suppressing news of Hunter Biden’s laptop and banning the NY Post for daring to report on it, but to my way of thinking, the key witness was law professor Jonathan Turley, who shares my concern about government censorship through website proxies, as was clearly the case with Twitter. His full written testimony is lengthy and I can only pick out some of the key points he made, none of which, I venture to presume, were ever fairly covered in your newspapers or TV news accounts.

    He contends that such a role by government agencies violated the First Amendment, noting “Twitter and Facebook clearly had an impact [on our elections] by suppressing certain stories and viewpoints in our public discourse.”

    He contends that while these media are private, they can be considered agents of government agencies which are forbidden by the Constitution the role of free speech censors.  “‘The ‘marketplace of ideas’ is now largely digital. The question is whether the private bodies engaging in censorship are acting truly independently of the government.” And as we know from the Twitter files, we have good reason to believe they are not independent.

    Turley summarized the known facts of Twitter interaction and cooperation with federal agencies in suppressing speech. It was extensive, and the federal censorship actions included Yahoo, Twitch, Cloudflare, LinkedIn, and Wikimedia

    The censorship was extensive and ever-increasing. It included “long lists of newspapers, tweets or YouTube videos “deemed to be voicing ‘anti-Ukraine narratives.” Even jokes were nabbed by the social media at the behest of the FBI. Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, who was critical of the CDC’s positions on the COVID vaccinations, was eventually suspended after the White House wanted him banned. Others critical of the official government position on treating COVID, who argued for a more focused response to the virus than widespread lockdowns and mandates — Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya (Stanford) and Martin Kulldorff (Harvard) — were censored. As more information becomes known of the enormous costs of the lockdowns and the limited efficacy of the vaccines and masks and social distancing, we can be truly sorry these voices were suppressed when their views were timely. If nothing else illustrates the significance of free speech, the censorship of the views of these men does.

    Whether the censoring of views by Twitter was the result of payoffs, coercion, or consent, the site was,  in Turley’s view, acting as an agent of the government.

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