Cookie Schwaeber-Issan
Cookie Schwaeber-Issan

Do We Have the Right to Misinformation

Another way to pose the question is, “Do we have the right to gather our own information and independently arrive at our own conclusions?

It was a conversation that I had a few days ago with a friend who reminded me that once people thought the earth was flat and whether or not they should have the choice to believe that?  My response to her was, “Ignorance will always be with us, but to not decide for yourself is to not have freedom.  You can’t use the argument of ‘the ignorance of some’ to remove ‘the freedom of all.’”

Yet this is what has become today’s debate.  Will being exposed to all kinds of ideas, thoughts and information be taken away from us?  Will someone else decide, for us, what is true or false, thereby relegating our intellect and reason to relics of the past?

Oddly enough, up until about two years or three years ago, the Internet had been a wide forum which contained an endless variety of opinions, research information, and a myriad of viewpoints, all offering a well-rounded resource of print material, video and audio for all to peruse.

So it’s fair to say that since the inception of the Internet, the global public had been given the freedom, discretion and assumption of intelligence needed in order to decide what bits of information they felt were reliable and trustworthy.  That trust panned out as people proved that they were quite capable of figuring out what was merely speculation, theory or just total deception.

Then, suddenly, everything changed!

It could have been because someone began to perceive the free exchange of diverse information as a threat to their plans, or it could be that we were all just lulled into believing that the guardians of the Internet would always respect our freedom as equal human beings.  Either way, the concept of “misinformation” was born.

What is misinformation in actual terms?  It could be wrong information, facts which are skewed or manipulated in order to arrive at a certain outcome…or, these days, it could simply be a difference of opinion which will challenge a particular agenda, desired end result or block a narrative that aspires to dominate the local or even world stage.

This clever but misguided concept called “misinformation” has invaded just about every single topic of discussion and thought – from politics to religion to science to medicine to finances and on and on.

It manifests itself like this.  In the quest to make sure that only one set of facts is disseminated, a host of other competing information will be shut down, suppressed, buried or rejected.  It is being executed by social media, online reporting and every other method which is utilized to provide news and information.  One can only assume that the purpose is to disqualify and discourage debate, contemplation or serious in-depth research in order to fetter out a truth which, to some, is inconvenient.

What is clear, though, is that humanity has arrived at a point in time when others have decided that we can no longer be entrusted to do our own thinking and make our own choices.  Those must now be done for us in order to save us from, heaven forbid, falling for the wrong narrative.

But who is being tasked with thinking for the masses? What seems to be a collaborative effort among individuals, who have, together, joined forces for the goal of mutual outcomes and purposes, is our best guess. And what do they share in common – massive wealth, immense power and influence as well as unfettered access to global markets and commodities.   Of course, let’s not forget that they also possess an innate belief of superiority and privilege well beyond others.

In short, these are the “players” who have determined the course of our lives, and, in their quest to do our thinking, it is their hope not to be met with any resistance by those who are seen as their game pieces.

Consequently, these days the best way to halt a different narrative which opposes the desired agenda, is to immediately label it as misinformation.  Doing so will guarantee the demise of any alternative account and ensure it never reaches the eyes or thoughts of the public.

Sadly, we are being robbed of the freedom to examine and debate the claims of prominent scientists, doctors, researchers and many others, whose expertise and findings, may well be worth our consideration but whose opinions, if they fail to align with the favored agenda, will be blocked.

So it may be worth asking why we ever naively believed that the Internet and other media outlets were an extension of free and democratic governments which are supposed to trust their citizens and believe in their ability to rightly discern fact from fiction.

And why should non-credentialed individuals deign to know better about subjects which demand years of scholarly investment in order to discover outcomes, effects and results?

Yet that is our present dilemma.  Should we not, therefore, be unrelenting in our insistence that true freedom must include diverse information being made readily available to us all?

It’s fair to say that most of us consider ourselves to be savvy purveyors of truth, even amidst a sea of fraud, swindling, trickery, scams and hoaxes which also make their way into the marketplace of ideas.  It goes without saying that the vast majority of us would like to continue to have the deference of exercising the keen minds which we have developed over the course of a lifetime, along with the discernment, common sense and good judgment that we are able to display when given the opportunity to do so.

It is not the job of elites to remove those rights from us since they never endowed us with them to begin with.  At this point, we can only hope that what we have always referred to as “the free press” remains that way.  However, in its absence, we will have no alternative but to support the emergence of newly-formed platforms which promise to be 100% committed to giving the public its due respect of being able to access all information in order to think for themselves and make the choices which are best for them, their families and their daily lives.

After all, when it comes to information, there should be no monopoly of ideas for all people.  We weren’t created to be robots nor do we think, act or respond as a monolith.  It is, therefore, up to us to reject the trendy concept of “misinformation,” because all information is valuable and useful, even if some of it is rejected as illegitimate in the end.  In fact, it is that very rejection which will likely be responsible for helping us dig deep enough to finally get to the truth in the end.  That, after all, is the real hallmark of a free society!

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.
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