It’s always exciting for progressives when they create a new government office of something or other. They live for it: another excuse to spend piles of taxpayer dollars; another polysyllabic title and a flashy logo; another opportunity to extend the long and comforting arm of bureaucracy into the affairs of ordinary citizens who never knew how impoverished their lives would be without it.
So there was a tangible buzz of excitement around Washington last week when the Department of Homeland Security proudly inaugurated the Disinformation Governance Council.
Other than its title and the identity of its executive director, we don’t know much about this exciting-sounding new body. Its job, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told a congressional committee last week, is to tackle lies that threaten US national security. .
But we also learned last week that it will be directed by Nina Jankowicz. His Twitter feed makes her look like a cross between Madam Mao and Bette Midler – a mixture of impeccably conformist left-wing views on politics and media disinformation – the Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation, the Steele dossier was all true , etc. – with excruciating political parodies of musical numbers. Watching his videos is a bit like watching a Christmas concert in a POW camp.
The institution she heads – let’s call it the DGB, which sounds great and is pretty close alphabetically and in spirit to another three-initialed organization from another country tasked with upholding the official version of the truth – is potentially a vehicle for all sorts of new rules to stop the left-wing version of untruths emanating from the media and tech companies.
But how could that work? Will it have investigative powers? Will he have his own means of execution? Will he solicit references from the public? Will operators be available 24 hours a day to respond to calls from neighbors concerned about violations of information protocols?
“Hello? This is the DGB? I think the people next door are watching Fox News again.
Ms. Jankowicz and her little corner of the proliferating bureaucracy seem so absurd that they are easy targets for ridicule. Mr Mayorkas tried to clean up some of the mess, insisting that free speech was safe.
But our progressive overlords are on the warpath against what they define as misinformation and disinformation, and that’s no laughing matter. You can see it in their hysterical reaction to Elon Musk’s planned Twitter acquisition..
When the site banned various right-wing accounts and people, it was, we were told, just a private company, with no particular public obligations. Now the prospect of a wider range of voices on the platform is a dagger aimed at the heart of democracy and must be regulated.
“People are dying because of misinformation,” Barack Obama told an audience in Silicon Valley last month. You may remember Mr. Obama. He was a tireless warrior for years in the twilight struggle for truth in politics. If you remember long enough, you’ll recall he was the president who gave a speech in 2009 to promote his flagship health measure, in which he attacked critics of the plan for their “scaremonger and scaremongering tactics”.
Calling on his famous oratory skills at a crucial moment, he was as determined then as he is now to put an end to all the misinformation his opponents were spreading: “No matter how we reform health care, we We will keep this promise: if you love your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period.”
We don’t know how many people died because of this misinformation – a huge one of such magnitude that even PolitiFact, the self-proclaimed arbiter of truth and lies, awarded it its coveted ‘lie of the year’ title. ‘ in 2013 – five years after calling it ‘true’ – by then it had become clear that what critics had said about ObamaCare was in fact neither a scare tactic nor a campaign of fear, but the truth.
It was certainly a consistent lie — a lie that, in 2009-2010, helped shore up what little popular support there was for ObamaCare and may have persuaded some dodgy Democrats to vote for him.
Yet even at the time this was revealed, no one, as far as I remember, was saying that the president should be banned from contributing to national discussions on a major tech platform.
You do not promote truth by forbidding error. You don’t have a monopoly on the truth in the first place, and you may find your “truths” to be errors or lies. Even if you’re right, and 100% epistemically certain, that doesn’t give you the power to forbid someone to say something different.
The only effective and proven way to counter bad information is to have good information. The only way to overcome lies is with the truth.
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