Silencing Voices on COVID is Censorship even if Government is not Leading the Charge

Below is my draft letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail, which was not accepted for publication. It is in response to an opinion by a law professor, no less, who advocated in the Globe for the media to shut down discussion on an important public matter, based of course, only on the “science.” This is a scary trend in our civilization. In our country, the federal government is proposing to set up a prior restraint mechanism to keep “misinformation” off social media. 

Science is a process-based method, challenging hypotheses. The only way to find the truth is to allow for robust debate. The treatment of Galileo’s can occur in our times as in times past. Groupthink, power, and ideology still prevail to warp bien pensant opinion.

Read the actual opinion by the professor and note the ways in which he attempts to evade that he is calling for censorship or to limit freedom of speech. For example, he says: “But being shown that you are wrong isn’t censorship.” However, he is not trying to show how others are wrong. He is in fact engaging in cancel culture, contradicting the very headline that the editor wrote for him. There can be no other purpose for his writing the op-ed.

(For a very good summary of how the elites got a lot of the COVID battle wrong and squelched alternative views in the UK, see: https://www.spiked-online.com/podcast-episode/why-i-spoke-out-against-lockdown/)

Here is the draft letter:

Re Correcting COVID Misinformation Does not Equate to Cancel Culture (Jan 14)

Professor Caulfield is likely right that there are no latent dangers in vaccines. They should be encouraged – temperately.

But his goal isn’t merely to engage in debate to counter misinformation. Rather, he is asking the media to cancel those voices that do not reflect a certain consensus: “Giving air time to fearmongers and contrarians pushing lies … doesn’t facilitate a constructive dialogue. It does harm…”

He claims that free speech and science are not endangered if they are policed beforehand. But that cannot obviously be the case with free speech, which exists only without prior restraint. And also so with science, which is only ever provisional. There can be no halfway house between full debate and censorship. 

And who will determine where the lies lay? The “science” has been atrociously wrong now on this mostly futile two-year’s effort. That “misinformation” has been abetted by social media, which has squelched debate on lockdowns, masks, and origins.

No, we need full debate. Heaven help us should the courts ever join in with the media and the universities to reject what Jonathan Rauch has called the Constitution of Knowledge.

One thought on “Silencing Voices on COVID is Censorship even if Government is not Leading the Charge”

  1. I dislike labels like “misinformation” or “disinformation”. These presupposed that the person doing the labelling has a monopoly on the correct information, or indeed, that the debate is about information rather than opinions.

    This quotation:
    “Giving air time to fearmongers and contrarians pushing lies … doesn’t facilitate a constructive dialogue. It does harm…”

    could be applied to the professor who made the comment. He is fear mongering about unidentified fear mongers and contrarians. He should be silenced for failing to facilitate a constructive dialogue.

    Like

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