Free speech under fire
One of the biggest threats facing America today isn't beyond the water's edge; it's censorship spreading like a wildfire coast to coast: a perilous endangerment to free speech, a free press and artistic expression that should alarm every American -- I don't care how you vote.
It's well known that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media networks are silencing political speech and any content they simply don't like. These platforms run by unchecked far-left and liberal activists are brazenly muting elected officials including the president, members of Congress and other high-profile conservatives across industries. They're even censoring reports from global health experts, mainstream media and countless others whose First Amendment rights are being flagrantly violated -- with zero accountability.
Take Facebook. On Monday, the World Health Organization sent shockwaves through the media echo chamber when one of its top epidemiologists said at a press conference that asymptomatic spread of the coronavirus is "very rare." Many outlets covered this important revelation and quoted Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove's statements, as they should -- it's their job to report on such things -- but when I posted a link to a CNBC article about it, Facebook blocked it. The social network "fact-checked" my post saying it was "Partly False Information" and threatened to take action if I share the article again.
The notice warned: "False Information In This Post. Pages and websites that repeatedly publish or share false news will see their overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways." In other words, Facebook admitted to a deceptive practice known as shadow banning, where user posts are blocked from appearing in their followers' feeds. This is something conservatives have been sounding the alarm about for years, including me, when I testified in 2018 before a congressional hearing about social media censorship titled "The State of Intellectual Freedom in America."
For years, many of my social media followers have reported they don't see my conservative opinion columns and posts in their feeds. My nationally syndicated column gets heavy traction everywhere except when I post it on Twitter and Facebook. This is not an isolated anecdote, by any means; it's part of a pervasive pattern of censorship. Scores of other high-profile conservatives including national TV hosts, lawmakers such as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.; and tens of thousands of Trump supporters have reported similar censorship by these almighty platforms.
But make no mistake. The rampant censorship we're seeing isn't limited to Big Tech censoring conservative voices -- far from it.
The entertainment industry is banning timeless movies and long-running TV shows the politically correct, so-called woke crowd dislikes. This includes the legendary, award-winning 1939 film "Gone With the Wind," which HBO Max removed from its library on Tuesday. The police-themed TV shows "Live PD" and "Cops" have been canceled, with others reportedly on the chopping block.
But that's not all. This week, we have seen the radical left decapitate the historical Christopher Columbus statues in Boston and other cities, mimicking what violent extremists do to their victims in real life.
And if you think all that is troubling, The New York Times editorial board recently forced out its opinion editor for the crime of publishing an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton.
So much for free speech and the free flow of ideas that are hallmarks of a healthy democracy.
Bottom line: All Americans must protest censorship wherever we encounter it, because what separates the United States from oppressive communist regimes are free speech and a free press, two vital rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and under siege.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.