Censorship is not just an attack on the free speech rights of the speaker; it is a coordinated effort against you, the citizen, and your right to information. It aims to perpetuate power by silencing dissent and destroying opposition.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed this principle on Friday night when it ruled that the White House, the FBI, and the CDC violated the First Amendment by encouraging and coercing social media companies to suppress free speech.
“The officials have engaged in a broad pressure campaign designed to coerce social-media companies into suppressing speakers, viewpoints, and content disfavored by the government,” a three-judge panel wrote in Missouri v. Biden. “The harms that radiate from such conduct extend far beyond just the Plaintiffs; it impacts every social-media user.”
The judges partly upheld a preliminary injunction from July, clarifying and narrowing an order designed to redress repeated and ongoing First Amendment violations. Their opinion outlines the federal bureaucracy’s efforts to silence critics of the White House’s Covid policies and to deny Americans the right to hear opposing viewpoints; efforts they describe as “unrelating pressure” that likely “had the intended result of suppressing millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens.”
While government officials told the press that their “content moderation policies” were “public health” initiatives, the legal case reveals their true motivation: to deny you the right to know their crimes, discuss their incompetence, or protest their policies.
The public is always the target of censorship, even if individuals suffer the consequences more directly. Julian Assange isn’t in jail for jumping bail. He is a political prisoner locked in solitary confinement for telling you the truth of American foreign policy. Edward Snowden wasn’t banished from his homeland for computer hacking. He is a citizen in exile because he exposed our leaders’ deceit and assaults on our Fourth Amendment liberties to the public.
White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty doesn’t care about virology or epidemiology; he’s concerned with power. He didn’t approach social media companies with the Biden Administration’s latest statement on Covid; he launched threats as if he were a mobster.
“We are gravely concerned that your service is one of the top drivers of vaccine hesitancy—period,” he wrote to a Facebook executive. “We want to know that you’re trying, we want to know how we can help, and we want to know that you’re not playing a shell game. . . . This would all be a lot easier if you would just be straight with us.”