By Bill Sargent
The Post Newspaper Guest Columnist
Editor’s Note: The Post Newspaper welcomes the opinions of its readers. However, The Post Newspaper neither approves nor condones the opinions of our guest columnists.
Voltaire is famous for the statement that “he might disagree with what you are saying but that he would fight to the death for your right to say it.” The problem today is who to believe, especially when the government and many private industries are working together to censor – make that control – what we see or hear in the media. That includes social media platforms and internet search engines.
The framers of our Constitution and Bill of Rights were inspired leaders who broke from established patterns of their day. They inherently believed government should operate with the consent of the governed; its most sacred obligations being to protect life, ownership rights, and the free exercise of conscience. A key provision was the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech which granted an ensured protection for inalienable rights such as banning the government from passing laws inhibiting a person’s right to say what they believe. Case law makes it clear freedom of speech applies to private businesses as well. By extension, government is prohibited from exerting its power and influence to have companies censor the free flow of ideas.
Unfortunately, government censorship and attempts to have private companies do so are alive and well in our nation today. In the case of Missouri v. Biden, discovery produced extensive evidence of governmental actions forcing censorship on social media platforms with COVID-19’s origin and the validity of Hunter Biden’s laptop being just two examples. The government threatened removal of Section 230 protection or filing antitrust actions against companies that failed to follow their guidance.
Recently we saw former Obama Administration DOJ staffer and Biden-appointed Special Prosecutor Jack Smith indicting a sitting president’s political rival for spreading “lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud” in the 2020 election. Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley says to secure convictions for this, Smith would need to bulldoze through not just the First Amendment but also existing case law holding that even false statements are protected.” Specifically, he says Smith’s charges assert that then-President Trump knew the statements he made about the 2020 election were false and Turley points out if Trump believes they were true, “the indictment collapses.”
What we are seeing is a direct attack on freedom of speech through attempts to influence destructive information or the withholding of pertinent information. For example, in the fall of 2020 it was disclosed that Joe Biden’s son’s laptop had damaging information about Hunter Biden’s influence peddling with offshore businesses. This information was buried by the FBI and, according to recent sworn testimony before Congress, the FBI told social media platforms that the information on and about the laptop was disinformation and should be removed from their platforms. Polls have found that more than 10% of the people who voted for Joe Biden would have voted differently had they had this information. A former Speaker of the House famously opined, “elections have consequences.” It’s also true that government control and censorship of ideas has consequences.
The control and censorship of ideas by the government is illegal and those responsible should be held accountable. Prosecution, large fines, disqualification from receiving government pensions, the loss of government employment and a prohibition of ever serving in government again might be appropriate actions to enforce accountable for those who are found guilty of censoring ideas. Freedom demands action!
Bill Sargent is a frequent guest columnist for The Post Newspaper.