John Hayward Profile picture
10 Nov, 17 tweets, 3 min read
Every modern effort to crush free speech begins as a crusade against "disinformation." China's massive Internet censorship apparatus was initially justified as an effort to control the spread of false information, and the Chinese state still describes it that way.
Censors begin by claiming that they only want to control the spread of deliberate falsehoods and push back against propaganda campaigns. They always begin by saying their primary concern is disinformation spread by hostile foreign powers. China constantly says that to this day.
The definition of "disinformation" begins to expand as the censors seek more power. Soon they aren't just going after DELIBERATE falsehoods pushed by malevolent conspiracies - they're suppressing everything from honest mistakes to predictions and "wrong" opinions.
It soon becomes clear that the censorship rules - like all other rules in totalitarian societies - are not applied evenly. The ruling party and its friends are judged much less harshly than dissidents. They get far more latitude to make unfounded statements or outright lies.
The censors move on, suppressing not just "disinformation" or demonstrably false statements, but even completely true statements that lack some vital "context." The censors declare that even pure truth is deceptive when it's not packaged and delivered "correctly."
From here the next step is to enforce the perspective of the dominant ideology as the only correct "context" for evaluating facts. Chinese censors do this all the time. They condemn true facts presented by political dissidents as the worst form of "deception."
The final evolution of censorship is suppressing true statements and expressions of opinion because they would supposedly jeopardize social cohesion. In China, the all-purpose allegation is "picking quarrels and starting trouble."
When censorship reaches this level, the censors say they have a sacred duty to protect society from information that would harm it. The "social cost" of free speech is considered more important than whether it's objectively true or sincerely expressed.
If the dominant party began as an insurgency or counter-culture, it knows how dangerous dissent can be to the established power structure, so it moves aggressively to censor "subversive" ideas. Those who once prided themselves on being subversive make the most brutal censors.
The thing about totalitarian states is that everything that jeopardizes the power of the dominant party can be construed as a disruptive "attack on society" that could foment chaos. The Party, the State, and the People have fused together. Damaging one damages them all.
The most vital social resource in a collectivist state is OBEDIENCE. Anything that reduces the level of obedience in society would damage the Party, State, and People, just like putting sugar in the gas tank of a car. Dissent is intolerable because it breeds disobedience.
China, again, is a perfect model for all of this, a glimpse at where the formerly free world is heading. They are the mentors Big Tech is studying under. Chinese censors constantly insist that dissent from the Party = sabotaging the State = attacking the People.
That's how a crusade against "disinformation" mutates into enforced ideological purity and ruthless censorship. Objective truth gives way to subjective evaluations of intent and estimates of "social damage." Context becomes more important than accuracy.
And it all begins with a very simple idea, a seed of totalitarian ideology that easily takes root in societies attempting to navigate through raging floods of information: NO ONE HAS THE "RIGHT" TO BE WRONG.

Once you accept that idea, free speech is doomed.
Those with the power to judge which speech is "wrong" will inevitably abuse it. Ideas die stillborn in the minds of people afraid to say "wrong" things and invite the wrath of censors. They grow fearful of asking impertinent questions. Speech now has a cost - so it isn't free.
I called one of my early blogging efforts "Impertinent Questions" because they are essential to freedom. Ordinary people - not just credentialed members of some political clergy - must be free to ask questions, to doubt, to speculate, to challenge orthodoxy and test their ideas.
That means they need the "right to be wrong" - the right to challenge prevailing notions without guaranteed success. Censorship always begins as a crusade against "false information," and it always ends as a jihad against impertinent questions. /end

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh
 

Keep Current with John Hayward

John Hayward Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

PDF

Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @Doc_0

27 Nov
Privileged elites always want to assert their status by indulging in pleasures denied to the lower classes. This often leads them into immoral, deranged, and even criminal behavior. They're desperate to flaunt their power by doing what lesser folk are forbidden to do.
This is one of the reasons for the wave of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and pedophilia among the richest and most powerful. They indulge increasingly depraved appetites to savor the sweet, sweet high of doing what ordinary people cannot, feasting on the food of the gods.
It's also one of the reasons high-living elites are drawn to puritanical secular pseudo-religions, like the Church of Global Warming and now the Church of Covid. They have a deep appetite for making aspects of modern life forbidden to the Little People, but not to themselves.
Read 13 tweets
25 Nov
The great political struggle of the past 20 years is not nationalism vs. globalism. It's nationalism vs. authoritarianism. Nation-states are the only way common people have a chance to restrain the power of the elite and hold them accountable. The odds are still against them.
Of course individual nations can still become authoritarian horrors, but globalism makes it much easier for the elite to impose their will without having to worry about getting voted out of office or otherwise held accountable for their failures.
Only a strong and enlightened nation-state can provide the instruments needed to restrain authoritarianism: constitutional limits on government, sovereign rights for individuals, laws that bind both the powerful and powerless, meaningful elections, checks and balances.
Read 15 tweets
25 Nov
Time once again to demonstrate that "presidents have no mandate to wield power after close elections" is a scam directed solely and entirely at Republicans. By any objective standard, Biden has less of a "mandate" than anyone in memory, but no one in the media will say that.
The "mandate" narrative is silly as a matter of constitutional law. Nowhere is it written that a president's authority is diminished if the election was close, or people who didn't vote for him think his victory was illegitimate. But that's all we heard for years after Trump won.
Of course, not a single such complaint will be leveled at Biden. No one in the political/media class will insist he has an asterisk after his name and should be prevented from exercising the full powers of office, and then some.
Read 19 tweets
23 Nov
Legacy media looked like it was on the ropes during the Age of Blogging, but the transition of blogs to social media gave the legacy outlets a new niche as outrage brokers. The MSM can instantly turn huge stories into old news, or signal-boost 10 tweets into an urgent crisis.
Part of that symbiosis flows from lazy reporting and the hunger for 24/7 content. It became very noticeable over the past few years that many MSM "news" items are just reporters cobbling a story together from some tweets or Facebook posts.
Of course, the media signal-boosts "online outrage" that agrees with its political and cultural biases, and activists with the right political credentials are very good at getting their little outrage storms noticed, validated, and repeated by mainstream media.
Read 12 tweets
20 Nov
This sinister "Great Reset" stuff suggests we really might be approaching the "end of history" this time - not with the worldwide acceptance of classical liberalism, but with its decisive rejection in favor of "soft" and "limited" authoritarianism.
The new consensus spreading among Western political elites is that some issues must be taken off the table, placed beyond the reach of voters, "settled" - and thus enforced - by power that cannot be subordinated to democracy.
In other words, the list of things "free people" don't get to vote against or refuse to accept grows longer. The size and power of centralized government swells to a scale undreamed-of by the founders of a constitutional republic. Very little of it can be voted out of office.
Read 14 tweets
20 Nov
It's entirely reasonable to say Trump's election lawyers need to produce hard evidence to back up their sweeping allegations, PDQ.

It's absurd to expect them to do it live on a talk show, as if they were carrying Marsellus Wallace's magic glowing briefcase from Pulp Fiction.
Host: You say thousands of votes were switched by corrupt computer software. You need to prove it.

Sidney Powell: Of course. I have the proof right here.

[opens briefcase, golden light spills out]

Host: Is that...?

Powell: Yes.

Host: Wow. OK, you win. I'm sold.
There is no way the "evidence" of the most serious claims is something that can be dangled in front of cameras. There is no way that attempting to do so would convince anyone, nor should it. The evidence will be extensively evaluated by experts and presented to judges.
Read 8 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!