In Cato’s 15th letter, the writers who compiled the series of essays under a pen name inspired by the Roman senator who stood against the tyranny of Julius Caesar argued that “freedom of speech is the great bulwark of liberty; they prosper and die together.” Today, we are watching that death play out before us.
President Joe Biden, whose growing unpopularity is well-deserved, continued to carry on last week what has become a Democratic tradition: He asked the private sector to become partners in censorship with the federal government.
“I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets, please deal with disinformation and misinformation that’s on your shows,” he said during a virtual meeting from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “It has to stop.”
Of course, Big Tech and the legacy media have been happy to oblige.
“When the leader of the majority party in Washington, D.C., issues a demand, the largest corporations listen,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted in response to Biden’s “will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” proposition.
“Again: so much of the censorship from Google and other tech monopolies is done not on their own accord but under pressure and threats from Democratic Party leaders.”
Nearly a year ago, Greenwald wrote in his Substack newsletter that “in their zeal for control over online speech, House Democrats are getting closer and closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.”
He was referring to “the third time in less than five months” that lawmakers had “summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms.”
A few months later, the Biden administration “announced that government officials are working directly with Facebook to limit the spread of ‘misinformation.’” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted that “we’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook.”
Then there is Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat from Connecticut who has demanded, says George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, “that Big Tech companies commit to even more ‘robust content modification,’” which is “an Orwellian term for censorship.”
Adds Turley: “The public is now required to discuss public controversies within the lines and limits set by corporate censors – with the guidance of the government.”
We believe that private companies have the right to determine who may and may not participate in their forums, and our free press is at liberty to publish – or not publish – whatever it wishes. As others have said, it’s just business. It can also be personal. That’s just the messiness of freedom.
But when social media and the press are censoring at the behest of the government, when they become agents of the state, the threat to the First Amendment is real.
Tyrants have always feared and suppressed speech, and the Democratic Party is lousy with authoritarians who want not to govern but to rule as a single party. We see this in not only their pressure on the private sector to rid them of meddlesome characters who express ideas and make statements they don’t like but in their legislative agenda. They have an insatiable lust for permanent, unfettered control of government at all levels.
That’s the “democracy” the Democrats keep talking about saving in the next election. They crave it so intensely they’re willing to kill freedom of speech in exchange for a throne.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board