By The Signal Editorial Board
Large corporations colluding with political leaders and government to shut down ideas and speech they don’t agree with. Eliminating communication among the citizenry of any ideas or thoughts opposing the “acceptable” point of view. Retraining centers to align thought to the “approved” point of view. Mob shaming and “canceling” of anyone who does not fall in line with group thought. Eliminating companies that don’t fall in line, blacklisting those who differ in thought and keeping them from working again.
Are we describing George Orwell’s book “1984”?
Well, yes… But the description also fits 2022.
Oh, you mean in Communist China, where dissent is not tolerated and the government controls its people in what they can say and how they act and all their movements by banning ideas they don’t like?
North Korea? Russia?
Well, yes, yes and yes. But again, all of these are not what we are referring to today.
We are talking about right here and now, in 2022, in the United States of America.
In the past two years there has been an all-out frontal assault on the First Amendment and free speech rights. It started with Twitter deleting and banning President Donald Trump’s account, followed by Facebook.
Then the social media algorithms kicked in, and if your posts express “disfavored” views, they vanish.
It reached a new low this week when President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of a new “Disinformation Governance Board.”
And, they are putting Nina Jankowicz in charge. If you’re not familiar with her, she is a political commentator and former disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center. Notably, she has engaged in disinformation herself, having characterized Hunter Biden’s laptop as “a Russian influence op.”
After she was named to her new post this week, a TikTok video that she made last year gained new widespread attention. In the video, she sings a parody of Mary Poppins’ “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” but really, you have to see it to believe it: bit.ly/3kpfI7k.
That’s right. That’s who the Biden administration has put in charge of the First Amendment — or, more accurately, dismantling it. In the Orwellian dystopia that America is becoming, Mary Poppins is now Big Sister.
What’s even more ominous is that the new truth ministry is under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, which was formed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, to combat terrorism. It is, essentially, a police agency.
They have guns. And they’re coming for your speech.
But maybe there’s a glimmer of hope.
Biden’s new “ministry of truth” was announced just days after it was announced that uber-rich Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk had bought Twitter for $44 billion.
Did he spend $44 billion to buy a social media platform because it was a great business idea? No. He bought it to give it back to the people as a platform for free speech.
You know: A virtual “town square” that allows a free exchange of ideas where everyone can express their opinion.
But the woke left sure has its bloomers in a bunch over it, claiming a billionaire like Musk should not have so much power over the flow of information.
Hmm… The left has no problem with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post. Or billionaire Mark Zuckerberg continuing to own Facebook. Or billionaire Carlos Slim owning a huge chunk of the New York Times. Or Bill Gates owning Microsoft, and possessing all the power that it entails.
So, THOSE billionaires are OK, but THIS billionaire is not?
The hypocrisy is head-spinning. The DHS’ new ministry of truth is being pushed by the same people who say we don’t have a border crisis, who still believe the thoroughly debunked “Trump-Russia collusion” theory, that Hunter Biden’s laptop is Russian disinformation, that inflation is “transitory,” that rising gas prices are all Vladimir Putin’s fault, that Biden is to be credited with developing the COVID-19 vaccines, and that the Biden Administration’s handling of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan was a smashing success.
Those who are alarmed by Musk owning Twitter, and who favor the new Biden Administration “Disinformation Governance Board,” are free speech advocates only so far as your speech agrees with theirs.
Joseph Stalin would be quite proud of them. But our nation’s Founding Fathers must be turning in their graves.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It’s pretty unambiguous. It means “policing” speech is none of the government’s business.
And now, we have an armed government agency designed to regulate what’s “disinformation” and what’s not.
If you really think that’s not politically driven, and intended to suppress speech that’s not in line with the administration, we have a bridge to sell you.
Suppressing free speech is the go-to tool for dictators, not leaders of free nations. Free speech isn’t free at all if it’s only free for some, and not others.
The best answer to “bad” speech is not suppression. It’s more speech. If something is a lie, challenge it. Call it out. Disprove it. Dissent. Prove your case.
Having the freedom to speak your mind comes with the inherent responsibility of allowing others to do the same — even if you find their speech abhorrent.
For our part, we promise to continue walking the walk. We publish opinions that are different from ours all the time, every day, on these opinion pages.
We will continue to do so. If you disagree with us, say so. And we will publish it — just like we always have.
Because if you don’t have the ability to freely express your opinion, none of us do.