On Censorship, Big Tech, and Fear of Speaking Out

By Sen. Lisa Keim, January 26, 2021

Censorship has exploded since the January 6th incident at the Capitol. The silencing of statements that could be construed as favorable to Trump, has extended to include persons who hold conservative views, especially those who question November’s presidential election results.

In USA Today, columnist Rachel Bovard relates the Big Tech’s actions to silence civic discussion:

After Twitter permanently banned the president of the United States from its platform, within hours, a host of other platforms followed suit, banning either the president himself or hashtags and posts related to pro-Donald Trump topics: Twitch, Facebook and its photo-sharing service Instagram, Snapchat, Google’s YouTube, Reddit, TikTok, Discord, and even Pinterest. Shopify announced it would no longer sell Trump campaign merchandise. The credit card processing company, Stripe, will no longer process its campaign donations.

Tens of thousands of right-leaning accounts across multiple platforms were also nuked. Within days, Apple and Google announced they would remove the popular conservative Twitter alternative, Parler, from their respective app stores. Hours later, Amazon Web Services stated they would no longer host the company.

In short, the Big Tech cartel threw off its cloak and bared its teeth, demonstrating to the world just how powerful it truly is. The crackdown that followed — on individuals, viewpoints, and businesses — was swift, severe, and possibly collusive.

Politically vocal folks right here in our state were included in these actions, having their social media accounts placed on hold, inhibited, or removed. I have personally talked with some whose posts, devoid of any suggestion of violence, strongly expressed political views questioning events and process, were eliminated in the name of protection

Widespread censorship has been ongoing for almost a year and throughout this pandemic. Removal of COVID-19 information deemed incorrect has been continuous. Doctors or scientists who disagree with the ruling narrative, or suggest that it is questionable, have been shut down, their research and opinions removed. Big Tech, in alliance with some government entities and chosen experts, is protecting the ignorant masses from misinformation by eliminating alternative perspectives. (More on this topic in my next newsletter!)

And we have censorship, Maine style, happening right in Augusta, as the Capitol Police Chief Gauvin has been relieved of duties for political posts made on Facebook. The Governor made a public statement that these “troubled and concerned” her, further stating that an “apology is warranted” and calling for an investigation. Seventy Democrat Legislators wrote a letter suggesting that Chief Gauvin is not fit for his position because “His words portray an inability to neutrally provide for the safety of every member of the Legislature.”

The original news article that revealed Gauvin’s Facebook comments and another article that offers an alternative viewpoint will allow you to read the actual comments and draw your own conclusion regarding this incident.

What is most disturbing about this situation, however, is not the reporter who exaggerates Gauvin’s social media posts, but the mobilization of our state’s political leaders in reprisal. After this incident, is not every person working a job in Maine government now hesitant to express their political opinion on social media? Whether or not Gauvin ultimately loses his job, Maine’s ruling party, with their investigation into a solid employee on the grounds of speech that is contrary to their ideology, is likely to have incited fear of retribution in anyone who’s livelihood falls under their authority. Guilty or innocent, the treatment of Gauvin has silenced dissent. Was that the underlying objective?

Big Tech now controls our civic discussions, and recent actions of our own leaders in Maine will lead to further suppression. No matter one’s political viewpoint, it is imperative that we all recognize censorship of speech as the death knell to independent thought, to liberty, to truth, and to our form of self-government.

I will continue to speak out against tyranny and join others in fighting to retain freedom of speech in America.

Many of you continue to reach out, wanting to see changes in the State’s COVID response and in our State of Emergency. The Legislature does have the authority or the ability to take back our constitutional power and represent the people’s perspective in crafting COVID response measures. However, to do so requires removing the Governor’s emergency powers by majority vote. This issue has become one of the biggest battles in state legislatures all over the country. In Maine, one party controls all of these decisions, and so far, Senate President Jackson and House Speaker Fecteau continue to believe the delegation of the Legislature’s power to the Executive Branch, is in the best interest of Maine people. (I disagree strongly, but that is another topic altogether!)

In closing this overly long newsletter, here is one final thought. Most emails and messages that get bounced back and forth in cyberworld commonly now end with “stay safe.” I always see that remark and immediately think, I would rather stay free! Safety is an illusion.

Our county was founded on the fundamental belief that people are inherently endowed with freedom to live according to the dictates of their own conscience. Government’s only legitimate role is to protect thatliberty. There is risk in liberty, around which, we, the people, are capable of making conscious choices as we live out our own unique, God given life.

For now, friends, I ask that you keep dialoguing, stay open to differing viewpoints, and not fall silent. We cannot allow suppression and fear to alter the difficult and honest conversations that need to be taking place all over our state and nation.

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