Tales from The Asylum. Text is on the wall of a cave, steps lead up to a door, partly opened, rays of light coming in. Black and White

The Threat

Don’t just depend on the courage and intrepidity of others. Each and every one of you must make sacrifices to become a hero possessed of courage and intrepidity. Then only shall we all be able to enjoy true freedom.

— Bogyoke Aung San

I

Tom Dawkins sat at a small table at his favorite sandwich shop in North Park, one of the older neighborhoods in San Diego. He scrolled through his emails occasionally clicking a link to a Substack article or an alternative media source. He had stopped reading the mainstream media a few months after the vaccines rolled out in 2021, at the same time he started his YouTube channel, Tea with Tom, which was banned five months later when his traffic had ballooned to over a million subscribers and counting.

It didn’t do much, Tom had prepared from the very beginning by dual posting everything on Rumble. He had warned all his users and they knew exactly what to do. Now at the beginning of 2024 he had over two million subscribers and had recently started selling t-shirts.

“Mind if I sit down?” a man said as he pulled out a white plastic chair and sat down at Tom’s table. “How are you doing?” he asked, extending his hand. Tom did not shake it.

“I didn’t say you could sit down,” Tom said.

“I understand, but this is your lucky day. It’s Tom right? Tom Dawkins?”

Tom’s phone dinged, he looked at it. “Excuse me, I need to take this.” The text message on his screen said, “sorry i’m a little late just parked will be there in a few minutes.”

Tom immediately texted back:  “dont sit with me find a seat where you can view my table and start filming.”

A thumbs up emoji appeared on Tom’s screen.

“Sorry about that,” Tom said out of habit and immediately regretted it. This man did not deserve an apology, he thought.

“No problem,” the man said graciously. “No problem at all.”

“Who are you?” Tom asked.

“I represent a corporation that is interested in your Rumble channel. I understand that YouTube banned you, nonetheless you must feel pretty good about what you’ve achieved in the last couple of years.”

“What corporation?” Tom did not like that someone he didn’t know, but knew his name, had sat down uninvited.

“The name is not important and they prefer to remain anonymous,” he said calmly, but somewhat coldly, almost detached from the words he spoke. “Seriously, though, this is your lucky day.”

“And why would that be?”

Tom’s friend, Julia, walked in and found a table. He thought she must have run the whole way from her car to get here this fast. She pulled out her phone and looked as if she was scrolling through text messages as she filmed Tom and the man at his table. Julia had her own YouTube channel that had not been banned likely because she did not have that many followers. She often commented on Tom’s videos, enough that Tom noticed her, checked out her channel, The SoCal Gal, and eventually asked if she’d like to help him out. Fearless Julia is what Tom called her. Usually just Fearless. Julia was petite, just over five feet tall but on her channel would wade into riots while live streaming to her few thousand dedicated subscribers.

“I’ve got skin in this game,” she told Tom when they first met. “My older brother died after his second booster. Died in his sleep. I hate these people.”

The stranger said to Tom, “My client is in the business of supporting and purchasing conservative news outlets, alternative media, really anything conservative that is currently in the fight against The Great Reset, the vaccines, the border crisis, you know, all those things that you spend your time vlogging about. That’s why he’s interested in your channel.”

“Interested in what?”

“I…don’t suppose…you’re making a lot of money at this point.” The slender man wore slacks, a white dress shirt, a black coat and a blue tie. He sounded friendly, but not quite. Every sentence had the vaguest hint of a threat. “People like to think that millions of followers translate into millions of dollars, but we know better, don’t we?”

Tom did not answer. He wasn’t sure what to do, how to respond. He stared across the table and didn’t say anything. He didn’t look nervous or scared, he looked like someone assessing the situation, which is exactly what he was doing.

The man continued. “I assume you’re thinking about ways to monetize what you’re doing so you can quit your job. T-shirts was a good idea. I bet programming all day and then coming home to create your vlogs can get old.”

“What do you want?” Tom asked.

“I don’t want anything. My client wants to buy your channel. You’d still get to vlog, but you’d have an investor behind you along with a marketing team. It’s a great opportunity. We want you to be able to quit your job and do this full time.”

“I thought you said you didn’t want anything,” Tom said dryly. For the first time the man showed a slight reaction, the muscles in his face tightened around his eyes, then quickly relaxed.

“Yes, of course. I misspoke, forgive me. Surely, you understand what I’m saying? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You’ve worked very hard to get to this point and this is the payoff.”

“And what are you suggesting?”

“Tom, you know what I’m suggesting.”

“You tell me.”

“My client will buy your vlog, Tea with Tom. Just name your price.”

“I’m not interested in selling.”

“Seriously, Mr. Dawkins, just name your price. I have every confidence it will be acceptable. You’ll still be in charge of your channel. You’ll still direct the content, but now you’ll have help and an income that will allow you do it full-time.”

“You won’t tell me who wants to buy it. You haven’t told me your name. You sat down uninvited and I’m supposed to believe this is a legitimate offer? Why didn’t you just email me?” Tom studied the man for a few seconds before saying, “This sounds like some kind of veiled threat.”

The man spoke immediately, “You could not be more wrong. Just name your price, Mr. Dawkins. We’ll send you all the documents and the check, you choose your attorney and we’ll pay his fees to take a look. There’s no risk on your part. If this is bogus you just move on.”

“You contacted me. You tell me what you’re willing to pay.”

“Mr. Dawkins….”

Tom interrupted his uninvited guest, “You tell me. You initiated this. You make an offer. I won’t deal with you any other way. It’s your choice.”

The man looked as if he was about to speak, but Tom spoke again before he could start, “I’ll only consider one offer. If I reject this, that’s it. I’m not going to deal with someone who just wants to see what they can get away with.”

The man pulled out his phone, texted someone and waited. Less than a minute later he put the phone down and said, “1.5 million, Mr. Dawkins.”

It was far more than Tom had expected, but without hesitation or any indication that the amount had surprised him, Tom said, “No.”

“Mr. Dawkins, you’re making a big mistake. 1.5 million will set you up for life.”

“I’m not sure who you are, but I know this is bullshit. Maybe you would pay me 1.5 million, I don’t know, but I don’t care. I’m not interested in dealing with you. You’ve given me no reason to trust you.” He stopped for a moment, his anger rising. He stared hard at the man across the table from him. Once Tom started to get angry, it always flowed out easily, almost unconsciously.

The man looked slightly irritated under his calm exterior, but Tom’s stare didn’t seem to bother him. He looked as if he considered the comments being made to him like that of someone who does not understand how the world works, like a too confident layman trying to criticize physicists at a scientific conference.

The man began slowly and calmly, “You’re not going to get an offer like this,” he paused, “ever again. It would be in your best interest to accept it, Mr. Dawkins.”

“My…best…interest…” Tom said hotly. He had wished, at times, that he could better hold back his emotions, but some barriers crossed made it nearly impossible for him to pull back his anger. “Are you threatening me?” he asked.

“Of course not, Mr. Dawkins,” the man said coolly. “I’m here to offer you an opportunity that you would be…very wise,” he paused again, “to accept. Think how much this would help your family.”

“We’re done,” Tom snapped.

The two men sat silently studying one another. Julia had been filming the whole time while she pretended to text. She couldn’t hear much of the conversation until the end when the volume of Tom’s voice made a couple of the patrons glance over at his table.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the man said calmly. “We’ll give you some time to think about it.”

“I’m done thinking about it.”

“Still,” the man said, “you might, upon reflection, wish that you had accepted the offer. I’ll contact you,” he paused again, “via your email or we’ll call you.”

Tom did not publicize his phone number. He had changed it about a year after his show had taken off.

“Don’t bother,” Tom said. He stood up from the table as did the man across from him who moved into the aisle in front of him.

“Well, I can always drop by the house,” the stranger said.

Tom had wrestled in high school and college. Though now 36, he had continued to lift weights. He was shorter, stockier and much stronger than the man in front of him and without any warning he rushed him, slipped his right leg between his then used a bear hug high up under the man’s armpits to put him on the ground. The man successfully struggled to turn around as they went down, but Tom, now behind him, used a double arm bar and the full weight of his body to immobilize the man in the middle of the aisle. Though the man could move his arms at the elbow there was nothing worthwhile he could do with them. Tom’s forearms rested on the man’s back, under his elbows and he had locked his hands together. The man struggled for a few seconds, face down on the floor, but realized the futility of it and relaxed. He didn’t speak and neither did Tom. Julia stood up from her table as did several other patrons while some sat still in disbelief. A couple of people started videoing with their phones. All conversation and activity stopped in the sandwich shop.

Tom moved his mouth down to the man’s right ear and whispered, “If you ever threaten my family again I will kill you. Do you understand?” The man said nothing. Tom tightened his hold forcing his arms into a more awkward position while digging his knuckles into the man’s back and said again, “Do you understand?” He said nothing. Tom forced the man’s arms higher above his back and said, “You better let me know you understand or I will keep going.”

“I understand,” he said with strain. Tom let up on the hold just a bit.

“Sir!” a policeman yelled. “Raise your hands behind your head slowly.” Tom did as was told, released his hold and sat up his legs straddling the man below him and put his hands behind his head.” Another policeman handcuffed him and pulled him to his feet. “Don’t move,” the cop said to the other man.

“I have a gun on my left side,” the man said. The cop checked and pulled it out of the holster. “Grab my identification out of the wallet in my coat pocket on my right side,” the man commanded, though remaining completely still. The cop did so, looked at it, then helped the man to his feet.

“What’s going on here,” the policeman asked.

“Just a misunderstanding,” the man said.

“Press charges.” Tom said calmly. “I dare you. Press charges.”

The two cops and the man stared at Tom. The cop looked at the man as if to say, “Well?”

“Do it,” Tom said.

The stranger replied, “I’m not going to press charges. It was just a misunderstanding. I probably would have done the same thing,” he said looking at Tom. Then he turned to the cop, “But can you do me a favor and just keep him here for five minutes? He’s a little worked up. It’s nothing, we’ll resolve it all later when he’s cooled off a bit. Then you can let him go. It’ll be fine.”

Tom looked at the man then quietly said, “Listen, you dumb fuck, we’re not playing by your rules anymore.”

II

The video Julia took went viral a couple hours after the incident. Tom wanted it uploaded right away even though there was no commentary. He simply titled it:

This Man Threatened my Family

The next day he uploaded the same video with his commentary and that also went viral. The conversation could not be heard, but Tom reconstructed it as best he could and his large following trusted him.  He ended the video with these words: “Not by their rules. Not now. Not ever.”

Soon just the scene of “The Takedown,” as it came to be called, began circulating on social media. Two days later 4chan users had identified the man as CIA agent Malcolm Jones.  Then meme’s of Tom on top of the agent, his arms awkwardly pulled up behind his back with Tom’s face up against the man’s right ear began appearing with captions like:

The CIA Whisperer

A Tender Moment with the CIA

The most popular one had a talk bubble with the CIA agent saying:

“I’m not familiar with these rules.”

Tom did not know what to expect or if he should expect anything. One evening, three days after the incident, he sat in his office with Julia and his wife Margo after they had put both their children to bed.

“They can’t be happy about this,” Margo said. She sat on a folding chair, her legs crossed. Younger than Tom by six years and just an inch shorter at 5’9″ Margo looked not worried, but interested as she wondered out loud what might happen. “They already banned you on YouTube. I’m not saying what you did wasn’t the right thing to do, but there might have been another right thing to do. You know, a little less confrontational,” she chuckled.

“I know, I know,” Tom said with some resignation.

“It’s all fun and games until they throw you in prison,” Margo said playfully.

“I know, I know,” Tom replied sheepishly.

“Calling him a ‘dumb fuck’ might not have been the best choice of words. Completely appropriate, mind you,” she said, “but maybe next time tone it down just a little,” she said winking at Julia.

Tom smiled. Julia laughed quietly. Tom said, “I should have let Fearless take him down.”

“I could have taken him,” Julia said so quickly and with such a straight face that for an instant Margo and Tom stared at her blankly before all three of them laughed.

Margo rarely worried, at least not until it was necessary. When their first child came along Margo quit teaching elementary school with no regrets and became a full-time Mom. Money was tight, but she did not care. Margo read to their first born, a girl, right away. “Never too early to begin,” she told her friends. Their second child was a boy. When the two of them, Jennifer and Todd, reached school age she homeschooled them. “Why would I let them have my kids all day? I don’t want to miss anything,” she said fervently.

“I think they’ll probably sue you, Tom. Sue us, I guess. Not sure arresting you would serve their interests,” Margo said.

“I suppose they’ll just try to destroy us financially…or maybe they won’t do anything,” Tom said hopefully, but not too seriously.

“Dear, you’re a meme now. You’re the freaking CIA Whisperer. I don’t think they’re going to let that go.”

“It was Julia’s fault. She took the video.”

“It was a damn fine piece of videography!” Julia said haughtily.

They sat silent for a few minutes, like nervous high school basketball players in the locker room before their first playoff game.  Finally, Tom said, “Well, there’s not much we can do now. We’ll just continue with what we’re doing, with what we’ve done for the last couple of years. If they come after us, we’ll figure it out then.” Tom paused. He looked out the window at the street lights shaking his head almost imperceptibly. “But we’ll make the rules. For better or worse, we’ll play by our rules.”

III

The criminal lawsuit came four months later. “The Takedown,” though still seen every now and then on social media, had been replaced by UFO memes and several mass shootings. The Presidential election was less than one year away. The media and most of the population ignored the sudden deaths and disabilities caused by the so-called vaccines, something they had done for the last three years.

The State of California charged Tom with spreading misinformation. California had recently passed AB 20981, going into effect on the first of January 2023, targeting licensed physicians and surgeons for “unprofessional conduct.”2 After AB 2098 passed and then defeated several lawsuits against it, California proceeded to pass a bill that targeted websites and social media with a misdemeanor for each offense of misinformation.3

Tom’s crime? He said the vaccines were not safe or effective. He said the vaccines were killing people. He said the vaccines were maiming people. He said a lot more about those involved who pushed the vaccines, but the lawsuit did not pursue those statements, only Tom’s general statements about the Covid vaccines. He had made so many of them under the new law he could easily go to jail for years.

The new California law took much of its language from AB 20984 and stated:

Major news outlets have reported that some of the most dangerous propagators of inaccurate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines are social media influencers.5

Tom walked into the courthouse with Margo and Julia down to the courtroom where a dozen people stood in the hallway talking. After kissing Margo and winking at Julia, Tom walked over to a group of people in suits who looked like attorneys.

“Nice to see you all again.” he said.

“Hello, Mr. Dawkins. Find an attorney yet?”

“Looks like I’ve found plenty right here.”

“Except we’re not on your side. You’re going to need your own attorney.”

“If you want something done right…”

The taller of the three attorneys interrupted, “That doesn’t work in this case,” Mr. Dawkins. “Do yourself a big favor and secure an attorney. You’re going to need one.”

“Am I?” Tom stared at them for a few moments feeling just a bit self-conscious. Then he spoke, “You guys don’t have any idea what’s coming do you?” The attorneys did not respond, just stared at Tom like he was little kid talking out of turn.

“And what’s coming?” the tallest male finally said almost with an air of self-righteousness, as if he knew that nothing was coming. “You’re not in a movie, Mr. Dawkins. You better not treat this as such.”

“You’re going to walk right into it,” Tom said to them evenly with a quiet forcefulness. He felt calm, calmer and more relaxed than he expected from himself, but his resolve and the resolve of Margo and Julia, had bolstered his confidence in ways he had not expected. “The funny thing is,” he continued, “I’m telling you you’re going to walk right into it—and you’re still—going to walk right into it.”

If he had flustered them, as he hoped he had, they did not show it. The two men and one woman stood and listened like a bored group of party goers humoring someone who did not deserve, in their eyes, to be in that social situation. Tom had not worn a suit, he preferred jeans, a blue button up shirt that he left untucked and white tennis shoes.

Once in the courtroom he sat quietly at his table. The three California attorneys chatted and laughed amongst themselves until all were asked to stand when the judge entered the courtroom. He walked in briskly, almost as if he did not like the formality of the requirement for those present to stand at his entrance.

Judge Masterson, thin, tall and bald had just celebrated his seventy-third birthday. He had a pleasant, friendly face while he asked everyone to be seated. He opened a folder and glanced through some papers before addressing the prosecution. “What are the charges against Mr. Dawkins?”

The taller attorney stood.  “Per the new California law passed last month, Mr. Dawkins, via his website and social media, has been spreading misinformation as it pertains to the COVID vaccines. This presents a threat to public safety through vaccine hesitancy.”

“Mr. Matthews,” the Judge began,  “Isn’t the pandemic is essentially over? Very few people are wearing masks and many people are choosing not to get vaccinated or if they have been vaccinated, they are refusing to get boosters.”

“Your Honor, that is part of the problem, people like Mr. Dawkins, who criticize the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccine are causing vaccine hesitancy for future pandemics that will require all citizens to be vaccinated if we are to avoid the extinction of our species. Even during the height of the pandemic Mr. Dawkins criticized the vaccines and espoused conspiracy theories about sudden deaths and vaccine side effects.”

The judge nodded and turned toward Tom. “Mr. Dawkins, I see you do not have an attorney present. Would you like some time to secure an attorney?”

Tom stood. “No, your Honor.”

“Would you like a state attorney?”

“No, your Honor.”

The judge exhibited no emotion at these answers. He had been a judge for decades and there were very few circumstances that surprised him.

“Mr. Dawkins,” the judge said in a friendly manner, “I would highly suggest you secure an attorney. I will be happy to set another date to give you time to do so.”

“Thank you, your Honor, but I’m going to represent myself.” Tom expected the judge to press harder on the issue, but he did not. He made a quick note and then asked Tom what he was going to plead.

“I’m not going to,” Tom replied.

“You’ll need to plead guilty or not guilty,” the judge matter-of-factly said.

“I’m not going to plead anything.”

The judge showed no frustration, alarm, surprise or any emotion that Tom thought he might. Masterson looked indifferent, as if it was just another day at the office…which for him, it was. “Why have you decided not to enter a plea, Mr. Dawkins?”

“Your Honor, I don’t want to legitimize what is happening here by participating. I have simply been exercising my free speech rights by voicing my opinion. The fact that I am here facing these charges, only brought against me for the purpose of financially ruining me, proves the system, this court, is corrupt and unlawful and by participating I would help perpetuate it. I’m not going do that.”

The judge listened quietly, then without hesitation, said, “Mr. Dawkins by criticizing the court, by stating that what is happening here is not lawful or just I will have to hold you in contempt of court. I would highly advise you to retract your assertions.”

“I will not retract, your Honor.”

“The court holds Tom Dawkins in contempt of court and sentences him to two weeks in jail to begin immediately. This court will reconvene once Mr. Dawkins has been released. Court is adjourned.”6

They hand-cuffed Tom. He had not expected the suddenness of it. It startled him. The whole thing was over too quickly and he hadn’t been able to say most of what he had come prepared to say, what he had envisioned himself saying.  As the two bailiffs led him out of the courtroom, he looked at Margo, then glanced at the tall attorney who, slightly bent over, stuffed some papers into his briefcase. When he caught Tom’s eye he shrugged almost, but not quite, in sympathy.

IV

Tom sat in an interrogation room in a gray metal chair hand-cuffed to a gray metal table. He had been in jail for two days during which time he not eaten or drank. It reminded him of his days as a wrestler trying to make weight, which had never been easy for him. He ate very little food and did a lot of spitting. Sometimes he’d wear plastic sweats while jogging slowly to sweat out as much water weight as possible. In some ways this felt easier: sitting in his cell, not moving and no pressure to “make weight.”

Before going to trial Tom had secured several other conservative YouTubers and social media influencers to put his plight before the country, but he had not expected to be put in jail so quickly and had not explained to them his plan to not eat or drink if he was thrown in prison. When asked by his jailers why he would not eat or drink he said he was on a strict diet and the prison food and water would not work, it would make him sick. It was partly true. He also did not believe he could trust the food that he would receive in prison. He had hoped the bureaucracy would accommodate him, but apparently that only worked if you identified as a cat or as a gender you had not been born with.

It had only been two days, so Tom wondered why he had been brought to this room. He had twelve more days to serve. Maybe social media had forced their hand even though they did not know all the particulars of his incarceration. Maybe there were protests. With no contact to the outside world, Tom could only guess.

When the door opened, a man in a suit walked in, then sat down at the table facing Tom with a manila folder in front of him. “Hi Tom,” he said congenially. “I’m Jim.”

Tom did not respond. He had not spoken, except to explain his dietary wishes, to anyone in prison.

“How are you doing? Are they treating you well here?”

Tom stared blankly at the man.

“I hear the food is very good.” The man waited, then sighed. “Well,” he said,  “Not in the mood to talk, I see. That’s okay, you don’t have to talk.” He opened the manila folder. “What I have here, Tom, is the contract you were offered a few months ago. We’re going to offer you 2.5 million dollars for your Rumble channel, website and social media presence. That’s a million more than our last offer. You bow out, we’ll handle everything, and you and your family will be set for life.” He paused. “How’s that sound? Plus, as a bonus, you’ll walk out of here today and all charges will be dropped.”

Tom did not move or respond in anyway. He held the gaze of the agent never once looking away.

“The alternative, Tom, is that you will be ruined financially. Your reputation will be destroyed. Seems like an easy decision to me.”

Tom continued to stare into the man’s eyes. Then, quietly, he said, “How’s your buddy, Takedown?”

The CIA agent stood up, then without warning reached across the table and slapped Tom’s left cheek with such force that his head jerked right so that he looked off at the corner of the room. He did not yell. It had startled him, but he had told himself to be ready for anything and to not react in any way. He held his head in that position for maybe 10 seconds, rotated back, then stared up at the calm agent. He held his gaze for another 10 seconds, leaned slightly forward, then rotated his head left to offer the agent the other cheek.

The agent hesitated, but only for a moment, then slapped his right cheek. Tom rotated his head back then offered him the left. The agent slapped it. His calm disappeared. It angered him that this nobody egged him on. Tom waited a few seconds, then offered him the right cheek. The agent slapped it hard enough that Tom started to bleed and his cheek began to swell. Tom chuckled, but while in the process of offering his left cheek, the door opened and two other men in suits entered.

One said, “That’s enough, Jim. Let’s go.”

Tom watched them leave. Seconds later he heard muffled arguing in the hallway and soon after that two guards escorted him back to his cell.

V

That afternoon Tom received, as he had requested when first incarcerated, unopened cans of water and cooked beef. The guard opened both in front of him just outside his cell and handed them to him almost gracefully. The next morning a doctor examined his cheek and offered Tom some aspirin which he refused. Once his cheek healed, almost a week later, they released Tom. Margo and Julia were waiting outside for him. Tom hugged Margo for a long time while they both cried quietly. After he wiped his eyes and blew his nose he turned to hug Julia. “Now Fearless, don’t you start crying,” he said to her. They hugged briefly then Tom put his arm around Margo as all three of them walked toward the parking lot.

“Well,” Margo said winking at Julia, “that went about as well as could be expected.”

“Did Slappy ever come back?” Julia asked Tom.

“You know about that?” Tom responded surprised.

“Everyone does,” Margo said. “Apparently you have some friends on the inside. So what’s next husband of mine?”

Tom thought for a moment. “How about a hot cup of tea and some ice cream?”


Notes

  1. California Assembly Bill 2098: A COVID Censorship Bill
  2. This is a read bill. Here's the language from it: "This bill would designate the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, or “COVID-19,” as unprofessional conduct." Assembly Bill No. 2098, CHAPTER 938, An act to add Section 2270 to the Business and Professions Code, relating to healing arts. [Approved by Governor September 30, 2022. Filed with Secretary of State September 30, 2022. ]https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB2098
  3. This language is in the real bill: "...false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care." The big question raised here is "What is scientific consensus?" There is no such thing. Science has traditionally been about finding the truth through experimentation and debate. The Covidians are trying their best to do way with debate. Assembly Bill No. 2098, CHAPTER 938, An act to add Section 2270 to the Business and Professions Code, relating to healing arts. [Approved by Governor September 30, 2022. Filed with Secretary of State September 30, 2022. ]https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB2098
  4. The current, real law states: "The safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines have been confirmed through evaluation by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the vaccines continue to undergo intensive safety monitoring by the CDC." https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB2098
  5. It may seem unbelievable that a bill would resort to "Major news outlets" as a legitimate source and reason to pass a law, but that is exactly what AB 2098 does in Section 1, paragraph e: "(e) Major news outlets have reported that some of the most dangerous propagators of inaccurate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines are licensed health care professionals." Section 1 is well worth the read because of all the Misinformation stated in it. Here it is:

    SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
    (a) The global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, or COVID-19, has claimed the lives of over 6,000,000 people worldwide, including nearly 90,000 Californians.
    (b) Data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that unvaccinated individuals are at a risk of dying from COVID-19 that is 11 times greater than those who are fully vaccinated.
    (c) The safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines have been confirmed through evaluation by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the vaccines continue to undergo intensive safety monitoring by the CDC.
    (d) The spread of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines has weakened public confidence and placed lives at serious risk.
    (e) Major news outlets have reported that some of the most dangerous propagators of inaccurate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines are licensed health care professionals.
    (f) The Federation of State Medical Boards has released a statement warning that physicians who engage in the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation risk losing their medical license, and that physicians have a duty to provide their patients with accurate, science-based information.
    (g) In House Resolution No. 74 of the 2021–22 Regular Session, the California State Assembly declared health misinformation to be a public health crisis, and urged the State of California to commit to appropriately combating health misinformation and curbing the spread of falsehoods that threaten the health and safety of Californians.
  6. I'm not sure if this would actually happen, but among other things contempt can entail "making disparaging remarks about the court or judge." Probably under normal circumstances he wouldn't be thrown in prison...but lots of abnormal things are being done to citizens today who do not hold the "correct" views. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/contempt-court.asp

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