Why is the UK so diffident about free speech?


The US political system has been transfixed over the past week by the House of Representatives Judicial Committee and its subcommittee – and the chair of both, the Republican representative for Ohio, Jim Jordan, who has put his name to an interim report on their work on official censorship.

Jordan has also issued a subpoena to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its role in the censorship of Americans, demanding that they should hand over documents about their funding by the central government – to the tune of over $38m – to commission work by academics towards an AI-powered bot to check what people are saying online and to censor it.

‘According to the interim report, the Biden administration has pursued “collusion with third-party intermediaries, including universities, non-profits, and businesses, to censor protected speech on social media,” in an attempt to sidestep the First Amendment prohibition of government censorship of speech.

‘The report described this as an “egregious” violation of the First Amendment. But it also said human censorship of online content was a slow and incomplete process, due to the cost and manpower limitations of using human content moderators. AI tools can significantly speed up and expand such efforts’ – or so said the report.

The communities in question targeted by one of NSF’s grantees, Search Lit, included “conservatives, minorities, and veterans,” as well as rural and indigenous communities and older adults, who, according to the report, were viewed as being “uniquely incapable of assessing the veracity of content online” and being susceptible to “dangerous digital content.”

‘The Search Lit research team also highlighted Americans who considered the Constitution and the Bible “sacred,” suggesting that such “everyday people” tend to “distrust … journalists and academics” and, accordingly, seek primary sources of information instead of trusting the “professional consensus.”

‘According to the report, the findings “demonstrate that … the ‘disinformation’ academics understood their work as part of a partisan project; and … the bureaucrats and so-called ‘experts’ in this space have complete disdain for most of the American population.”’

In the hearing, investigative journalist Lee Fang, told them that the UK government had contracted a UK company, Logically, “to combat misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic” and partnered with Meta “to automatically suppress and label content they deemed as misinformation.”

The US supreme court is expected to rule on the underlying court case in June.  

It all sounds horribly familiar – and I don’t believe that saying so falls into any traps set for us by Trump and his supporters

This implies that this kind of thing has been going on in the UK too – it is just that we are so reticent, so disciplined that nobody really likes to mention it.

Only one MP has dared to ask questions about the statistics for excess deaths after the covid Pfizer vaccine and he has been shunned by everyone else in Parliament

That is unfortunately the direction the Left is taking wherever it is in power. They are, not surprisingly, feeling battered and defensive and they soon find themselves defending from their bunkers.

That’s what appears to have happened to the Biden administration and that’s what will probably happen to the Starmer administration over here – if we are lucky enough to get such a thing.

In the USA, I believe that Robert F. Kennedy Jr – who was the first to sue the Biden white house (in July) for censorship – his case has been subsumed into the others now – may be our best hope for escaping some of these conundra.

As a libertarian and an environmentalist, Kennedy is my kind of guy. A radical centrist, not afraid to tackle corruption when he sees it (as in his take down of the mega-hedge fund BlackRock), and to ask difficult questions (like why is America so sick with nearly half the population now suffering from some kind of chronic disease?).

Even so, the barriers preventing him from winning as a third party candidate, are immense – which is why it hasn’t happened for over a century (with Teddy Roosevelt).

Still, recent polling suggests he leads the other two candidates in all the age groups up to the age of 45. A new poll for NBC News suggets that is already winning about 36 per cent of the total vote. He is also taking more donations from former Republican donors than he is from Democrats.

You can see how seriously he is taking the campaign – he is even clarifying his position on vaccines. This is what he said in a newsletter to supporters: “RFK Jr believes in vaccines – safe, properly-tested vaccines,” it says.

He’s used his vast knowledge of medical research and medical testing, along with his favourable public profile and his bully pulpit, to speak truth to power. The American people deserve to have all the facts. BUT he is not running on vaccines. The only time he talks about vaccines is when someone asks him about it. He is running a campaign of telling the truth to the American people, including truths that they don’t want to hear…

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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