In a local conservative message board the other day, someone posted that the posts by “Q” and others should be removed since they propose theories about Trump regaining the Presidency that give people false hope. The person decried these posts as “misinformation” that do more harm than good and make people who believe them look stupid.
At the same time, leftist Democrats were singing a similar refrain regarding stories on social media that were “misinformation” and should be banned. Many officials have proposed government oversight of posts so that “misinformation” can be eradicated. They say that “misinformation” causes people to wrongly ignore government mandates and edicts, say, for example, in the Covid pandemic. They even claim that it can cause people to resort to violence.
I think we had better think about this before we all jump on this bandwagon. I don’t think we want a “Ministry of Truth.”
For one thing, who decides what is truth and what is misinformation? In 2017, an article on Webfx stated that 6 companies own almost all media outlets. And, while some of the players at the top of these six companies might have changed, that is daunting, especially when all media, news, entertainment, newspapers, internet utilities, publishing houses and video game developers are included in these outlets. Certainly, if you are Time Warner Corporation and you own CNN in all its foreign and national iterations, you have a major say in what your networks report as truth. You also get to focus on other outlets and you can say that they produce “misinformation.” You can also make sure the accepted “truth” is consistent across all of our outlets, even those not involved with news reporting. And, if you grease enough palms in the government, you can get them to accept and promote your ” truth” as well. You can also use your clout to remove upstart competitors such as One America News Network, Newsmax, and The Epoch Times. You can even focus on an established network such as Fox and ask that they be removed through the actions of your political friends. If your news outlet and the government work hand in hand to promote the same information, then you are golden.
We need to remember as well that most totalitarian societies such as the USSR and Communist China, have used control of information to be the backbone of the oppression of the people. Think about it. If people are convinced that the government always tells them the truth and anything that is contrary to what the government says is a lie, they will accept the censorship of anything that goes against the government’s “facts.” People who state otherwise may be considered “mentally ill” or crazy ” conspiracy theorists” even if what they say is not outlandish or crazy.
From here, it’s not a step too far for the government to censor and outlaw any information that is not accepted by the government. At that point, any person or group of people who publishes that which is not accepted can be discredited and even arrested. Even people who view or read it can have the same fate. If you don’t think it can happen, look at any time in history where totalitarian governments were in control.
The other thing about the government controlling what is considered ” truth” is that they are probably the entity that publishes the most disinformation and misinformation of all. The CDC is a prime example. As the Covid 19 pandemic began, the CDC gave out certain information about the virus and protecting oneself that was later found to be false. Use a mask, don’t use a mask, testing is accurate, testing is not accurate; it all became one untruth after another, often promoted by whichever political party was in control. Those that spoke out and asked everyone to stop and think were called names, vilified, and even threatened with the loss of a job or medical license. All because they said a truth that the government didn’t sanction. Meanwhile a government “creature” who has ulterior motives such as Fauci has weathered the storm by playing both sides of the middle. He recently promoted wearing double masks to prevent Covid and then backed off that statement in a few days. One of his statements had to be misinformation, but because he is in the “government” it’s okay.
There are other examples throughout our history. How many wars have been started and supported because of misinformation? How many people’s lives have been ruined because the government has lied about them and alleged illegal activities? Didn’t we just go through a false impeachment for four years that was totally promoted via misinformation by the government and its agencies.
Facebook, by censoring any information on their social media site about hydroxychloroquine as a way to help people with Covid, probably cost lives because people didn’t have the chance to try it. This was misinformation by exclusion. And all because they didn’t like Trump.
Some people will say that allowing people to publish or express information that is disputed is harmful to us as a society. It’s why Facebook and Twitter seem almost fanatical about posting a “fact check” by dubious and often discredited “fact checkers” any time certain words and phrases are found in a post. They claim that it is all for the good of all of us, so we don’t get misled. It’s why they will ban certain groups, pages and individuals. Often times, they will call the information they don’t like ” hate speech.” For example, The Daily Citizen, a publication of the “Focus on the Family” group posted on Twitter that Rachel Levine is a “transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman. ” They included a link to the story about the nomination. Twitter banned the group, citing ” hateful conduct.” When looking at the Twitter definition of “hateful conduct,” it doesn’t include telling the truth. Rachel is exactly what the tweet said. The truth has become hate speech.
So, the government and their partners in the arbitration of the ” truth” become the ones who decide what truth is. This tendency is not limited to one political party or cause. Democrats, Republicans, BLM, Antifa, and every political action group participate in this assault on the truth. Like I said, even those on the message boards I am on who support freedom of speech seem to give in to deciding what is true and removing that which they think is not. Perhaps it is out of the utter confusion and mistrust of anyone else who says something we don’t agree with. Or maybe we are just acting out of our personal likes and dislikes.
In my opinion, it is vital that we let people be exposed to both the truth and misinformation. To do so is to allow the individual to decide for themselves what makes sense and what doesn’t, what seems right and what isn’t. I have often followed many of the “Qanon” posts and videos. I sift through what is there and decide if any or all of it is rational and possibly true. If I make a mistake in my judgement, it helps me grow in my critical thinking.
Perhaps we would do better if we would teach critical thinking in our schools. Maybe if people knew to always check the sources, determine the biases and rewards of the publishers, and compare it to what we know in our own lives, we would all be better at accepting the truth and forgetting the lies.
Unfortunately, I think we are at a point that none of the people giving us information want us to be able to do that. If we are able to do that, we might not be as quick to support unwarranted and unfair actions by governments at all levels. They would much rather spew their misinformation at us and have us accept it as gospel. And, it’s easier to dismiss alternate views, discredit them, and convince us that those views are harmful.
I don’t know what the answer is. We certainly aren’t able to control what information outlets show us. The only thing we can control is how we view it and use it. And, we can only hope the First Amendment will hold against those who which to control us and our minds.
*Back to my message board. I stated the ideas posted here as it regards the “Q” posts. I hope those that proposed the censorship of that information will see their suggestion as being in direct opposition to what this country and our Constitution is about.
But I’m fairly sure they won’t.