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Big Tech + Big Government = Censorship

Blockbuster report by The Intercept reveals State efforts to collaborate with media to police 'disinformation'
Screen Shot 2022-11-02 at 5.04.14 PM

Above, that's Vijaya Gadde, who until she was fired by Elon Musk, was Twitter's lead censor -- and, as it turns out, a government suck-up. You have probably seen by now The Intercept's jaw-dropping report about how the US Government has been collaborating with Big Tech to monitor and shape what Americans are allowed to talk about. I won't quote the report at length here, but here's the gist:

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Note this part especially, from the report:

Got that? If you have a dissenting opinion on the lab-leak theory, on vaccines, on Critical Race Theory, on Afghanistan, or on Ukraine, then the Feds may be interested in you.

Check out this Twitter thread by Bill Roggio, editor of Long War Journal. Excerpts:

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He lists more false narratives the US Government put out for public consumption, concluding thus:

Same deal with Covid, and with racialist anti-Asian and anti-white policies implemented by elites, supposedly for our own good. What "inaccurate information" about "racial justice" does the US Government believes is a threat to the security of the homeland? Diversity is our strength, and if you doubt it, the Eye of Sauron notes your lack of faith and commitment to fighting racism. I'm reminded of this C.S. Lewis quote Paul Kingsnorth cites in his latest newsletter:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

You will notice if you read The Intercept's report -- and note well that The Intercept is a left-wing website -- is how eager these tech companies were for the government to intrude:

Elon Musk fired Vijaya Gadde as one of his first acts after buying Twitter. Why do you think that these people were eager for the government to increase its monitoring of the media? Because they trust these state actors to enforce a progressive-friendly narrative. This is what it means when the Deep State has been captured by the Left.

I cannot say it often enough: this is what the people who came to America to escape Communism are warning us about in Live Not By Lies! Excerpt from the book:

What unnerves those who lived under Soviet communism is this similarity: Elites and elite institutions are abandoning old-fashioned liberalism, based in defending the rights of the individual, and replacing it with a progressive creed that regards justice in terms of groups. It encourages people to identify with groups—ethnic, sexual, and otherwise—and to think of Good and Evil as a matter of power dynamics among the groups. A utopian vision drives these progressives, one that compels them to seek to rewrite history and reinvent language to reflect their ideals of social justice.

Further, these utopian progressives are constantly changing the standards of thought, speech, and behavior. You can never be sure when those in power will come after you as a villain for having said or done something that was perfectly fine the day before. And the consequences for violating the new taboos are extreme, including losing your livelihood and having your reputation ruined forever.

People are becoming instant pariahs for having expressed a politically incorrect opinion, or in some other way provoking a progressive mob, which amplifies its scapegoating through social and conventional media. Under the guise of “diversity,” “inclusivity,” “equity,” and other egalitarian jargon, the Left creates powerful mechanisms for controlling thought and discourse and marginalizes dissenters as evil.

It is very hard for Americans who have never lived through this kind of ideological fog to recognize what is happening. To be sure, whatever this is, it is not a carbon copy of life in the Soviet Bloc nations, with their secret police, their gulags, their strict censorship, and their material deprivation. That is precisely the problem, these people warn. The fact that relative to Soviet Bloc conditions, life in the West remains so free and so prosperous is what blinds Americans to the mounting threat to our liberty. That, and the way those who take away freedom couch it in the language of liberating victims from oppression.

Or, protecting the homeland from badthinkers among its people. And for the record, I would find this every bit as repulsive and frightening if the Deep State were right-wing. Wouldn't you?

The right-wing government of George W. Bush misled us all into the Iraq quagmire -- and, as Bill Roggio says, lied to us to keep us in Afghanistan. The left-wing Obama government did the same thing about Afghanistan. Do you really trust Washington -- left or right -- to tell it straight to the American people about Ukraine? Whatever you think about US involvement in the Ukraine war, it ought to scare you that the US Government believes that it's in the interest of "homeland security" to monitor and correct "disinformation" about US policy there.

Look, it's very hard to know what's true and what's not anymore. Peter Savodnik had a good piece recently about how the mainstream media runs interference for John Fetterman, the disabled Democratic candidate for US Senate. Most of us are well aware how the mainstream media police the boundaries of discourse constantly to protect its sacred cows. Jonathan Chait, the liberal columnist for New York magazine, admitted in his latest piece that the Left hurts itself with this. Excerpt:

The motive for many progressives to follow these stifling conventions was sympathetic. If you believe systemic racism and inequality are the greatest crisis in America, which I do, and you also believe the racism of the Republican Party is far more dangerous than any excesses on the left, which I also do, then you might hesitate to admit to anything that might be used by Republicans to discredit the cause of racial justice. Yet that hesitation allows the most unreasonable people on the left to rope the whole progressive movement into indefensible and self-discrediting positions.

The George Floyd protests are hardly the only subject for which this dynamic has prevailed. Progressives decided that the hypothesis that COVID-19 may have originated in a laboratory rather than zoonotically was “racist” — even though this was a purely scientific question, the evidence was and is murky, and it was easier to imagine racist behavior resulting from a theory blaming COVID on Chinese cultural practices than a theory blaming China’s government. Journalists at mainstream organs followed this convention, essentially turning a scientific question into a political one. When institutions adopt illiberal norms of debate that make it impossible to challenge an accusation of racism or sexism, they open themselves inevitably to abuse.

I believe the cultural pressures that produced these errors are in remission. But they haven’t disappeared. As evidenced by the likes of Scocca and Katz, there remains a deep-seated impulse on the left to defend or deny illiberal norms. They insist the wave of hysterical accusations, overpolicing of language, and empowered outrage mobs were a figment of the critics’ imaginations, or that these things happened but were actually good, or perhaps, somehow, both. As people in these institutions begin to lose their fear of speaking truthfully, we need to honestly confront what happened.

It's bad enough that progressive journalists do this. But to have those who control social media platforms engage in it, and to encourage involvement of the State in policing discourse? And to have a domestic security arm of the State spreading its bureaucracy into controlling the narrative behind the scenes?

Tyranny. That's what this is: tyranny.

A lot of conservatives were slapped around last week for jumping on a conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi. I posted something in this space saying that none of us really knew what happened to Paul Pelosi, and raising some unanswered questions. I am satisfied, for now, that the most reasonable explanation is likely what really happened. But people who are outraged that anybody dared question for one hot second the official story ought to reflect on the Hunter Biden laptop story, and how the media, Big Tech, and parts of the US establishment (e.g., former intelligence officials) all collaborated to shoot that TRUE STORY down just before the 2020 election, to protect Joe Biden.

I was thinking today, after reading the details of a sex abuse lawsuit against people connected with Franciscan University of Steubenville, which was settled out of court, that the kinds of allegations in it are so fantastical that most people would not believe they happened -- but after twenty years of these kinds of things having to do with clergy, there is really no bottom to be found. In so many cases, things that you would think would never, ever occur to a priest to think, much less to do, turn out to have been true. Catholic Church officials so often tried to control the narrative by flat-out lying about them. Now, imagine the US Government deciding that it was a matter of homeland security to keep "disinformation" about the Church abuse scandal from surfacing in the media, or on social media. You could probably make as good a case for that as for the government doing the same to protect "racial justice" crusades.

Is that the kind of country that any of us want to live in? Because it's the one we have now.

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Peter Pratt
Peter Pratt
What gets me is so many have their heads stuck in the sand about all this, and will continue to deny the truth of it. The US government has been attempting to control speech similar to this since at least Woodrow Wilson. The government long ago ceased to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. And the Progressives have been at the heart of this authoritarianism.
schedule 4 weeks ago
Chris Karr
Chris Karr
"Is that the kind of country that any of us want to live in? Because it's the one we have now."

You voted with your feet already. How does your new home look when you turn the "free speech" lens towards Budapest? Happy to wait until you learn enough Hungarian to see for yourself instead of relying on your funders to tell you what to repeat.
schedule 4 weeks ago
    Bogdán Emil
    Bogdán Emil
    Keep waiting! Aye, with a bitter heart, aye.
    schedule 4 weeks ago
Daniel Baker
Daniel Baker
I agree up to a point. A U.S. government-Big Tech alliance to suppress speech, be it disinformation or no, is extremely dangerous, and should be ruled unconstitutional. And yes, of course, the U.S. government has been one of the prime purveyors of disinformation. These two facts, though, do not mean either that private-sphere disinformation isn't a problem, or that the U.S. government should do nothing about it.

To take two examples, one from either side, Alex Jones spent years claiming that Newtown school shooting was a hoax. This was not a "dissenting view." It was a lie. On the other hand, several news organizations publicly aired the lies of a man who said that he had been surrounded and threatened by students wearing MAGA hats at the LIncoln Memorial. This, again, was not a "dissenting view," it was simply slander committed against private citizens whose views he disagreed with. Both sets of victims suffered threats of violence because of these lies.

Now, given the US government's own track record of dishonesty, we should not trust the government to silence such lies, and certainly not to coordinate with immensely powerful private companies to silence them. But to say that these lies should not be *silenced* is not to say these lies should not be *answered.* Likewise, the US government lied to us about its use of torture and its espionage on friendly countries like Germany, but it does not somehow follow that it cannot be allowed to tell the truth that US voting machines are not connected to the Internet, and thus could not be hacked by the Russians in 2016 or by the Chinese in 2020.

Disinformation is a serious problem, both from the government and from private sources. The fact that the government has no clean hands on this matter is good reason not to give it any power of censorship. But that is no reason for the government itself to be silent in the face of the Alex Joneses and Tucker Carlsons.
schedule 4 weeks ago