President Joe Biden’s censorship efforts with Big Tech companies have shocked even a federal judge, who asked the administration last week whether the president’s staff had ever read George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel “1984,” because the court case reminded him so much of the censorship in that book.
Judge Terry A. Doughty, chief district judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, asked the question in a hearing May 26 on the ongoing case of Missouri v. Biden, focusing on the administration’s efforts with Big Tech to censor free speech. The administration’s lawyers went on to answer questions about free speech that only cemented the judge’s suspicions.
The transcript won’t be available for a few weeks, but Missouri Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey shared the highlights on Twitter.
“The federal government had a hard time convincing a judge last week that it hasn’t been working with and coercing social media companies to censor free speech,” Bailey wrote.
“The judge asked the feds if they had ever read George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ pointing out the similarities between the case and the book,” he added. Doughty was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
Orwell’s dystopian novel presents an alternate reality, in which a totalitarian government uses constant video surveillance and mind-conditioning to constrict the thoughts of its citizens. Terms from the book such as “Big Brother,” “thoughtcrime,” and “doublethink” have become common parlance in English as they capture the tools that some elites use to enforce ideological orthodoxy and conformity.
The Biden administration has not directly ordered Facebook or Twitter to censor speech on their platforms, but various government agencies have advised the social media companies to watch out for “misinformation” and suggested that certain narratives must be quashed. Big Tech has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI to enforce the official narratives on the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues in the name of safety under what critics call an illusion of scientific consensus.
Bailey’s free-speech lawsuit has turned up documents in which Facebook admitted to the White House that it suppressed “often true” content regarding COVID-19 vaccines on the platform, because it might make people hesitant to take a vaccine.
In the hearing last week, the judge proceeded to ask the Biden administration a series of hypothetical questions, asking whether the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech applied to people voicing positions that are unpopular with the administration.
“He asked if an American citizen questioning the safety or efficacy of masks or a vaccine was protected under the First Amendment,” Bailey recalled. “The feds’ answer? ‘It COULD be,’ but often won’t be.”
The Missouri attorney general noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention limited the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to safety concerns, but the federal government encouraged Big Tech companies to censor people expressing concerns about safety.
“The judge also asked Biden’s lawyers if the First Amendment covered Americans’ right to say that Biden is responsible for high gas prices and inflation,” Bailey added. “Their answer? It depends.”
“The judge also asked them if the First Amendment applied to Americans’ right to say that the 2020 election was stolen,” the attorney general wrote. “Their answer? It depends.”
“The judge also pointed out that it seemed to be only conservatives who are targeted for their speech, asking the feds if they could provide one example of a liberal who was censored due to ‘misinformation,’” Bailey wrote. Biden’s lawyers mentioned one liberal who faced censorship—and that person is a political opponent of the president. Bailey did not reveal the person’s identity.
Bailey also noted that the judge asked Biden’s lawyers why he should believe them when they claim the censorship has stopped. Bailey’s office has asked for a preliminary injunction to halt the censorship enterprise.
“This vast censorship enterprise stemming from the Biden White House is absolutely Orwellian,” Madeline Sieren, the attorney general’s spokeswoman, told The Daily Signal in a statement Friday, June 2. “Their answers to the judge’s hypotheticals absolutely underscored the ‘1984’ comparison and proved the judge’s point.”
The White House did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
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