I RECENTLY pretended to have misunderstood that one of the benefits of Brexit was being able to reclaim the American colonies. It will not come to pass. The Americans dumped us and we’re not getting back together any time soon.
Recently a distant heir to that jilted regime, the Prince-formerly-known-as-HRH, launched a potato-gun salvo against the Americans’ cherished right to Free Speech, declaring it ‘bonkers’. It seemed odd at the time. Why would he care?
On achieving their secession from us, our cousins 3,000-miles-removed wrote an explicit Constitution binding the hands of their government. Of all the Bill of Rights Amendments to that document they placed the right to Free Speech at the top, signifying its importance in securing freedom for the people. It is there to prevent ‘state actors’ from infringing on that right.
It does not bind the hands of private commercial companies, a fact which has so far allowed the tech giants such as Twitter to get away with censorship of various conservative and Covid-sceptical commentary.
Recently a conservative candidate for political office in America, Dr Shiva Ayyadurai, began to suspect that he had lost a recent election due to dirty tricks.In pursuing the matter through the courts he chanced upon what appears to be a clever ploy by his government to circumvent the First Amendment and censor him by using Twitter as its proxy. Apparently a hotline of communications has been set up between the state and Twitter called the Partner Support Portal. When the government perceives that a popular social-media persona is a threat to them it can alert Twitter who will rapidly deploy silencing technology on their behalf.
Dr Ayyadurai believes that the censorship portal might have originated in the UK and been exported to other countries, including his own.
A recent Freedom of Information request filed in the UK seeks to gather information on any Trusted Twitter Partnership relationship between Twitter and the UK government and who has access to the Partner Support Portal through which the government could similarly suppress inconvenient speech in Britain. No progress yet.
And what about Harry’s philosophical musings on the value of free expression? Until now I thought that the Prince had been ostracised from the fold and was forging his own path. But was his decision to criticise Americans’ right to Free Speech entirely his own, or did someone whisper in his ear? Is he still on Team GB but pretending to be rogue? Are we interfering with Free Speech in our former colony like some long-lost lover turned stalker?
Or maybe Harry was doing the Americans a favour by getting their blood up as only a representative of their former owners could do. People who play the media like a fiddle generate controversy in order to get eyes on to a subject. D J Trump may have done this once or twice.
Oh, what a tangled web.
Dr Ayyadurai has a robust Constitution and First Amendment tradition to call on in order to discipline his government and its proxies. He will attempt to use the courts to dismantle this threat to speech and thereby freedom. I’ll be watching this to see if conspiracy theory turns into conspiracy fact, as sometimes happens.
How shall British voices protect against occult censorship?