Features Australia

Freedom fades

Our politicians are allowing the biggest erosion of civil liberties in two centuries

4 September 2021

9:00 AM

4 September 2021

9:00 AM

As you read this, former President Donald Trump is banned from Twitter. Meanwhile the official arm of the Taliban – the people who throw acid in women’s faces, toss homosexuals off buildings and give a whole new meaning to the idea of a ‘baby boom’ – is not banned. Nor are the Iranian and Chinese Dictators. If you don’t think we have a massive problem with free speech in the West, and especially in the anglosphere, then you’re deluding yourself. Or consider this. Facebook and the rest of Big Tech banned for almost a year all talk of the Covid virus probably having escaped from the Wuhan Lab. They banned the former head of MI6 from discussing it, for heaven’s sake. Cancelled. Muted. Silenced. It should shock you to read this but even the eminent science journal the Lancet banned this lab-leak viewpoint from its pages, for what we now know were political not evidence-based reasons. Eventually the evidence became so clear that pretending the lab-leak theory wasn’t the most likely scenario made them all about-face. But think about it. A cadre of self-entitled, woke, twenty-something Silicon Valley types are deciding what you can read. They’re deciding you cannot read theories by some of the best-informed science writers about the origins of the Covid virus. Because, the Big Tech wokesters suppose, these theories might undermine Big Government, or at least the heavy-handed, despotic approach near on all governments in the democratic world were taking. So it’s worth saying this again. The big betting favourite right now (see Matt Ridley, see the eighteen scientists who wrote in the New York Times, the list goes on) is that this virus did in fact escape from the Wuhan Lab. And yet arguments to that effect were cancelled and censored for a year. Much the same can be said of Ivermectin, of civil disobedience protests, of transgenderism, the list goes on. Why do people get banned or cancelled for discussing the merits of these things?

By the way, this is no censorship in the name of ‘the science’. This is censorship in the name of left-wing politics. Or rather make that, this is censorship in the name of woke, ‘progressive’, loathe-the-West politics – with a special helping of ‘we’ll do anything to get Donald Trump’. Your old-fashioned redistribution of wealth lefties, for whom I have quite a bit of time as it happens, are just as keen supporters of free speech as I am. Heck, free speech was traditionally a concern of the political Left, not of the Right. The early nineteenth-century utilitarians generally leaned left politically. And it was one of them, John Stuart Mill, who wrote what is still probably the best defence of free speech in his book On Liberty. Of course we don’t expect Scott Morrison to be familiar with that great book because, truth be told, I very much doubt Mr Morrison reads many books at all. Now, or ever. And certainly not books of a philosophical bent that aim to show the importance of liberty and of free speech. No one who’d read Mill would have glibly fobbed off concerns for free speech by saying, as ScoMo did, that ‘it doesn’t create one job’. Well, that idiotic claim was a hostage to fortune wasn’t it Mr Morrison? Your government’s complete lack of concern for freedom during this pandemic, and the way it has stood by as we’ve lived through what the retired top British judge Lord Sumption calls ‘the biggest inroads on our civil liberties for over 200 years’, has destroyed untold numbers of jobs. And untold numbers of small businesses. The irony is that these are the bedrock supporters of the Liberal party in this country.

Maybe Team ScoMo should have put a bit of concern for freedom into the policy-making mix (the way the centre-left government in Sweden did, instead of making Covid deaths the only matrix that mattered – not deaths from other causes, not civil liberties, not freedom, heck not even the appearance of things when politicians and bureaucrats take no pay cuts at all, only raises). Maybe a soupçon of concern for freedom and you wouldn’t be the government that presided over this economic and job-vaporising carnage. And you wouldn’t be the government that presided over what must surely be the biggest wealth transfer in this country’s history. This Coalition government’s world’s loosest fiscal policy (its massive spending per capita during the pandemic temporarily to prop up the victims of the despotic, lockdownista premiers you empowered with your National Cabinet brain snap) equates to a huge transfer of wealth from the young to the old. And this government’s money-printing-on-steroids and loose monetary policy (where, in effect, inflation has been channelled into assets) equates to a huge transfer of wealth from the poor (no assets) to the wealthy (have assets, and they keep going up baby). If that’s not immoral I don’t know what is. Isn’t that right, all you smug, sanctimonious ‘not on my watch’ bleaters of tunnel-vision moralising?

And I’m a conservative. I can only imagine how the old-fashioned redistribution of wealth socialists feel. (Forget about the wokerati; they live in an alternative universe known as the Twittersphere where virtue-signalling is all the matters morally.)

By the way, despite being banned by Twitter President Trump has been making something of a comeback. Recent polls show up to double percentile figures of Biden voters at the last election now regretting their choice. Even with mail-out ballots, scrutineers sent home while voting is continued, ballot harvesting and the rest ‘the Don’ would romp home were the election today. That’s because these first eight or so months of the Joe Biden presidency might be the worst of any president ever. They are certainly worse any I can think of since the Civil War. Biden won solely because of Covid, not least because it let him hide in the basement during the campaign knowing he’d largely be protected by the 15:1 Democrat-leaning mainstream media. (Remember that Yale survey that showed that during his term Trump got worse coverage in the US media – leave aside Fox – than did China or even Iran?)

But Biden can’t hide now. Even his praetorian guard of journalists can’t make him look good. Inflation’s going up and up. He’s buying oil and gas from the Middle East but rejecting it from Canada while killing domestic exploration. The southern border, well, isn’t a border since he was inaugurated. And his handling of the Afghanistan exit was incompetent on steroids. But hey, he’s got top generals in place who are doing a superb job teaching critical race theory and white privilege. Flying that rainbow flag on the Embassy in Kabul really worked out well, didn’t it?

Maybe next year’s midterm elections will see a huge sweep for the Republicans and they’ll do something about Big Tech and its disgraceful censoring and attacks on free speech.

Lord knows we need that.

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