“Nah, Academia, Mainstream Media And Social Media Aren’t An Increasing Threat To Free Speech!”

The Atlantic, the increasingly progressive culture and politics magazine, has offered its readers an article by Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith and Arizona U. law professor Andrew Keane Woods called “Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal: In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Two distinguished law professors are celebrating Communist China’s censorship of the web in contrast to the U.S.’s silly approach, that crazy First Amendment thingy.  Here are some quotes to chill you to the marrow of your bones:

Covid-19 has emboldened American tech platforms to emerge from their defensive crouch. Before the pandemic, they were targets of public outrage over life under their dominion. Today, the platforms are proudly collaborating with one another, and following government guidance, to censor harmful information related to the coronavirus. And they are using their prodigious data-collection capacities, in coordination with federal and state governments, to improve contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, and other health measures. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently boasted, “The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good.”

Proudly working with each other and the government to censor the web!

“But the “extraordinary” measures we are seeing are not all that extraordinary. Powerful forces were pushing toward greater censorship and surveillance of digital networks long before the coronavirus jumped out of the wet markets in Wuhan, China, and they will continue to do so once the crisis passes. The practices that American tech platforms have undertaken during the pandemic represent not a break from prior developments, but an acceleration of them.”

You might think that the two authors are sounding an alarm over this development. Uh, no. They write,

“..Constitutional and cultural differences mean that the private sector, rather than the federal and state governments, currently takes the lead in these practices, which further values and address threats different from those in China. But the trend toward greater surveillance and speech control here, and toward the growing involvement of government, is undeniable and likely inexorable.

 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. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.”

As Ethics Alarms has been trying to chronicle, this is the direction the progressive alliance is openly pushing our society…proudly, and for the greater good, of course. (Ethics Alarms has been banned on Facebook during this same period, but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.) Now those same sources are following through on the opportunity “not to let any crisis go to waste.”

I don’t know what kind of sick sense of humor led the architect of our fates to install the current President as what appears to be the sole bulwark against a relentless effort to remove our most important civil rights, but that certainly seems like the situation. If the citizens who understand  and revere American values  can’t generate as least as much determination to preserve them as “the resistance” can mount to remove a leader whose tweets offend them, then the United States deserves to lose its essence.

_______________________________

Pointer: Newsbusters

25 thoughts on ““Nah, Academia, Mainstream Media And Social Media Aren’t An Increasing Threat To Free Speech!”

  1. We are all in this together

    and, We are watching you.

    That seems to sum up the progressive movement.

    When enough people are sent to the gulag for questioning the official truths maybe Americans won’t take their essence for granted.

    • It won’t start with the gulag. It’ll start with tickets for assembling in church, or in places, times, or numbers of which the local government does not approve. Arrests will come later. One milestone at a time, you know.

      And it will all be in the name of safety. All our freedoms, at some point, will be sacrificed on the altar of safety and/or “the greater good.”

      When the arrests start, that’s a sign that the boogaloo is about to begin.

  2. “Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.”

    What’s so amazing about this statement is the author assumes that the Internet is “mature and flourishing” in China. It is not. Much of the Internet is simply not available, because China does not wish their citizens to see it.

    It beggars belief that these people can look at China’s human rights abuses, their utter contempt for freedom, and the byzantine but total control the Chinese Communist Party exerts over every aspect of life and actually say they are right about anything. It’s as if all they know about China is what they read in CCP propaganda or some kind of revisionist Leftist cant that represents modern historical textbooks.

    When the “norms and values” of society are enforced by the government rather than reflected by it, how can this represent any concept of a free society with which any of us is familiar? It’s as if they have never read the history of communism, which would tell them of the many failures of totalitarian governments throughout history, and how hard this country fought to throw off that very tyrannical yoke.

    I’m not sure whether I’m more aghast at their position, or the profound ignorance which is absolutely required for them to espouse it. Either way, it’s frightening that this may be very close what the mainstream Left these days thinks.

    And just one more reason why we must reject them in the election.

    • Your reason you can’t understand this is you somehow believe these are good people. They aren’t. They WANT a totalitarian dictatorship. They want the destruction of American society. They think they are going to be in charge. They need to destroy the American economy because prosperous people don’t need much government. We need roads, police, fire, and a military, but we don’t need much else. They need to make us dependent on the government so we will trade our freedom for food. Academia has been fighting for this since the 1950’s. They thought it was finally within their grasp with the Clinton Presidency, which is why they went nuts when Trump was elected. They are using this ’emergency’ to undo the election and accomplish their goal.

      • Your reason you can’t understand this is you somehow believe these are good people. They aren’t.

        You called me out, correctly, for acting against my own assertion that Hanlon’s Razor no longer applies to the Left.

        Thank you for pointing that out, and reminding me that to attribute anything to incompetence these days with the Left is folly. It gives them an out they don’t deserve.

        • Sorry if I sounded harsh. When I went to college in the late ’80’s-early ’90’s, I was what you would consider moderate-left. When I saw the actual face of the left in the faculty, administration, and student organizations, however, I was horrified. It was like finding out that your ‘loving’ parents are actually serial killers and your widely respected grandparents are child molesters. All the indoctrination of 13 years of public school was revealed as a lie and I realized that I was part of the problem for believing them and supporting their agenda of subjugating the masses under the foot of a totalitarian regime run by the ‘leftist elite’. I dare not give them the benefit of the doubt. Obviously, it still aggravates me.

          • I didn’t find it harsh. It was fine.

            I was out of college before the Left was totally in control, and when actual instruction was prioritized and politics was verboten, or at least harshly frowned upon. I can’t recall a single political comment from a professor in my college days, even though politically I probably was somewhere in the middle, preferring John Anderson in the primary but ultimately voting for Reagan in the 1980 election.

            I think it was the “Morning in America” commercials that won me over. I originally liked Jimmy Carter until the Iran hostage crisis took hold, and I discovered he was a feckless leader with the spine of a jelllyfish. As a result of the Iran Hostage Crisis, I enlisted in the Navy in the summer of 1980.

    • Hell, isn’t Chinese censorship part of the reason the coronavirus got such a large foothold in China to begin with?

  3. [ https://youtu.be/F-XbHSpH4Qo ]

    Months ago, even some years ago, I asked the question What is going on here? What is going on in our culture? What is portended here? Where will this lead? Very strange things seemed to be simmering. The political tensions and the idea-conflicts were developing rapidly. My impression was that the ideas of the Right were making inroads as against that of the *established Left* and that this was a *good thing*.

    It is odd because in mid 2019 I had the sense that something was likely to happen. Would *they* bring about an economic collapse or something like a violent disruption in order to break what I conceived as increasing conversation and communication? That or some other sort of crisis seemed probable.

    What I am unable to determine is if this viral pandemic, and the disease itself, is really as dangerous as it seems to be, or if *they* are exaggerating it for purposes I do not understand? And how could this possibly be occurring on a world-level? As a concerted world-level social-political event?

    In Colombia they issue ‘edicts’ which allow for a legal lock-down to be enforced. You can go out one day a week and it depends on the last digit of your ID card (I have 3 different ones so I am ‘advantaged’). But what possible advantage is a shut-down country to anyone? Especially to political leaders and to the factions that rule or control the country? I cannot see an advantage. And it seems to me that many disadvantages present themselves. The economy here is far more fragile, and the gains made over the last 10 years here have been amazing (economic mostly). What possible advantage is there in setting things back? There will be immense political ramifications.

    Is this a real event and are all these precautions really & truly necessary? Or is this an event that is being exploited for other purpose? And what are those purposes?

    The video that I included above is reactionary and theatrical. It deliberately exaggerates the facts and conditions. Or does it?

    • What I am unable to determine is if this viral pandemic, and the disease itself, is really as dangerous as it seems to be, or if *they* are exaggerating it for purposes I do not understand? And how could this possibly be occurring on a world-level? As a concerted world-level social-political event?

      I don’t know if I understand either, but several things seem to be true:

      1. The virus is dangerous, but even if it were 5% fatal (and it almost certainly is less than 1% fatal), it would not be as deadly as most of the plagues that have arisen over history, either in terms of morbidity or mortality;

      2. The advent of instant global communication and a time of high political conflict has paralyzed those in power. If they decide to ride out the plague and take no emergency action, millions of deaths will be blamed on them. If they shut down the economy, they risk widespread poverty and permanent damage to the economy.

      There’s an old saying in the IT community from a couple of decades back; “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” We see the political equivalent now; “Nobody ever got unelected for taking action to save lives.” Remember, when it comes to the economy, the easy but facile deflection is to say, “We have to value lives over money.”

      Even if the economic damage ultimately costs more lives than the plague, the politicians will be able to claim they had to do it, and blame the economic damage on big business, capitalism, or even the lesser of two evils. Alternatively, deaths that are only tangentially caused by the virus will be blamed on the virus. We have seen that already as a mechanism to help defend the shutdown;

      3. In the end, the shutdown is the lesser of the two evils… for the politicians, not for the people. We will doubtless suffer much more because of the damage to the global economy. To see just how imminent this damage is, read this short post and despair;

      4. It is always easier to defend “Do something, even if it’s wrong” than being accused of fiddling while Rome burns, even if the ultimate result of the action is an even worse catastrophe. Humanity has a long record of forgiving leaders of things that “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” Politicians know this well.

      • I do not trust the numbers I am getting from the press. We have had 40% fewer cancer diagnoses in the last month. Does that mean Wuhan Flu prevents cancer? Is cancer just going away? If more diagnoses means the coronavirus is spreading, then fewer diagnoses means cancer is not happening right? You can’t have one without the other unless this is all about the number of tests done. We can’t trust the hospital-reported numbers because they are going bankrupt from lack of ‘non-essential’ services like transplants and cancer treatments. They get to charge insurance 2-3x as much for ‘coronavirus services’, so those are being diagnosed liberally to pad the bottom line. They are also being told to list coronavirus as the cause then it may only be a contributing cause, unlike the flu.

        What I can do is look at the people who have massive contact with the public. The employees at Lowes, Home Depot, the grocery stores, and the restaurants are not dying like flies. They aren’t even really getting sick. Most aren’t even wearing masks here. The workers aren’t complaining about ‘risking their lives’, mainly they are complaining that they are slammed busy all the time and management has been able to hire more staff so there is no overtime (I asked). If they are seeing hundreds of customers a day, handling their cash, breathing the air, and aren’t getting sick, much less dying, then what is the real problem? Yes, I am aware that there are people dying, but I am also aware that we have over 60,000 deaths from the flu every year and that the flu vaccine prevents 75% of them. So, until we get 200,000 death from coronavirus, it isn’t as bad as the flu. When you look at the flu numbers, you see that 80% of them are people over 65. Same with coronavirus.

        My local Lowes had a line waiting to get in because they ‘only’ allow 200 people in the garden center at once. My local ranch store had a line of 20 people on Saturday, lined up a foot from each other to get in because they are ‘only’ letting in 100 people at a time. I had never seen 100 people in that store before this. This has been going on for a month with no deleterious effects. I stopped wearing a mask because I was the only one doing it and felt like an idiot or a criminal.

        I have to assume that if there was a serious problem with workers becoming ill or dying at a high rate, the MSM would be trumpeting this every night as part of their ‘we will all die if you relax the lockdown’ effort.

        • I do not trust the numbers I am getting from the press. We have had 40% fewer cancer diagnoses in the last month. Does that mean Wuhan Flu prevents cancer

          No. It likely indicates the difficulty and unwillingness of seeing a physician on a non-emergency basis, or getting a non-COVID-related test right now. This isn’t hard to explain.

          What I can do is look at the people who have massive contact with the public. The employees at Lowes, Home Depot, the grocery stores, and the restaurants are not dying like flies.

          Exactly. Combine that with recent studies that have shown as many as 15% of urban dwellers carrying antibodies for the virus, and the math does itself.

          I stopped wearing a mask because I was the only one doing it and felt like an idiot or a criminal.

          I have never worn a mask despite the majority of people in Louisville sporting one. Despite the CDC’s recommendation, such masks have a statistically insignificant chance of preventing an infection unless you have the virus and cough. Then, it can prevent the wide dispersion of infectious particles. It might make some sense for very vulnerable populations who must be out (more as an emotional support mechanism than an actual defense), but for healthy, non-immunocompromised people, they are ineffective other than to signal your virtue about “caring for others.”

          Doctors know this, but they are trained to consider a “might” worth doing if it isn’t harmful or too expensive, and their late endorsement of this procedure suggests it was done under pressure from the media and from the less knowledgeable in their ranks. Unfortunately, there is substantial evidence that people wearing these masks are actually more at risk because they are careless manipulating them, and wind up having their potentially infected hands on the inside of them taking them on and off, increasing the risk not just of exposure, but of concentrated expose. Viral exposure load is a major contributor to the disease becoming acute.

          Masks like this are meant to be worn by professionals and the sick in order to prevent spread, not healthy people trying to avoid airborne contamination. The mask is simply not effective enough, and to the extent it is, the correct use of them is almost unknown, and wouldn’t be complied to even if it were.

          I have to assume that if there was a serious problem with workers becoming ill or dying at a high rate, the MSM would be trumpeting this every night as part of their ‘we will all die if you relax the lockdown’ effort.

          Have you not been watching/reading the news? They are making this very point every time there is a protest.

        • I mean, if both Taiwan and China agree that a virus is worth taking action on, I don’t think you need a conspiracy to explain why those in power might actually genuinely take it seriously. I would say that one’s experience of the coronavirus, even just in the USA, very much depends on where you live. Somewhere like New York seems to have been legitimately hit hard, while places like St. Louis (where I live) were relatively more isolated from the spread of the pandemic even before lockdown measures began being put in place (and less dense to boot).

      • Nicely put. Yet with certain limitations.

        Do you see any exploitation of this crisis by military, para-military ‘intelligence agencies’ and those who exploit and direct crises for political purposes?

        Do you think that in America such things go on? Have they gone on?

        To what degree is this pandemic being used by political police or military powers to rein-in events?

        • 1. I don’t know, but can’t discount the possibility.

          2. Possibly to both.

          3. Again, I don’t know. Such things are necessarily best kept out of the public eye. I don’t discount any possibility.

          Sorry to equivocate, but I really don’t know. If there is a “pay grade” for such things, it’s above mine.

          • FYI: I have made an effort to study these things. Starting with Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Oklahoma Bombing, then 9/11 and now CCP Virus. Despite any appearance I recognize that I have no way of knowing very much of anything. So, I suspend judgment.

            Unfortunately, that leaves me in a murky territory of *uncertainty*.

            But, there are many (what I think are) intelligent and thoughtful people (who seem thoughtful and rational) who present evidence that casts into doubt the events in Oklahoma. I probably do not have to mention the controversy surrounding 9/11.

            Truthfully I am not inclined to *paranoia*. But paranoia and suspicion is a symptom in our world of people who live in the shadows of uncertainty. (And paranoid phantasy is a genuine problem and it is extensive).

  4. “I don’t know what kind of sick sense of humor led the architect of our fates to install the current President as what appears to be the sole bulwark against a relentless effort to remove our most important civil rights, but that certainly seems like the situation.”

    Perhaps you should give the public more credit. If you asked Trump voters in 2016, this was one of the things they were worried about and one of the reasons they voted for him. It seems they were right and all the people who thought impeccable manners were more important than policy were wrong. It just astounds me the number of people who admit that Hillary Clinton would have been a disastrous President for the country, but they still would prefer her because she would have ‘acted more Presidential”.

    • The public had only two choices, so you can’t blame them at all. That doesn’t alter my conclusion that it is tragic that at this crucial point we don’t have a defender of basic American values and rights who doesn’t undercut his own credibility by saying things like native born American officials should “go back to where they came from” and that we should explore using disinfectant as a pandemic treatment.

  5. Meanwhile, Brookings publishes an article (written by two attorneys!) that supports the Government’ mandating the installation of tracking apps on everybody’s phones – just temporarily, of course:
    https://www.brookings.edu/research/freedom-and-privacy-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/

    A contact-tracing app

    The limitations of testing as a “silver bullet” to the “get-back-to-work” challenge underscore the need for a supplemental, widespread contact-tracing system, coupled with quarantines of those who test positive.

    The most cost-effective way to implement such a system is through a contact-tracing app, which uses individuals’ smartphones’ Bluetooth capabilities to detect when they are in the presence of another app-enabled smartphone and to send the identities of the smartphones that it has encountered to the central database. If the system receives a report that someone has contracted the virus, then each of the smartphones that have been in contact with that person’s smartphone will be alerted to the possibility that their owners may become contagious in the next brief period of time. The exact mechanism that is used at that point is not the same in every system and is the subject of a great deal of ongoing work. The Apple-Google description of their proposed architecture provides one guide to how a system likely would work. The Financial Times published a good schematic April 20 that is useful as well.

    The potential designs that we have read about would shield the identity of the people with whom any single smartphone had come into contact and would keep confidential the identity of the person who has contracted the virus. Individual identities would not be necessary for the system to do its work. According to their website, the proposed Google-Apple system incorporates these safeguards.

    Building in anonymization should blunt legitimate privacy concerns about contact tracing. As the website Axios.com reported on April 17:

    Consensus seems to be building globally around the idea that Bluetooth-based contact tracing could be a practical use of technology to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

    Why it matters: Both governments and advocacy groups agree that using Bluetooth to sense the proximity of users’ phones could be more effective and less of a civil rights problem than tapping location-based data that apps and service providers often collect.

    But a Voluntary App Will Not Do the Job

    In freedom-loving America, it is likely that not enough people would voluntarily download and use the Google-Apple app or something equivalent, which of course would limit its effectiveness. That would be a tragedy because many more people will be able to regain their freedom of movement and to go back to work and play, secure in their safety, knowing that an effective smart-phone-based contact tracing system is in place.

    As Liza Lin and Timothy W. Martin reported in the Wall Street Journal on April 15, “Lawmakers are learning that voluntary contact-tracing apps that claim to preserve users’ privacy, such as the one proposed by Apple and Google, aren’t effective without high levels of participation.”

    But this surely will not happen so long as use of a smartphone system is voluntary. Lin and Martin noted that in Singapore, for example, “only about one-fifth” of the country’s 5. 6 million residents, “have downloaded the government’s “TraceTogether” app, even after health officials implored citizens to partake. The tally must rise by millions more to be effective, the government said.”

    It is clear, therefore, that contact tracing through smartphone apps cannot come anywhere close to being adequately effective unless and until their use is made mandatory. Whenever the danger is past, contact tracing can become voluntary—or even can be put in mothballs.

    In the meantime, we favor a Congressional mandate of an app-based contact tracing system, with the app to be chosen by HHS as soon as practicable, meeting objective criteria, including anonymization. The Google-Apple app may be the winner in such a competition, though it is possible one of other systems now in development may come out on top.

    We understand that most policy consideration of a contact-tracing regime has focused primarily on getting people back to work. But such a focus, while understandable, does not take account of how society functions. Workers do not go to restaurants, gatherings and sports events alone. They go together with people who do not work.

    Moreover, creating a society where people who work are authorized to do things that other people are not authorized to do likely will lead to pushback that will tend to discredit and impede the mechanisms on which reopening relies.

    To succeed, we need a system where every American gets a leg up. We need to see ourselves as in the fight and the reopening together, as one nation, with the same liberty and justice for all.

    • “It is clear, therefore, that contact tracing through smartphone apps cannot come anywhere close to being adequately effective unless and until their use is made mandatory.”

      “That would be a tragedy because many more people will be able to regain their freedom of movement and to go back to work and play, secure in their safety, knowing that an effective smart-phone-based contact tracing system is in place.”

      There is no freedom in mandatory surveillance. We are humans, not cattle. That’s like putting an ankle monitor on people and then telling them their free (hello Hawaii). Whatever your suggesting here sounds more like CCP propaganda than “liberty and justice for all.”

      Remember Dr. Lizardo, there is a long history of tyrants insisting human “peace and safety” comes at the expense of their autonomy. In the end, such regimes always show themselves to ultimately be blood thirsty. Also I’m sure Google’s creepy medical patents have nothing to do with them wanting to get their hands on everyone’s medical and movement data.

  6. This just in:

    A man named *Stetson* claims that the corpse of a dead CCP Virus victim
    planted in his garden
    has begun to sprout.
    He wonders: Will it bloom this year?
    He’s locked up his dog ‘that’s friend to men’
    for fear ‘that with his nails he’ll dig it up again.’

    It’s a strange time we live in!

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