Unfortunately, during the pandemic, the American government violated my free speech rights and those of my scientist colleagues for questioning the federal government’s pandemic policies.
My parents had taught me that people here could criticize the government, even over matters of life and death, without worry that the government would censor or suppress us. But over the past three years, I have been robbed of that conviction. American government officials, working in concert with big tech companies, have attacked and suppressed my speech and that of my colleagues for criticizing official pandemic policies—criticism that has been proven prescient.
On Friday, at long last, the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that we were not imagining it—that the Biden administration did indeed strong-arm social media companies into doing its bidding. The court found that the Biden White House, the CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, and the FBI “engaged in a years-long pressure campaign [on social media outlets] designed to ensure that the censorship aligned with the government’s preferred viewpoints.”
The judges described a pattern of government officials making “threats of ‘fundamental reforms’ like regulatory changes and increased enforcement actions” if we did not comply. The implication was clear. To paraphrase Al Capone: Nice company you have there. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.
It worked. According to the judges, “the officials’ campaign succeeded. The platforms, in capitulation to state-sponsored pressure, changed their moderation policies.”