FreeSpeech and Censorship: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at
Mon Aug 30 23:47:06 PDT 2021

Yet more twisted non-rationalizations foisted upon the sheeple who
keep gobbling it up...
thousands of pro-censor plans and articles all over the net...

San Diego Proposal On Combatting COVID "Misinformation" Triggers Free
Speech Concerns

There is growing controversy in San Diego after the county board of
supervisors introduced a proposal to declare “health misinformation a
public health crisis” and enact measures to try to “combat” views
deemed untrue or misleading. As a free speech advocate, I do not share
some of the objections made to the proposals.

However, one item is deeply concerning.

On its face, the proposal calls for government agencies to combat bad
information with better information on Covid. I have no problem with
such informational programs. Even if people disagree with the
government’s view of vaccines or mandates, they are free to voice
their opposing views in the exercise of free speech.  For example,
while I opposed the Big Gulp laws and laws barring certain foods or
advertising, I have always recognized the legitimate (and often
positive) role of the government in highlighting what it views as good
science or good practices.

What concerns me is this item:

    “e). Partner with federal, state, territorial, tribal, private,
nonprofit, research, and other local entities to identify best
practices to stop the spread of health misinformation and develop and
implement coordinated recommendations.”

There is a difference between countering and stopping misinformation.
The latter has been a focus of Democratic members in Congress in
seeking to censor opposing views on subjects from election fraud to
climate change to Covid.  Direct censorship from “federal, state,
territorial” offices would be subject to First Amendment challenges.
However, the proposal also makes specific reference to private and
other entities which would be enlisted to combat misinformation.

As previously discussed, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared at a key
hearing in which he followed up his apology for censoring the Hunter
Biden story by pledging more censorship. One of the most chilling
moments came from Delaware Senator Chris Coons who demonstrated the
very essence of the “slippery slope” danger.

    Dorsey: Well, misleading information, as you are aware, is a large
problem. It’s hard to define it completely and cohesively. We wanted
to scope our approach to start to focus on the highest severity of
harm. We focused on three areas, manipulated media, which you
mentioned, civic integrity around the election, specifically in public
health, specifically around COVID. We wanted to make sure that our
resources that we  have the greatest impact on where we believe the
greatest severity of harm is going to be. Our policies are living
documents. They will evolve. We will add to them, but we thought it
important that we focus our energies and prioritize the work as much
as we could.

    Coons: Well, Mr. Dorsey, I’ll close with this. I cannot think of a
greater harm than climate change, which is transforming literally our
planet and causing harm to our entire world. I think we’re
experiencing significant harm as we speak. I recognize the pandemic
and misinformation about COVID-19, manipulated media also cause harm,
but I’d urge you to reconsider that because helping to disseminate
climate denialism, in my view, further facilitates and accelerates one
of the greatest existential threats to our world. So thank you to both
of our witnesses.

Notably, Dorsey starts with the same argument made by free speech
advocates: “Well, misleading information, as you are aware, is a large
problem. It’s hard to define it completely and cohesively.” However,
instead of then raising concerns over censoring views and comments on
the basis for such an amorphous category, Coons pressed for an
expansion of the categories of censored material to prevent people
from sharing any views that he considers “climate denialism”

There is, of course, a wide array of views that different people or
different groups would declare “harmful.” Indeed, Connecticut Senator
Richard Blumenthal seemed to take the opposite meaning from Twitter
admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said
that he was “concerned that both of your companies are, in fact,
backsliding or retrenching, that you are failing to take action
against dangerous disinformation.” Accordingly, he demanded an answer
to this question:

    “Will you commit to the same kind of robust content modification
playbook in this coming election, including fact checking, labeling,
reducing the spread of misinformation, and other steps, even for
politicians in the runoff elections ahead?”

“Robust content modification” is the new Orwellian term for censorship.

The focus of the government needs to be combating what it views as bad
speech with better speech, not trying to prevent or silence those
deemed to be misleading others.

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