Are We Still Allowed To Ask Questions?

(Originally published January 18, 2021.)

Aside from a breathless stream of headlines and a few random inputs, I haven’t seen many facts regarding the events of January 6th. Circumstances made things that way for me, and now I’m glad they did, because it set me up for the really important issue: Am I allowed to ask questions about this, or am I not?

Bear in mind that I haven’t voted for or otherwise championed Mr. Trump. (Nor did I support his opponents.) More than that, I really want to know the answers to these questions. Especially given the fallout from January 6th, honest answers to these questions matter a great deal.

So, I’m going to stick my neck out and ask questions about this event that seem pertinent.

Question #1: What was the actual time line?

As I was driving on the 6th, I flipped on the radio and heard Mr. Trump speaking. I was aware that there was going to be a rally in the capitol, and so I listened for a minute or so, just enough to get the tone of it; a rally on the same day electoral votes were counted concerned me.

What I actually heard from Mr. Trump, however, was less than his strongest, and included something like, “I know you’re going to go down there…” combined with “patriotically and peacefully.” Hearing him mention “peacefully” comforted me. (Plus the fact that American conservatives take pride in being peaceful and courteous.)

And so I was rather shocked, not many minutes later, when a friend called and said something about the capitol. I responded along the lines of, “it sounds harmless enough”… whereupon I learned that protesters were already inside the building.

Since then I’ve seen claims that Mr. Trump was a mile away, in the middle of his speech, when the capitol building was being broken into.

So, between my own observations and the claims, I’d like to know what really happened when.

Again, I honestly don’t know. What troubles me is that I haven’t seen the claim refuted, only ignored.

Question #2: Were agents provocateur involved?

One of the random things I came across was a report from Michael Yon, perhaps the most experienced war reporter in the world, claiming BLM and Antifa agents provocateur led the break-in. This is a guy who should be able to tell.

I’ve further seen reports that someone named Sullivan was a known BLM leader, and was at the vanguard of people entering the building.

So, I don’t actually know that BLM and Antifa were involved with this, but I’d very much like to know. And once again, I haven’t seen this question addressed. Perhaps I’ve missed something conclusive on this, but the question deserves to be addressed with facts.

Question #3: Is thinking an election was rigged considered insane?

This is the impression I get from about half of my headline stream: That anyone believing the recent election was rigged is flat-out insane. But for me, that’s a real problem, because I’ve experienced election rigging, personally. On top of that, I’ve known a lot of inside players in my home state, giving me many more reasons to believe in election rigging.

That’s not proof that the November election was rigged, of course, but it’s clearly a reason for me to take seriously the possibility. And if I’m not allowed to ask, I have to wonder why.

As best I can tell, none of the loud voices (news networks, etc.) have analyzed what has been claimed as evidence. Again, I may have missed something, but I simply haven’t seen it. So far as I know, the courts have never examined it (they got rid of the cases on procedural grounds in every case I recall), nor did congress: the “insurrection” interrupted that, after which it was ignored. That sounds very convenient to me, but again, I could have missed a lot.

So again I’d like to know: Is such a question permissible, or will I be punished for asking it?

Question #4: Aside from trespassing and a few broken windows, what harm was done?

So far as I know, the answer is “not much,” though I may have missed something. A lady named Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed, but she was killed by the police, not the protesters. And details about other reported deaths are spotty. So, I think my question is valid.

Several hundred politicians were inconvenienced, of course, but that’s hardly a major issue.

A congressional baseball team being murderously shot up not too long ago was a big deal, but that came and went with almost none of the fanfare and fallout we’ve seen since January 6th.

So again I ask, precisely what harm was done? And I ask especially because I’ve seen words like “sacred” applied to this, and to me that reeks of idolatry and dogma, the opposites of reason and proportion.

Question #5: Where are the civil libertarians?

I’ll admit that this one rather ticks me off. Tens of thousands of people have been ejected from the public square, not because they caused actual harm, but because someone thinks they’re part of an “insurrection.” Bear in mind that almost none of these people were anywhere near Washington, DC on the 6th. All they did was to fall within some algorithm produced by a surveillance capitalism company. (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

I’ve further heard that people have lost jobs and financing in precisely the same manner: They had nothing to do with the event, but were somehow associated with it. Either that’s a witch hunt or there’s massive and direct evidence against all those people, and it sure doesn’t seem like that’s the case. Since when do we impose penalties for insurrection without a serious finding of fact?

And Ron Paul, for goodness sake? He’s a congenitally polite doctor, now old and retired. Disagree with him all you like, but to eject him from the public square is naked thuggery.

So again, I ask: Where are all the civil libertarians? They’re absent without leave, as best I can tell. Either that or it was always a charade, and their high-sounding rhetoric was just sucker-bait for the rubes.

If These Things Can’t Be Asked…

Here’s where the rubber meets the road: If we cannot ask these questions, confident that we’ll be met with reason and proportion, we’re living in a tyranny.

What appears to be happening is an illogical statement being writ very large. This is the statement:

Some people broke into the capitol and a few windows were broken, therefore our lives are in danger and we must stomp out all evildoers.

Any connection between the first part of that sentence and the second is uncertain and unproven. And yet, the responses to January 6th treat it as completely verified.

And so, if these questions are not permissible, we are living in tyranny, and particularly under the tyranny of those who punish the asking.

So many times we see the true importance of things only once we lose them, and this moment has been revelatory in just that way: We can now see why free speech must be held sacrosanct.

Free speech is inherently opositional to tyranny. It’s the canary in our coal mine. When we see free speech abandoned and punished, we can be certain that tyranny is upon us.


Paul Rosenberg