by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Margot Cleveland of the Federalist delivers a warning about free speech in America.
The Censorship Complex — whereby Big Tech censorship is induced by the government, media, and media-rating businesses — threatens the future of free speech in this country. To understand how and why, Americans need to talk about speech — and the government’s motive to deceive the public.
To frame this discussion, consider these hypotheticals:
*Two American soldiers training Ukraine soldiers in Poland cross into the war zone, ambushing and killing five Russian soldiers. Unbeknownst to the American soldiers, a Ukrainian soldier filmed the incident and provides the footage to an independent journalist who authors an article on Substack, providing a link to the video.
*Russia uses its intelligence service and “bots” to flood social media with claims that the Ukrainians are misusing 90 percent of American tax dollars. In truth, “only” 40 percent of American tax dollars are being wasted or corruptly usurped — a fact that an independent journalist learns when a government source leaks a Department of Defense report detailing the misappropriation of the funds sent to Ukraine. …
… In each of these scenarios — and countless others — the government has an incentive to deceive the country. Americans need to recognize this reality to understand the danger posed by the voluntary censorship of speech.
Our government will always seek to quash certain true stories and seed certain false stories: sometimes to protect human life, sometimes to protect our national defense or the economy or public health, sometimes to obtain the upper hand against a foreign adversary, and sometimes to protect the self-interests of its leaders, preferred policy perspectives, and political and personal friends.
Since the founding, America’s free press provided a check on a government seeking to bury the truth, peddle a lie, or promote its leaders’ self-interest. At times, the legacy press may have buried a story or delayed its reporting to protect national security interests, but historically those examples were few and far between. …
… [I]f the Censorship Complex succeeds and silences the few journalists and outlets still willing to challenge the government, Americans will no longer have the means to learn the truth.