An AFLDS Issue Brief for Citizens, Policymakers and Physicians
STATEMENT OF POSITION Countering pervasive cancel culture is a national priority. From music to books to movies and now medicine, cancel culture is eroding constitutional free speech and destroying lives. Cancel culture imposes political and social consequences for attempting to speak truth to power. Among these consequences are professional sanction and social media bans, quasi-public platforms that can effectively silence individuals without due process. Americans across the political spectrum are fed up with the self-censorship and speech restrictions inherent to cancel culture.The coronavirus pandemic has introduced the insidious sub-category of medical cancel culture into our political lexicon. For more than a year, doctors and healthcare professionals nationwide have faced censorship, termination, and intimidation from state medical and pharmacy boards, scientific journals, and providers like hospitals merely for relaying their patient experiences. Describing one’s job should not result in losing an occupation and source of income.The purpose of this Issue Brief is to describe instances of medical cancel culture and explore what can be done to counter it. This is nothing less than a national emergency. At stake is the health and safety of every American, as well as their access to independent information free from official suppression or censor.THE WAY WE LIVE NOWThe coronavirus pandemic has tested public health experts like no other event since the Spanish flu outbreak of more than a century ago. Unfortunately, it seems, truth was again the first casualty in the war on an infectious pathogen in 2020-21. How did we get here? Through a combination of establishment institutions and figures silencing dissent and the mainstream media playing the role of willing enforcer. Below are only a small selection of medical cancel culture examples in the last year:
- Pierre Kory – Dr. Kory, who testified in front of the US Senate Homeland Security Committee in December 2020, noted the positive findings of a clinical study in Argentina which tested the effectiveness of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. YouTube’s parent company Google responded by removing his testimony from its video-sharing platform, even though more than a dozen separate studies suggest that the antiparasitic drug, a widely available, cost-effective alternative for patients with mild to moderate disease, works when individuals are treated early after symptoms emerge.
- Michael deBoisblanc – Dr. deBoisblanc was terminated from his position as a trauma medical director at John Muir Health in December 2020 after he and two other Bay Area doctors spoke out against California state government’s scientifically illiterate and economically devastating COVID-19 lockdown strategy. The doctors sent a letter to Contra Costa County health officials and legislators on December 10 asking them to justify a stay-at-home order set to expire the next month. Among other restrictions, the order banned outdoor dining and kept schoolchildren away from in-person instruction despite lack of CDC evidence for either prohibition.
- Steven LaTulippe – Dr. LaTulippe had his medical license revoked by the Oregon Medical Board in December 2020 after he did not wear a mask at his clinic and “engaged in unprofessional conduct or dishonorable conduct,” according to the emergency suspension. LaTulippe told patients who believe they had COVID-19 or were showing symptoms of the virus to wear a facial covering, and saw these patients at the end of the day at his practice, according to published reports.
- Scott Jensen – In April 2020, Dr. Jensen questioned CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines related to death certificates for suspected COVID-19 patients. He soon found his medical license challenged by the state’s Board of Medical Practice and was threatened with cancellation in the mainstream media, simply for defending longstanding practices and medical ethics.
- Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi – After questioning California’s punitive lockdown order in April, Bakersfield doctors Erickson and Massihi were subjected to endless media attacks and had their remarks censored by YouTube. The tech giant removed two of the urgent care physicians’ videos for violating its “community guidelines,” effectively preventing its more than 1 billion users from hearing a dissenting opinion from so-called public health “experts.”
CONCLUSION Restricting free speech for political ends is the glidepath to tyranny. Today, public and private interests alike attempt to “cancel” dissenting voices they find inconvenient or uncooperative. Lives and livelihoods are being lost. Americans should not have to live in fear that they might find themselves on the wrong side of a fashionable issue, or suffer professional sanction for disagreeing with conventional wisdom.The answer for speech with which we disagree is not to eliminate it but to allow more voices into an open system of freely exchanged ideas. Trust everyday Americans to weigh the facts and decide for themselves. The stakes in this fight could not be greater. Medical cancel culture is a fast-spreading virus that threatens to infect all independent scientific information unless we push back.