The latest House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government hearing was the final straw.
I can no longer be a Democrat after watching my party of three decades ignore the serious implications of vast governmental censorship and desperately, sometimes comically, try to shoot the messengers.
Last week’s hearing was meant to take testimony on the implications of government censorship reported in the Twitter Files — a series of articles, released on social-media platform Twitter, outlining the “censorship-industrial complex.”
But what it actually did was draw an astonishingly clear distinction between today’s Democrats and Republicans when it comes to our most fundamental and important right: freedom of speech.
After Elon Musk purchased Twitter, he gave several journalists an open invitation to look at the company’s internal emails.
They discovered and exposed a truly shocking number of politicians’ and government agencies’ requests to censor, silence, de-platform and de-amplify everyday Americans who expressed ideas the government did not like.
It should be one of the biggest stories of a generation: uncovering the government’s coordinated efforts to violate the First Amendment rights of so many Americans.
But with a few exceptions, the mainstream media have ignored the reporting or ridiculed the factually undisputed reports of large-scale government censorship — the kind most Americans would have told you does not happen in our country.
Journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger were a credit to their profession and to all Americans who genuinely care about a free press and the First Amendment.
And Democrats — who questioned, mocked, belittled and scolded them for not meekly accepting government knows best and Americans should just unquestionably accept what the fearsome threesome of “security state-Big Tech-Democrat ruling elite” thinks we should be able to say, read and hear — were an embarrassment.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) decried the censorship for affecting his ability to have an honest conversation with his constituents about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s inaccurate vaccine information.
Twitter — working “in partnership” with the CDC — flagged Massie’s factually correct tweets about the superiority of natural immunity to the available COVID vaccines as “misinformation” and, worse, disabled comments.
The congressman pointed out that this made it impossible for his constituents to engage with him on the topic — in effect silencing them as well.
Democrats uniformly disgraced themselves by refusing to acknowledge the significance and severity of the censorship but also by: shrilly belittling the legally protected right to not reveal sources; laughably asserting good journalism should not turn a profit (an assertion never leveled at The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN or other Democrat-friendly media outlets); and routinely insisting the censorship was actually for the best — because they know best.
New York’s newly elected Rep. Dan Goldman was the most insistent on this point.
He demanded Taibbi acknowledge the “evidence” in two federal indictments coming out of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation. Goldman declared the FBI was right to try to prevent Russian election interference.
Taibbi correctly pointed out that indictments, like all charging documents, are governmental allegations — allegations that have not been proven. One of the indictments was in fact dropped — so not only was the “evidence” not proven, it was never even subjected to the adversarial process designed to uncover the truth.
Goldman doubled down on his authoritarian impulses in a subsequent Twitter exchange with Taibbi, petulantly proclaiming that those who do not agree with him and national-security agencies “don’t belong” in the conversation.
Goldman is wrong, of course. All Americans have the right to join the conversation about matters big and small in our democracy.
And agreeing with the congressman or the sprawling national-security apparatus is not a precondition to chiming in.
The hearings may not have changed anyone’s mind about whether the Twitter Files are a journalistic juggernaut or just another entry in the culture wars. But they did change my registration.
I am now, after 33 years as a registered Democrat, an independent. And I like it.
I can no longer vote in the primaries that usually send my representatives to City Hall, Albany and Washington, DC. But I can vote in the general elections, and I look forward to doing so.
I will not vote for representatives who make light of my First Amendment rights or demand obeisance to my betters in the censorship-industrial complex.
Maud Maron is an education advocate and a former Democratic congressional candidate.