Lamenting the Trump administration’s failure to renew Mike O’Reilly for another term at the Federal Communications Commission, the Wall Street Journal‘s editors rightly decry American conservatives joining with Progressives in disregarding the First Amendment . A slice:
But our reporting suggests that Mr. O’Rielly was scuttled for remarks about regulating speech. In vogue on the right and left is rewriting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which empowers social-media companies to scrub objectionable content and shields them from liability for what users say on their platforms.
Our “policy” before COVID-19 was largely to let individuals, organizations, and businesses decide for themselves the appropriate way to deal with the flu and other contagious diseases. The measures taken by a healthy 20-year-old living by himself and working from home obviously differed from the measures taken by a elementary school principal with a large and growing number of cases among students and faculty. Individuals chose where to eat, who to eat with, and how late to stay out.
None of this seemed preposterous then, but advocating for a similar approach today in response to this virus is met with accusations of “denying science” and “killing grandmas.” If you don’t believe us, just type “why don’t we let people decide how to respond for themselves” on any social media platform where coronavirus is a topic.
Granted, COVID-19 is not the flu. Based on our present state of knowledge, it does appear to be more infectious and dangerous than the typical influenza, and those parameters have more severe impacts on different demographic groups, namely the elderly and individuals with preexisting health concerns. However, the statistics on communicability and lethality differ in degree, meaning our responses should differ in degree.