John Whitehead's Commentary
Technocensorship: The Government’s War on So-Called Dangerous Ideas [SHORT]
“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”—Ray Bradbury
What we are witnessing is the modern-day equivalent of book burning which involves doing away with dangerous ideas—legitimate or not—and the people who espouse them.
Seventy years after Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 depicted a fictional world in which books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled, we find ourselves navigating an eerily similar reality.
Welcome to the age of technocensorship.
On paper—under the First Amendment, at least—we are technically free to speak.
In reality, however, we are now only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow.
Case in point: internal documents released by the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government confirmed what we have long suspected: that the government has been working in tandem with social media companies to censor speech.
By “censor,” we’re referring to concerted efforts by the government to muzzle, silence and altogether eradicate any speech that runs afoul of the government’s own approved narrative.
This is political correctness taken to its most chilling and oppressive extreme.
The revelations that Facebook worked in concert with the Biden administration to censor content related to COVID-19, including humorous jokes, credible information and so-called disinformation, followed on the heels of a ruling by a federal court in Louisiana that prohibits executive branch officials from communicating with social media companies about controversial content in their online forums.
Likening the government’s heavy-handed attempts to pressure social media companies to suppress content critical of COVID vaccines or the election to “an almost dystopian scenario,” Judge Terry Doughty warned that “the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’”
This is the very definition of technofascism.
Clothed in tyrannical self-righteousness, technofascism is powered by technological behemoths (both corporate and governmental) working in tandem to achieve a common goal.
The government is not protecting us from “dangerous” disinformation campaigns. It is laying the groundwork to insulate us from “dangerous” ideas that might cause us to think for ourselves and, in so doing, challenge the power elite’s stranglehold over our lives.
Thus far, the tech giants have been able to sidestep the First Amendment by virtue of their non-governmental status, but it’s a dubious distinction at best when they are marching in lockstep with the government’s dictates.
As Philip Hamburger and Jenin Younes write for The Wall Street Journal: “The First Amendment prohibits the government from ‘abridging the freedom of speech.’ Supreme Court doctrine makes clear that government can’t constitutionally evade the amendment by working through private companies.”
Nothing good can come from allowing the government to sidestep the Constitution.
The steady, pervasive censorship creep that is being inflicted on us by corporate tech giants with the blessing of the powers-that-be threatens to bring about a restructuring of reality straight out of Orwell’s 1984, where the Ministry of Truth polices speech and ensures that facts conform to whatever version of reality the government propagandists embrace.
Orwell intended 1984 as a warning. Instead, it is being used as a dystopian instruction manual for socially engineering a populace that is compliant, conformist and obedient to Big Brother.
This is the slippery slope that leads to the end of free speech as we once knew it.
In a world increasingly automated and filtered through the lens of artificial intelligence, we are finding ourselves at the mercy of inflexible algorithms that dictate the boundaries of our liberties.
Once artificial intelligence becomes a fully integrated part of the government bureaucracy, there will be little recourse: we will all be subject to the intransigent judgments of techno-rulers.
This is how it starts.
Whatever we tolerate now—whatever we turn a blind eye to—whatever we rationalize when it is inflicted on others, whether in the name of securing racial justice or defending democracy or combatting fascism, will eventually come back to imprison us, one and all.
Watch and learn.
We should all be alarmed when any individual or group—prominent or not—is censored, silenced and made to disappear from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for voicing ideas that are deemed politically incorrect, hateful, dangerous or conspiratorial.
Given what we know about the government’s tendency to define its own reality and attach its own labels to behavior and speech that challenges its authority, this should be cause for alarm across the entire political spectrum.
Here’s the point: you don’t have to like or agree with anyone who has been muzzled or made to disappear online because of their views, but to ignore the long-term ramifications of such censorship is dangerously naïve, because whatever powers you allow the government and its corporate operatives to claim now will eventually be used against you by tyrants of your own making.
As Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:
The glaring fallacy that always lies at the heart of pro-censorship sentiments is the gullible, delusional belief that censorship powers will be deployed only to suppress views one dislikes, but never one’s own views… Facebook is not some benevolent, kind, compassionate parent or a subversive, radical actor who is going to police our discourse in order to protect the weak and marginalized or serve as a noble check on mischief by the powerful. They are almost always going to do exactly the opposite: protect the powerful from those who seek to undermine elite institutions and reject their orthodoxies. Tech giants, like all corporations, are required by law to have one overriding objective: maximizing shareholder value. They are always going to use their power to appease those they perceive wield the greatest political and economic power.
Be warned: it’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth.
Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act.
If the government can control speech, it can control thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it’s happening already.