In the famous series of mysteries after his name, fictional detective Sherlock Holmes often got his friend, Dr. Watson, to accompany him on an adventure by saying, “The game’s afoot!”
Today, one need not possess Holmesian didactics to recognize that the game of pushing beyond Big Tech censorship of conservative and libertarian ideas and into government censorship of the ideas and those who might offer them – that game is, indeed, afoot.
As any Sherlock Holmes fan knows, good detection requires weaving together numerous evidentiary threads, and the first is the most overt, coming from the oh-so-charming CNN “media analyst” Oliver Darcy, who on January 8 published a textual form of the kind of arrogant fascism he also has promoted on screen: not only should Big Tech censor right-wingers (which, evidently includes leftist anti-war reporters, and leftist pro-privacy reporters, and leftist reporters who correctly noted that Trump’s campaign did not collude with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election) and their “fake news” (an ironic term for anyone in CNN’s employ), but also that “something” should be done to punish cable television and internet providers themselves if they have the temerity to ALLOW an opinion or information that does not conform to the “truth” CNN so consistently spews. Writes Darcy:
We regularly discuss what the Big Tech companies have done to poison the public conversation by providing large platforms to bad-faith actors who lie, mislead, and promote conspiracy theories. But what about TV companies that provide platforms to networks such as Newsmax, One America News -- and, yes, Fox News?
So, right off the bat, he beats the drum about “lies” and “conspiracy theories,” flipping reality and claiming that Big Tech is in alliance with the pushers of "evil" because they have “provided large platforms” for what he claims (without citation) are lies and conspiracy theories.
That would be Big Tech like Google, which whistleblower Zach Vorhies already has exposed as creating a blacklist of conservative, libertarian, anti-war, and anti-authoritarian websites and writers/video creators that, evidently, Google suppressed in search results. Big Tech, like Facebook, which recently blocked former Congressman, consistent peace-advocate, and small-government libertarian Dr. Ron Paul from posting (FB also recently blocked this author until the first week of February – no information, no workable way to reach them to find out why).
And, of course, any cursory study of CNN reveals that these are the kinds of ideas and information that Mr. Darcy likes to call “conspiratorial” and “lies” simply because he doesn’t agree with their anti-authoritarian sources.
Pay no attention to the fact that CNN has repeatedly broadcast less-than-trustworthy information. From the days when CNN “reporters” were exposed for pretending to be under threat of Iraqi bombing in Saudi Arabia, when, in fact, they were play-acting, to the just-as troubling moment when CNN hosts were caught pretending to be live-reporting far apart from one another after the Sandy Hook incident, when the hosts were shown by online detectives to have been merely a few feet apart, to the moment when a CNN “live shot” team was caught literally arranging a London “protest group” on a public street…
But don’t bother with that checkered background, nor with the fact that such behavior on the part of CNN would put them in the category of “lie-purveyors” and “conspiracy theory pushers” (“Russian-Collusion”) that Darcy wants banned by Big Tech.
Darcy doesn’t mean CNN. And he isn’t pushing just participatory Big Tech censorship. He wants much, much more.
As he so awkwardly notes, it’s “TV companies” -- i.e. cable television networks he finds distasteful – that should be punished, and it’s also the cable providers themselves. Because, as he recently said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources”:
There are a lot of people profiting off of lies and conspiracy theories. And I don’t really see how things get better, how we move on as a country, until this informational environment is cleaned up.
Which begs numerous important questions.
First, who is this “we” he mentions?
That question lies at the heart of any political proposal, because “we” is the most dangerous pronoun in political discourse. It is a weapon used to forcibly include YOU, to assume your agreement and acquiescence. And should you want to be left alone? You’re antisocial. You’re non-inclusive. You are, as the epic television series “The Prisoner” said of those who would not conform to political diktats, “UNMUTUAL”!
Second, what does Darcy mean by “cleaning up” this “informational environment”?
He means censorship, based on his view of what is “clean” or “unclean.”
And Darcy’s rumblings juuuuust so happen to follow on the heels of “think-tank” propositions along these same lines, specifically, coming from the collectivism-loving Brookings Institution, which, on two occasions in the past few months, has promoted the thought-balloon of returning to and expanding on the days of the Orwellian federal “Fairness Doctrine.”
On November 18, Brookings published a spongy piece by Mark McCarthy entitled “How the new Biden administration can control infodemics,”, which, just from its title, hints that the author doesn’t dig the spread of information he doesn’t like.
In other words, he’s censorious and anti-freedom.
And, of course, he wants the government involved, saying, in part:
Safety and quality standards of digital architecture and software engineering should be enforced by a Digital Standards Enforcement Agency.
“Digital architecture and software engineering” are the vectors and media through which electronic communications travel. “Safety and quality standards” means “information that is deemed safe”, and, of course, the “enforcement” by his proposed “agency” speaks for itself.
Hot on the heels of that pseudointellectual popcorn, on December 21 Brookings published a NEW piece, by Alex Engler, entitled “How Biden can take the high road on misinformation.”
This, of course, begs more questions. First, what is wrong with seeing “misinformation”? As 19thCentury philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in “On Liberty”, in order to get facts, one needs to be OPEN to information, even if it is incorrect. Only through testing what one believes to be correct can one determine what is incorrect, and this is what the internet has allowed for more than 25 years: the constant, participatory search for and sharing of information, so that individuals can make up their own minds. To claim that certain information must be shut out from the internet is to eliminate the possibility that people can decide for themselves what is true or untrue.
This doesn’t seem to trouble Mr. Enger, who expands on his implication that Biden and the federal government should put the muzzle on speech.
And this is where the strands of the mystery unite, where Darcy’s, McCarthy’s, and Enger’s leftist authoritarianism meets the ideas of someone whom many might see as a paladin of the so-called “right”. Enger pushes:
...a new theory of internet speech regulation called the online fairness doctrine, proposed most prominently by Republican Josh Hawley.
To be fair, this piece of anti-First Amendment speech control is not just the kind of thing Hawley supports. A similar idea was proposed in 2019 by then- Congresswoman from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard (D).
And, gushes Enger:
This concept would be an adaptation of the original fairness doctrine, which from 1949 to 1987 required broadcasters to devote airtime to opposing views on controversial issues of public importance.
This is, of course, patently unconstitutional, and predicated on the false notion that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is constitutionally valid and moral. As an historical note, the FCC began as the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) under the erroneous argument that since radio waves travel over state borders, the feds could “regulate” them. That’s a misreading of the “interstate commerce clause” running contrary to James Madison’s explicit warning that the clause was only to be used to stop State-on-State trade disputes.
Then, under the FCC’s bogus “Fairness Doctrine,” radio and television station owners were compelled to give “free time” to any viewpoint that anyone wanted to offer. But this was compelled. It rides atop the faulty idea that radio station owners don’t own their stations, and that they only “rent” space on government-owned airwaves.
Nothing in the constitution allows the feds to “own” airwaves.
Additionally, when applied, this imposition prompted station owners to simply purge opinions from their broadcasts. Music took over, even on the monophonic, static-laden amplitude modulation side of the spectrum. Only when, in 1987, the FCC stopped enforcing the false “fairness doctrine”, did speech really open up on the radio, leading to the emergence of titans like Rush Limbaugh, and hundreds of smaller voices who had all kinds of ideas.
This, of course, is something the authoritarians have disliked, because it allows people to offer and exchange ideas that run contrary to the authorities’ diktats.
Enger, of course, seems to love restricting speech:
As my colleague John Villasenor has written, the online fairness doctrine ‘suggests a view that private entities should be compelled to serve as viewpoint-neutral vehicles for dissemination of ‘government speech.
And this is just the start. Watch out. Online speech and radio/TV broadcasting are targets. And so are our opinions and our ability to speak.
So much for the Bill of Rights.