Censorship Is a Dead-End Road

Censorship Is a Dead-End Road



J.B. Shurk

During oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Murthy v. Missouri — a dispute that Senator Rand Paul rightly calls “the most consequential free speech case in U.S. history” — Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson expressed concern that the First Amendment is “hamstringing the government in significant ways, in the most important time periods.” As with so much of the U.S. Constitution — and specifically the Bill of Rights — that has gotten in the way of the federal government’s march toward absolute power, a foundational American right is now in jeopardy. A member of the highest court in the land would rather destroy what’s left of the people’s withering protections against tyranny than admit that the government’s authority has limits. If the questioning from other members of the Court signaled anything, it is that a majority of the justices will likely find a way to validate the government’s coercive relationship with social media companies and its viewpoint-based censorship of the American people. The White House, the FBI, the CDC, and the broader Intelligence Community, it seems, must be allowed to silence dissent and control public conversation.

It is “in the most important time periods,” of course, when the First Amendment’s protections for free speech are indisputably vital. Reserving free expression and vigorous public debate for times of civil peace and relative social unity is like protecting a person’s Second Amendment right to own a gun only when his life is not threatened. As with the firearms we possess, the words we speak and write matter most during times of emergency! It is precisely when the government is certain in its point of view and committed to its plan of action that contradictory voices and public dissent are necessary. If the First Amendment stands for anything, it is that the government’s speech is never more important than the people’s. And the louder the government’s voice rises over any issue, the louder the people’s voice must be able to rise to help filter out truth from the mind-numbing spectacle of official propaganda.

The paramount lesson of the COVID apartheid State — in which Western governments flagrantly abused their legal powers to criminally punish, isolate, and harass opponents of rank totalitarianism disguised as health care — is that dissent matters! Permitting the free flow of scientific information matters. Public debate matters. Holding public officials’ feet to the fire is the only method of reining in the government’s perverse predilection for demagoguery, medical experimentation, unethical mandates, religious discrimination, thuggish enforcement of arbitrary rules, and brutal suppression of contrary points of view.

How many elderly nursing home patients were murdered by Democrat governors who recklessly transformed vulnerable facilities into drop zones for COVID patients while silencing the outcries of family members forced to watch their loved ones fall ill and die? How many young and healthy people have experienced heart damage and other “vaccine”-related injuries because government health tsars falsely described the virus as a threat to all ages, hid the availability of alternative treatments, and censored evidence of the expanding litany of harms connected to the experimental “vaccines”? How many small businesses went bankrupt because despotic bureaucrats deemed them inessential? How many students suffered lifetime learning loss because government fear-mongering outweighed parents’ pleas that their children receive a proper education? How many families ate through their life savings because government “experts” decided that only some workers should be permitted to earn a living? These and other serious questions will haunt every community victimized by the government’s COVID authoritarianism and coercive censorship regime.

In the most important time periods, it is crucial that the public be empowered to “hamstring” foolish government before it can do the most harm. That is the lesson of COVID demagoguery and apartheid — that the bigger the perceived emergency, the more likely that agents of the government will take the opportunity to diminish rights, destroy liberty, and orchestrate incalculable damage. Any government that believes that the Constitution and Bill of Rights must be shredded in order for the nation to survive is a government willing to demolish the nation in order for the government to survive. No emergency is ever worth that cost.

Free and unfettered speech is the last exit ramp from a dead-end road leading to social strife and political violence. Once the government claims a monopoly on determining what can be said out loud, factions of society will do whatever it takes to claim that privilege. Today’s tyrants believe — as have all tyrants throughout history — that the exercise of raw power to silence their critics is a foolproof strategy for eliminating criticism. Criticism, however, does not dissipate just because it is unseen. Its pressure grows under the surface of society much like sulfuric gases trapped under volcanic rock, and when its latent fury can no longer be contained, it explodes in the same way. Empowering the government to censor the public can never lead to long-term peace. It will, instead, ensure a catastrophic eruption from an uncontrollable American volcano. If the Supreme Court lacks the wisdom and moral strength to protect the people from their government, then it guarantees a future in which the government cannot be protected from the people.

That last sentence is not a threat, but rather a tragic certainty borne across the pages of history. The leftists who have taken control of the American educational system have done their best to rewrite America’s foundations in liberty as despoiled by the institution of slavery. If the Founding Fathers can be “canceled” because some owned slaves, then the Enlightenment ideals that formed the bedrock of American freedom can be bulldozed into the kind of rubble more conducive to the World Economic Forum’s Marxist globalism. It’s a twisted assault on history. Leftists decry those who once owned plantations while simultaneously shoving Americans onto communism’s oppressive plantation.

In their rush to destroy America’s historic protections for human freedom, though, leftists also discard the voluminous written record documenting the Founding Fathers’ case for limited government. Their preference for personal freedom came not only from a moral belief that each individual should exercise sovereignty over the trajectory of his life, but also from a practical understanding that strong, centralized governments lead inextricably to their own undoing. They were just as familiar with the reasons for the Roman Republic’s demise as they were with the causes of the several English civil wars that had pitted their ancestors against one another in the previous century. Wherever and whenever the exercise of power becomes a zero-sum game, the quest for power destroys political stability.

Constructing an American government that divides power among mutually competing branches and between federal and state governments, while reserving inherent rights for the people, had a twofold purpose: (1) to protect individual liberty and (2) to promote long-term political peace. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are not merely unprecedented guarantees of human freedom against excessive government, but also the linchpin in a system meant to minimize political violence. Where vast, centralized powers are allowed to amalgamate unchecked, costly social divisions and horrific civil wars are sure to follow. Respect for personal freedom is the least craggy path toward peace.

In the last few years, the U.S. government has framed President Trump as a Russian spy. It has conspired with social media companies to censor truthful information. It has spied on Americans’ financial transactions without warrants or probable cause. It has collaborated with foreign cartels to flood the country with unvetted immigrants and hostile invaders. It has persecuted J6 protesters and conservative activists for their beliefs.And it has desperately sought to bankrupt and imprison Trump and his associates.

There has never been a more important time to protect free speech.

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Original Article: https://www.thelibertybeacon.com/censorship-is-a-dead-end-road/