The far-left Aspen Institute, where the board of trustees includes far-left personalities such as Jane Harman, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Arne Duncan, Michael D. Eisner and Katie Couric, has decided that there’s a solution to all of the disputes over speech in America today.
Ivermectin vs. ventilators? Solved. Vote fraud vs. perfect election? Solved. Grade school indoctrination vs. grade school lessons. Solved. Racism vs. reality? Solved.
The United States for centuries has diluted bad speech with more – good – speech. But now activists and even government officials are demanding censorship of speech, for example, that challenges their narrative about a perfect presidential election in 2020, or their opinion that ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are bad for COVID-19 patients.
The institute created a 16-person Commission on Information Disorder, incidentally led by Couric who has her own struggles with truth after admitting she edited the late Justice Ruth Ginsburg to remove controversial comments, and joined by Prince Harry, who has confirmed he believes free speech is “bonkers,” to offer a solution.
That would be a pretty aggressive form of censorship.
“The biggest lie of all, which this crisis thrives on, and which the beneficiaries of mis- and disinformation feed on, is that the crisis itself is uncontainable,” the commission said in its attempt to enlighten America. “One of the corollaries of that mythology is that, in order to fight bad information, all we need is more (and better distributed) good information. In reality, merely elevating truthful content is not nearly enough to change our current course.”
Law professor, legal commentator and constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley said America needs to be warned that such intolerant attitudes are being permitted at such levels.
He said, “The Aspen report is the latest evidence of a building anti-free speech movement in the United States. It is a movement that both rejects core free speech values but also seeks to normalize censorship. In the last few years, we have seen an increasing call for private censorship from Democratic politicians and liberal commentators. Faculty and editors are now actively supporting modern versions of book-burning with blacklists and bans for those with opposing political views. Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll has denounced the ‘weaponization’ of free speech, which appears to be the use of free speech by those on the right. So the dean of one of the premier journalism schools now supports censorship.”
He continued, “Free speech advocates are facing a generational shift that is now being reflected in our law schools, where free speech principles were once a touchstone of the rule of law. As millions of students are taught that free speech is a threat and that ‘China is right’ about censorship, these figures are shaping a new and more limited role for free speech in society.”
He found the Aspen ideology “a full-throated endorsement of systems of censorship.”
The 80-page report leaves “disinformation” and “misinformation” remarkably ill-defined, he said, “but treated as a matter of ‘we know when we see it.'”
It immediately rejected the idea that free speech is and should be, well, free speech, an expected result from Couric as well as commission members Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Chris Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
“Robinson was also a notable choice since he has been one of the most outspoken advocates of censorship. While some of us have been denouncing the expanding system of censorship by companies like Facebook, Robinson was threatening boycotts if the companies do not ‘rein in’ those considered racists or spreaders of misinformation,” Turley explained.
Then there’s Harry, known for his opinion that free speech protections in America’s Constitution are “bonkers.”
“Objectivity” and including both sides on a topic are rejected, noted Turley, who cited those agenda points already at large in America.
Commissioners appear to endorse “the movement against ‘objectivity’ and ‘both sideism’ in the media: ‘Commissioners also discussed the need to adjust journalistic norms to avoid false equivalencies between lies and empirical fact in the pursuit of ‘both sides’ and ‘objectivity,’ particularly in areas of public health, civil rights, or election outcomes,'” he explained.
“The most chilling aspect of the report is the obvious invitation for greater forms of censorship,” Turley warned. “It calls for the government to become involved in combating misinformation, the scourge of free speech and an invitation for state controls over speech. Ironically, there is no need for such direct government involvement when social media.”
The commission’s suggestions include setting up a “centralized national response” to what insiders claim is “misinformation.” And members want an independent group to “develop systemic misinformation countermeasures through education, research, and investment in local institutions.”
Further, the commission wants both government and private sector systems to adopt “decisive actions and penalties” against those it considers in violation of their ideology.
Turley explained, however, “The deepest rooted problems in our society include the denial of free speech. Indeed, the First Amendment is premised on the belief that this right is essential to protecting the other freedoms in the Constitution. It is the right that allows people to challenge their government and others on electoral issues, public health issues, and other controversies.”