Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that legislators must take action against acts of censorship by Twitter and other Big Tech companies. You can find a counterpoint here, where the Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore and Spence Purnell argue that Twitter is free to suspend organizations and people.
The sky is blue, the Earth orbits the Sun, and humans need oxygen to survive. Objective truths like these are not controversial. Unfortunately, not all objective truths enjoy this luxury.
On March 20, Twitter suspended the account of the satirical news site The Babylon Bee for a tweet which jokingly labeled Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Rachel Levine the “Man of the Year.” On March 22, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk suffered the same fate for a tweet identifying Levine as a “biological man who now identifies as a transgender woman.” The following day, Fox News host Tucker Carlson was whisked off Twitter for defending both tweets with his own, claiming they were fundamentally true. If a sound and well-reasoned response is not given by conservatives to this censorship of irrefutable facts, then the online public square will be officially ceded, as there is nothing to defend once reality is lost.
Truth undergirds our civilization. Axioms such as human biology function as building blocks to further our understanding of the world, resulting in scientific innovation, advancement in living standards and social stability. Laws are made in light of these evident truths, along with the institutions they protect. Without an irreplaceable base built on truths, the whole system that was birthed from it is undermined.
These consequences are not a mystery. Plenty of the world’s worst moments in history were a direct result of successful efforts to sabotage humanity’s understanding of these truths. If all men are not created equal, then slavery, genocide and other atrocities can be committed with a new set of axioms. If life is boiled down to a struggle for power, and any other explanations for human interaction like love and beauty discarded, then brutal conflict between factions is all that is left. If established science can be done away with in service to utopian ideals, then our understanding of the natural world and all its implications are thrown into turmoil, leaving the future to be built by the hands of the harshest of critics.
Progressive activists, and their Big Tech enablers at Twitter, frivolously call into question millennia of hard work, unbelievable struggles and diligent truth-seeking. It is detrimental to so easily dispense with these invaluable and fundamental truths to serve an unattainable discomfort-free existence ensured by a nanny state backed by tech oligarchs. However, the destabilization is the point for these activists, and it is time that people wake up to this reality.
If elected conservatives wish to salvage their reputation, live up to their name and stop the unrelenting assault of the left, then this is the hill to die on. If truth itself is called into question, then there is nothing left to conserve. Vague bumper sticker belief statements will be rendered worthless if the left is successful in destroying the entire system.
To deny a person a place on popular social platforms for beliefs in truth that have been unquestionably mainstream for all human history is a step too far. This exercise in power by Big Tech over the American people has been going on for some time, but this recent flex should galvanize all who value our country, system of governance and ultimately truth.
It is time for conservatives to rally on this issue and defend what is left of the West. Ideas and stances that once fit nicely into conservative governing strategy must be set aside if they ultimately lead to defeat. Conservatives are allowed to win, as evidenced by Glenn Youngkin’s parent-fueled gubernatorial victory in Virginia or Ron DeSantis’ unapologetic conservative governance in Florida.
Application of existing antitrust law, revisions of outmoded regulations and prudent legislation are viable and necessary options that can be paired with ongoing efforts to establish alternative media platforms. Because neither one is sufficient on their own to combat this new threat to liberty, this hybrid approach should be leaned into by conservatives who wish to actually make headway towards achieving their goals.
Conservatives at a minimum need to establish that objective truth must be allowed on Big Tech platforms. The majority of Americans believe in these facts of reality, providing even more incentive to fight. Failing to realize the importance of this moment to stand up for the rightful place of basic truth in our online public square will not only signal the end of conservatism’s viability, but also truth itself.
Caleb Larson is a cybersecurity researcher, policy analyst with the Internet Accountability Project, a Heritage Foundation alum, and contributor at Human Events where he writes about cybersecurity-related issues facing the United States.