The Unsettling Encounter at an Oklahoma Home and the Fight for Free Speech

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Opinion

In an alarming episode highlighting the ever intrusive government surveillance in US society, Rolla Abdeljawad of Stillwater, Oklahoma, faced an unsettling encounter at her doorstep. FBI agents arrived, unannounced and unwelcome, seeking to interrogate her about her social media posts regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Abdeljawad asserted her constitutional rights, refused to engage without legal counsel and demanded the agents show their badges, which they allegedly did not do.

The agent admitted in the encounter that scrutinizing social media is an “all day, every day” job, which should send a chill down the spine of any free speech loving American no matter where you stand on the conflict in the Middle East. The government, under the pretext of national security, is now clearly and openly prying into the personal opinions of private citizens. This incident is a stark warning to every American who cherishes their freedom of speech, and shows that clearly much is riding on the outcome of the upcoming Murthy v Missouri decision at the Supreme Court.

Repeatedly, the U.S. government has expressed frustration over the plaintiffs’ use of legal proceedings to scrutinize their collaboration with social media platforms in suppressing information about the Hunter Biden laptop story, election integrity, and COVID. What goes unsaid is the crucial role of Murthy v. Missouri in uncovering this apparent plot against our First Amendment rights. The real question here is not the government’s discomfort with being audited, but rather the alarming revelations that the audit has brought to light about its actions.

What’s more disturbing is Facebook’s complicity, allegedly providing screenshots of Abdeljawad’s posts to the FBI. This raises profound concerns about privacy and the unchecked power of tech giants in collusion with government agencies. Abdeljawad’s ordeal reflects a broader pattern of surveillance disproportionately targeting certain communities, as evidenced by her posts about the ongoing conflict in Gaza and her support for Palestine. Clearly these are no longer private companies if they are acting at the behest of the government. The federal government was never supposed to have the power to engage in this kind of surveillance and restraint on speech.

This is not just an infringement on Abdeljawad’s rights; it’s an assault on the liberties of every American. The right to free speech is a cornerstone of American democracy, and when that is threatened under the guise of national security, everyone’s liberty is at stake. We must remain vigilant and resolute in protecting our constitutional rights against such governmental overreach. The incident in Oklahoma is a cautionary tale, a reminder that the price of freedom is constant vigilance. It’s high time to demand accountability from both the government and tech companies in safeguarding our civil liberties. Gone are the days when these companies could be seen as acting on a censorship regime on their own. They are acting in direct accordance with government demands, and should be treated as such.

Austin Petersen is a former Libertarian presidential candidate turned Republican and the host of the Wake Up America show every Monday-Friday from 7-9am central which you can stream live on Rumble, or listen to on Spotify or iTunes. He resides in Jefferson City, Missouri with his wife Stephanie and their two presidential French Bulldogs, Calvin and George.

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