Biden Administration’s Continuing Inclination to Censor

The antipathy of the Biden Administration for Americans’ right to know basic information continues.  And the more we learn about it, the worse it seems.

First came the Disinformation Governance Board at the Department of Homeland Security.  A little light on that subject caused the DGB to dive for the shadows amid hissing noises like a vampire caught by the dawn.  But all along we were told that it would only deal with disinformation and only disinformation peddled by, in the words of Secretary of DHS, Alejandro Mayorkas, “foreign state adversaries [and] the cartels” and that it would have nothing to do with Big Tech.

But Senator Josh Hawley (R. MO) recently obtained DHS documents demonstrating that none of those claims were true.  Now, when the DGB originally became public, I did a bit of digging into DHS documents and learned that, in addition to disinformation, it looked as if misinformation and something called “mal-information” would also be targeted.  And sure enough.  This is from Hawley’s senate website:

DHS officials appear to have prepared legislation to codify a “Rumor Control Program of the Department of Homeland Security to Counter Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation,” including a public-facing website known as “Rumor Control.”

What is “mal-information?”  It’s a little thing called “the truth.”  Here’s the DHS’s definition:

Malinformation is genuine information, typically private or revealing, that may be distributed in a campaign to cause harm to a person’s reputation in furtherance of the campaign’s objective.  

So, if Jane has a sterling reputation for, say, honesty, any information to the contrary regardless of how true, could be quashed if it furthered the campaign of a political enemy.  According to the Biden DHS, Americans don’t have the right to know accurate information if it tarnishes an undeserved reputation.

When I wrote my original piece, I speculated that the DGB wouldn’t censor directly, but would rely on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to do it instead.  All they’d have to do would be to check the DGB website every so often and censor accordingly.  But I was wrong.  It’s far more insidious.  Hawley again:

DHS planned for a partnership with Twitter to suppress disfavored content and planned a meeting with Twitter executives exploring the concept.

In short, the purpose all along was to have Twitter act as a cat’s paw for the DHS, censoring content of which the administration doesn’t approve.  Needless to say, Secretary Mayorkas neglected to mention that tidbit in his sworn testimony before Congress.  Of course, using Twitter in that way would make the platform a governmental actor subject to the strictures of the Constitution, and rendering its ability to censor null and void.  Still, like gifts, it’s the thought that counts, and the Biden Administration’s main thought seems to be keeping the public in the dark.

Oh, the claim that it was all about targeting foreign actors?  Utterly untrue.

The Disinformation Governance Board was originally conceived in part to monitor domestic speech regarding “conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections” and “disinformation related to the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines or the efficacy of masks.”

So, criticism of the electoral process is quash-worthy, regardless of how meritorious.  Likewise, do highly knowledgeable biologists discover that a pandemic virus possibly originated in a Chinese lab?  We need to sit on that notion.  Can’t have everyday people getting unapproved ideas.

So much for the DGB.  On to climate change.

Now White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy wants [social media platforms] to censor content on the costs of a force-fed green energy transition.

McCarthy’s worried about those who question orthodoxy on climate change and what to do about it.  They tend to contradict the preferred narrative and so, rather than defeating their arguments in open debate, her approach is – what else? – to shut them up.

“Now it’s not so much denying the problem,” Ms. McCarthy said in an Axios interview last Thursday. “What the industry is now doing is seeding doubt about the costs associated with [green energy] and whether they work or not.”  

One problem being that “green energy,” i.e., wind and solar power, is in fact vastly more expensive than fossil fuels, a fact that explains the popularity of fossil fuels.  As climate activist Michael Shellenberger wrote in his book Apocalypse Never,

“Just as the far higher power densities of coal made the industrial revolution possible, the far lower power densities of solar and wind would make today’s high-energy, urbanized and industrial civilization impossible.”

So, according to McCarthy, those objective facts should be ruled inadmissible to public discourse because they are “seeding doubt about the costs associated with green energy and whether they work or not.”  Never mind that they’re (a) factual and (b) highly relevant to any sensible energy policy.  No, they interfere with the approved narrative and so must go.

Like the DHS, McCarthy considers social media’s ability to censor to be a key part of administration policy.

“We need the tech companies to really jump in,” she said, because highlighting the costs of green energy is “equally dangerous to denial because we have to move fast.”

Translation: “we need heavy-handed censorship of meritorious facts and ideas because, if people come to understand the true costs of “green energy,” they may not agree to our program of rising costs and declining lifestyles to combat climate change that is going to continue pretty much regardless of what we do.”  (As Bjorn Lomborg has pointed out, according to one commonly-used climate model, even if the U.S. had stopped using all fossil fuels in 2020, by 2100, the increase in global warming would have been 7.1 degrees Celsius instead of 7.4 degrees Celsius if we’d done nothing.)

People in power with indefensible ideas invariably take the same tack – shut down debate.  That’s doubly true when the alternative is to rely on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to convince anyone of anything. 

And so it goes.

 

1 comment

Jeff Golden

“One problem being that “green energy,” i.e., wind and solar power, is in fact vastly more expensive than fossil fuels …” You raise a point I had been thinking about. Owners of electric vehicles (which cost 2 to 3 times more than equivalent fossil-fueled vehicles) tell me they can pull into a charging station and “fill up” with enough “fuel” to go about 300 miles for about $15. It takes about 45 to 60 minutes, so they need to have something else to do during the process, as opposed to I can fill my fossil-fueled car in about 10 minutes. But how much does it cost to make the electricity and distribute it to the charging station? It takes A LOT of power to charge an electric vehicle. Have you seen how thick those charging cables are? I believe that we, the average taxpayers, are unknowingly subsidizing the cost of fuel for very rich people who can afford to drive expensive electric cars. THIS is the information that we need to be distributing.

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