Tucker Carlson Knows Coronavirus's Real Victims: Rightwingers Spreading Disinfo Censored By Facebook
In 1934, when Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer was published in France, it was immediately banned in the United States of America. It was illegal to import it. One bookseller ended up going to jail for three years for selling a bootleg copy. When it was finally published in the United States, it was the subject of piles of lawsuits all across the country. Philadelphia Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno said that Tropic of Cancer was "not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity."
It is, for the record, a book. And a very good one at that!
In 1964, the case against Cancer finally made it to the Supreme Court, where it was finally decided that it was not obscene and could be sold and published in the United States.
That was censorship. Actual censorship. Of an important literary work. By the government of the United States of America.
But if you ask Tucker Carlson (a thing none of us would ever do on purpose, about anything), the worst kind of censorship is the kind where social media sites refuse to allow world leaders like to spread misinformation about COVID-19 online. Posts containing misleading information on Facebook by people like Rudy Giuliani and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have been taken down recently, and Carlson is very, very upset how very unscientific it is to do that.
Carlson said Bolsonaro "could be completely wrong about that, might also be completely right, we don't know," before saying, "Big tech does not believe you should be allowed to think about this."
"Twitter is censoring comments that say unapproved things about hydroxychloroquine, the antimalaria drug that has shown some promise," he continued. "Is the drug known for certain to be effective? No it's not. But some doctors and researchers on the front lines think it works and they are treating patients with it right now. The FDA just approved it. Yet because the media are partisan and stupid, their position is hydroxychloroquine doesn't work and could never work and if you disagree with that we'll make you shut up."
That is not anyone's position. People want things that work, obviously. They would just like to see them tested first so that they are not just randomly inhaling a bunch of chemicals that may or may not do anything but also may or may not kill you. Some people have died already from self-dosing! Jair Bolsonaro is free to be as wrong as he likes about things, but it is also fair for social media sites to not want to assist in spreading that bullshit.
The true horror here, however, is that all of this "censorship" could soon lead to people blaming Fox News for the outbreak,
"It's just too tempting to use a crisis to achieve your political objectives. Soon they'll be telling you that Fox News, not China, caused this pandemic. In fact, many are saying that now. How long before they start claiming that in the name of public health, Fox News must be suppressed? Paranoid? Okay, you watch. That'll happen."
No, what "many' are saying now is that Fox News perpetuated a lot of bad information at a time when bad information could kill people. That is fair to say! They downplayed it — laughed at it actually, and told people to go to crowded places; they actually said that! — and that put their viewers at risk.
This isn't just censorship, Carlson claimed. It is social media companies hating "the scientific method" — because apparently if they loved the "scientific method" they would be okay with Aunt Carol spreading potentially dangerous theories and misinformation online, in the name of "scientific inquiry." That, really, doesn't make much sense either.
There is real censorship in the world, there is also a lot of anti-science shit in the world (a large amount of it emanating from Fox News). This is not that. Jair Bolsonaro is not Henry Miller and Tucker Carlson is not Charles Darwin. Though we would not rule out him getting a Darwin Award at some point in the future.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse