By Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D.
A 2020 article published by a World Health Organization-affiliated medical doctor in Nepal gains new relevance in light of the recent disclosure that the Biden administration’s FBI worked with a Ukrainian spy agency to take down social media posts that Ukraine considered “spreading Russian disinformation.” The “woke” leftists’ ambition to censor as “disinformation” any communication they consider harmful to their neo-Marxist agenda may well be just the first step to designating as “mentally ill” any dissenter to their views who dares to exercise free speech rights under the First Amendment.
In a 2020 article entitled “Information Disorder Syndrome and its Management,” published in the Journal of Nepal Medical Association, Nirmal Kandal, a member of the Nepal Medical Association, argued that there were three grades to the psychological disorder of sharing or developing “false information.”
- Grade 1: in which the individual “shares false information without the intent of harming others.”
- Grade 2: a moderate form of psychological disorder in which “the individual develops and shares false information with the intent of making money and political gain, but not with the intent of harming people.”
- Grade 3: a severe form “in which the individual develops and shares false information with the intent of harming others.”
Kandal suggested that “all sufferers from grade 2 and 3 levels need psycho-social counseling and sometimes require strong regulations and enforcement to control such information disorder.” As an example of the type of speech he wanted to suppress, Kandal signaled out the “anti-vaxxer movement,” whose members he believed members were rightfully arrested for warning people that the vaccines themselves could be harmful to health. If you were wondering, Kindal works in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) headquarters heading the WHO’s Evidence and Analytics for Heath Security (EHS) Unit.
At the heart of this debate is the legal theory of prior restraint on speech, a very narrow limitation on the First Amendment’s prohibition against government censorship. In light of the WHO’s speech preferences, which Democrats indicate they want to embrace, the issue is when the government can bypass the First Amendment to restrain speech and possibly persecute anticipated speech because the anticipated publication or speech is somehow unacceptably harmful.
Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927), arose when Anita Whitney, a member of the Communist Labor Party, was convicted in 1920 under the California Syndicalism Act. The act made it a felony to become a member of an organization that “organized or assembled to advocate, teach or aid and abet criminal syndicalism.” “Criminal syndicalism,” in turn, was any doctrine or precept advocating, teaching or aiding and abetting the commission of a crime, sabotage,” or other acts of terrorism for accomplishing changes in industrial ownership or “effecting any political change.” The Supreme Court upheld the conviction.
Justice Brandeis wrote a concurring opinion (joined by Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes) acknowledging that the First Amendment free speech right was not absolute. While he agreed with the decision’s outcome under the specific facts of the case, he wanted to set out very clearly the narrow parameters of prior restraint laws. To limit speech, he insisted that the danger presented must be immediate, likely, and substantial:
This Court has not yet fixed the standard by which to determine when a danger shall be deemed clear; how remote the danger may be and yet be deemed present, and what degree of evil shall be deemed sufficiently substantial to justify resort to abridgement of free speech and assembly as the means of protection.Brandeis pointed out that those exercising their speech rights could be the ones who were correct because the government policy could, in fact, be misguided:
But serious injury alone cannot justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression of speech there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground to believe the danger is imminent. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the evil to be presented is a serious one.
Notably, in the Pentagon Papers case, New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), the Supreme Court rejected the Nixon administration’s prior restraint argument that prohibiting the Times from publishing was necessary to prevent a presumed national security crisis. Daniel Ellsberg did create a national security crisis, but not the one the administration argued flowed from publication. Instead, he exposed the lies the U.S., and in particular the Pentagon, had told the American public about the Vietnam War.
That today’s woke neo-Marxist left wants to define dissenting speech as a psychological disease owes much to the Frankfurt School, in particular to Herbert Marcuse. In 1965, Marcuse published an essay entitled “Repressive Tolerance” that concluded, “the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed.” Marcuse took the next leap, jumping right into the subject of thought control:
More than ever, the proposition holds true that progress in freedom demands progress in the consciousness of freedom. Where the mind has been made into a subject-object of politics and policies, intellectual autonomy, the realm of “pure” thought has become a matter of political education (or rather: counter-education).
Woke neo-Marxists are today’s totalitarians. In the Maoist cultural revolution that commands our universities, refusing to accept gender self-determination is banned as sexist, just as failing to see America as a country created by slaveholders to perpetuate slavery is banned as racist, and questioning global warming is tantamount to putting the planet at risk. So, too, as the neo-Marxist left dominates the federal bureaucracy, daring to question election integrity was tantamount to treason in 2020, and questioning the efficacy of vaccinations was tantamount to endangering your neighbor’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they [those who won our independence] eschewed silence,” Brandeis concluded in Whitney v. California, confident that truth was fundamental. How will we know whether they (the mentally ill) are in the right unless we are free to debate the issues? Without free speech, the standards of justice quickly become political.