Steve Apfel
Steve ApfelINN:SA

In a column in an anti-Zionist paper, Michael Markowitz who runs the Gibs Media Leadership Think Tank, made a threefold comparison between Russia and Israel

Michael Markovitz and Herman Wasserman:

-Russia invaded its independent neighbour and Israel invaded its independent neighbour.

-Russia occupied Ukrainian territory by an act of war and Israel occupied Palestinian Arab Territory by an act of war.

-Russia’s invasion violated international law and Israel’s invasion violated international law.

The Right to Freedom of Expression

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.- George Orwell

Freedom to think requires not only freedom of expression but also freedom from the threat of orthodoxy and being outcast and ostracized.- Helen Foster Snow

Everyone has a right to offend and be offended. - Taslima Nasrin

Freedom to express the most despicable views also means that social media or the govt can’t pick and choose what opinion to authorise or prevent. - Harvard law Professor Emeritus, Alan Dershowitz

Amen to one and all.

Freedoms, however, come with responsibility. And they come with accountability. Respect the freedom to express or face consequences. If a person makes allegations that are fake it will diminish trust and respect. Free expression that is slanderous may lead to judicial remedy. In any event self-interest tends to self-moderate the freedom to express. Just the possible risk of harming business relationships and reputation may suffice, in and of itself, to act as a built-in censor.

The Gibs Media Leadership Think Tank lists a key focus area as, “Solutions to combating mis/disinformation”. Gibs on the other hand focuses on “responsible information.”

I guess that means, feel free to express, but express informed opinion. Meaning what?

  • Opinion backed up with examples.
  • Credible sources quoted.
  • Context supplied.

If I argue that A never invaded B, back it up with examples, backed up with credible sources, all in the context of law, history and politics, I can lay claim to expressing an informed opinion. I can feel confident that my information is “responsible information”.

If on the other hand I allege that A invaded B, giving no back-up examples, credible sources or context, I have not expressed an informed opinion. I have given irresponsible information. I simply made wild and emotional allegations.

We can’t escape human nature. People like to believe what they want to believe.

Many want to believe that Israel invaded a neighbour’s territory. And so they believe it. How many step back to ask themselves, ‘is it true?’

Many want to believe that science lately discovered people can pick and choose a gender. They don’t stop to ask, how come other mammals are strictly male or female? Or, where are the scientists whose work led to the discovery of non-binary gender? They would certainly have got the Nobel Prize, or a nomination, for their boundary breaking work.

Many want to believe that humanity faces extinction if we don’t get rid of fossil fuel. How many step back to ask, is it true? What’s wrong with 100% clean, almost non-intrusive nuclear energy? Why have so many plants been retired that advanced economies will lose two-thirds of their nuclear capacity by 2040. /2021/03/06/nuclear-power-must-be-well-regulated-not-ditched. Or why have all doomsday predictions since the 1970’s come and gone? Or how come a study by 22 scientists in Lancet found that cold weather has killed 17 times more people than hot weather? Believers in climate crisis don’t stop to interrogate their belief.

Sure we have a constitutional right to believe any crazy thing we like, and to express it. The right however comes with responsibility and accountability.

I happen to be a mad believer in freedom to express – not a preacher but a practitioner of it. My works all over the internet bear testimony. And since I’m madly pro-freedom, it follows that I’m madly anti narrative. It follows because mainstream narrative tends to be anti free expression and pro-censorship. Especially politicians like to disguise their agenda behind euphemism or obfuscation. They need to make censorship look impartial and scientific. (I’m borrowing from George Orwell.) That’s how we got to “dis/misinformation”. The Twitter files which Elon Musk released reveal that dis/misinformation was meant to suppress dissent.

So I Google it. And what comes up? “Misinformation in and about science.” I read,

“Without reliable and accurate sources of information we cannot hope to halt climate change, make reasoned democratic decisions or control a global pandemic.”

That’s your mainstream narrative. Note how it pre-marks Truth. Note the red flagging of contrary opinion by certain key words. Reliable. Accurate. Cannot hope to halt...Control global pandemic. Emotive words dare anyone to express a contrary opinion. They rule out dissent. Opinions other than the “Settled Science” can’t be reliable or accurate. Only the “Settled Science” can halt climate change or control a global pandemic. Alternative opinion becomes mis/disinformation and can’t be tolerated.

It’s no accident that “mis/disinformation” emerged on the back of our two global crises, climate and covid. After all nothing beats a good old crisis for autocrats to clamp down on freedom.

Note that “settled science” is a contradiction because if it’s “settled” it can’t be science which involves a process of trial and error. And yet untried experimental covid protocols and mandates were ring-fenced as settled science. We had to “follow the science” or else commit mis/disinformation and be declared anti-science or anti-vaxxer or climate denier.

Galileo faced the problem. Back then intolerance and canon also produced heretics. At the time of Galileo the settled science held that the sun moves around the Earth. He dared to express a contrary view. The Vatican handed down a sentence creepily similar to that handed down by our guardians of the covid and climate narratives:

“We pronounce and declare that you, Galileo, have rendered yourself vehemently suspected of heresy, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Holy Scriptures” (the Settled Science”). Today Galileo would have his Tweets declared, “Mis/disinformation.”

It turned out that “follow the science” actually means “follow the scientists” handpicked by the guardians of mis/disinformation. And they aren’t all people with our welfare at heart. They and their selected scientists are sometimes a self-empowering lot.

At this point a joke may be worth a thousand words.

(a) What do you call a holy man who cries, ‘The end of the world is nigh’? A Nutcase

(b) What do you call an activist who cries, ‘The end of the world is nigh’? Environmentalist

The former would be a clean joke while the latter will get your post ‘Fact checked’.

Take Gibs. The name contains the words, “Business Science”. Can it be that the school insists on the business science in its programs being settled science? No one may critique the science, and any who dare thereby commit mis/disinformation. They can be ridiculed and even kicked off the program. Obviously that’s not the Gibs way. So why declare climate science or ESG or the “just energy transition” to be settled and untouchable?

The acid test for mis/disinformation

Which of the two is more trustworthy / believable?

(a) The one who has the confidence to tolerate different opinion. Or

(b) The one who red flags different opinion and calls it “dis/misinformation.

I rest my case.