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A Former Biden COVID-19 Official Tried to Get Me Expelled from Stanford for an Anti-Mask Tweet
On Saturday, June 11th, I tweeted out a photo of Stanford medical students at a graduation weekend event: “outdoors, all boosted, all masked.” The tweet went viral.
The next day, I graduated from Stanford, after 4 turbulent years on and away from campus. It had been a strange last few months trying to get my degree: in April, the University put my degree in jeopardy over my lack of a “booster” shot. I eventually resolved that issue and was glad to finally throw my cap in the air that Sunday.
What happened a day later — after graduation but before the official conferral of my degree — was truly one of the stupidest things I have ever experienced. A professor at the Stanford School of Medicine — and the Biden administration’s former COVID-19 testing czar — Dr. Dean Winslow sent an email to administrators (he cc’d me) in which he called for the university to discipline and possibly expel me over the tweet.
“What they did was not ‘free speech’, but rather it was deliberate misinformation”
Here is the full email that Dr. Winslow sent to administrators.
There’s so much wrong here. First, the unbelievable “Thank you, in advance” that he drops at the end — as if punishment was guaranteed, and only a question of degree. In fact, he actually says “At a minimum they should be required to publish a public retraction of this deliberate misinformation.”
But even crazier to me is that he demands that a friend of mine be punished… for a tweet on my personal account! He says that the Stanford Review (of which I was Editor-in-Chief in 2021) “pushed out” the photo. Again, it was on my personal account; neither my friend nor the Review had anything to do with it. These are figments of Dr. Winslow’s very active imagination. But for people like him, guilt-by-association is good enough.
Dr. Winslow specifically accused me (and my innocent friend) of violating the Fundamental Standard, which sets the standard for expulsion from Stanford. It reads as follows:
Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the University.
So, if violating the Fundamental Standard is “sufficient cause for removal from the University” and Dr. Winslow says I “clearly violated” it (as he does in a subsequent email) and should “be disciplined appropriately” the message is clear enough to me: if you disagree with Dr. Dean Winslow about masks and write a viral tweet, you should be removed from the university.
The Fundamental Standard governs students, not faculty; but if anything, it is he who has failed to show respect for the rights of others, namely my right to free expression.
Newsflash: free speech is still protected by the 1st Amendment in the United States. And in California, it’s also protected by state law. California’s Leonard Law — unique among all 50 states — imposes a 1st Amendment standard on private universities, which means that any speech restriction at Stanford would be de facto illegal.
“I will not publish any retraction”
Here was my response to Dr. Winslow:
I want to emphasize the following from my response, in which I explained why exactly I’m so opposed to medical students wearing masks outside (even in a tent, even if it’s “their decision”).
“I made fun of masks and the herdlike behavior of the people in the picture, which is very taboo at Stanford. The reason I made fun of it is because I worry that the current crop of medical students would do anything — maybe bring back lobotomies? — if we called it “The Science.” They are highly susceptible to peer pressure, very submissive to authority, and very gullible as well. I am not.”
“I am prepared to retain counsel and hold you accountable.”
Those are the final words between the good doctor and myself: him, threatening to sue me after I called out his hysterics. I say bring it on!
Who is Dean Winslow?
I have every expectation that Dr. Winslow will label this piece as more “deliberate misinformation” and possibly even cite it in a civil complaint against me. But I stand by what I said about medical students and masks, as well as my right to say it.
As it happens, Dr. Winslow has a history of going after Constitutional rights. In 2017, President Trump nominated him to a health position in the Department of Defense. But in a bizarre outburst at his confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate, Dr. Winslow said that civilian ownership of AR-15s was “insane”.
The late Senator John McCain, then the chair of the committee, interrupted Winslow and scolded him for the remarks, which he said were outside his expertise or responsibility. The nomination stalled and eventually Winslow withdrew his name. In a Washington Post op-ed he wrote that “Having semiautomatic weapons makes no sense. It is a public-health issue that, as a doctor, I felt compelled to bring to the Senate’s attention.“ And so he did.
But fear not! Winslow did eventually make it into government (after a brief stint as a gun control activist). In 2021, Dr. Winslow became the director of the interagency COVID-19 Testing and Diagnostics Working Group (TDWG). In that position, Dr. Winslow was in charge of a team of about 80 bureaucrats and nearly $50 billion in taxpayer money. He was also apparently affiliated with a task force on “migrant health” at the US-Mexico border.
Dr. Winslow worked with a number of other hysterical public health extremists in the U.S. government, such as Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky. Birds of a feather…
The Bigger Picture
My late father was a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force — in fact, he and Dr. Winslow actually flew the same plane, the C-130 Hercules — and at one point I was set on becoming a physician; I promise I have no grudge toward either USAF officers or doctors.
And yet, as a sentient observer of American life, it seems obvious to me that (with exceptions) the senior ranks of our armed forces and medical establishment are unfortunately full of conformists with authoritarian instincts. It brings me no pleasure to observe this, but I can’t unsee the last several years of American history.
Dr. Winslow is unique in that he represents both of these cadres — medical and military — and perfectly embodies the unhealthy developments within each. For him, the sense of entitlement is so extreme that upon receiving a screenshot of a student’s tweet in an email chain from a friend, his first move was to write to University leaders demanding the student be censored and punished for it, and he thanked them in advance. That’s crazy!
Dr. Winslow’s tantrum is one small vignette in a much larger story that we need to acknowledge and confront: at the present moment, certain elements of our medical and military elite are on a collision course with American liberty. And with people like Dr. Winslow as professors in prestigious medical schools (Stanford one of the most prestigious) that trend will only get worse.
In general, I believe we should show respect and even deference to those who serve our country, or who work as physicians. But we have to balance that against the skepticism toward authority that is necessary for self-government. And let me be very clear: no uniform — whether it’s a flight suit or a white lab coat — gives anybody the authority to lecture and control civilians, or to restrict their rights. Nor do titles and credentials provide that authority: our rights are natural rights, not subject to the whims of people with fancy titles, even Professor Dean L. Winslow, MD, MACP, FIDSA, FPIDS.
Our rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights, to which Dr. Winslow once swore an oath; he’d do well to review that oath.