The headline over at The Daily Caller was this:
Prominent Writer Says Conservative Commentators Shouldn’t Have Opinions On Vaccines, Climate Change
The Caller reported:
A prominent writer and podcaster declared Wednesday that conservatives “should not have opinions” on topics like climate change and vaccines.
‘We’re swimming in a sea of misinformation, where you’ve got people who are moving the opinions of millions of others, who should not have an opinion on these topics. There is no scenario in which you should be getting your opinion about vaccine safety or climate change, or the war in Ukraine, or anything else that we might want to talk about from Candace Owens, right?’ Sam Harris, an author and podcaster, said, referencing the Daily Wire host who clashed with former President Donald Trump over vaccines in a December 2021 interview.
Harris justified using a ‘left-wing conspiracy’ to defeat Trump’s 2020 re-election bid in an August 2022 interview, calling the former president ‘an existential threat to democracy’ and referencing censorship of an October 2020 report by the New York Post about the contents of a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden by Twitter and Facebook.”
“She’s not a relevant expert on any of those topics. And what’s more, she doesn’t seem to care, right?” Harris continued “And she’s living in a culture that has amplified that not caring into a business model, an effective business model, right? That is something very Trumpian about all that.”
In short, former President Trump is “an existential threat to democracy.” Twitter and Facebook were right to censor the New York Post 2020 story on the contents of the Hunter Biden laptop and, oh by the way, conservatives who aren't experts “should not have opinions” on topics like climate change, vaccines, the war in Ukraine and “anything else that we might want to talk about.” So how is that the upholding of democracy? When the American people are just too stupid to be trusted with "Trumpian" opinions?
Hmmm. Hop in the time capsule and zip back to 2006 when the self-same Sam Harris was saying something quite different in an essay on his web site.
At the time there had been violent demonstrations in the Muslim world because a Danish newspaper had published 12 cartoons depicting an image of the Prophet Muhammad. To do so is very much opposed in the Islamic world, something considered to be idolatry, with criticism of the Prophet seen as blasphemy. An uproar ensued. Harris noted:
The U.S. and British governments have chastised Denmark and the other countries that published the cartoons for privileging freedom of speech over religious sensitivity. It is not often that one sees the most powerful countries on Earth achieve new depths of weakness, moral exhaustion and geopolitical stupidity with a single gesture. This was appeasement at its most abject.
Harris was clearly indignant at what he saw as threat to free speech, ending his essay on attacks on a free press by saying: “It is time we realized that the endgame for civilization is not political correctness.”
Yet here we are 17 years later and now Harris himself is saying that conservatives with opinions on such topics as climate change, vaccines and Ukraine should not be allowed to express those opinions because, in essence, they could in the age of social media, reach too many people and violate political correctness.
Then there was this curious story. Breitbart reported that former President Trump had put out a song in which he recites the Pledge of Allegiance while in the background “an ensemble of January 6 prisoners ….can be heard singing the national anthem.” Notably, the song topped the iTunes chart, staying at the number-one spot for seven consecutive days.
What happened then? The inevitable as headlined by Breitbart:
Exclusive — Apple Removes Donald Trump’s Song with J6 Prison Choir from iTunes
To borrow from old astronaut lingo, Houston we have a problem. The Left can cite disagreeable content as "dangerous." And it's removed. In this case, Apple claimed it was a "miscommunication" and restored it.
As Sam Harris exemplifies, the targets now can be anybody conservative who has an opinion that reaches a large audience and disagrees with leftist doctrine on Subject X. The topic could be vaccines, climate change, the war on Ukraine or the reason for the high price of eggs or gas, you name it.
The Harris point is that this is now a serious problem - and must be shut down.
This is decidedly dangerous. As the Old Sam Harris correctly noted back there in the stone age of 2006:
It is time we realized that the endgame for civilization is not political correctness.
Harris was right then -- and wrong now.