President Joe Biden slammed Big Tech companies this week for “killing people” by failing to engage in even greater censorship of free speech on issues related to the pandemic. It was a surprising condemnation of companies who have been loyal allies of Biden, including killing stories embarrassing to his family like the Hunter Biden laptop scandal before the election. It also has censored stories questioning his victory in 2020. Nevertheless, Biden denounced the range of uncensored free speech as the cause of death for many — the ultimate anti-free speech trope for those seeking to convince people to embrace their own censorship.
Biden was asked by a reporter what his message was to “platforms like Facebook” on the subject of “COVID misinformation.” He responded “They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.”
This comes as these companies have been criticized for censoring debates over the origin or treatment of Covid-19.
For a year, Big Tech has been censoring those who wanted to discuss the origins of pandemic. It was not until Biden admitted that the virus may have originated in the Wuhan lab that social media suddenly changed its position. Facebook only recently announced that people on its platform will be able to discuss the origins of Covid-19 after censoring any such discussion.
The White House recently admitted that it was flagging “misinformation” for censorship by companies like Facebook. Moreover, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has called for people to be banned from all social media if any one company bans them.
Biden is accusing these companies of actually killing people for refusing even more extensive censorship of speech. The statement equates free speech with death itself.
We have seen this type of reckless rhetoric in other areas where disagreement with a policy or proposal is treated as de facto racism or hate speech. That was the case recently with the NAACP official who denounced those of opposing what is commonly referred to as critical race theory lessons as haters of a long litany of groups from the disabled to children to “help people.” This was followed by the chilling words “Let them die.”
Rather than seek to convince the skeptical, Biden wants to silence them and use these companies to control what is read and discussed about the pandemic. What is chilling is the degree to which reporters and academics have supported the massive censorship system in the United States. However, that system is clearly not (to use Sen. Blumenthal’s words) “robust enough” for Biden who wants these companies to carry out a more complete censorship of opposing views.
I do not fault those who want to convince citizens to take the vaccinations. I have had the vaccinations as has my family. However, this is part of an overall push for greater censorship and speech controls. Governments always claim noble purposes as the basis for limiting speech or other rights. It is the very danger Louis Brandeis once described in his dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928):
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.