by DAVID DAINTREE – THE words “disinformation” and “misinformation” have been around for many years.
But recently, they have risen to prominence as the Australian Parliament debates a bill that would ban false or misleading information in the media.
The two terms are not interchangeable.
The proposed law defines misinformation as “online content that is false, misleading or deceptive”.
Such information may not actually be intended to deceive but could be deemed to have harmful consequences.
Disinformation, however, is the more serious of the two – it is misinformation deliberately intended to deceive.
It simply beggars belief that the loudest demands for the suppression of so-called disinformation and misinformation are coming from the biggest offenders against truth and integrity.
I’m talking about the people who ran with the official COVID line from day one.
They silenced those who questioned the pandemic narrative and called for the sacking of any who either refused the accepted forms of treatment or spoke in favour of the alternatives.
It was a spectacularly nasty couple of years, deeply shocking to those of us who had previously had some confidence in our journalists and politicians.
From the beginning of 2020, there was no shortage internationally of responsible medical practitioners and researchers who questioned some of the measures adopted by governments to combat COVID.
In particular, they targeted the excessive application of a mask mandate, and questioned not only the effectiveness but also the safety of vaccines that had been developed hastily and made available (or even compulsorily imposed) without proper testing.
The rigour with which these people were attacked was quite extraordinary.
Not only were their opinions repudiated but they were suppressed by some of the tools of social media.
Facebook, in particular, which had started life as an apparently benign influence for harmless social relationships was effectively transformed into an instrument of oppression.
Opinions that ran counter to “received wisdom” were abruptly taken down.
Wikipedia likewise practised a kind of informational cleansing, adulterating any entries that appeared to contradict the accepted narrative.
Even biographies were tinkered with if their subject had been too forthright in expressing negative opinions about the anti-COVID measures.
It now seems clear, at last, that the large pharmaceutical companies played fast and loose with the truth, connived at silencing opposition, suppressed research that questioned the effectiveness of vaccines, and “persuaded” (to put it most tactfully) government bodies from the WHO downwards to buy the drugs and enforce some of the toughest regulations and restrictions on human liberty ever experienced in peacetime.
And all for what?
COVID took lives, of course, but no more in those countries that refused to impose lockdowns than in those that did.
It was a nasty illness, but the miseries inflicted by isolating or deferring the treatment of those who were sick and dying from other causes, and by driving so many small businesses into bankruptcy, were in the final analysis even greater.
In many ways, the performance of legacy media was even more heinous than all the others combined.
One expects big corporations to want to maximise their returns without too much moral compunction. One expects that some politicians, at least, can yield to financial temptation or lust for power. One accepts that social media sites will slavishly follow trends.
But the print and broadcast media, particularly if funded by the people (as is the case with “our” ABC) have a moral duty to report facts without interpretation.
There is a place for commentary and opinion in the media, of course – but not at the news desk.
It is still not possible for the ordinary person without scientific training, dependent solely on such sources as Google and Wikipedia, to evaluate the claims made for such drugs as ivermectin.
There is wider agreement now that it is a good and safe drug and did not merit the pasting it received from many governments, some of which banned it absolutely. But there is no certainty of its success in treating COVID.
Such is our mistrust now of online sources on this matter that it is best for laymen to put it to one side.
But scientists or not, we can still think straight.
Insisting on wearing masks outdoors while walking; restricting travel between States or even suburbs; imposing completely arbitrary minimum distance rules; enforcing compulsory vaccination, even in the face of increasing evidence that the vaccines were ineffective or even dangerous (particularly for older people): all these things were absurd beyond imagining.
Did it really happen? Was it just a bad dream? How could we have so far departed from our traditional Australian larrikinism as to submit quietly to such nonsense, and even to thank our governments for “looking after us”?
In October 2021, someone posted a video on YouTube of an anti-lockdown demonstration in front of Parliament House in Melbourne, at which a sole violinist played the national anthem. You can still see it online. [see below.]
It is impossible to know the exact number of those present but on any estimate, there must be tens and possibly tens of thousands of peaceful protesters – the camera clearly shows the crowd extending far down Bourke and Spring Streets.
It does great credit to YouTube that this was posted at all and that it is still available, but it’s surprising that in nearly two years it’s had only 2900 views.
There are subtle ways of keeping these things hidden. Has it been relegated to the shadows?
The media fully understand that: they reported it as disorderly and small – just “a few hundred people”.
Do you want to understand mis- and disinformation? Go to the legacy media – they’re the experts.
After those COVID days, we know what they can do. Vote this legislation down!PC