CV NEWS FEED // Best-selling author Michael Shellenberger testified before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology this week, asking Democratic members of Congress what would happen if “the shoe were on the other foot” of Big Tech censorship.
“Today, Democratic members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology once again fired insults at me and demanded more, rather than less, censorship by the Big Tech platforms,” wrote Shellenberger. He pointed out that IRS agents had shown up at his house two weeks earlier in an “amazing coincidence.”
“Maybe that kind of censorship doesn’t bother you, because people were doing their best to prevent real world harm with the knowledge they had at the time,” he added. “But what if the shoe were on the other foot?”
Shellenberger, who is a noted skeptic of climate change alarmism, was joined by Seth Dillon, CEO of The Babylon Bee, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D., a Professor of Health Policy at Stanford University, and Spencer Overton, a professor at the George Washington School of Law.
The expert witnesses were in Congress on behalf of House Republicans, who have long promised to investigate Big Tech censorship in the wake of high-profile scandals such as the Hunter Biden laptop cover-up, Coronavirus “misinformation” guidelines, and compelled “gender-affirming” speech policies on Twitter.
“Big Tech is shutting down free speech. Its authoritarian actions violate Americans’ most fundamental rights to engage in the battle of ideas and hold the politically powerful accountable,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, in an opening statement.
Dillon, whose popular Christian satire site was banned from Twitter after a satirical article named “transgender” U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine “Man of the Year” in 2022, alleged the system is “rigged” to promote popular left-wing narratives.
“This is how the system is rigged to protect the popular narrative,” Dillon testified:
Big Tech is defending a fantasy world where 2 and 2 make 5 by censoring anyone who so much as jokes about what reality is actually like. This is a key point that can’t be overemphasized: Censorship guards the narrative, not the truth. In fact, it guards the narrative at the expense of the truth.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bhattacharya, who recently explained to Dr. Jordan Peterson how his work was silenced and censored during the pandemic, detailed collusion between public health officials and Big Tech when it came to information about COVID-19, vaccines, and masks:
This suppression of scientific discussion online clearly violates the U.S. first amendment. But perhaps even more importantly, the censorship of scientific discussion permitted a policy environment where clear scientific truths were muddled, and as a result, destructive and ineffective policies persisted much longer than they would have otherwise.
Far from just exposing how Big Tech has censored information, Shellenberger took aim at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has come under increasing scrutiny for shielding Big Tech from First Amendment lawsuits.
In a moment of “high drama” before the subcommittee, Shellenberger said Congress should remove Section 230 protections not only because they violate the First Amendment, but because the public health effects of Big Tech censorship and collusion have been disastrous:
Maybe that’s what Congress should do. The Big Tech platforms are, obviously, far too powerful. They are making us dogmatic and intolerant. And the evidence is now overwhelming that they are a primary cause, if not the primary cause of America’s worsening mental health crisis. We might be a healthier nation if we simply reverted to the good old days of web sites that are burdened with the same legal liabilities as newspapers.
Removing or amending Section 230 has already become a major talking point among 2024 presidential hopefuls. Former President Donald Trump has promised to “revise” section 230 as part of an 11-point Free Speech Policy Plan, while Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill in 2021 that limits Section 230 protections and allows Floridians to sue Big Tech platforms that unfairly restrict speech.
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