CNBC: Twitter Stops COVID-19 Censorship
The Google News on my new $29 smartphone tells me that CNBC has a piece “Twitter stops policing Covid-19 misinformation under CEO Elon Musk and reportedly restores 62,000 suspended accounts.”
Whatabout the experts!
But online safety experts have argued his approach has led to an increase in hate speech, harassment and misinformation on the platform.
The experts have a point. If “hate speech, harassment and misinformation” are anything that wokies don't like them I am sure that the new Musk Twitter really makes the “online safety experts” feel unsafe. Online safety experts feel unsafe whenever someone is broadcasting something online that the online safety experts disagree with.
The late COVID incident has been educational for regime skeptics like me.
I have come to think that censorship is a necessary artifact of war. If you are at war, you need to corral all the young men into the armed forces and you need to keep the news upbeat and certain of victory.
Because if you don’t then the young men won’t show up at the recruiting stations, eager to help defend the homeland as male apes have done since time immemorial. And the non-combatants will lose heart in due time and stop supporting the war if victory is not assured, or even if our armies suffer a setback.
And, worst of all, people may start to doubt the genius and the luck of their fearless leader. Churchill’s famous maxim skirts around this:
In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.
The “truth” in wartime is that we must win this one else the men will be slaughtered by the enemy and the women will be raped by the enemy, as in the olden time.
In any event short of such an existential emergency, there is no warrant for censorship, especially in the logic chopping of CISA on misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. If you read the CISA page on this, it is clear that CISA experiences mis- dis- and mal-information as straight enemy action or, maybe, malevolent action by some regime opponent on our side.
Whatabout COVID? Was the government within bounds when it encouraged social media to censor people that published information that went against the government’s propaganda line?
Let us give the gubmint the benefit of the doubt and say that in March to May 2020 there was an argument for censorship. Maybe we were entering a pandemic for the ages. Who knew?
But after the end of the first COVID peak I would say that censorship was out.
Why? Because after the first panic, the only question is The Science. And in science all questions and all science are good only if they work. Here’s piece on the new James Webb telescope with new information that calls a lot of existing science into question.
And in fact we know that many of the people censored as broadcasting COVID information that was censored as “misinformation” were in fact right. They were scientists and medical experts that knew a lot about the science of disease and pandemics. But they variously disagreed with the government line on masking, on lockdowns, on vaccines, and on medications such as hydroxychloroquine.
Were they right? Part of the time, yes. Part of the time, no.
But they were interfering with the government’s efforts to mobilize the world to Fight COVID Before It’s Too Late.
Maybe in a world war that approach is necessary. But in a pandemic with a novel virus nobody really knows what will work, least of all politicians and gubmint health bureaucrats.
And I would say there is an especial need to have an open discussion of the issues where pandemics are concerned.
Why? It is because of the nature of political and administrative governance. Once Henry V says “once more unto the breach” then he is committed, and he has committed his troops, for good or ill. He’s not going to say, half way through the assault: “Wow, new information! Cancel that attack! Everybody back to the start line!” Once you have started the attack it’s too late for that. Because the fearless leader of an army cannot fail, cannot be defeated. Once he admits he was wrong, he is done.
But in everything except a military assault you respond to new information; you respond to the success or failure of your existing policy. You ask yourself every moment: is this working? Is there a better idea? And if you made a mistake, you know that you’d better fix it before your mistake makes things worse.
The COVID experience taught us a lot. Clearly, our Democratic friends believe that the way to do thing is by top-down administrative ukase. And we saw Democratic officials being very slow to change their policy in the light of new information.
On the other hand GOP officials, with Gov. DeSantis (R-FL) as the standard, opted for minimum government authority, often in the face of prolonged media outrage.
Let’s apply my Four Laws to the whole procedure.
Socialism cannot work because it cannot compute prices. Prices tell people what to do, in real time. You may not like what the prices are saying, as in supply-chain problems, but you ignore them at your peril.
Administrative government cannot work because bandwidth. An administrative hierarchy just does not have the bandwidth to attend to all the details, even in a pandemic. Especially in a pandemic, President Xi.
Government regulation cannot work because “regulatory capture.” We certainly saw that in the COVID experience, as the regulated drug companies obviously had the inside track when it came to influencing government.
Government programs cannot work because you cannot reform them. This is my especial insight, and it issues from a belief that the purpose of every government program is to reward the goverment’s supporters. If it helps the rest of the people that is just an accident. Government dished out a ton of money in the COVID years. Just you try to cut the goodies back and see what happens.
But above all, there is no warrant for censorship of misinformation or any other kind of information, except in an actual shooting war.