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    How the “Ministry of Truth” Can Censor You Without (Technically) Censoring You​​​​​

    Matt Hampton
    May 9th, 2022
    The Foundation for Economic Education
    Comments (7)

    This article was originally published by Matt Hampton at The Foundation for Economic Education. 

    When centralized authorities are responsible for sorting truth from lies, it creates a situation prone to abuse.

    The Department of Homeland Security’s creation of a Disinformation Governance Board last week has a lot of people drawing comparisons to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    On CNN, Dana Bash pressed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to address concerns that the board will restrict freedom of speech. Mayorkas said that the board will not monitor Americans.

    The board does not have any operational authority or capability. What it will do is gather together best practices in addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries, from the cartels, and disseminate those best practices to the operators that have been executing in addressing this threat for years.

    If anyone can translate that from bureaucrat-speak to explain what specifically DHS does to “[address] the threat of disinformation,” I would appreciate it. Almost all of the initial reporting on the DGB lacked any specifics of what concrete powers the group will exercise to “counter,” “combat,” and “crackdown on” so-called disinformation.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume Mayorkas is telling the truth, that the DGB will not censor information it labels false. The problem is that it doesn’t matter. It could still be used to stifle free speech even if it doesn’t violate the First Amendment.

    The government has several ways to control behavior other than officially and directly mandating or prohibiting it.

    One example is funding that has strings attached. This is the subject of the book Purchasing Submission: Conditions, Power, and Freedom by Columbia University law professor Philip Hamburger. Though conditional funding is often legitimate, Hamburger explains how the federal government uses it as a loophole to go beyond its legal powers.

    ​​​​​​It works by using a carrot instead of a stick. The federal government offers money to a state or private entity on the condition that it does X ​​​​​— something that the federal government couldn’t legally do itself ​​​​​— or it threatens to remove existing funding unless this condition is met. Then, when the organization does X, the government got what it wanted without technically violating the Constitution.

    Law professor Johnathan H. Adler summarizes in National Review:

    Hamburger raises a particular alarm about “the growing use of conditions to control third parties.” Sometimes this occurs with conditional grants to states, which may induce state or local governments to adopt measures the federal government could never constitutionally impose itself. Unlike the federal government, states are not constrained by limited and enumerated powers, so there is ample incentive to encourage state enlistment in federal causes, such as land-use controls, aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, that might not pass muster if adopted as federal regulation of interstate commerce.

    The government also uses this power to induce private institutions to require people under their control to do things “that no level of government could impose directly,” Adler explains. For example, this is how the government gets universities to enforce Title IX sexual assault hearings that lack due process, and how the Joe Biden administration extends its vaccine mandate to healthcare providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

    The government can also use the implied threat of regulations to influence private actors. This is what happened in the case of restrictions on comic books in 1954, the film rating system in 1968, and “explicit content” labels on music albums in 1985. Also, during the COVID Pandemic, the U.S. surgeon general urged social media companies to “stop online spread of health misinformation.”

    It’s not hard to see how the government could use both of these influences to silence what it determines to be “disinformation” — especially when it has admitted to coordinating with social media companies to do so.

    The threat of regulation is present, with politicians slamming big tech from both sides. We can only speculate what specific ways the government might use financial or other leverage, but when the state is connected to almost every area of society, opportunities are plenty, whether through schools or financial institutions or some other industry.

    When centralized authorities, instead of individuals, are responsible for sorting truth from lies, this creates a situation prone to abuse. In the words of political scientist Yascha Mounk: “The real reason for free speech is not that all opinions have value or are worth airing. It’s that there is no individual or institution whom I trust to make the decision as to which opinions are worthless on my behalf. And nor should you.”

    Editor’s note: This is a version of an article published in the Out of Frame Weekly, an email newsletter about the intersection of art, culture, and ideas. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.]

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      Author: Matt Hampton
      Views:
      Date: May 9th, 2022
      Website: https://fee.org/

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      7 Comments...

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      1. Genius says:

        If you need an authority to tell what is true and what’s not, you should be abused…

      2. Anonymous says:

        When the government says they won’t do something to you, they will.

        And usually already are.

      3. Darth Skippy says:

        “The board does not have any operational authority or capability. What it will do is gather together best practices in addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries, from the cartels, and disseminate those best practices to the operators that have been executing in addressing this threat for years.

        If anyone can translate that from bureaucrat-speak…”

        They have redefined what is an adversary.

        They copy your materials, if popular or catchy.

      4. Bill says:

        There’s lots of issues citizens and the people are upset or angry or concerned about, and rightfully so. But regardless of the issue, ultimately they won’t make as big a difference because there are probably two issues that supersede all else and will actually decide how everything turns out. One is the debt and the other is money debasement. The debt, without resorting to hyperbole, is out of control, the battle is already long lost. It simply cannot be sustained without the other – the ongoing debasement of the money. (Saying they will raise interest rates to control inflation is a joke and they know it).
        Officials and politicians will talk about everything under the sun but we never hear about controlling debt and deficits. They know it’s too late. Not only is there no will to address debt and deficits, but even more importantly now, due to the magnitude of debt there is no means or ability to fix it. It will go on until it collapses, when money becomes worthless. Then TSHTF, all other problems will become insignificant. Nobody will give a sh*t about anything else if they are not eating. The State, with its gov’t and officialdom are acutely aware of this and kicking the can, using the time to consolidate their hold on power. But here’s a dirty little secret, this is a devised scheme.
        This plan permits the State to accomplish a lot of things it otherwise could not. It can then get away with suspending individual rights, it can make society so desperate it will surrender and obey the TPTB for every bite of food, it can move to confiscate all sources of private money, redistribute all forms of property, and complete and formal abandonment of border control. The real prize is the ultimate goal of permanently altering the demography and culture of the country. This will grease the skids for what it has wanted all along – authoritarianism and plutocracy/oligarchy. Society would be so preoccupied by trying to survive the gov’t will have a totally unhampered hand to do whatever it wants. When the State believes it has sufficiently staged everything necessary for this plan it will be coming to a theater near you.

      5. Spider25 says:

        What about the threat to inject a toxic pathogenic spike protein into your body with no way to turn off the production or you lose your job and starve clowns?

      6. Jocko says:

        The only lies and misinformation that needs to be expose is the lies and misinformation by the government itself.
        The rest the public forum will work out.

      7. america is fu*ked,

        george soros started this

        civil war, you can’t these idiots run america to the ground…but, that is where america is going, to the ground, and then buried it for good.

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