The Federal Trade Commission stepped up its censorship campaign today against religious and healthcare-related speech it disagrees with. The FTC, backed by the Justice Department, asked a federal court to punish James Feijo and his Christian organization, Daniel Chapter One, for ignoring a previous FTC order restricting their right to engage in free speech. The FTC claimed the right to censor Fejio and Daniel Chapter One because they publicly discuss the use of non-Food and Drug Administration controlled products — and religious teachings — to treat diseases including cancer. The FTC believes all such speech is exempt from First Amendment protections.
After forcing Fejio and Daniel Chapter One to stand trial before a rigged FTC tribunal, where the outcome was predetermined, a federal appeals court in Washington looked the other way in the face of the Commission’s blatant violation of the First Amendment’s protections of free speech, association, and religious exercise. The FTC said all of Daniel Chapter One and Fejio’s speech would be restricted in the future to those statements the FTC deemed “scientifically” valid — in other words, whatever speech the FTC’s non-scientist lawyers declared permissible.
In its complaint filed with the US District Court in Washington, the FTC claims Fejio and Daniel Chapter One ignored the censorship order and continued to engage in speech deemed off-limits by Commission lawyers. Fejio apparently hosts a syndicated daily radio program where he discusses his healthcare beliefs and herbal supplements sold by Daniel Chapter One. The program includes call-in segments where he interacts directly with listeners. The FTC claims this is illegal; even discussions between consenting adults are forbidden by the FTC when they touch upon a subject where the Commission has declared itself the sole arbiter of “truth.”
The FTC’s complaint also charges Daniel Chapter One and Fejio with failing to send a notice mandated by the Commission’s prior order — coerced speech, in further violation of the First Amendment — to customers who purchased supplements from the organization. This notice would contain FTC-mandated speech that contradicted the views and beliefs of Daniel Chapter One and Fejio.
Today’s action demonstrates the Commission’s increased aggression against free speech. Any website or individual that makes any statements related to healthcare is especially vulnerable, including libertarian websites like Mises.org and LewRockwell.com. The FTC claims an unqualified right to censor any statement that questions FDA-sanctioned “science,” irrespective of whether any consumer has been harmed or judged to be the victim of actual fraud. Because the courts do not require the FTC to demonstrate an injury to punish individuals — a violation of the Constitution’s due process clause, among others — virtually every website, radio program, or other form of communication must now be on alert for FTC activity.
In addition to assessing punitive fines against Daniel Chapter One and Fejio for exercising their right to free speech, the FTC also asked the district court for an injunction to censor the defendants’ radio program, Facebook page, Yahoo group, online bulletin board, and to prevent them from even linking to materials deemed illegal by Commission attorneys.