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The dangerous censorship game that California is playing with medical practitioners.
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The regime of censorship that’s being imposed on the country by a consortium of Democrats, billionaire-funded “disinformation experts,” the US Security State, and liberal employees of media corporations is picking up steam and pervading every institution—including public health. It is beyond backwards that these people posture as opponents of “fascism” when their main goal is to unite state and corporate power to censor critics and turn the internet into an increasingly repressive weapon of information control.
Recently, California, that Blue bastion whence I recently moved after spending five years there in an effort to mingle with the breed of people you’d pay good money to avoid sitting next to at a dinner party, took idiocy to new and grotesquely literal heights. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2098, a bill which effectively tells the state’s doctors that they should self-censor their opinions on covid. It makes a mockery of the First Amendment. The bill reads:
The Federation of State Medical Boards has released a statement warning that physicians who engage in the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation risk losing their medical license, and that physicians have a duty to provide their patients with accurate, science-based information.
Note well that this isn’t really about a dangerous spread of misinformation, but is instead an example of the dangerous weaponization of the concept of misinformation in order to silence medical practitioners who don’t trumpet The Narrative™. Unsurprisingly, the language of the bill is intentionally vague about what constitutes a transgression, which will have a chilling effect on free speech. The law’s definition of misinformation is “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.”
AB2098 will become law on January 1, 2023, effectively denying all physicians in the state of California the right to publicly share their medical opinions, under threat of suspension of their license to practice medicine.
Every California physician who, say, expresses an opinion challenging the safety of the vaccines for young people or the efficacy of masks or the legitimacy of the covid death count — that is, anyone who shares information about covid that’s not consistent with what the Medical Board deems to be the official “scientific consensus” — will become a target of the Board for license suspension or termination. And it’s worth noting here that not all Board members are doctors, or even hold a medical degree for that matter. Indeed, the Board President is a lawyer, for God’s sake.
Think about how often the “scientific consensus” has changed over the past two years, and how the powers that be routinely used manipulative propaganda and a consensus drumbeat to justify blatantly anti-science policies, cherry-picking facts and data all the while to support The Narrative™ — which has fluctuated like an ECG — and pushing increasingly authoritarian campaigns for overly-restrictive “mitigation measures” either explicitly or implicitly predicated on the zero-covid zeitgeist while simultaneously casting opprobrium on those who didn’t adopt the same degree of performative alarmism.
The pandemic has been rife with “expert” inconsistencies, including the deeply divisive policies requiring forced acquiescence to the permanency of recurring, compulsory injections by decrees justified with constantly shifting and contradictory criteria. Wildly alarmist propaganda was used to convince the public that contracting a virus with a 99.95% survival rate for healthy people under the age of 70 with no comorbidities would put one in mortal danger and it was therefore absolutely imperative that everyone stay locked in their homes and treat each other like vectors of disease, kids included. I have written extensively on the consequences of these policies—consequences that will continue reverberating for years to come.
The Great Barrington Declaration
Consider the case of the Great Barrington Declaration, an open letter issued by Drs. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard in which they took the unprecedented step of calling out the wrongs of health experts and medical personnel in promoting a public health response through sweeping lockdowns, school shutdowns, business closures, and more. They urged a nuanced approach through what they called “focused protection” of high-risk populations such as the elderly or those with medical conditions. A million people have signed the letter, including tens of thousands of doctors and scientists from over 40 countries.
Within days, the Great Barrington Declaration was maligned. Francis Collins, then director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote an email to Our Lord and Savior Tony Fauci labelling the three writers “fringe epidemiologists” and calling for a press “takedown” of them. Big tech outlets like Facebook and Google obeyed, suppressing the GBD’s ideas and falsely deeming them “misinformation.”
But we now know that Drs. Bhattacharya, Gupta, and Kulldorff and the other GBD signatories have been vindicated. They were the ones on the side of right and truth, while The Science™ was proven false again and again. And yet, they’ve spent the past two years as the targets of a smear campaign aimed at demonizing those who dare to question official policy.
AB2098 threatens to make such dissent career-ending by handing the state the power to strip medical licenses from doctors who disagree with government positions on covid and believe in offering patients a tailored rational cost-benefit analysis with the most medically sound solutions. Yours truly is no doctor or physician, but prudence would seem to suggest that the responsible practice of medicine requires that doctors use individualized professional judgment to determine the best course of treatment for each individual patient, and that the blind application of blanket guidance passed down by medical mandarins and government officials is ill-advised.
The “debate” about AB 2098 has of course played out on Twitter, where some impressively imbecilic dude named Richard Pan has become the establishment’s new guidon bearer, continuing the work that Fauci and Collins started by discrediting and calumniating anyone who calls out falsehoods about what this law will actually do.
Pan seems bent on demonizing and impugning the motives of Dr. Bhattacharya in particular, along with other medical freedom advocates speaking out about the dangers of this bill becoming law. He has claimed that those opposed are an “amplified minority,” and has rallied the chattering class to the colors from the sewers of Twitter, engaging in gaslighting that would make Karine Jean-Pierre blush. It should tell you something that Pan suppresses comments from California citizens asking legitimate questions and requesting to see data:
The Refusal to Learn From History Sullies the Scientific Establishment
Because of the pandemic’s illiberal dynamics, many medical practitioners have felt compelled to self-censor their true thoughts about everything from lockdowns to recommended treatment, lest they be attacked by the partisan jackals of the digital mob and face professional consequences for not toeing the line. When you have something to say, silence is a lie. Unfortunately, many medical practitioners have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. The absence of open dialogue and muffling of dissent has contributed to a dangerous degree of scientific groupthink for which we’re paying a high price.
But whereas before, the risk was primarily social and reputational, now we’re talking about career-ending penalties, which is insane. The fact that deviation from an authorized set of beliefs now jeopardizes a practitioner’s medical license, and they must therefore remain in the consensus lane as determined by some unnamed arbiter, which is likely to be the same public health establishment responsible for our disastrous pandemic response, is Orwellian in the extreme—and idiotic.
Even CDC Director Rochelle Walensky recently admitted her agency’s failures during a message to her staff in August.1 “To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes. From testing, to data, to communications,” Walensky said. Indeed you are.
As Dr. Bhattacharya highlighted back in April, there’s no shortage of historical examples underscoring what happens when the state regulates science.
During the Soviet era, Stalin’s favorite geneticist, Trofim Lysenko, is believed to have killed more people than any individual scientist in history. Officials put Lysenko in charge of Soviet agriculture in the 1930s. The only problem was, the dude had ridiculous scientific ideas. Because he loathed genetics, Lysenko promoted the Marxist tripe that the environment alone shapes plants and animals. When deciding between science and the doctrines of communism, he always chose the latter, confident that biology would ultimately conform to ideology.
Widespread crop failure and famine resulted. While this was happening, Stalin gave Lysenko license to destroy the careers and lives of geneticists who dared to dissent, and many were secretly arrested and killed. Despite Lysenko’s practices prolonging and exacerbating food shortages, Stalin refused to change course and simply ordered him to remedy the disaster with his futile methods. The result was mass starvation in Russia. The Chinese Communists also adopted Lysenko’s beliefs—and an astronomical 30 million starved.
America is not the Soviet Union, nor is it Communist China. But a refusal to appreciate history is the ultimate mark of hubris. Though the past is often radically different from the present, some events and eras often seem like looking into a distant mirror. If only certain people would give that mirror a glance.
Censorship and criminalization have no place in a free society, and a Constitutional Republic includes the right of doctors to remain free to practice medicine. California’s AB2098 is the latest salvo in the deeply misguided efforts by government bureaucrats to enforce conformity of thought. Ultimately, this new statute will not only harm patients by depriving them of information, but it will further erode trust in public health when the institution can least afford it.