Here’s a thing that happened: in 2020, the United States shut down, and imposed far-reaching restrictions on its citizens due to what officials considered a health threat. At the same time, the censoring of groups of licensed doctors who believe they have valuable feedback for the country — including other doctors — became acceptable to many.
What in the actual fuck.
If you haven’t heard — and that’s quite possible since it was censored with an iron fist — a group of practicing doctors from different parts of the United States got together on Capitol Hill to send a message last week. This group is called “America’s Frontline Doctors”. They personally treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients and they believed they had urgently important information for their fellow physicians. Additionally, they expressed concerns over a different kind of censorship; they said their ability to practice medicine in a traditional manner was being irrationally impinged upon.
I stumbled upon a Twitter message that linked to the video discussed here. And as of publishing this post, you can still find the coverage of the presser on Vimeo here (if you dare watch this “shocking” footage):
Me: “Wow, doctors treating coronavirus on the frontlines traveled to D.C. to deliver a message to the world?! Well, I want to hear that! Primary information sources are my favorite sources! There is so much less bullshit sprinkled in…”
And apparently, I wasn’t the only one keenly interested in hearing what these professionals had to say. While I can’t confirm a tally of how many views the press conference received now because the video was removed by Facebook, that one reportedly reached over 17 million viewers.
When I came across it, I let it play in the background as I worked on other things. It wasn’t until much later in the video that I realized I was listening to a Breitbart stream. Turns out, it would be highly unlikely I could have heard these people anywhere else. And then, it got even harder to hear their voices. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Squarespace cut them down with their various powers.
Words to Excuse the Inexcusable
When I posted about this censorship on Facebook to take the pulse of the masses, I got many vitriolic comments of meandering logic. Here were the main trains of…thought.
“But the Law Makes It OK”
There was the proclamation that “well, legally it’s OK”.
In actuality, no, that’s not necessarily true. But even if what the goliath publishers…er…sorry, I mean “platforms” did was hunky-dory legally without taking away their platform status, that still wasn’t my main concern. Here is my horror: some American citizens are cool with doctors being silenced during a life-halting pandemic.
Insert communal shoulder shrug.
At a time when cancel culture cares not whether a company crossed a legal boundary, and only if the mob perceives a crossed moral boundary, how is it these megalithic publishing, sorry, “platform” establishments escape unscathed?
That is the only quandary I ask the masses to wrestle here. I don’t care if what these licensed doctors suggest other MD’s investigate is an ultimate answer to our problem or not. I wouldn’t even care if I felt 100% that what these doctors said was ludicrous. Free dialogue itself is important. It’s for times like these especially that free speech was written in blood at the tip-top of the United States Constitution.
And no, I’m not saying that what these companies did is necessarily unconstitutional. I’m only pointing to the pure, undeniable, and moral importance and purpose of free speech’s existence.
“It’s Not Really Censorship”
Further, I was mocked for not understanding the meaning of “censorship”.
FYI, yes, it is still called censorship even when it is not a governmental body doing the silencing. Auntie Erin, for example, tries very hard to censor her own potty mouth around her surrogate nieces and nephews.
“I Personally Think the Religious Beliefs of One of Them is Silly”
Then, there was the outrage over one of the several doctor’s religious beliefs.
OK, so now censorship of licensed doctors is OK but only when you don’t share their religious beliefs? I disagree.
I don’t care what religion these docs practice. If one of them drives to the middle of Kansas 3 times a year to sacrifice a goat to their idol god while dancing naked around a fire, drinking Everclear from the bottle and singing “Sweet Home Alabama” it matters not. If we’re in a pandemic and that doctor successfully treated 350 patients suffering from the illness in question, I still want to hear what that person has to say.
Would I want to know about the other thing and would I watch video footage of it? Yes, and maybe — it depends how attractive they are. But that’s irrelevant to what they have to share about their first-hand experience of treating several hundred patients on the “frontline”.
“Any Opinion Not Promoted by Mainstream News is a Conspiracy Theory”
Others on the FB shouting hall started throwing around the term “conspiracy theory” like it was a slur. However, I’m pretty sure that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Censorship can be pretty clearly seen to have happened on Twitter. Additionally, a Facebook employee publicly and proudly admitted taking down footage of those speeches made in Washington, D.C.. Again, I’m only concerned with the act of silencing doctors.
“Wanting all Sides to Be Able to Speak on a Subject is Proof of Confirmation Bias”
My favorite comment from the peanut gallery was that I was told I only read content that would satisfy my apparent confirmation bias. Confirmation bias regarding what, exactly? That a gathering where degreed, licensed, actively-practicing doctors speaking to the public was blocked by many publishers…er… platforms? Can we not agree this happened?
As I mentioned there, and which was obviously lost in the over-100-comments fray, I read all angles. That is, I did up until I was done herding the comment cattle back to the original focus for 3 days. After a point, I couldn’t bare 1 more blood-pressure raising Idiocracy quote. Yes, it’s true that after 3 days, I received one more link I was told I needed to read and I didn’t read it. The title itself was a derogatory, anti-Christian straw man in the context of this convo. That was enough of that Medium article.
As I said there, I’ll repeat here:
When something happens in the news, you usually won’t see me comment right away. I have a superpower of being able to reserve judgment and remain open-minded on a matter for an extremely and abnormally long amount of time. I consider evidence from all sides — **to the point that Facebook’s algorithm thinks I politically lean the exact opposite of how I actually lean**. I read the full article. I listen to the public hearings in full, without biased commentary or editing as much as possible, to preserve the integrity of the source. I don’t rely on pundits for bullet points and argument “gotchas” to use as a regurgitated debate weapon; I come to my own conclusions.
In fact, here is my laughably inaccurate Facebook Big Brother data which I believe is largely calculated by content a user engages with:
Unfortunately, after reading many of the opinion-pieces-disguised-as-unbiased-reporting which my friends throw up links to, I know I don’t have many like-minded acquaintances. Reading one of these is like tuning into an old-school MTV’s Real World episode!
I imagine the editors directing their “journalists” this way:
What I want to see is jump-cuts galore! Cue dramatic music. Cut this person off at the beginning of her sentence. Good. Now again at the end. Perfect. Now let’s write an entire opinion piece wildly misrepresenting the intended meaning of that quote. Make it 3 pages long. What’s that? Oh, no, don’t worry; you’re safe! No one will check the original source. They’ll read the headline, take our word for it and spend more time in their own comments section berating the subject than they did ingesting any original content. Remember they’re not seeking truth. Haha! Oh goodness, no. They’re only interested in intellectual masturbation and we provide the lube.– The mainstream media news editor in my imagination
If you read Bari Weiss’s recent open letter resigning from the New York Times, you might believe my exaggerated imaginings aren’t too far off from reality. In it, she said:
Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions.– Bari Weiss in her NYT resignation letter
“You Only Want All Sides of an Issue to Be Heard Because Your Political Affiliation Makes You Biased”
Back in the Facebook war room, accusations of my confirmation bias somehow turned into comments about politics. Or perhaps that was a different thread on the post. I’m not sure; it’s all a blur now. But in any case, talk targeting my personal political persuasion also came up.
For the record, I am not a Republican. A lot of people are perplexed about which “side” I’m on and ask. Others make assumptions — incorrectly — most often that I’m a far left-leaning Liberal. So here it is as best I can describe. I am registered Independent and for the past several years I was a practicing Apathetic. In the last presidential election I voted “Stayed Home And Drank”. Look, I even made an awesome graphic about it back then:
However, if you’d put a gun to my head that day and made me actually pull a lever, I would have voted for “DEFINITELY NOT HILLARY”. The last presidential election in which I voted before that was in 2008, and I literally voted for Bugs Bunny.
I stand by that vote. He would have made a damn fine president. (And he wouldn’t have fined me for being poor when I was struggling and chose not to purchase health insurance, either. AH-HEM.)
So, in summary, I am skeptical of all politicians and agendas and people in power and I investigate all the things I speak or write on. I have no political horses in this race.
In any case, however, why is this being thought of as a partisan issue?!?! The uncensored speech of doctors should not be a political topic!
“Speech Should Be Suppressed Because I Haven’t Heard Similar Speech that Was Not Suppressed”
Another IRONIC argument I heard to discredit these doctors (and again, whether their warnings had merit or not was not the subject), was that the commenter had not heard similar comments elsewhere. They believed that because large governmental bodies held particular views and because they hadn’t heard a loud outcry against those views, the powerful authoritarian voice must be correct. It’s undisputed, after all.
Aside from the paradoxical ridiculousness of this notion in its own right, I have indeed heard many other doctors dispute the way our omniscient overlords are handling all this mess. I wonder why my friends hadn’t heard of them…
Senator Scott Jensen of the Minnesota State Senate springs to mind first. He is both a representative and a practicing family doctor. Jensen wears both hats at the same time, and so has a particularly interesting perspective. I believe it was a 2-part video on Twitter where I first saw Dr. Senator Jensen (or Senator Dr. Jensen?) You can watch the first one here so long as Twitter doesn’t take it down.
Dr. Jensen publicly spoke out on disturbing things he’s seen. These included the handling of death certificates in regard to COVID-19 and the way this disease is being described to the public. Now, Jensen is being investigated by the Board of Medical Practice in Minnesota for those statements.
“…doggone it, if this could happen to me, my view is it could happen to… anybody.”– Senator Dr. Jensen
Jensen also expressed deep concern over bureaucratic moves regarding COVID not aligning with what he sees as prudent measures from a medical standpoint. In fact, by how he describes some government mandates and information reported by authorities, it might all be more aptly labeled as deception.
Of course, there’s also Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi from California. Oh, but they were “debunked” when some articles were slapped together to question a portion of the many statistics they mentioned in their now blacked-out broadcast. Gotcha. So we can just call them quacks, too, and hand-wave away all their concerns, right?
And Dr. Scott Atlas from Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is he a dumbass too, ya think?
Did you also read a fact-check/debunk/smear piece on Judy Mikovits and so now you have the social permission to dismiss her or roll your eyes and say you know better than to listen to a word this scientist says? But is it even possible to dismiss someone if you don’t have the chance to listen to them in the first place? That film tied to her name was found to be so “dangerous” it was banned…
So, is that all it takes now? Just one mocking, ridiculing article from an opposing side and the American people are rendered incapable of critical thinking?
“We Need Big Brother to Burn Books For Us”
Other comments on my wall voiced worry that other people are foolish and have difficulty with their critical thinking. Granted, this part was hard to deny in the face of the general thread. However, there was one espousal to the claim that it is the duty of higher authorities to protect common folk from their own feeble minds.
So we’re back at the point in the human social establishment cycle where we’re burning books again? Is that where we are? We’re afraid of words?
If you’re of a pro-book burning mentality, maybe you wonder why we can’t just let one main, overarching body mandate procedure for all peoples in situations of limited understanding. I’ll tell you exactly why.
The Danger of Removing Doctor’s Discretion
Even before COVID, it was difficult for doctors in certain situations to act in what they believed to be the best interest of their patients. What follows may just be an anecdote to you. To me, it was vivid, excruciating proof of how dangerous it can be when doctors play strictly by the book instead of being allowed to use their own critical thinking skills to “do no harm”.
In January of 2017, I admitted myself to an emergency room in Manhattan. I had one request: to be tested for a rare disease that can only be accurately tested for during an acute “attack”. There was most definitely an acute attack going on.
Many incomprehensible things happened during my “treatment” over the next several days. I was in a tremendous amount of pain and the testing they put me through in that condition added to the pain in a way I can only describe as true torture. In the past, without medical intervention, these attacks have brought me to beg God to take my life during the peak moments I suffered through them. I didn’t know it was possible to feel even more pain than that until I began to receive medical attention for the first time during one of these episodes. In the hospital, it was difficult to speak for myself and advocate for what treatments I accepted or wished to refuse. I was alone, I was weak, and I was at the mercy of “best standardized practices”.
After initial test results came back, the several ER docs, students, and specialists all stopped by to tell me I had a different disease because it was more statistically likely than what I asked to be tested for, and statistics rule decision making in the hospital. They never tested me for the disease I asked to be tested for.
Standard protocol for that common disease was to put the person on an IV drip of a certain flavor of antibiotics. A nurse stopped by to attach a bag to my arm without telling me what I was prescribed. I had to ask as it was drizzling into me. “Oh this is common for what you have. It’s just an antibiotic.”
I snapped a picture of the bag because I knew in my mental state it would be the only way I could remember later what they put in me. I was also extremely skeptical of their record-keeping procedures at this point.
Shortly after the drip started, I went from unimaginably bad to somehow worse. My heart began to race, and I broke out in a sudden sweat. The feeling of impending doom that I sometimes typically feel at the beginning of an attack escalated to a level I’d never experienced before.
Two doctors happened to come in to check on me as this was happening. I asked them to turn the drip off. They told me they would not because this was a standard drug for what they were guessing I had. I then instructed them to turn it off. They still refused. All the while, the physiological symptoms increased. Then, I rapidly started to lose my peripheral vision to the point I was nearly blind. And then I finally found my voice. “TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF! I CAN’T SEE. I’M GOING BLIND! TURN IT OFF OR I WILL RIP IT OUT OF MY ARM I SWEAR TO GOD.”
They turned it off for a while, discussed it, and decided I couldn’t have been experiencing anything from the drug because not enough had gotten into me to cause a reaction. Then, they turned it back on.
Several minutes later, as I dragged myself out of the ER bathroom, IV stand in hand, I ran into one of the doctors and told her it was happening still. I said she could put me on a different antibiotic but this one needed to stop. She put her hand on my chest and felt the sweat and whispered, “oh shit… You’re right.”
I was switched to a different drip and didn’t have a problem with that one. Then, I was admitted to an actual hospital room. When the nurse in the hospital room was going over my personal data I asked if the antibiotic that nearly blinded me was on my list of “don’t even think about it” drugs in his records. He said there was no mention of it. I had him add it to my records and showed him the photo of the IV bag because it was the only record I myself had of the name of the drug.
This was all extremely upsetting, but I haven’t even reached the point of this unreasonably long tangent…
When I was released, the specialist who shoved cameras up my ass and down my throat during some additional testing told me my problem looked absolutely nothing like the disease they’d been guessing it was. Yet because they still didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me, the diagnosis would remain as that same statistically likely but incorrect diagnosis. Because statistics. Because common practice has it that hospitals don’t get sued when they just make decisions according to statistics.
I was then given a prescription to get filled when I left. Guess what the prescription was.
I’ll give you 2 guesses, but you only need one.
They prescribed to me the drug that they witnessed me having a devastating reaction to. I asked the professional who gave it to me, “uhh, what the hell is this? You should know I had a reaction in the ER. I nearly went blind and passed out. I made sure this was on my record so you didn’t give it to me without my knowledge in the hospital room. Why are you giving me this prescription? Why didn’t you even warn me that this was the drug I couldn’t tolerate?“
The medical professional looked flabbergasted and then said, “uhhh.. let me check.” He left the room to have a meeting about the situation and when he returned he told me, “well this is what we have to prescribe you when you have the disease we diagnosed you with. It’s standard procedure. We have to.” And then he whispered, “but it’s up to you whether you want to get the prescription filled or not…That’s up to you.”
Several days later when I’d recovered enough from being hospitalized that my brain could work well enough to do a simple Google search, I found something interesting. There is a list of drugs that could potentially kill a person with the disease I’d asked to be tested for. The antibiotic that caused no reaction in me was on the “safe to prescribe” list. The antibiotic that seriously fucked me up was on the “we don’t know for sure but there’s a chance this could seriously fuck up or kill a person with this rare disease” list.
So, if you didn’t get the meaning of this tangent – the topic of doctors being able to use their own sound judgment at their discretion is fucking personal. Invariable rules laid out by a hospital’s insurance company or a medical board should not get in the way of what a doctor knows to be best for his or her patient. And if those rules are seen to cause harm, directly or indirectly, doctors need to have the freedom without fear of retaliation to question, to speak out, and to practice their art.
When doctors are made to be more afraid of losing their license or of ostracization than they are of causing or allowing bodily harm to their patients that is a big, big problem.
While many of my friends see a bunch of doctors standing on Capitol Hill as quacks simply because a biased rag published a smear piece on 1 of them, I see that group differently.
I see several individuals who invested more time and money into their careers than most Americans would care to imagine doing for themselves. I see a few who have been scared they will lose that career they built, their livelihood, their reputation, and their ability to provide for their families if they spoke out. And yet, they still spoke out.
They have so much to lose, but what do they have to gain by being there?
I see a group of doctors who each, independently, came to the decision that it was more important to protest a higher authority than to yield to it. I see doctors who must truly care about Americans’ health whether you agree with their perspectives or not.
I see heroes. And they’re ticked off. I am, too.
I also see a different type of hero in all of this.
At a time when a historic NASA-SpaceX mission is making a landing, I find I’m much more in awe of another industry. I actually toyed with the idea of training to become an astronaut when I was a tyke. However, the idea never really filled me with excitement. No, there weren’t any roles I saw in society that I found truly admirable and inspiring until about 8th grade when we learned about Muckrakers.
These were the badass investigative journalists who exposed corruption at the turn of the last century. These men and women went to great lengths to do so including risking their safety or chance of prosecution. Most exciting of all, they uncovered truths for the public to view which often led to real reform.
On Capitol Hill last week, if it weren’t for the Breitbart News stream Matt Perdie filmed, millions of people might not have heard those doctors’ voices. But was that “muckraking”? Wasn’t it rather just regular, old, unbiased reporting?
I think it was both. And that’s a scary thing. When a supposedly far-right syndication is doing something controversial by simply airing an unedited broadcast when experts speak at a press conference, that should raise alarm bells in all of us.
Most of all, that should immediately concern other news outlets. If vitally important, apolitical content continues to be absent on moderate and left-leaning outlets, ya’ll are going to drive people to the other side of the aisle just to get their regular news.
At some point, though, we sometimes have to give our swollen arteries a breather and call it a Matthew 7:6 moment. So for me, right now, this “cast” is over; I’m signing off.