The New Internet Censorship
Most Americans consider their freedom of speech to be sacrosanct because it has been codified into law in the Bill of Rights, in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The famous exception everyone knows it that you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre -- in other words, you aren’t free to inspire panic within the general public. But what if the general public has already panicked, and the speech being suppressed is actually trying to calm people?
Recently a disturbing video of Dr. Ivette Lozano at an Open Texas! rally appeared, claiming that pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine unless the physician violates the patient’s right to privacy and reveals the specific purpose of the medication. The demand is not only illegal, it is immoral -- these alleged medical professionals are refusing to dispense medicines for purely political reasons, if her claims are true.
A brief Internet search confirms that Dr. Lozano is a practicing physician in Dallas, Texas. According to WebMD, she has experience treating bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory disorders, therefore the odds are that she knows what she’s talking about and is telling the truth about pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine, presumably just because President Trump talked about it and revealed that he has been taking the medicine as prophylaxis against the Wuhan coronavirus. The best argument against prescribing the drug should be that it is unproven as a treatment for this specific illness, but frankly, that’s not a very good argument because the anecdotal evidence and early studies suggested otherwise. The argument that the drug is potentially dangerous is rather ludicrous, considering that it has been safely and successfully used to treat malaria for longer than I’ve been alive, and that covers sixty years. The drug has also been successfully used “off label” to treat other maladies such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, making the exaggerated concerns about the use for treatment of COVID-19 patients somewhat ridiculous. So why is Lozano's video available only on African YouTube?
On the internet, there are explosive and informative interviews with doctors and immunologists such as Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Dolores Cahill and short documentaries like Plandemic that provide an interesting alternative perspective to the conventional wisdom of how best to resolve the current “COVID-19” crisis. The problem is knowing where to look for them.
According to the conventional wisdom of the powers-that-be, the unprecedented pain and suffering caused by shutting down most of the global economy has resulted in a “flattened curve” that saved millions of lives all over the world, so the benefit was worth the price we’ve paid. Is that true? It must be, because that’s what all the experts have said! Only the experts you’ve been allowed to hear have said it’s true, but you wouldn’t know otherwise because the information you are allowed to see on social media is being filtered.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki declared that her company will censor any information that fails to conform with the message of the WHO by flatly admitting, “Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations (on COVID-19) would be a violation of our policy.” In other words, we are now supposed to trust and depend on the United Nations as our only source of information. Who believes WHO? Only fools and Susan Wojcicki.
YouTube’s entire track record on censorship is lousy. Conservative voices such as Dennis Prager, Steven Crowder, Candace Owens, and many others have seen their content disappear and revenue streams disrupted because liberal social media companies have effectively blackballed them. The actor James Woods has had his Twitter account with 2.3 million fans suspended or blocked multiple times for violating Twitter’s politically correct restrictions on speech with factually true (but unpopular) information.
What’s even worse, parent company Google can and will frequently bury “fair-and-balanced” information several pages deep in the search results to create the impression that there is only one side to the story. Only the most persistent, willing to go as many as twenty or thirty pages deep in the search results to find dissenting opinions, but they do exist.
Not to be outdone, Facebook recently has begun “fact-checking” posts from conservative voices and censoring content -- remember the Ukrainian “whistleblower,” Eric Ciaramella, whom John Roberts refused to name during President Trump’s impeachment trial? Everyone who wanted to know his name could find out because Adam Schiff had carelessly neglected to black out his name from hearing transcripts, but Facebook made a policy of deleting any posts naming Ciaramella under the pretense of protecting him from retribution. Angry Trump supporters soon figured out that the way to circumvent the censors was to create a post naming Ciaramella as the whistleblower and taking a screen shot of it, deleting the post, and then posting the screenshot. The robot censors can only read typed text, not text in photos.
Problem solved. Humans will always be able to outsmart computers programmed by humans; it is the nature of that inanimate beast. Unplug a computer from its power source and it quickly becomes as dumb as a brick, but not as useful.
The only authority figures whose opinions have been solicited and disseminated to the public during the current crisis have been Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci. We have no reason to doubt their credentials as experts, but do we have any reason to question their judgment?
At minimum, we have ample reason to wonder if the coronavirus shutdown was ever necessary. Dr. Lozano, Dr. Erickson, and Dr. Cahill would also appear to be equally qualified to offer medical opinions on COVID-19, but they arguably have something much better than theory and computer simulations to support their counterargument; they have actual data from their experiences with treating patients. It seems the more data we collect and the more we learn about the virus, the more it seems that the panic-driven shutdown engineered primarily by Fauci with support from Birx has actually done much more harm than good.
More cynical (and paranoid) conspiracy-minded conservatives will probably note that Dr. Birx is married to former to Bill Clinton advance man Paige Reffe, and Dr. Fauci wrote a couple of fawning love notes to Hillary Clinton, possibly calling their motives into question. In my opinion, they are merely human beings, capable of mistakes like the rest of us. Any motives that led to their mistakes don’t have to be nefarious. Unless someone can produce ironclad proof that the shutdown was manufactured to deliberately harm President Trump’s reelection chances, we should give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume no malice was involved when bad decisions were made, but we must be allowed to question whether the decisions were right.
Sundance at the Conservative Treehouse just revealed that Twitter has begun “fact-checking” President Trump, starting with his recent tweets about mail-in ballots and the potential for voter fraud -- a small box with an exclamation point suggests that the reader “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” from them. As Sundance noted, “By taking this position, Twitter has put themselves into the position of arbitrating the opinions of general speech.”
Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Susan Wojcicki, and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are free to think whatever they want, but they simply cannot be allowed to control and shape public opinion by censoring the Internet. By merely claiming readers will be getting facts by clicking on their link added to President Trump’s tweet, they have implied that readers will not be getting facts simply be reading what the president typed.
John Leonard is a freelance writer and author of Always a Next One, an award-winning collection of short stories about fostering dogs and animal rescue. You may connect with him on Facebook (he’s a friend of Corn Pop!) or contact him through his website at southernprose.com.