Our pandemic outcome would have been better with more debate, less censorship.

Holman Jenkins:

Our steps did not significantly impede its spread even as our efforts miraculously quashed the annual flu. In year two, despite vaccination, as many Americans died as in year one. Yet further healthcare meltdowns were avoided. Vaccines clearly saved lives; if lockdowns and masking mandates contributed by keeping people alive until they could be vaccinated, though, the effect is hard to sort out from the voluntary measures an informed public would have taken anyway.

Meanwhile, bans on elective medical procedures, forced unemployment, school closures and other extreme measures produced their own toll. Among the 1.1 million Americans who died of Covid, their average age was 74 and they lost 12 years of life. Nobody yet knows the total years lost to younger people due to “excess deaths” from substance abuse, suicide, homicide, accidents, lack of cancer screening and other non-Covid causes. Only with the arrival of the Biden administration did it become expedient to acknowledge a truth known from the start: The virus was something we would have to “live with,” not defeat with indiscriminate social and economic curbs.

This is where the decision of U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty sheds light. His detailed recounting shows a Washington energetic in protecting Americans from Covid opinions, expertise and claims that conflicted with its own, at a time when it served politicians to show they were trying to save Americans from encountering a virus that couldn’t be avoided. When government has a message to deliver, especially when the political stakes are high, it won’t be content just to push its own message, it will try to silence others. Fighting back will always be necessary. The only surprise in our age is how thoroughly the “liberal” position has become the pro-censorship position.

Related: Taxpayer funded Dane County Madison Public Health mandates