American liberals are obsessed with finding ways to silence and censor their adversaries. Every week, if not every day, they have new targets they want de-platformed, banned, silenced, and otherwise prevented from speaking or being heard (by "liberals,” I mean the term of self-description used by the dominant wing of the Democratic Party).
For years, their preferred censorship tactic was to expand and distort the concept of "hate speech” to mean "views that make us uncomfortable,” and then demand that such “hateful” views be prohibited on that basis. For that reason, it is now common to hear Democrats assert, falsely, that the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not protect “hate speech." Their political culture has long inculcated them to believe that they can comfortably silence whatever views they arbitrarily place into this category without being guilty of censorship.
Constitutional illiteracy to the side, the “hate speech” framework for justifying censorship is now insufficient because liberals are eager to silence a much broader range of voices than those they can credibly accuse of being hateful. That is why the newest, and now most popular, censorship framework is to claim that their targets are guilty of spreading “misinformation” or “disinformation.” These terms, by design, have no clear or concise meaning. Like the term “terrorism,” it is their elasticity that makes them so useful.
When liberals’ favorite media outlets, from CNN and NBC to The New York Times and The Atlantic, spend four years disseminating one fabricated Russia story after the next — from the Kremlin hacking into Vermont's heating system and Putin's sexual blackmail over Trump to bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan, the Biden email archive being "Russian disinformation,” and a magical mystery weapon that injures American brains with cricket noises — none of that is "disinformation” that requires banishment. Nor are false claims that COVID's origin has proven to be zoonotic rather than a lab leak, the vastly overstated claim that vaccines prevent transmission of COVID, or that Julian Assange stole classified documents and caused people to die. Corporate outlets beloved by liberals are free to spout serious falsehoods without being deemed guilty of disinformation, and, because of that, do so routinely.
This "disinformation" term is reserved for those who question liberal pieties, not for those devoted to affirming them. That is the real functional definition of “disinformation” and of its little cousin, “misinformation.” It is not possible to disagree with liberals or see the world differently than they see it. The only two choices are unthinking submission to their dogma or acting as an agent of "disinformation.” Dissent does not exist to them; any deviation from their worldview is inherently dangerous — to the point that it cannot be heard.
The data proving a deeply radical authoritarian strain in Trump-era Democratic Party politics is ample and have been extensively reported here. Democrats overwhelmingly trust and love the FBI and CIA. Polls show they overwhelmingly favor censorship of the internet not only by Big Tech oligarchs but also by the state. Leading Democratic Party politicians have repeatedly subpoenaed social media executives and explicitly threatened them with legal and regulatory reprisals if they do not censor more aggressively — a likely violation of the First Amendment given decades of case law ruling that state officials are barred from coercing private actors to censor for them, in ways the Constitution prohibits them from doing directly.
Democratic officials have used the pretexts of COVID, “the insurrection," and Russia to justify their censorship demands. Both Joe Biden and his Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, have "urged” Silicon Valley to censor more when asked about Joe Rogan and others who air what they call “disinformation” about COVID. They cheered the use of pro-prosecutor tactics against Michael Flynn and other Russiagate targets; made a hero out of the Capitol Hill Police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Ashli Babbitt; voted for an additional $2 billion to expand the functions of the Capitol Police; have demanded and obtained lengthy prison sentences and solitary confinement even for non-violent 1/6 defendants; and even seek to import the War on Terror onto domestic soil.
Given the climate prevailing in the American liberal faction, this authoritarianism is anything but surprising. For those who convince themselves that they are not battling mere political opponents with a different ideology but a fascist movement led by a Hitler-like figure bent on imposing totalitarianism — a core, defining belief of modern-day Democratic Party politics — it is virtually inevitable that they will embrace authoritarianism. When a political movement is subsumed by fear — the Orange Hitler will put you in camps and end democracy if he wins again — then it is not only expected but even rational to embrace authoritarian tactics including censorship to stave off this existential threat. Fear always breeds authoritarianism, which is why manipulating and stimulating that human instinct is the favorite tactic of political demagogues.
And when it comes to authoritarian tactics, censorship has become the liberals’ North Star. Every week brings news of a newly banished heretic. Liberals cheered the news last week that Google's YouTube permanently banned the extremely popular video channel of conservative commentator Dan Bongino. His permanent ban was imposed for the crime of announcing that, moving forward, he would post all of his videos exclusively on the free speech video platform Rumble after he received a seven-day suspension from Google's overlords for spreading supposed COVID “disinformation.” What was Bongino's prohibited view that prompted that suspension? He claimed cloth masks do not work to stop the spread of COVID, a view shared by numerous experts and, at least in part, by the CDC. When Bongino disobeyed the seven-day suspension by using an alternative YouTube channel to announce his move to Rumble, liberals cheered Google's permanent ban because the only thing liberals hate more than platforms that allow diverse views are people failing to obey rules imposed by corporate authorities.
It is not hyperbole to observe that there is now a concerted war on any platforms devoted to free discourse and which refuse to capitulate to the demands of Democratic politicians and liberal activists to censor. The spear of the attack are corporate media outlets, who demonize and try to render radioactive any platforms that allow free speech to flourish. When Rumble announced that a group of free speech advocates — including myself, former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, comedian Bridget Phetasy, former Sanders campaign videographer Matt Orfalea and journalist Zaid Jilani — would produce video content for Rumble, The Washington Post immediately published a hit piece, relying exclusively on a Google-and-Facebook-aligned so-called "disinformation expert” to malign Rumble as "one of the main platforms for conspiracy communities and far-right communities in the US and around the world” and a place “where conspiracies thrive," all caused by Rumble's "allowing such videos to remain on the site unmoderated.” (The narrative about Rumble is particular bizarre since its Canadian founder and still-CEO, Chris Pavlovski created Rumble in 2013 with apolitical goals — to allow small content creators abandoned by YouTube to monetize their content — and is very far from an adherent to right-wing ideology).
The same attack was launched, and is still underway, against Substack, also for the crime of refusing to ban writers deemed by liberal corporate outlets and activists to be hateful and/or fonts of disinformation. After the first wave of liberal attacks on Substack failed — that script was that it is a place for anti-trans animus and harassment — The Post returned this week for round two, with a paint-by-numbers hit piece virtually identical to the one it published last year about Rumble. “Newsletter company Substack is making millions off anti-vaccine content, according to estimates,” blared the sub-headline. “Prominent figures known for spreading misinformation, such as [Joseph] Mercola, have flocked to Substack, podcasting platforms and a growing number of right-wing social media networks over the past year after getting kicked off or restricted on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,” warned the Post. It is, evidently, extremely dangerous to society for voices to still be heard once Google decrees they should not be.
This Post attack on Substack predictably provoked expressions of Serious Concern from good and responsible liberals. That included Chelsea Clinton, who lamented that Substack is profiting off a “grift.” Apparently, this political heiress — who is one of the world's richest individuals by virtue of winning the birth lottery of being born to rich and powerful parents, who in turn enriched themselves by cashing in on their political influence in exchange for $750,000 paychecks from Goldman Sachs for 45-minute speeches, and who herself somehow was showered with a $600,000 annual contract from NBC News despite no qualifications — believes she is in a position to accuse others of "grifting.” She also appears to believe that — despite welcoming convicted child sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell to her wedding to a hedge fund oligarch whose father was expelled from Congress after his conviction on thirty-one counts of felony fraud — she is entitled to decree who should and should not be allowed to have a writing platform:
This Post-manufactured narrative about Substack instantly metastasized throughout the liberal sect of media. “Anti-vaxxers making ‘at least $2.5m’ a year from publishing on Substack,” read the headline of The Guardian, the paper that in 2018 published the outright lie that Julian Assange met twice with Paul Manafort inside the Ecuadorian Embassy and refuses to this day to retract it (i.e., “disinformation"). Like The Post, the British paper cited one of the seemingly endless number of shady pro-censorship groups — this one calling itself the “Center for Countering Digital Hate” — to argue for greater censorship by Substack. “They could just say no,” said the group's director, who has apparently convinced himself he should be able to dictate what views should and should not be aired: “This isn’t about freedom; this is about profiting from lies. . . . Substack should immediately stop profiting from medical misinformation that can seriously harm readers.”
Read the whole article here.