Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who tried to alert about coronavirus in 2019 and was mouthed by the government before undergoing the disease himself, has become a symbol of the way in which control speech can endanger the public. America’s civil liberties ensure that could not happen here. But YouTube’s recent efforts to politicize censorship by a reputable doctor remind us that such impulses are not unique to China.
On Friday, Google’s YouTube platform Stanford University’s Hoover Institution announced that it had removed a 50-minute video interview with Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and Hoover Fellow, published in June. Dr. Atlas has publicly argued – including in an interview on our pages – that the social damage from severe coronavirus lockdowns is serious.
YouTube tells us in a statement that it removed the Atlas interview for “erroneously saying that a certain age group cannot transmit the virus.” The company apparently refers to Dr. Atlas’ remark, in the midst of a discussion about reopening the school, that children “do not even transmit the disease.”
It seems to have been an exaggeration for weight. Dr. Atlas corrected itself in its next response, saying that the transmission of children is “not impossible, but it is less likely.” A number of studies show just that. A August review from the American Academy of Pediatrics cites data suggesting that “children are not significant drivers of the COVID-19 pandemic.” While children can transmit the virus, they do not seem to make it as easy as adults according to current evidence.