A proposed California law — AB 2098 — gives the state power to take away doctors’ medical licenses if they spread “misinformation” that goes against the standard COVID-19 rhetoric
It’s akin to putting shackles on their wrists, forcing doctors to conform to a narrative intent on pushing dangerous gene therapies and ineffective medications
Making the law even more unsettling is its vagueness; what constitutes “misinformation” or “disinformation” worthy of taking away a person’s medical license is anyone’s guess
AB 2098 is packed with misinformation that continues to be parroted as facts, ignoring the scientific truths about COVID-19
The bill, if it passes, will stop doctors from practicing medicine the way they deem best for the individual patient; it will also stop dissent — even when dissent is necessary and beneficial, and coming from people with expertise
A proposed California law — AB 2098 — gives the state power to take away doctors’ medical licenses if they spread “misinformation” that goes against the standard COVID-19 rhetoric.
Specifically, those who “disseminate or promote misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines” could be “disciplined,” which includes loss of their medical license.1
It’s akin to putting shackles on their wrists, forcing them to conform to a narrative intent on pushing dangerous gene therapies and ineffective medications. It’s also a potential warning of darker things to come.
‘Misinformation’ Could Be Anything
Making the law even more unsettling is its vagueness. What constitutes “misinformation” or “disinformation” worthy of taking away a person’s medical license? It’s anyone’s guess, really. According Jay Bhattacharya, a professor specializing in epidemiology and health policy at Stanford Medical School, who has been the target of a smear campaign due to his beliefs about COVID-19:22
“The language of the bill itself is intentionally vague about what constitutes ‘misinformation,’ which makes it even more damaging. Doctors, fearing loss of their livelihoods, will need to hew closely to the government line on Covid science and policy, even if that line does not track the scientific evidence.
After all, until recently, top government science bureaucrats like Dr. Fauci claimed that the idea that Covid came from a Wuhan laboratory was a conspiracy theory, rather than a valid hypothesis that should be open to discussion. The government’s track record on discerning Covid truths is poor.”
Similarly, you don’t have to be violent to be declared a terrorist. You may simply have what the government deems to be “extremist views” or could be accused of spreading disinformation — although there’s no clear definition of what “disinformation” is. The definition of what constitutes a “domestic terrorist” is incredibly vague and based on ideologies, much like what constitutes COVID “misinformation.”
This creates a dangerous slippery slope, one that’s connected to the attempts to have increased surveillance and tracking of Americans’ data after 9/11,3 and the accelerated censorship and control that’s occurred due to COVID-19. Independent journalist Whitney Webb explained:4
“There is talk in the domestic terror strategy that people who spread disinformation can also be classified as extremists and a threat to national security, and of course, we’ve seen over the past several years, how this disinformation label can be applied to independent media as a way to promote censorship of voices that are critical of U.S. empire, among other things, or that just don’t fit a particular government narrative.”
Bill 2098 Is Full of Misinformation
What happens when government interferes with doctors’ ability to practice medicine? The people’s health suffers. In the case of Bill 2098, it’s packed with misinformation that continues to be parroted as facts, ignoring the scientific truths about COVID-19. Bhattacharya detailed several examples:5
It ignores natural immunity. Prior infection with COVID-19 results in natural immunity — immunity that’s superior to that achieved via a COVID-19 shot.6 Throughout the pandemic, government officials refused to acknowledge this when it came to vaccine mandates.
“High quality studies have shown that this ‘natural immunity’ provides equivalent or even greater protection than immunity generated by Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines. If this bill passes, would a California physician be in trouble for taking into account a patient’s Covid history when making vaccination recommendations?”7
It states that the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 shots have been confirmed by the FDA. Another misleading statement, the shots carry serious risks and failure to prevent transmission and infection have been demonstrated. “Vaccine safety also depends on any given patient’s clinical circumstances,” Bhattacharya explained. “For example, there is an elevated risk of myocarditis in young men taking the vaccine, especially with the booster.”8
The bill, if it passes, will stop doctors from practicing medicine the way they deem best for the individual patient. It will also stop dissent — even when dissent is necessary and beneficial, and coming from people with expertise. And that’s precisely the point. Bhattacharya continued:9
“[E]ven physicians who practice medicine responsibly or give public presentations grounded in solid scientific research on the evolving Covid science may face unjust license suspensions. The ultimate effect of the bill will be to chill public criticism by California doctors of mistaken government public health diktats since few will want to put their licenses in the hands of the very public health officials with whom they disagree over the interpretation of science.
Even legitimate dissent from public health orthodoxy by licensed doctors may be excised from the public square as a consequence. Worse, the widespread distrust Americans now have in public health institutions will only deteriorate further … the California Assembly bill turns doctors into agents of state public health rather than advocates for their patients.”
Another California Law That Furthers Censorship
California’s social medial transparency bill — AB 587 — was signed into law in September 2022, marking a first in the U.S. The bill requires social media companies to publicly disclose their policies regarding content moderation of topics like “hate speech, disinformation and extremism,”10 — again, those words with vague definitions.
It’s likely that other states will soon follow suit. According to an analysis by Computer & Communications Industry that was shared with The Washington Post, there are more than 100 bills in the U.S. targeting the regulation of content moderation policies on social media.11
AB 587 will require social media giants to submit reports to the state’s attorney general beginning in 2024. The reports must include details about how they monitor and flag content, and how much of it is removed or “deprioritized” as a result. Those that don’t submit the reports may be fined.12
While it may sound like such a bill could force more transparency into the way social media shapes content, Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, warned of “censorial consequences” from AB 587:13
“Among other problems, by prioritizing certain content categories, the bill tells social media platforms that they must make special publication decisions in those categories to please the regulators and enforcers who are watching them.
The resulting distortions to the platforms’ editorial decision-making constitutes censorship. Any enforcement actions also will be impermissibly intrusive into the editorial practices of social media platforms, putting regulators in the middle of the editorial process and enabling them to second-guess the platforms’ editorial decisions.”
Goldman also explained that the bill won’t be useful for consumers because the statistical disclosures it dictates will not be comparable across social media sites or even within a single platform over time. The only silver lining to its censorial overreach is that Goldman predicts its time is limited:14
“The bill is likely to be struck down as unconstitutional at substantial taxpayer expense. The censorial consequences should trigger the highest level of constitutional scrutiny, but the undue burdens and lack of consumer benefit ensures it won’t survive even lower levels of scrutiny. As my blog post mentions, there are several other bases for constitutional challenges.”
A Pattern of Totalitarian Control
What do state censorship of the Internet and the practice of medicine have in common? They’re signs of increasing measures of totalitarian control. In the past, totalitarian regimes used drastic and obvious shows of control, putting people into concentration camps. Today’s ruling establishment is far more subtle in its tactics, but possibly even more dangerous.15
People may not end up in prison-like camps as in the past, but then again, they might. Remember when the Chinese government locked people in their homes in Shanghai in the name of stopping COVID-19 spread? Think it will never happen here?
“In America, many of our officials still have not abandoned their delusions about COVID and the exercise of power this crisis has allowed,” Bhattacharya said. “As the Shanghai debacle demonstrates, of all the many terrible consequences of our public health response to COVID, the stifling of dissenting scientific viewpoints by the state might be the most dangerous.”16
The end-game is a restrictive society based around technologies like vaccine passports and the upcoming central bank digital currency (CBDC), which could easily lead to tight control over your finances, limiting your ability to purchase food or pay rent if your access to your funds is turned off.
California’s state government doesn’t have the power of Chinese Communists, but it’s moving in that direction. History has shown us that allowing the government to regulate science is mistake multiple times over:17
“In the former Soviet Union, Stalin’s favorite geneticist, Trofim Lysenko, dominated biology and the agricultural sciences. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of his own theory that plants could inherit acquired characteristics.
Stalin empowered him to destroy the careers and lives of geneticists who opposed him, causing many to suffer secret arrests and even death. When his theories failed, the consequence was mass starvation in Russia. The Chinese Communists also adopted his beliefs—at the cost of the starvation of 30 million.”
“Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.”
Tirade Continues Even After ‘Misinformation’ Proven Right
Like California’s bill 2098, markedly absent from the statement is a definition of what constitutes “misinformation,” leaving the word wide open for interpretation. It’s not only physicians that are being hunted down but also academics, like Bhattacharya.
Bhattacharya, along with Sunetra Gupta, Ph.D., a professor at Oxford University, and Martin Kulldorff, Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Harvard University, wrote the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020 to call attention to the devastating short- and long-term health effects being caused by pandemic lockdown policies and calling for a return to normalcy for those at low-risk.20
He and colleagues were attacked as a result, their reputations smeared; their ideas dubbed “misinformation” and censored. They even received death threats. Ultimately, the ideas they first posed at the start of the pandemic turned out to be sound and rationale. Yet, the attacks meant to silence dissent continue unabated. No lessons have been learned. As Bhattacharya said:21
“Despite the false, defamatory and sometimes frightening attacks, we stood firm. And today many of our positions have been amply vindicated. Yet the soul searching this episode should have caused among public health officials has largely failed to occur. Instead, the lesson seems to be: Dissent at your own risk.
… What is abundantly clear is that this bill [AB 2098] represents a chilling interference with the practice of medicine. The bill itself is full of misinformation and a demonstration of what a disaster it would be to have the legislature dictate the practice of medicine.”
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