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The Missouri v. Biden Injunction is a Rare Win for Freedom
This Is Still America!
“This year also saw the beginning of the censorship, that important magistracy which from a trivial origin subsequently grew to exercise jurisdiction over the whole range of our social proprieties.” - Livy [IV.8]
A Note to Readers: I was determined to take this week off from writing, but then decided I must discuss this great news in a timely fashion, as it relates to topics I frequently cover. I suppose I will be taking off the next week where there is nothing I am compelled to write about, but I won’t be flooding your inbox with another notice.
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On the 4th of July, 2023, we got some rare good news: Federal District Court Judge Terry Doughty issued an injunction in the case Missouri v. Biden, where the Attorneys General of Missouri and Louisiana sued the Biden Administration alleging that they had unlawfully pressured social media companies to censor legal speech. The lawsuit represented a group of people who have been censored by social media at the “request” of the Biden Administration, including authors of the “Great Barrington Declaration” and Jim Hoft, who runs the Gateway Pundit blog. Though the lawsuit primarily dealt with the censorship of unapproved views on covid, it is expansive enough to cover a range of topics which have been banned by the censorship regime. The judge’s 155 page memorandum “Ruling on request for a preliminary injunction” is devastating to the Biden Administration, saying,
“If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States” history. In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment's right to free speech.”
Judge Doughty’s 7 page injunction prohibits a broad range of government agencies and agents from having any contact with social media companies relating to matters of legally protected speech.
The shameless legacy media and NPCs are losing their minds. They are publishing ridiculous arguments and verifiably false claims to argue that it is dangerous to not allow the government to police disinformation. As ever, they are the most serious disinformationists. This class of people no longer wants to debate us because they don’t have defensible positions, and all they have left is to censor us and tell us what to do. This is but a preliminary injunction, and the Biden Administration has already appealed, but this could be the beginning of the end of a censorship regime which has been referred to by many, including Judge Doughty, as “Orwellian,” which is perhaps an understatement. It seems unlikely this judge will change his mind as the case proceeds, and it’s hard to imagine that the current Supreme Court wouldn’t uphold this speech protection. I think we really do have something to celebrate.
Before continuing, I want to jog your memory about how we got here. There wasn’t a lot of social media censorship besides severely illegal or dangerous content before 2017. Facebook had developed an algorithm for prioritizing some content and we looked at it with some concern and perplexity, as its behavior seemed strange. It was kind of a joke and seemed [poorly] designed to optimize the user experience rather than for censorship. Conspiracy content still thrived as a main feature of Youtube; creators didn’t constantly reference that this or that would get them demonetized. For the most part, different views were allowed on all the major social media sites, and there was little demand for censorship. Then Donald Trump won, and instead of accepting accountability for the many failures of the ruling elite which led to this improbable outcome, they decided to blame everyone else. Most of all they blamed Russia, but social media was said to be the tool of Russia’s success. It was all a massive lie, and the nefarious purpose behind it is now clear [it was pretty clear then as well.] The CEOs starting getting dragged in front of Congress to try to explain to the nation’s elderly how the internet works. The demographic most likely to forward idiotic emails full of old wives’ tales and bizarre political newsletters decided misinformation was a mortal threat to everything. At the same time, Donald Trump had popularized the term “fake news,” setting off a massive battle about what was real news. Up to this point, “fact-checking” was mostly something newspapers did internally, though there were also websites like Politifact which analyzed the statements of leading politicians in a mostly honest, if somewhat biased, fashion [I would give them a “Mostly True” rating on their Truth-O-Meter up to that point.] As Democrats, the media, and the over-educated professional management class became increasingly maddened by Trump’s resilience, they cracked down ever harder on free discourse, turning the internet into what can only be described as a cyber dystopia.
It seems a lifetime ago, but Alex Jones wasn’t thrown off of social media until 2018, and at the time it was unheard of to “unperson” someone on the internet like that. Of course, Jones has crackpot views and behaves erratically, so there was a classic “first they came for…” type of situation, and few spoke up, because they were not like Alex Jones. The point is this hasn’t been going on that long, until at least 2016 social media was almost entirely free. It is as Dostoevsky said of being imprisoned, “Man is a creature who gets used to everything, and that, I think, is the best definition of him” [Notes from a Dead House.] And indeed, the era before overwhelming social media censorship is but a dim memory; we are used to this, no matter how much we hate it. As ever, we didn’t know we were in the “good old days” until they were gone.
At the beginning of censorship mania, it appeared social media companies were primarily acting out of a combination of fear of being regulated and their own animosity towards Donald Trump. At least what came from Congress were public threats of regulation that the nation could see and discuss. At the same time, “fact-checking” blew up to be an all-encompassing mania demanding ideological conformity about every silly little thing and not just telling you why a politician’s statistic was inaccurate or misleading [which, done properly, is a genuine public service.] Those idiotic “Fact Checks” under social media posts are not that many years old, one of many things we’ve acclimated to. Information control further escalated when social media companies started rapidly cracking down on what was billed “Covid misinformation” which could include things such as discussing the “lab leak theory,” to opposing specific public policies, to unpopular ideas about treatments, to denying covid existed at all [which is still legally protected speech!] Even so, the tech companies had a massive interest in keeping us all at home using their products, and there was at least a claim to acting in genuine good faith; it was extremely suspicious, but not provably nefarious government overreach. When we found out that the FBI was involved in convincing Twitter to take part in the unprecedented censorship of The New York Post’s reporting on the true Hunter Biden Laptop story right before an election, it became certain that we had been subject to a conspiracy. It turned out that Alex Jones was right that “There is a War on For Your Mind,” and they removed him from the “battlefield” before they ramped it up; in retrospect, his insane behavior is more forgivable knowing what we know now.
After Elon Musk took control of Twitter and Matt Taibbi and others started releasing the “Twitter Files” it became clear we had been subject to perhaps the largest mind control operation in human history. It was one thing to ban the word “ivermectin,” which is at least within human understanding as a rule, but instead, thinking themselves gods and threatened by/in collusion with the government, they sought to control all human interaction. I wrote two pieces about this at the time:
We were told over and over again that the Twitter Files were a “nothingburger” [that is my most hated term in modern political discourse and I apologize for using it even in this context.] We were told, after months of them saying we were crazy, “of course this is happening, and it’s a good thing.” We were told “It’s a private business,” because the Democrats turn into Milton Friedman as soon as it comes to corporations suppressing the human rights of their political enemies. We would find out that it was all far worse than we could have imagined, with an enormous number of government agents in constant contact with social media companies demanding this post or that person be removed for arbitrary and often ridiculous reasons. Even so, the NPCs insisted this violated no one’s right to free speech. We were told that, because it was for public safety, the government pressuring corporations to censor the legal speech of Americans did not constitute a violation of the First Amendment [such things are, literally, always done in the name of “safety.”] Of course, the Hunter Biden laptop story had absolutely nothing to do with “public safety” and it was instead censoring a major newspaper reporting on information with direct partisan political implications.
Through all of this the Democrtas, the tech oligarchs, the scribbling class, and their sycophants continued to insist that this was all not only necessary, but noble. There is no talking to them. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, they will not be made better or worse for anything that can be said to them, our opponents are reason-proof and we cannot act on these anomalies in their minds. However, for once, we have received a great deal of de jure vindication, instead of the shallow comfort of knowing we have been right but that nothing will change.
I was not initially positive about the prospects of this case. For the most part even though so many measures the government took regarding covid were obviously illegal, either they were never punished, or the legal process was slow enough that the “emergency” policies had ended by the time they were ruled illegal. As Jenin Younes, an attorney involved in representing some of the plaintiffs, explained in April, a whole wave of such lawsuits on this topic were thrown out. In short, the plaintiffs were found to be unable to sufficiently show government involvement in social media companies censoring them [despite the Biden Administration making several general statements about involvement in such activities.] Since the government’s actions were secret, plaintiffs did not have a way to prove them. Doughty was one of the only judges who thought that discovery needed to be allowed in order to determine if the claims were valid and granted an order to this effect at the beginning of July 2022 [discovery is a process whereby both sides in a lawsuit must provide each other with requested documents.] By the time the judge made this month’s ruling, the core claims were already established [to “Team Reality” at least] and the government’s known actions are illegal under Supreme Court precedent. There is something known as the “state action theory” which prohibits the government from outsourcing acts it could not legally do itself, such as censor legal speech, and that is obviously what they did here. Even so, I remained skeptical as freedom is always “taking another one for the team” in this country, but finally, we have an exception. One has to assume that the Twitter Files beginning midway through this process was an immense help in the discovery process, since they provided a great deal of information about the government’s communications and methods.
To anyone active on social media and on the wrong side of acceptable opinion, the judge’s ruling almost feels like the end of a comedy where all the characters run into each other. The forces of a society-wide struggle over speech and truth have met up in the same place, this memorandum, and perhaps the quirky underdogs can show up their conformist oppressors with a cool dance routine. Team Reality member Justin Hart compiled a list of 25 notable examples of the Biden Administration demanding censorship included in the memorandum, which include some more fan favorite characters, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Alex Berenson, and Tucker Carlson. This particular farce is nearing its end.
The reality is that the Administration was not at all shy about demanding that social media companies censor, with Rob Flaherty, then the Deputy Assistant to the President, accusing Facebook of causing “political violence” by allowing “false” covid information. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki publicly threatened Facebook with legal consequences if they did not censor more aggressively. Surgeon General Murthy was also in on the action, and called “misinformation” a “public health crisis,” which is only slightly less ridiculous than saying that about racism. In August 2021, President Biden accused Facebook of “Killing People.” For all of this, these shameless bastards will still claim none of this represents pressuring social media to suppress speech.
Of course, there is every reason to believe that the “legacy” tech companies besides Twitter want to take part in this. One could make an argument that it wasn’t pressure, and instead they were just working together on mutual goals, except that Flaherty sent an email to Facebook saying, “Are you guys fucking serious? I want an answer on what happened here and I want it today.” Coming from an agent of the President of the United States of America, that is at the least obvious intimidation.
However, even wanting to participate in a vast mind control operation, the tech companies still clearly seemed perplexed at the volume and breadth of requests they were receiving, as we saw throughout the Twitter Files. As Hart noted, the memorandum showed that on February 7th, 2021, Twitter received inquiries from four different people just within the White House on the same day. And that was only the White House; this was a government-wide operation, including many career employees from ostensibly non-political government agencies. One prominent example is the now-notorious FBI Agent Elvis Chan, who was in charge of a large team dedicated to Twitter censorship. One wonders if such agencies are even sharing information with each other, or if it is just government-wide shamelessness about attacking free speech.
And now, it has all been commanded to stop. The Biden Administration’s response has been predictable, they disagreed with the decision and formally appealed. More notable has been the media lashing out and making insane claims, such as Washington Post publishing that this will get in the way of preventing child pornography [a particularly gaslight-y claim when they say their opponents are crazy for thinking child sex trafficking is a problem.]
Any normal person with general literacy can look at the injunction and see that it says, “IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the following actions are NOT prohibited by this Preliminary Injunction: (1) informing social-media companies of postings involving criminal activity or criminal conspiracies.” So not only does Washington Post know that what it published is actual disinformation, they know that any reader can easily discover that they are publishing lies. They just don’t care: it is not as if their readers think.
Some tried to claim that the injunction was so vague as to be impossible to enforce, except that I have no particular legal background and find it extremely clear, and the Biden Administration is having no trouble figuring out how to comply:
The New York Times took perhaps an even stranger route:
That’s right, it is mid-2023 and The New York Times has again decided that the idea that vaccines do not prevent covid transmission is disinformation. It is well established that the vaccinated can get and spread covid, including from studies in leading scientific journals. It’s also not generally the job of a judge to decide whether or not a scientific claim is true, and he was more likely deciding if a policy was lawful. Vaccine efficacy probably had little to do with the case, but this crowd has also made it extremely clear that the law doesn’t matter and judges should only enforce ideological conformity.
The response to this ruling, overall, has been yet another example of them reaching “New Frontiers in Shamelessness.” They truly only care about institutional authority- when it falls on their side. Of course anything they disagree with is monstrous fascism. The most absurd example I found was an incredible piece from The American Prospect titled, “Trump Judge Effectively Names Himself President” with the subtitle “Terry A. Doughty says he gets to decide who the FBI, DHS, HHS, and the Justice Department can talk to.” The article is written by a Ryan Cooper who goes on and on about judicial tyranny. The problem with this is that Doughty’s ruling is the most narrow understanding of what the federal courts do: a state sued the federal government and the judge determined the federal government needed to desist their actions while the lawsuit proceeds. It is a dispute between different parts of the government about which government actions are legal. This is just as ridiculous as the claim that overturning Biden’s student loan forgiveness- which Biden attempted by executive order- is legislating from the bench, when it was a demand that things be done by legislation.
Cooper’s entire argument from there is that the people who have been censored are cranks spreading misinformation, which is not relevant to the case. The fact is that as an American you have the right to start a newsletter about how the government is ran by the gorilla mafia and vaccines are injecting you with banana DNA because they intend to eat your children, and the government has to deliver it for you so long as you pay for postage. His argument is simply against free speech, which is all we are seeing from opponents of the ruling. He writes,
“The premise of the case is a lunatic conspiracy theory pushed by Elon Musk and others. Readers may recall that some months ago, Musk gave internal Twitter communications to handpicked writers like Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Michael Shellenberger, who concocted a narrative that the government was conspiring with Twitter’s prior management to systematically censor conservative voices and content.”
Firstly, there is vast evidence that this happened, though one could argue that the political alignment of the victims was mostly incidental. However, the memorandum itself says,
“Although the censorship alleged in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech, the issues raised herein go beyond party lines. The right to free speech is not a member of any political party and does not hold any political ideology”
To Cooper, alternately, which content was censored is all matters, and he expresses no higher principle about free speech. He writes,
“The lunacy of the lawsuit can be judged not only by Doughty’s overheated rhetoric, but also by the plaintiffs. In addition to the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri, they include Jayanta Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, Aaron Kheriaty, and Jill Hines, who are various flavors of anti-vaccine crackpot, and Jim Hoft, who runs the notoriously deranged Gateway Pundit blog. These are the people who are telling the federal government who it can communicate with.”
His entire argument is that they don’t deserve free speech, and that is what this all comes down to. It should be noted that some of those people are actual experts on aspects of medical science, which neither Cooper nor most of the government censors are.
The Democrats, media class, et al simply want to end free discourse in our society, as I recently explained in my article about the opposition to debate. Meta has just released a new Twitter style app called Threads, and this group of people are all celebrating an opportunity to be exposed to less free speech:
They are deep into pushing a ridiculous narrative that free speech harms the weak, which has of course never been true:
Meanwhile, for all of his love of censorship, Mark Zuckerberg was at least recently open about the challenges of being an arbiter of truth:
What he says about the covid censorship pressure gets to the heart of one component of the importance of free speech: it’s really hard to determine what’s true. But this has all gone well beyond even pretending they are acting in good faith. They have decided disagreement can’t be allowed. They have pushed more misinformation than any of us can remember, though journalist Tom Elliot did try to make a list [I don’t agree with him on all of these things, but you’re an adult, you can read it and then think for yourself.] The claim is always that misinformation on the internet causes “real world harms” but the mainstream media spreads misinformation which encourages war and race riots and child mutilation, so say nothing of the severe damage caused by the lockdowns their narrative promoted. It’s easy to imagine a world where they were just misguided, but the people in charge of the censorship machine see Putin behind every corner and are every bit as zany as, and more harmful than, the people they seek to silence; it would take a book-length text to cover all of the misinformation the media has pushed and the harm it has caused over the last 10 years.
The only positive path forward is actual discourse. To take one example, the Democrats have devoted extraordinary effort to imprisoning people associated with the January 6th riot, but are outright hostile to convincing the public that our elections are fair. Civil government with a democratic component only works if the public believes in it, but a muzzle and an iron fist are their only tools. Why should anyone believe them? We have to hope that this injunction is the beginning of the end of all of this, and that perhaps free discourse can make a comeback in our nation’s political life. Alex Berenson, who has won his own censorship lawsuit, is optimistic that it is. It is sad to ponder how we got here though: how the internet, once the great equalizer of communication was turned into the greatest censorship and propaganda apparatus of all time. The answer is clearly that they couldn’t accept that Trump’s election was a reflection of public will, caused by their own failures. From there, the desire for control took them down a terrifying path.
Matt Taibbi noted in his piece on this that even the US Census Bureau got in on the censorship action and are now subject to the injunction. This, at least, is fitting, as a “Censor” was originally the person in charge of the census. In Ancient Rome the position was created simply because the census was tedious and the other magistrates didn’t want to do it. Because of this, proper protections weren’t put in place. However, with the power of counting the citizens, came control of the citizen rolls, which meant the power over who served in the Senate, who could vote, and even who was a citizen. The Censors developed the power to erase you from Roman life if they felt you had behaved inappropriately, and no one could stop them. Thus, the modern concept of “censorship” was born. It is not so different from the journey of removing some harmful misinformation to erasing people from social media entirely. To go back to my opening quote:
“This year also saw the beginning of the censorship, that important magistracy which from a trivial origin subsequently grew to exercise jurisdiction over the whole range of our social proprieties.” - Livy [IV.8]
It’s amazing how fast such things can happen, which is why we have the First Amendment to protect us from this exact thing. It is crucially important that the courts uphold it. Let yourself take a brief respite for joy: a long fight remains ahead, but free discourse and reality are striking back!
Thank you for reading! The Wayward Rabbler is written by Brad Pearce. If you enjoyed this content please subscribe and share. My main articles will always be free but paid subscriptions help me a huge amount [payment in NPC tears preferred.] I have a tip jar at Ko-Fi where generous patrons can donate in $5 increments. Join my Telegram channel The Wayward Rabbler. My Facebook page is The Wayward Rabbler. You can see my shitposting and serious commentary on Twitter @WaywardRabbler.