If there is a single foundational principle that most clearly separates America from other nations, it is freedom of speech. No right is more fundamental to our way of life.
Yet that right is directly under attack. Journalists, politicians, corporate, and civic leaders openly advocate censorship by government and corporate interests. Political correctness, groupthink, and intolerance have sparked a new era of speech suppression that marginalizes those with diverse views, promotes intolerance, and advocates retribution against those with whom they disagree.
These attacks are driven by left-wing fascism and happen with startling rapidity.
Much speech suppression is found in social media. These "platforms" are subsidized by government through the section 230 protections against libel and slander suits. However, Twitter, Facebook, et al, are acting more like publishers than platforms. When we allow them to censor content it sets a dangerous precedent and makes suppression of political speech more prevalent.
If Congress and the White House weren’t wholly owned subsidiaries of Big Tech they might do something to hold them accountable. But don’t hold your breath. In any case, asking if they can legally censor content is a different thing than asking if it is right for them to do so.
As Victor Davis Hanson observes, here, the dominant left, which controls our national government, has embraced the kind of censorship they used to abhor. The party that once stood for free speech is our leading proponent of dictatorial control of it.
Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz were vilified for taking the position that the results of the 2020 election should have been subject to a ten-day audit for the purpose of confirming results. They never said the election was stolen and never voted to overturn the results. Yet, Senate Democrats have called for ethics investigations, see here, and Cruz and Hawley face possible censure. An anti-Trump group has also committed a million dollars to a billboard campaign calling on Cruz to resign.
Parler, which had emerged as a growing conservative alternative to Twitter, was simply shut down by executives from big tech, including Amazon and Google. As a recent Time piece observes, such corporate execs were partners in the “shadow” conspiracy to make sure Trump lost the election.
Thousands of conservatives on Twitter have had their followers purged by the thousands simply because Jack Dorsey and his nascent speech Nazis don’t like their views.
President Trump, who helped draw millions of new customers to Twitter, has been banned for life. Twitter allows terrorists, ANTIFA, and the Ayatollah full access, but the President of the United States can’t discuss election integrity.
Many social media outlets pretend it is all about truth, of course, but that is manifestly not true. They are happy for you to describe a politician as racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic, or treasonous, even though they offer no evidence, as long as the target of your vitriol is conservative. If you express the opinion that an election was conducted dishonestly, you will be shut off.
Michael Barone, who may be the leading chronicler of political activities in America’s states and congressional districts, has discussed the prevalence of the new cancel culture, here.
Many speech fascists defend their intolerance by claiming bans don’t impede your free speech, they just limit your reach. Imagine if a court told you it was fine to criticize the government, but only in your own home. That wouldn’t be free speech, would it? That is precisely the effect of social media bans. In a digital world, restricting access to the public debate online is tantamount to censorship.
In the 2020 campaign, proof came to light that Hunter Biden sold influence and access. It was specific and unrefuted, showing he received millions of dollars from foreign nations. The New York Post – with the third-highest daily circulation in North America – carried a completely factual story on Hunter’s corruption and was banned from Twitter. They claim it was in opposition to “hacked” information, although none of it was hacked. Even those who dared to retweet the story were shut down. Nearly all major news outlets did their part by just not reporting the story. After the election, according to one study, nearly ten per cent of Biden voters said they would not have voted for him had they known about the Biden’s corruption.
Opponents of free speech have an advantage in this sense: most Americans don’t find it believable that news organizations, political leaders, and corporate executives would conspire to restrict a constitutional right. When they do it, many people simply don’t believe it.
Unfortunately, by the time your average man on the street understands the severity of this threat, it may be too late. The time to defend free speech is before your own speech is under assault.
A nation that tolerates restricting speech will not be free for long.