WE’VE REACHED A POLITICAL LIMIT
BEYOND WHICH WE DARE NOT GO
Anyone who would reject the idea that government should not be permitted to obstruct the free expression of information, ideas, and opinions — as that amendment specifically states — would be denying a fundamental assumption on which our nation is based.
Yes, there are limits to free expression.
You aren’t free to incite violence or crime (as, for instance, in the prohibition of so-called “fighting words”). Similarly, your speech must not create a situation of danger or panic (as in the famous cliché about falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater).
We have laws that impose legitimate restrictions on what you can say in public, or even what you can communicate in private if it promotes criminal activity. The limits are well established and long recognized.
But to advance the notion that government can make judgments on what is permissible speech content — based, for instance, on conformity to certain philosophical or ideological premises — is in total contradiction of our national character.
Yet, that’s what the Biden Administration is attempting to do. In the last couple of weeks word has spread that the Department of Homeland Security is establishing a Disinformation Governance Board with the purported mission of protecting us from being misled by “fake news” from foreign sources.
The plan has received widespread criticism, which the DHS is attempting to deflect by tying this development to foreign information-monitoring programs that existed during the Trump years.
And in an example of the shameless gall for which Biden people are becoming famous, a DHS spokesman claims that the Disinformation Governance Board is intended to ensure…
“Americans’ freedom of speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy.”
This conceit has been dismantled effectively by my friend, Fr. Michael Orsi, host of the cable series, “Action for Life TV.” Writing on Life Site News, Fr. Orsi comments…
“The first question that comes to mind is: Who determines what is disinformation? The second is: Where’s the line between foreign and domestic? If an American outlet repeats some bit of alleged ‘fake news’ generated overseas, will it be considered an agent of a foreign entity?
“The third question is perhaps the most important: Can operatives of the current administration even be trusted to make such judgments? Remember, this is the crowd that pushed unproven (and highly suspicious) vaccines, while restricting the use of therapeutics like Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine, and monoclonal antibodies, which were shown to be effective in many Covid cases.
“If the administration’s judgment in matters of the people’s health is so questionable, how much faith can we put in this administration’s commitment to the people’s freedom?”
Fr. Orsi’s skepticism is given added substance by the appointment of Nina Jankowicz, a longtime Leftist activist known for her satirical TikTok videos, to head the new board. (Jankowicz has described herself as “the Mary Poppins of disinformation.”)
Also, as revealed by Media Research Center, at least one board member, Jennifer Daskal, has close ties to George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
Can you imagine how Democrats would have reacted if Donald Trump — whose sensitivity to opposition and criticism are so well documented — would have authorized such a process?
Chad Wolf, former acting DHS secretary, puts this development in its proper perspective. As quoted by the Daily Caller, he observed…
“The creation of the ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ in the Secretary’s office is unneeded and politicizes the Department’s mission. There is no operational reason to take this responsibility from largely non-political operating components and move this mission to the Secretary’s office filled with political appointees, including a politically charged individual [Jankowicz] with no government experience. The move represents a further politicization of the Department under this administration.”
There’s a history of government intrusion into social media and other arteries of online communication, and it includes both political parties. Remember, it was under the Bush administration that we first got the Department of Homeland Security (in connection with the 9/11-inspired Patriot Act).
The Obama Administration took full advantage of Bush’s enhanced national security apparatus. Back in 2013 I pointed out on this blog how…
“Recent weeks have brought parallel scandals surrounding [Department of Justice] snooping into the confidential communications of various media organizations and the IRS’ sandbagging of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status …. We’ve also seen a federal judge allow the use of so-called ‘National Security Letters’ — secret, warrantless orders which cannot be discussed or even acknowledged publicly — to let the government go fishing in the user files of Google, one of the world’s great depositories of personal data.
“Now the conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, reports that the Justice Department is warning it may take legal action against individuals ‘using social media to spread information considered inflammatory against Muslims’ on the basis that such talk could be a violation of civil rights.”
With such precedents, it seems to me that an expansion of the Disinformation Governance Board’s mandate beyond foreign-sourced “fake news” is just a matter of time.
Interestingly, Catholic social teaching has something to say about this issue. Paragraph 2499 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns “totalitarian states” that, among other cruelties, attempt to…
“exercise political control of opinion through the media … and imagine that they secure their tyranny by strangling and repressing everything they consider ‘thought crimes.’”
This is precisely what the Biden Administration is attempting to do, despite assurances to the contrary. The DHS’s Disinformation Governance Board is just the latest step in a campaign of subversion that’s been carried on aggressively since the Obama Administration. It’s based on a view of politics and an attitude toward the Constitution that are immoral and profoundly Un-American.
At the end of his essay Fr. Orsi sums up our present situation…
“The Disinformation Governance Board must be stopped. We have reached the limit of political power, beyond which we dare not go.”
Let’s consider that a call to action.
Fr. Michael Orsi was a guest on my radio show/podcast, “Free Expression,” where we discussed the threat to our First Amendment rights posed by establishment of the DHS’s Disinformation Governance Board. You can stream or download the show (Episode 51) at my Podbean podcasting page…
CNN reports that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is trying to counter criticism of the Disinformation Governance Board…
“We protect the security of the homeland, and once again, allow me to articulate what I have said previously, which is that the working group [board] does not have operational capability and authority,” Mayorkas said.
Oh, really? Then how come its name contains the word “governance?”
It’s interesting how George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, has become a touchstone, to which current political developments are regularly related. Orwell brilliantly described a world in which reality is turned upside-down by a regime that’s mastered the use of information control and psychological manipulation to dominate people and advance its totalitarian agenda.
With Orwell’s masterwork so deeply etched in the public mind, even media are referring to the DHS’s Disinformation Governance Board as the “Ministry of Truth.”
1984 has been made into a movie at least twice. The version I know was produced in 1956, and starred Edmund O’Brien. I recall this black-and-white film as chilling. If you’ve never seen it, take time to watch it on YouTube…
Some clever meme-maker has offered this cute bit of conjecture about the sort of curated information we should expect from the Disinformation Governance Board…