On Monday night Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all took down a video posted by Breitbart that presented a “press conference” staged in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. Dubbed the “White Coat Summit,” a group of doctors in identical white lab coats, presumably for effect, discussed COVID-19, face masks, social distancing and Hydroxychloroquine. Twitter also briefly restricted Donald Trump, Jr’s account as penalty for having retweeted it. The social media platforms took the video down saying it violated their policies against disseminating false information.
As reported in the Washington Post, the medical advise dispensed at this event has been repudiated by the scientific and medical communities. Speakers said that masks aren’t necessary and that 200mg Hydroxychloroquine twice weekly along with zinc daily will prevent COVID infection.
The doctors speaking have come under considerable scrutiny. One of them, Dr. Dan Erickson, is a physician in Emergency Medicine at an urgent care center in Bakersfield, California. He has been criticized by the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine for “reckless and untested musings” concerning Coronavirus.
Another speaker, Dr. Stella Immanuel from Texas, is particularly colorful. According to the Daily Beast she claims that “gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.” She claims that alien DNA is being used in medical treatments and alleges a conspiracy where scientists are working on a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. Last but not least, gay marriage is going to destroy the world. In addition to her medical practice, Immanuel is also a minister at Firepower Ministries. She has a YouTube channel where you can see her sermons and other videos.
As if all this isn’t absurd enough, Trump thinks it’s great. It would be one thing if the President of the United States mentioned Hydroxychloroquine once or twice in passing, but Trump hawks it so aggressively I wouldn’t be surprised to turn on the TV late some night and find him doing an infomercial.
There are two main points I want to make on all this.
1. The Importance of Science
An interesting phenomenon in this politically polarized age is the way science is devalued and outright rejected. We’re seeing this dramatically in the pandemic, but this situation is a lot like climate change. According to the Earth Science Communications Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 97% of scientists “agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change.” At this point, there should be no further debate about whether human activity is causing climate change. The debate now should be: What to do about it? — and here there will be many competing perspectives. There’s a lot to consider. But we can’t get to that discussion because in the political arena it’s like we’re still arguing whether the Earth orbits the Sun.
There’s a right-wing campaign to demonize Dr. Anthony Fauci — but he’s just one in tens of thousands of doctors and scientists looking at the Coronavirus around the world. He’s a flawed human like all of us, for sure, but to single him out is a political rejection of science. He’s just saying what the others are, but he’s come to symbolize how inconvenient science gets when we really want to believe the Sun orbits the Earth.
Our lives depend on following the science — real science.
2. The Importance of Free Speech
By now it should be clear I think the “White Coat Summit” was quackery. That does not mean that I approve of the action Facebook, Twitter and YouTube took in suppressing the video. I do not.
It is essential that all ideas — good or bad (which is obviously matter of opinion) — get a full and open airing for debate. Working people need the widest possible space to talk freely and wrestle honestly with the difficult issues we need to resolve for the betterment of everyone. If I allow my opponent’s voice to be smothered today, tomorrow it will be my voice that gets smothered. Bad ideas need to be defeated by better ideas, not silenced by suppression. That will just backfire big time.
All this said… I was prepared to post the video here on this blog using this Breitbart link where I found it yesterday — but I discover now that Breitbart seems to have removed the video from its own website too. I can’t find it. That makes no sense. If anyone finds it, let me know and I will update this post.
Title image: baranq / Shutterstock.com
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