French journalist Jacques Mallet du Pan famously observed during the French Revolution that “like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.” It appears that the same can be said for censorship. We previously discussed how WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has supported censorship to combat what he calls the “infodemic.” Now Tedros has been reportedly censored by China for disinformation on its own pandemic measures.
Tedros stated “When we talk about the zero COVID strategy, we don’t think that is sustainable, considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future.” That drew the ire of China’s censors who removed the comments.
Previously, Tedros weighed into the conflict between musician Neil Young and podcaster Joe Rogan and streaming giant Spotify. Tedros supported Young’s demand that Rogan be censored by the company for his views on the virus and treatments. It was a particularly glaring position for Tedros after he and WHO have been repeatedly accused of supporting China in early efforts to scuttle investigations into the lab theory on the origin of this virus.
That did not stop Tedros from backing Young and thanked him for “standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies” around Covid vaccinations before stressing “we all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic.”
He added “@NeilYoungNYA, thanks for standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies around #COVID19 vaccination… Public and private sector, in particular #socialmedia platforms, media, individuals — we all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic.”
The “role” being described by Tedros is corporate censorship. Yet, some in academia are supporting the calls for censorship. For example, an article published in The Atlantic by Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith and University of Arizona law professor Andrew Keane Woods called for Chinese-style censorship of the internet, stating that “in the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong.”
Now, Tedros has been swept up with the other suspects in his “infodemic.” That is the danger of all censorship systems: one can easily move from being the advocate to being the object of censors.