Flat White

Ronald Reagan’s words ring louder than ever: freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction

12 August 2020

5:00 AM

12 August 2020

5:00 AM

Living in a democracy has responsibilities. 

Acceptance of different ideas and the right for people to have opposing views is one example. 

Freedom of speech has been taken for granted by all of us living in the western world. 

Ronald Reagan’s legendary Freedom Speech in 1964 was delivered years before he became the US President. 

He delivered it at the Republican National Convention while the USA was grappling with the threat of Communism and other foreign issues against a backdrop of civil rights and domestic issues. 

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues around the world, it is truly ironic how prophetic and relevant the 40th U.S. President’s words are. 

They remind people that losing freedom can happen far quicker than we thought possible. 

The recent removal by Facebook of current President Donald Trump’s video post where he claimed “kids were almost immune to Covid-19” also prompted Twitter to ban the president’s re-election campaign account from tweeting until it deleted the video. 

No action was taken on the President’s personal account. 

Twitter claimed the tweet was in violation of the rules on Covid-19 misinformation. 

Facebook took down the video with the company saying it violated its rules against sharing misinformation about the virus. 

Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has said that fighting misinformation on Covid-19 is easier than on other topics because Facebook apparently has reliable sources to help determine what is true – sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centre for Disease Control. 

Facebook and Twitter, two of the biggest social media sites worldwide, supposedly set up for people to freely express their own personal opinion now has “people” to edit which of the US President’s tweets are allowed to get to the general public. 

Is there any reason to start feeling uneasy about this? 

Anyone remember the WHO’s absolute reluctance to call the Coronavirus a pandemic for fear of “offending China”, which meant that many western countries were not alerted early enough to the Covid-19 threat. 

If Facebook is relying on the WHO it needs to be aware that the organisation is not an infallible, supreme omnipotent being.  

WHO is as flawed as any other organisation in its decisions and operations. 

There are always two sides to a story.  

The head of WHO is Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

Beforehand he was Ethiopia’s Health Minister. 

While he helped reform his country’s health systemhe was also accused of ignoring cholera outbreaks. 

United Nations officials have reportedly said that if the outbreaks had been confirmed as cholera at the time then more aid and vaccines could have been delivered to Ethiopia. 

Freedom of speech is precisely that. 

Health officials all over the world argue that there is plenty of misinformation put out by anti-vaccination groups and their supporters 

Any of their posts or videos taken down by Facebook or Twitter? 

Wikipedia is full of misinformation. It can be edited by almost anyone at any time. The organisation says because it is a volunteer-run project, it cannot monitor every contribution all the time. 

Journalists know not to rely on Wikipedia but there are millions of people around the world who do. 

So should Wikipedia be banned too? 

Of course not, if you begin banning everyone you end up with a dictatorship. 

Freedom of the press is crucial to western civilisation. 

Whether it is Donald Trump or the person next door, everyone has their right to say what they want. 

Facebook networks people. Twitter networks ideas and topics. 

The power of both companies combining to stop free speech is worrying. 

It was French writer and philosopher Voltaire’s biography writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall who coined the famous quote often wrongly attributed to him “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” 

The Left repeatedly say that no-one is listening to Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s already got the next election in the bag. 

So why are they even worried about what Trump tweets?  

Perhaps, the biggest backlash may once again happen in November. 

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