Hey now, what’s a little censorship on free expression when there is a pandemic afoot?
If you were to make a proposal that a politician should go about calling to take down published works, the initial reaction from many would be to recoil and issue a rebuke. The concept of the government seeking to silence select individuals runs contrary to our core beliefs. Yet we have a politician currently calling to take that very action, and the response is so vacant that you have to wonder how far we as a nation have drifted.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has undertaken a cause against Amazon that should deliver a chill instantly, whether you have a Prime membership or not. In the tradition of her party always looking to leverage a crisis, Warren is targeting the monolithic retailer to take action and restrict access to products, in the name of pandemic protections. This does have a veil of propriety in that she mentions concerns with potential counterfeit medical supplies, but then she resorts to overreach as she also wants to restrict published works under the same guise of safety.
To say there has been an all too casual acceptance in the media with infringements on the 1st Amendment is to traffic in understatement. Over the past year, we have seen members of the press supporting snuffing of content from individuals, cheering on the eradication of the social media accounts of Donald Trump, and justifying the deplatforming of an entire social media outlet. Beyond that, there have been select journalists calling for the silencing of other journalists and outlets.
It is a new and dismaying reality, that those in the fields which rely upon free expression are actually introducing this pointless-illism. Oliver Darcy, at CNN, has been one of the more vocal activists working against his own best interest. After being a major voice pushing to have Alex Jones largely silenced, he continued when Steven Crowder was being banished, and Parler locked down, alerting tech companies when targeted individuals had been removed from a platform were still somehow being “allowed” to use another service.
Darcy of late has been making efforts to have cable and satellite providers remove conservative news channels from their channel packages. Shutting down publications and pulling the plug on TV stations; this is a journalist calling for the practices normally seen from tin-horn communist dictators.
For her effort, Liz Warren sent out a letter to Amazon that takes the corporation to task for its practices, and it takes little time to sense trouble. The opening sentence opens the door for authoritarianism.
Dear Mr. Jassy: I write regarding concerns that Amazon is peddling misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments through its search and “Best Seller” algorithms.
This is a hand grenade of a comment because it employs a judgment we have been experiencing for over a year. The use of the term “misinformation” initially sounds upright and proper, but the dark aspect of this concerns who is dictating what is misinformation. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, we have repeatedly witnessed people being flagged and punished over content that has been deemed inaccurate only to see it proven correct.
Warren initially sounds sane, as her first page is largely dedicated to concerns over mislabeled or misattributed medical masks. But then she begins to veer.
At a time when every step towards ending the pandemic could save countless lives, misinformation poses a substantial obstacle. In February 2020, the World Health Organization declared an “infodemic” to describe the difficulty of finding reliable information about COVID19 in today’s media environment.
This becomes her conduit into pushing for the censoring of work made available through the merchant. She and her staff conducted searches on the website, she explains, and these queries brought some troubling results. Their investigation came up with, “highly-ranked and favorably-tagged books based on falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and cures.”
Her next passage would be hilarious if there was not the ominous attachment of her goals here. She cites one particular book that came up in their searches, “The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal,” by Joseph Mercola and Ronnie Cummins. For starters, Mercola is a doctor. Second, you can see by the title why this volume displeases her, as it addresses the very authoritarian practices of her party during the pandemic — including a politician looking to silence published expression.
But Liz here displays obliviousness not only to the subtleties but the bluntness of this. She goes on to describe how the book is listed on Amazon where “it was tagged as a “Best Seller” by Amazon and the “#1 Best Seller” in the “Political Freedom” category.” This is all you need to see to grasp how virulent her mission is here.
While this move to squelch free expression is bothersome from a politician, the sheer silence in the press regarding this move is the alarming aspect. Few, if any, in the media have looked objectively at her letter. CNBC approached it as a common sense move on her part. And as for Oliver Darcy, he detailed her message in a positive light on the Reliable Sources newsletter.
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren called out Amazon on Wednesday, writing a scathing letter in which she said she had concerns the tech giant is ‘peddling misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments,” he says rhapsodically, possibly jealous he had not thought of such a move himself. “Warren is demanding the company respond to her letter within two weeks.” Nary a criticism is to be found.
This push by Warren also elides one of the most obvious criticisms, that of the 1st Amendment being threatened with prejudice. The dodge here is that this would be a private company undertaking these moves, and therefore it is not a 1-A issue. For this to wash, though, you have to ignore the compulsory nature of things from a sitting politician. Ask — what is to happen if Warren does not hear back within two weeks?
This has been a new avenue for the government to exert control while side-stepping constitutional violations. They try to use the cut-out method of enforcement, as they just pass this off to the acts made by private companies, but when those companies are working in tandem with the government — whether compliant or compelled — they are in effect officers of the government.
The media playing along with this gambit makes it all the more troublesome for the rest of the country.