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Don’t Be Fooled By Leftist Wordplay — They’re Only Worried About ‘Free Speech’ When They’re Not In Power

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Screenshot via YouTube / The City Club of Cleveland

It took the Biden administration just 22 days to “pause” their new Disinformation Governance Board after widespread — and justified — political outrage. 


But we should pay careful attention to the emerging themes and developing battle lines. Progressives have decided to blame the Board’s demise on “disinformation” and “extremism,” rather than the left’s own wildly unconstitutional behavior. 

They think we Americans ought to welcome such censorship. After all, the “governance” of such “disinformation” is for our own good! 

This pro-moderation and pro-censorship stance only seems to apply when they or their cronies are in power. When Elon Musk first announced he was going to buy Twitter, for instance, the left immediately started ringing alarm bells. And in doing so, they displayed their hypocrisy and cynicism for all to see.

They started worrying about whether they’d be deplatformed, saying it was concerning that so much power over the public square should be concentrated in one man’s hands.  They acted as if Republicans hadn’t been expressing the exact same concern for years now, as more and more of them were actually banned, hidden or otherwise restricted from speaking. 

So, conservatives: Make no mistake going forward. This is a battle for nearly absolute power, cloaked in the humdrum language of bureaucrats and regulators. The bleak, dystopian language they used to describe their censorship board — “disinformation governance” — is a euphemism, just as “extremism,” “disinformation” and “free speech” are euphemisms to the left. It’s all wordplay and feints. 


So let’s call it what it was, and is. It is active censorship. It is hypocritical promotion of a progressive agenda, and vilification of those who oppose it. It is state-backed establishment of a specific narrative. 

Eradicating “extremism” is about marginalizing and suppressing opposition. Governing “disinformation” is the same. “Free speech” is only valuable to them if it’s leftist speech in danger of regulation or suppression. 

So it should be obvious to anyone paying attention that their regulatory attempts are cynical bids for political supremacy. Their positions on the regulation of free speech are determined by the interests of their political agenda. I’m grateful and relieved that we were able to stop this latest grab at political supremacy, even if we’ve just managed to do so temporarily.

But, even to the astute and dedicated observer, the eagerness with which the left seems prepared to launch into increasingly authoritarian practice and speech for the sake of their political agenda is startling. 

Given the goodness and justice of American liberties, including the First Amendment, you’d think we would leap to the defense of such freedoms. Freedom like we have is rare and precious, both in historical and modern political terms.


History shows us repeatedly — and in stark, shocking terms — the desperation, pain and atrocity begotten by governments that abandon their commitment to the dignity and liberty of their citizens. Regimes which now seem like caricatures of evil, and the men who led them, hold important lessons for us. They show us what we must not do. 

We must not abandon the blessings of liberty for the sake of political expediency. We must defend the dignity of the person and the inalienable rights bestowed upon him. 

Our nation was founded, in part, upon a commitment to the notion that man could flourish if governed well and allowed freedom. And that is the truth. It is also morally imperative to preserve the liberty and dignity of the individual, or risk repeating the atrocities of the past.

We cannot allow the hysterics of leftists to drive us into further authoritarianism. We must not allow fleeting political interests to undermine the order of liberty we now enjoy. 

Of course it’s frustrating to watch leftist hypocrisy go so widely unchallenged. It’s concerning that leftists are driving so many institutional and regulatory changes. It is saddening that so many Americans have been persuaded to enthusiastically accept, even to promote, broad and unchecked infringements upon their rights.


But our nation was built to withstand such political assaults. It was founded upon noble ideas and its government was crafted with a shrewd eye to counteracting our worst political and moral impulses. 

And it needs us now. It needs us to defend freedom, not only as a political reality but as a genuine moral good. So join me, however you can. Vote, organize, argue and advocate. 

We will not be silenced. And for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must not be silent.

Timothy Head is executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. 

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