Should big tech shield us from science, even if it’s controversial?
A bill before the South Carolina Legislature seeks to affirm a sacred American right – the right to our conscience. Co-sponsored by every Republican member of the subcommittee – the legislation is a reaction to a Columbia city ordinance that restricts a counselor or therapist’s ability to bring in biblical worldviews on issues related to human sexuality and sexual orientation.
Similar legislation has gained support and is law in other states, yet is now deeply controversial because of opposition from LGBT groups and other political activists.
The broader purpose of the legislation seeks to strengthen protections for medical professionals from violating their deeply held sacred beliefs – a value that once but no longer unites Americans. Unfortunately, some prefer compulsion for the sake of power and advancing political agendas, even when the science isn’t on their side.
A recent example of this comes from Big Tech, which removed YouTube videos by a licensed therapist and respected clinical psychologist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Jr. in response to activists’ claims that Nicolosi engages in harmful counseling. Those same activists, and YouTube, failed to mention or discuss that Nicolosi’s methods were affirmed by a peer-reviewed scientific study.
Nicolosi, no religious fundamentalist or medical quack, rejects controversial same-sex attraction conversion therapy that most medical experts agree is ineffective and harmful to patients. Yet, a byproduct of Nicolosi’s own methods, which are used to heal trauma and other psychological issues, can lead to changes in sexual orientation, according to the five-year study. The problem, at least politically, is that some of his patients experienced increased opposite-sex attraction.
Nicolosi, despite his medical credentials and criticism of the tactics used in conversion therapy, is shut out from appealing the removal of his account and its content.
“Political agendas and propaganda don’t determine scientific truth,” declared Dr. Nicolosi in a January press release.“This suspension is part of a campaign to cancel anyone who doesn’t follow the woke movement’s anti-science agenda.” He noted that “Big Tech obeyed their marching orders to suppress my patients’ results.”
When it comes to cancel culture and big tech, nothing is more high profile right now than medical doctors or other health professionals being de-platformed over dissenting views on COVID-19, even after later being proven correct by scientific evidence and studies. “Official truth is not actual truth,” reminds Lord Acton, a 19th century English writer, and philosopher.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, was suspended and had his own content removed from YouTube in 2021. His thought crime? Paul merely questioned the effectiveness of certain masks, views which were recently affirmed by the CDC. Individuals and even elected officials are routinely suspended or banned from social media platforms despite little to no consequences for Islamic terrorists, Marxist revolutionaries, and other purveyors of violence.
The point is that one can legitimately disagree with the aims of medical professionals or elected officials. Silencing them over a mere political or cultural disagreement is harmful to society. Adults should have more rights to seek treatments that align with their worldview and treatment goals, something that COVID-19 – for all the chaos and death it has caused – brings to the forefront of medical discussions today.
Nicolosi and others politically bludgeoned by woke corporatism are asking not for fame or fortune, but for the benefit of merely providing information to patients. After all, Nicolosi didn’t force anyone to find him online, watch his videos, and give him a call.
Conscience-oriented legislation seeks to remedy violations of religious freedom while expanding freedom to choose in medicine. On the other hand, the mainstream media and big tech are doubling down on silencing discussion and debate on important topics not just relating to politics –but the human condition itself.
While many on the right disagree about how best to handle the censorship tactics infecting big tech, one thing is certain: we should all desire for American companies to support American values while uplifting the rights of conscience.
After coming across some Baptist ministers imprisoned in Virginia for merely publishing their religious views, James Madison, whose background was Anglican, wrote his good friend William Bradford, offering this lament: “So I leave you to pity me and pray for liberty and conscience to revive among us.” That’s good advice from the father of the Constitution and fourth president, and it’s an essential starting point for reclaiming our vanishing culture of free expression and religious liberty.
Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.