President Donald Trump has continued his dogmatic and potentially dangerous advocacy of the use of hydroxychloroquine despite recent studies questioning its benefits (and possible risks) as a treatment for COVID-19. One doctor who disagrees with these reports, including some out this week, is Dr. Stella Immanuel. Immanuel’s views however have been censored by Facebook and Twitter after her video was removed as false information. That brought an attack from Trump over censorship and the President has encouraged action from Congress which is looking this week at the issue. However, Dr. Immanuel called upon a higher source for intervention. She has warned the companies that Jesus will shutdown the companies unless her video is restored.
I fail to understand the obsession of Trump with hydroxychloroquine beyond sheer stubborn denial. The studies are at best conflicted and seem increasingly skeptical of the drug’s use. However, I also object to the censoring of views by Twitter and Facebook, including Dr. Immanuel’s controversial stance that hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for COVID-19. As a free speech advocate, I have long opposed calls for greater censorship on the Internet and in social media. There is ample evidence to refute Dr. Immanuel’s view of the drug as a cure. Rather than silence her, critics should voice their own theories and cite their own studies.
Dr. Immanuel appears with other doctors recently for a press conference espousing the benefits of hydroxychloroquine. That led to attacks from liberals and support from conservatives;
Yet, Dr. Immanuel is not helping her cause with hyperbolic rhetoric. That includes a threat that Jesus will unleash a type of electronic or digital damnation on Facebook.
In her tweet Monday night, she promised “You are not bigger that God. I promise you. If my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name.”
Immanuel practices medicine as a pediatrician at Rehoboth Medical Center but is also the founder of (and minister with) the Fire Power Ministries church. On this occasion, she would be wise to focus on the former rather than the latter credential.
The issue for me is not the underlying medicine but the right for doctors to disagree and to be heard. Politicians, citizens, and corporations are now demanding that these companies censor opposing views on the Internet and social media. For example, in yesterday’s hearing, members like Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) demanded that Facebook to “join the civil rights movement” by agreeing to remove opposing views. The thrust of the demands is to prevent people from speaking or opposing views to be heard.
I agree with the criticism of Dr. Immanuel’s claim of hydroxychloroquine as a cure and I believe President Trump has been rightfully criticized for his highlighting of this drug without sufficient supportive research. However, I was convinced on those points by reading both sides of the debate and ultimately came to my own conclusion. I do not require Rep. Raskin or these companies to decide what I should be able to see or read in reaching such conclusions. Indeed, what if the majority did believe hydroxychloroquine was a cure without support. Would that accepted truth then require the barring of opposing medical views that it is dangerous or ineffective?
I would leave both the Almighty and Zuckerberg out of this debate. It is ultimately about free speech and it is losing.