Citizens have a right to information needed to make informed medical choices. Americans reasonably have questions about vaccines that have not gone through the same safety testing as those we have become familiar with through the decades. In this moment in history, where individual health concerns are quickly magnified to a global scale, it is more important than ever that Americans have access to information and retain the ability to ask questions and obtain evidence-based answers.
The Biden Administration is pushing hard for social media platforms to do more to censor information about Covid-19 public health efforts. The censorship Facebook has already undertaken is “not enough,” according to Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. To this end, Dr. Murthy issued an Advisory, Confronting Health Misformation. The document encourages individuals, educators, health professionals, technology platforms and other citizens to stifle the free flow of public health information if it is not in line with the administration’s positions.
Usually, Advisories are “reserved for urgent health threats,” and these rare warnings have generally informed about dangers of pharmaceutical or other drug products. It is historically unprecedented for a Surgeon General to warn U.S. citizens against their right to free speech and informed consent.
In an interview for the Virality Project with Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, Dr. Murthy sung the praises of information in making private health decisions even while advocating limitations. “I know everyone…appreciates the power of good information and I know we’ve all experienced moments when information empowered us to make good decisions about our health, or the health of a loved one.”[i] He then admitted, “many people have had painful experiences of neglect or abuse by the very systems that are supposed to look out for their health.” Those abuses highlight the vital need for free flow of information, in stark contradiction to his support of the Administration’s push for censorship.
Despite this administration’s singling out of its own citizens for exercising basic rights, Stand for Health Freedom Advocates remain resolute in their desire to collaborate with elected officials and public health departments to do all they can to end the divisions that plague our great nation.
Alternatives to Censorship
In Dr. Murthy’s own words, “Each of us as individuals has the ability to turn the tide on misinformation because we all have the power to create healthy dialogue. We can listen with an open mind and an open heart. We can seek not to judge before we understand other people’s point of view. We can establish common ground. We can ask questions to better understand someone’s fears and hopes for better health. And if we do that, if we commit to hearing each other, our dialogue will do what a million ads and ai moderators cannot—build trust.”[ii]
Health Advocates are ready and willing to do just that. We engage in dialogue about concerns for informed consent in private medical decisions. We listen, and seek sound information in order to make our own medical decisions. We support the free flow of information so each individual can exercise their own rights to bodily autonomy and medical choice for themselves and their family. We share information and engage in dialogue to find common ground where personal rights and public health is in balance.
If, indeed, Congress views the enormity of social media platforms to be a threat to the safety of our populace, there are constitutional pathways for remedy. When private corporations become so sizeable as to influence public policy, government can turn to antitrust law regulation or reform. Trying to regulate speech through censorship is a blunt and unnecessary tool, and antithetical to all we stand for as Americans.
Singling out Americans
President Biden accused Facebook, and then private citizens, of “killing people” simply by exercising constitutionally protected rights to speech and access to information. Those are harsh words, indeed. It is heartbreaking that our president would endanger the lives and livelihoods of Americans simply for sharing information. This accusation invoked slander and threats toward the people he singled out. We will not stay silent when our president calls out our fellow citizens for exercising fundamental rights, but we will choose to engage with each other with open minds and hearts, striving to unite and respect individual liberties in true American spirit.
What you can do
Urge your representatives to engage in conversation with public health advocates questioning the temporarily authorized vaccines or any other health policy. More than 12 people are eager to engage in thoughtful, evidence-based conversation with the goal of maximizing health for individuals and our country.
You can further take a stand by contacting your representatives and urging them to call on the president to stop endorsing censorship of free speech about matters of public health and private informed consent. Encourage them to hold the president accountable for his words and to base his actions and announcements in evidence, especially when it comes to the fundamental rights of citizens.
[ii] .” –U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, July 16, 2021 in an interview for Stanford’s Virality Project, discussing his Advisory, Confronting Health Misinformation, at 18:35 in the video found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs8PfLzZJnI