Censorship Is an Act of Desperation

Brownstone Institute
Published on April 25, 2024

The debate over censorship is maturing quickly. And the manner in which it is happening sends a clear message: the censors are losing the debate. They cannot defend what they have done over the last 4-plus years and now can only resort to forced silencing.

We’ve moved from denial that it was happening at all into full-on defenses of the practice, which implicitly grants precisely what we’ve been pointing out for years. The problem became intense during the COVID wars as true science was blocked from public access by government and a coalition of private interests working with the government, in direct violation of the First Amendment.

These days, the censors are no longer suggesting it didn’t happen but taking the opposite tact: they are claiming that not enough of it was taking place and that too much “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation” got through. That, they say, is the real problem with information controls during the lockdown period.

An example comes from a long interview with FDA-connected vaccine creator Paul Offit and some doctor with a big podcasting platform. The doctor and Offit are speaking about the dissidents to lockdowns and vaccine mandates and supposed how they were spreading disinformation.

“What do you think, if any, their punishment should be?” asked the doctor.

Offit answers: “People should not be allowed to put out information that puts others in harm’s way,” by which he means discourages vaccine acceptance. In other words, he wants to make criticizing vaccines of any sort illegal.

Of course this presumes that he already knows the answer to the question of what is harmful. From his point of view, it is not lockdowns, closures, rights violations, masks, and vaccines that harm but opposition to them.

He goes on to say that the kinds of critiques offered by Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “should not be allowed.”

This is all pretty shocking since it would mean full censorship of any and all information related to human health. Only government-approved opinions would be allowed. This is despite many decades of dis-, mis-, and malinformation coming from government itself.

Even in the interview, Offit points out many occasions when government itself was wrong on points, exaggerating the benefits of vaccines, too quickly approving the bivalent booster, and recommending the extended closure of schools. Under his rule, you could not have criticized any of those decisions.

In his world, you see, authorities like Offit are allowed to be wrong and then later correct the record. But you and I are not allowed to listen to anyone who in real time suspects that something is wrong and points it out at the time. Those people, one presumes, would be fined and even jailed, and certainly their views would not be allowed to see the light of day.

In particular, in this interview, these two birds blast away at the supplement industry, which they blame not only for promoting misinformation but also for giving money to nonprofits that promote nutrition supplements. They name several institutions directly, under a wild conspiracy theory that these institutions would not otherwise be large and influential but for industry-based donations.

The entire critique presumes that people are dumb as rocks and cannot make judgments for themselves over what might be the best approach to health. After all, these very people are even now suggesting COVID vaccines and endless boosters for a population of children that are under zero risk for any medically significant consequences from infection.

This is what they call credible information. Anyone who disagrees with them is accused of spreading disinformation.

Why not debate critics directly? Both Offit and the interviewer say that they will not do this under any circumstances. They think it gives the critic too much credibility and that listeners cannot tell the difference between their truths and the liars they oppose.

In their world, millions of books would be banned, whole organizations shut down, and millions of others would be silenced, while the internet itself would have to be controlled from the top down to shut up any doubts about anything that pharma and its allies are pushing.

And keep in mind that the shots that the pushers are demanding we all take are manufactured by companies that are protected against any lawsuits alleging harm from their products. No other industry enjoys such a privilege. And further keep in mind that many of the people who are getting these shots are being forced to do so by their employers who are in turn being forced by government.

It’s wild, isn’t it, how one compulsion leads to another compulsion to the point that we actually end in a totalitarian situation in which we have neither choice nor information? We are required to go along and are punished if we complain about it or seek another point of view.

And these two are advocating such a regime in slick interviews and with a smile under the cover of reputable science.

I would suggest to you that when any interest group resorts to using government to shut up the critics, that industry has already lost the debate. Both Offit and his interviewer are profoundly aware of just how discredited government agencies and the industries they protect are these days. Indeed, millions of people the world over are boiling mad in a fury. Those who trusted and believed the nonsense are very angry. This is a known fact. The only path remaining for pharma and government is to resort to speech bans.

That’s truly pathetic. But mainstream corporate media is defending the idea. 60 Minutes just ran a long interview with Kate Starbird, an academic at the University of Washington who worked directly with the Department of Homeland Security to censor Americans. Her institute flagged posts on behalf of the government and used measures to intimidate platforms into takedowns: laundering censorship in ways that government could not legally bring about.

60 Minutes did a loving interview with her as if she was some kind of unbiased research without power, and then a follow-up interview with Congressman James Jordan on why he wants to interfere with her glorious work.

The whole exchange was preposterous, celebrating the actual censor and trashing the defender of free speech. And by the way, a whole generation of young adults with high-end educations are being taught that censorship is wonderful, necessary, and virtuous.

We might ask ourselves: why is the corporate media using its power to push censorship? The answer: it’s an industrial tactic for competing with new media. Old media is already working closely with government and fears the power of podcasting, Substacking, Epoch, Rumble, and other alternative channels. They see in censorship the hope of economic survival.

I’m no longer sanguine about the prospects of the win of the censors here. They are very powerful and have resorted to secret methods, courts, and coercion as the only path they have. They are desperate because they are losing control. They could get their way, despite the First Amendment, simply because there are some Justices on the court who don’t believe in freedom itself. That’s a tragedy.

In any case, what matters now is that we are no longer debating whether there is censorship with government cooperation going on. Now we are only debating whether this is a good or bad thing and whether it should be legal to do so. One must suppose that this is progress.

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, the censors have been caught. They know it. Everyone knows it. They didn’t plan for this, otherwise they wouldn’t have built their empire under such a veil of secrecy. Their only recourse now is to press for silencing their critics.


Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown


Related Items:

Jeffrey A.Tucker’s interview with David Leis on Leaders on the Frontier can be seen here.

His testimony at the National Citizens Inquiry (Winnipeg) may be viewed here.


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