Americans need this Amendment more than ever right now
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The need to reaffirm America’s First Amendment and its principles has been underscored once again by recent findings about the origin and impact of the coronavirus.
The most important problem we have as a society is not misinformation but the suppression of nonconforming ideas that often (but not always) turn out to be true.
Americans are already understanding this. They are concerned about what tech companies are doing to censor content, with 61% of voters in a recent Harvard CAPS/Harris poll believing that the government and tech companies have worked together to enforce political censorship. .
From time to time, quite obvious and possibly true information is being actively suppressed and even ridiculed for political purposes.
This is the price China will have to pay for spreading Covid on the world
For example, are you more likely to find gamblers near a casino or near a grocery store? Obviously near a casino. So are you more likely to find a game-changing virus at a virus lab or the nearest pet market? Obviously in a viral lab. It’s obvious – of course, it’s not as certain as you might find some gambler in a grocery store or a new virus in a flea market. But this is unlikely.
Consequently, any discussion of the origin of the virus will naturally focus on these two possible theories – lab or animal market – with fringe theories that it was deliberate and the Chinese hypothesis that it originated in America.
It was clear on the facts that the virus came from China, and it is unlikely that China would release a deadly virus into its own country. These are common sense conclusions and yet what happened was that those who said the virus came from a lab were ridiculed, censored and even rejected. These takedowns occurred primarily because people could not believe that Donald Trump could be correct in his concern that the Chinese government, as administrator of the lab, was responsible for the virus.
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In fact, many Americans have long believed that Covid came from a lab. In a June 2021 Harvard Harris Poll, 60% of voters said they believed the virus escaped a lab in China rather than originating naturally from an animal market. They stuck with common sense in the absence of real evidence from China – the Chinese government also destroyed all evidence and refused to cooperate with any investigation.
Similarly, vaccines are meant to mimic the effects of a disease so it was reasonable to expect that receiving Covid would provide some immunity or reduce the severity of reinfection. Indeed it would have been unusual and almost unheard of for the virus not to have elicited some level of immunity.
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And yet the CDC and the government did not postpone any vaccinations because people got sick and forced millions of people to get unnecessary vaccinations. A recent study published in the Lancet concluded that immunity elicited by Covid infection confers equal protection with no more than two doses of an mRNA vaccine – once again confirming what was likely and obvious. .
Covid censorship is the latest example of how politics interferes with a reasonable investigative process. Some questions require time to be answered and governments and tech companies should not be allowed to exhaust possible answers within the bounds of common sense. Yet such is the case in today’s polarized environment, especially when Trump or Biden’s names are attached.
The Steele dossier alleging Trump-Russia collusion in 2016 was an obvious fake if you read it but, as of the spring of 2020, 53% of Americans still thought it was legitimate, according to a Harvard Harris Poll. Right now 53% of Democrats still think the Hunter Biden laptop is Russian tampering despite the confirmation of emails and tapes.
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These cases reinforce why the First Amendment is so important. Government intervention, even when well-meaning, easily goes too far, and throughout history they have used emergency excuses to justify shortcuts that violate civil rights.
Limiting government access and protecting free speech is paramount in times of crisis. Both science and politics thrive when pushed in better directions by reasoned debate and open questions.
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