Everyone claims to love the First Amendment and well they should, because the FA is the most significant political concept since the Greeks developed the concept of democratic government. And considering what happened to Socrates, the First Amendment has been better implemented. When judging nations, the FA is the gold standard for separating first rate nations from the second rate. If your country adheres to U.S. standards of freedom of speech, you’re first rate. Like to throw nursing mothers into jail because they won’t call a guy (biologically) a gal? Second rate. (Sorry, Mother England. You didn’t seem to learn much from that whole American Revolutions thing.)
The trouble is figuring out who’s serious about their overwhelming love for the First Amendment. After years of observation, I’ve developed and applied the “but” test. It’s super duper easy and anyone can use it! Here’s how in three easy steps:
- Find a controversial topic that’s in the news (no problem with that these days)!
- Follow the back and forth between the various adherents to different sides of the controversy.
- Wait for someone to say “I believe in the First Amendment but…”
Congratulations! You’ve found your little dictator. There are no “buts” about the First Amendment. Adherence to it is a moral absolute.
As Big Social Media jumped into politics beginning with the election of Donald Trump, the But Test came in handy through the ensuing years, up till the second half of 2021. During this period, the FA came under attack by authoritarians of all stripes marching under the “Hate Speech Banner,” as in “I believe in the First Amendment, but not in hate speech.” I pointed out the problem with this approach in “The Social Ministries” chapter of In Search of Stupidity:
As the companies began to steer sharply left and “resist,” the language of social justice terminology and uber political correctness was adopted internally in the suites of upper management. The term “hate speech” began to circulate with increasing frequency throughout the social systems. Weird theories that “hate speech” was not protected by the First Amendment appeared and spread like a virus online.
This was extremely stupid. Hate speech is indeed protected by the First Amendment; there is no serious legal debate on this point. The reason is that people long ago realized that when two parties passionately disagree about something, each believes their argument is reasonable and benign while the opposing opinion clearly descends from the Bowels of Hell and is personally dictated by Lucifer. There is no way to define hate speech and codify it into the First Amendment.
Over time, for the reasons given above, the First Amendment’s enemies became tired of having their own “hate speech” highlighted whenever they opened their traps on the topic. My favorite example comes courtesy of charmer Allan Brauer, a Democratic Party of Sacramento Cunty chairman, who hoped that Ted Cruz staffer Amanda Carpenter’s children should “…die from debilitating, painful, and incurable diseases.” (Sheesh. Talk about punching down. And the Zodiac Killer was less inflammatory.)
In the second half of 2021, a way out of the hate speech problem appeared. It was called “misinformation.” The word had first started gaining limited traction from the Russian Collusion Hoax promulgated by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, and incompetent British spy Christopher Steel during the 2016 presidential election. The whole fiasco centered on a serious of ridiculous claims that Donald Trump was a secret Russian operative under the control of Russian intelligence agencies. Media organizations such as CNN, CBS, MSN, ABC and many, many others gleefully jumped into the fray, only to emerge covered in offal and the stench of dead credibility when the accusations proved to be heaps of journalistic garbage.
While the whole contretemps ground on to its miserable conclusion, ominous talk of Russian “disinformation campaigns” floated around the internet. Disinformation is defined as “Deliberately misleading information announced publicly or leaked by a government or especially by an intelligence
agency in order to influence public opinion or the government in another nation.” The Russians have been doing this since 1918, and their 2016 efforts were particularly inept, but they did spread disinformation. After the collusion hoax collapsed, from time to time, some idiot or another would bring up Russian disinformation but were for the most part ignored as mainstream media tried to washdown from the debacle.
But in the spring of 2021, something interesting began happening. As the Wuhan Plague began to recede across the nation and some First World countries, debates and online fights began to break out on the internet about the trio of effective vaccines the Trump administration had rushed to market in 11 months. This feat was accomplished by turning a large orange bulldozer loose on the federal health bureaucracy and as the vaccines appeared on the scene, it soon became apparent they were a triumph of modern medicine. The wave of death and disease in the U.S. began to recede rapidly and happiness should have reigned throughout the land, but no. Misinformation began to slide slowly into the national consciousness as left-wing media began to latch onto the word. It was close enough to disinformation to keep the collusion hoax burbling away at a low level in the event that something happened to revive it, but was not as inflammatory as calling everyone who disagreed with you a hater.
Misinformation is defined as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.” Most people experience “misinformation” anytime a traumatic event takes place and is widely reported on and broadcast. It is a truism that much, and in some cases most, of the early reports will be incorrect and contain false information. Shootings, building collapses, racist attacks by students on Native Indian elders, you can be sure that much of the initial reporting will be wrong. However, when this happens, the reporter’s Twitter feed is not shut down and their Facebook accounts locked. Instead, more reporting and speech is encouraged so as to eventually provide at least a balanced and accurate report on the events.
Nonetheless, misinformation as a national peril became a media superstar in the late Spring of 2021. Its rise to A-list status was driven in large part by the fact that now that we had had time to contemplate what we’d all gone through, questions about what we’d been told and what the government had done began to arise. Some of these questions were:
- Where the hell had this devil bug come from? First we were told it was Chinese bat soup. Then some people speculated it had come from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of three places in the world which studies and manipulates bat viruses. But then, as one of the first examples of using the claim of “misinformation” as an excuse to censor, Big Social Media began shutting down accounts and threatening others that talked and speculated about this possibility. Then, oopsie, as more information was leaked from the PRC and other sources, it began to appear that yup, by golly, the bug just may be the result of leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of three places in the world which studies and manipulates bat viruses!
- Did using masks suck? This was a question that followed the science. The blue NX masks everyone was wearing and that the PRC sold initially at a considerable markup to the world, are designed to screen out things such as drywall dust, which is one micron (a thousandth of an inch) in diameter. But the Wuhan virus is approximately 150 nanomicrons in size (a nanomicron is a billionth of an inch). Relying on a mask to protect you from something that small was equivalent to trying to pen cattle using barb wire with the spikes several miles apart. As Dr. Fauci himself said in an email on the topic:
The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out [the] virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.
- Do lockdowns suck? No one knew. In the U.S., states such as Florida that refused to implement widespread and long standing lockdowns seemed to have done better than places such as New York and New Jersey. Plenty of things to talk about here, but Big Social Media was all in on “No, lockdowns don’t suck, but Florida governor Ron DeSantis does.” Then the body bags began to pour out of New York City nursing homes and the media decided to rely on 60 Minutes doing one of their patented, hard-hitting exposes to take the shine off of the governor. The expose was exposed as a cheap hit job almost before it was released and the press retreated to the Everglades to mutter resentfully and hope that DeSantis was eaten by an alligator (or maybe Donald Trump) while playing golf on a Florida course.
- Does Dr. Fauci suck? The public face of the U.S. health bureaucracy during 2020 through to today, Fauci published several significant pieces of misinformation. The efficacy of masking. The correct percentage of vaccinated to declare “herd” immunity had been achieved. One vs. two masks. Kids in masks. Why genetically editing bat viruses to make them more infectious does not count as “gain of function,” normally defined as doing things such as genetically editing bat viruses to make them more infectious. It became difficult to find an issue on which Fauci had not taken both sides of the issue. Yet, Fauci’s social media accounts remained sacrosanct the entire time.
- Does WHO (the World Health Organization) suck? Well, yes, it does. It’s bought and paid for by the PRC and they suck. In the early stages of the plague’s growth, it bustled around in its rabbit warrens at the U.N. to assure the world the yummy bat soup theory should be your favorite guess on Wuhan’s origin. Later, WHO it took it all back and told us “Dunno! Coulda been a lab leak! Who knows?” In the meantime, Big Social Media leaned into shutting down accounts left and right because of their now favorite censor word, “misinformation.” It was exciting to watch a bunch of medical morons “fact checking” imminent virologists and epidemiologists who were trying to warn the world of the valid lab leak hypothesis. Regardless, dunderheads such as Daniel Funke, author of the retracted Politfacts “Pants on Fire” claim that the lab leak theory was absolutely, positively, absolutely-no-question-about-it false, were allowed to stay on Big Social Media.
- Does Hunter Biden suck? I admit I’m torn on this one. I mean, multiple hookers, cocaine clouds, sleeping with his dead brother’s widow, lots of fun personal photos with the multiple hookers, and big bags of PRC cash. In the 80s, this guy would have been a God with his own rock band. (I don’t approve of any of this, but I’m not sure I’d turn down an invitation to one of his parties.) But one thing was sure. That laptop was not “Russian disinformation.” And everyone with a functioning frontal lobe knew it at the time.The very act of blocking dissemination of info about the laptop and its contents while shutting down the social accounts of The New York Post, a publication that had forgotten more about the business of news than Big Social Media ever knew, created massive misinformation. However, Sundar Pinchai, Jack Dorsey, and Mark Zuckerberg neglected to shut down their personal accounts.
Now that misinformation had been let out of its den, it began to appear everywhere! Soon, the White House jumped into the game and told us that it was snitching on its political enemies and sending misinformation tittle tattle to Facebook on the assumption that the social media giant would begin to slaughter misinforming conservative and Republican accounts en masse. (And maybe take down Tucker Carlson’s account as well? Just hoping.)
It soon became apparent to anyone with even a bit of sense that the same issues that plagued “hate speech” also applied to “misinformation.” Misinformation in many cases is a synonym for “I disagree with your opinion and I’d like you to shut up about yours.” In other cases, misinformation is a mistake that requires additional speech to be corrected. As with “hate speech,” it is impossible to codify misinformation and incorporate it into the First Amendment. (And BTW, the same is true of much disinformation, though it can be blocked if likely to cause “imminent lawless action.”)
The entire collective Big Social Media and “Corporate Media” whine about misinformation is nothing more than an attempt by the political left and progressives to swap out one tawdry rational for crushing the First Amendment with another equally as tawdry. The whole campaign is about as legitimate as Hunter Biden’s claim to be a $500K per piece reincarnation of Jackson Pollock.
Only a but will support it.