This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Americans Give up First Amendment Freedoms
We are in a very scary time in American history. Views that do not match the general consensus are censored. We saw this happen on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube when big tech removed the video of the doctors who support treating patients with Hydroxychloroquine. After retweeting this headline and posting it on Facebook with the comment “The censorship needs to stop!”, I was shocked at how many Americans supported the video’s removal!
They alleged that it was “destructive, dangerous, and bogus” and called the doctors featured in the video “quacks.” To my knowledge, none of the people commenting had evaluated the academic papers published on the use of hydroxychloroquine, neither had they researched the history of the doctors to see if they were, in fact, quacks. Instead, they were reacting negatively to the story for the single reason that it differed from the mainstream media narrative, which coincided with messages sent by prominent democrats.
The headlines proclaimed, “Debate Over Hydroxychloroquine Spills Over from the White House to Congressional Campaigns.” Should a debate about a potential treatment for a disease be a political one? Should it be an open debate between doctors? Or, should a decision be taken that this treatment is bad and all mentions of it removed? America is shifting onto dangerous ground. The single voice of the supposed experts is supported by a single political party where they are authorized to decide for us what is good and what is not good information. And the media supposedly protects us by blocking disinformation, meaning information which is counter to the accepted narrative.
The New York Times (NYT) ran the headline “Misleading Virus Video, Pushed by the Trumps, Spreads Online.” This wording violates journalistic neutrality. The NYT should not be evaluating whether or not the information contained in the video was misleading. Aside from the fact that all journalists and all media should be appalled by censorship, the NYT should have said “allegedly misleading” or “which Youtube and Facebook claimed was misleading.” The NYT clearly supported the removal of the video, writing “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter worked feverishly to remove it, but by the time they had, the video had already become the latest example of misinformation about the virus that has spread widely.” Once again, they used the term “misinformation.”
CNN reported, “After the video featuring [Dr. Stella] Immanuel’s false claims about coronavirus cures was removed from Twitter, the platform restricted Donald Trump Jr.‘s ability to tweet over his posting of a copy of the video.” Not only does the CNN statement “Immanuel’s false claims” violate journalistic integrity, but the restriction of Donald Trump Jr.’s account raises some very frightening questions about the ability to disseminate and obtain information that differs from the mainstream media’s interpretation of world events. Are dissenting voices no longer allowed to be heard in America? Is the First Amendment dead?
Protecting Us from Conspiracy Theories
The video Plandemic also went viral but was taken down by the largest social media company. As was stated in the NY Times, it “spread widely in May and falsely claimed that a shadowy cabal of elites was using the virus and a potential vaccine to profit and gain power.” How does the New York Times know that the video’s claims were false? Has the video been disproven? If it had, then the NY Times should have said it was later disproved.
One must ask, since the video was removed from social media within a week, if the NYT or anyone else had taken the time to investigate and disprove claims made in the video. The article goes on to say, “Plandemic was viewed more than eight million times on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before it was taken down.” Supposedly, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are separate non-colluding entities. This raises a much larger question of one voice or one party having complete control over the flow of information.
In spite of the fact that major social media outlets claim to be independent of one another, they seem to ban a lot of the same people. YouTube, Facebook, Apple, and Spotify banned popular conspiracy theorist and internet radio host Alex Jones. In an act consistent with the draconian controls on information in the People’s Republic of China, where discussions of censorship are banned, Mike Cernovich’s video about media censorship, Hoaxed, was pulled from Amazon.
Those who have suffered from bans across all major social media, such as Alex Jones, are now limited to broadcasting from their own website. One must ask if website-hosting will become the next battleground! Will hosting platforms eventually follow the same banning regimes as social media? If so, how will the opposition communicate their views to the public?
A group who allegedly shouted “Black Lives Matter” shot and killed an Indiana woman named Jessica Doty Whitaker for saying “All lives matter.” I Googled the phrase “Indiana woman killed for saying all lives matter” and the sites that were covering the story included: Fox, New York Daily News, Daily Mail, KNews, the Sun, Law Enforcement Today, and the Washington Examiner. Absent from the list was CNN, so I added “CNN” to the search terms, but essentially the same list came up. Next, I added “NYT” to the search. Articles about “all lives matter” came up but not about the murder of Jessica Doty Whitaker.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is claiming Antifa violence in Portland is a myth. Twitter used to be a platform we did not trust because it was user-created. Since the BLM riots started, however, Twitter, along with conservative media, are some of the few sources of news that go against the prevailing narrative. That narrative is, of course, one of peaceful protesters, seeking to build a world of greater equality. While independent media reporters such as Andy Ngo were posting videos of stores being looted and police and random people being attacked, The New York Times ran the headline “Fact Checking the Portland Protests: How Violent Are They?”
The Department of Homeland Security confirms the image presented by independent and conservative media, stating that “Downtown Portland has seen over 50 straight nights of criminal violence perpetrated by anarchists.” I googled “BLM violence” and the first thing to come up was “What We Believe – Black Lives Matter.” Next was “Police, Violence, and Data: The Black Lives Matter Movement.” CNN had the following statement which read, “Witness to Austin Black Lives Matter shooting says the driver incited the violence.” New York Post was the only media on the first search page which actually reported on violent threats by a BLM protest leader stating, “BLM leader: If change doesn’t happen, then we will burn down this system”.
Mainstream Media Choosing What Gets Censored
A very frightening New York Times story titled “Information Contagion” said that Fox and Breitbart perpetuated lies and should be censored. The NYT said, “Another factor creating confusion: The lack of an aggressive response to virus misinformation from Facebook and YouTube.” The story praised Twitter for censorship, noting “Twitter took a slightly more aggressive step yesterday, putting temporary limits on the account of Donald Trump Jr. after he shared the false Breitbart video.”
In America, you are free to believe what you want to believe and free to agree or disagree with anything in print, but both sides have the right to be heard. This is called Freedom of Speech and it is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. In response to the curbing of free speech by Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, the Trump administration submitted a Petition to FCC in a move that would prevent online censorship.
To be clear, I am not advocating for hydroxychloroquine. I have no idea if it works or not. However, I am asking a very important question, not just about freedom of speech, but about our approach to information in general. The predominant narrative of the mainstream media is that anyone who believes in this drug or who even discusses carrying out further testing is an idiot and that media supporting this drug need to be censored.
All drugs that have ever been used as treatment started out as an idea, a hypothesis, a theory. They then went through various stages of testing before being approved. For nearly every drug, every issue, that has existed since the dawn of man, there have been equally qualified people on both sides of the argument. And they were both heard. In many instances, a drug was approved and then later rejected because a better drug was found or a previously unknown side-effect was discovered. This process of selection and refinement only works, however, in an environment of free speech, one in which information flows freely.
Why is this Drug Treated Differently?
The question I pose is this: Why is this drug being treated differently than other drugs? Why is this pandemic being treated differently than other pandemics? Why is no debate possible on the anti-mask or anti-lockdown side? Why is this movement being treated differently than other movements? Why can’t I say that, yes, all lives matter but also say that the riots are violent and need to stop?
We must ask why are people applauding censorship. Most of us do not have training in medical research and are not in a position to evaluate the effectiveness of this drug, yet people are absolutely certain it should not be discussed in public. Why? Based on what? Finally, if no opinion except the prevailing mainstream media opinion is allowed to be discussed in public, aren’t we running the danger of a) not finding a better cure and b) being sold a particular narrative and believing merely because we were told to do so?