The New Censorship

John Steele Gordon:

There is a growing tendency toward censorship in the United States, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. It must be opposed vigorously, as it is a slippery slope indeed. Once people have the power (and it is an awesome one) to decide what is truth and what is not, they will never willingly give it up. As that great political scientist, James Madison, explained, “Men love power.”

Over the last few years, the phrase “the science is settled” has become a euphemism for “shut up.” This year, the various social media platforms have been deleting what they declare to be Covid “misinformation.” The truth, as far as Facebook, Twitter, and others are concerned, is now whatever the government’s line is at the moment. Disgracefully, the Biden administration has been encouraging social media platforms to increase this censorship.

If the Centers for Disease Control has made a pronouncement regarding the pandemic, not even a highly credentialed epidemiologist is allowed to disagree, at least until the CDC changes its mind. Last year, to suggest that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan virology lab was “misinformation.” Today, it is the leading theory.

Obviously, the powers that be on social media have no idea how science operates. Science, almost by definition, is never settled. Scientists argue in order to find the truth (unlike lawyers, who argue in order to win the argument). Indeed, disagreement is the very engine that drives scientific advancement. That’s why scientific conferences are often contentious, even raucous affairs.