Where are you, America? Are we closing a casket on you, on our fundamental rights?
As U.S. citizens, most of us are well aware that the first among the 10 constitutional amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights guarantees some of the most integral liberties of a free society — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.
Perhaps there’s a reason the amendment comes first. We arguably exercise it most often.
But, in doing so, we’ve come to take it for granted. We’ve lost sight of its importance over more than two centuries after these principles were instilled in our founding doctrine — perhaps because we’ve never lived in a society that does more than slap us with a social media ban if we fall out of line (of course, that’s nothing benign, either).
Don’t we cherish our ability to freely exchange ideas, no matter how controversial? After all, the First Amendment wouldn’t have any need to protect uncontroversial language.
A new poll indicates many of us don’t.
“Roughly half of U.S. adults (48%) now say the government should take steps to restrict false information online, even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content,” the Pew Research Center said in a tweet Wednesday.
“That is up from 39% in 2018,” it said.
Roughly half of U.S. adults (48%) now say the government should take steps to restrict false information online, even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content. That is up from 39% in 2018. https://t.co/QMXAAiWANf pic.twitter.com/cTcyCH25MC
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) August 18, 2021
The online poll, which had 11,178 respondents, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.
Are we becoming communist China? Maybe not exactly, but no matter how you slice it, wanting the government silence people’s speech is a very un-American notion.
The poll also found that 59 percent of Americans — including 76 percent of Democrats — maintain that Big Tech companies should enact measures to “restrict false information” even if it means limiting freedoms.
But who’s deciding what constitutes “false”?
Especially in the pandemic age, we’ve seen the draconian forces emerge in droves, both in government and across Big Tech platforms.
Just consider the sole COVID narrative that’s allowed across the spectrum — the one purported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Yes, the one subject to change at any second (remember alternating mask policies, a silently shifting narrative on transmissibility that emerged later in the pandemic and the sudden plausibility of the Wuhan lab leak theory that was stricken down for months as its proponents were labeled “conspiracy theorists”?).
That narrative is put forth by authorities that cannot be questioned. Perhaps that “infallible” attachment the establishment media and Big Tech affords them raises more questions than anything else. If they have all the answers, why can’t we question them?
But it’s about much more than COVID — that’s a mere scintilla of the grand scheme.
If this 48 percent who support government censorship of “false” information is truly indicative of the general population’s sentiments, we’re only the United States by name and association.
We’re still clinging to a past, to a foundational premise we hope will be restored and preserved for generations to come.
But among progressives, especially, we’re seeing an extremist plague take hold — one symptom of which prompts them to label anyone with an infinitesimally alternative opinion as “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” “transphobic” or so on.
It all culminates with the label that encompasses it all: “Nazi.”
And because they justify their hatred of anyone who holds a remotely different opinion, who is perceived as a danger to their utopian image of society, they want to deprive the opposition of its voice.
That’s what the true Nazis did to their dissidents. That’s what the Soviets did to their dissidents too, and it’s what China is doing to theirs.
Ideally, and in a way respective of the First Amendment, the means of dismantling an opposing view involves gathering all the facts to defend your argument and presenting your case.
It’s comparable to court. At some point, the prosecution and the defense must make their cases, and the jury — or the judge — uses that information to form a conclusion about the matter at hand.
Whether it’s acknowledged or not, the “soft censorship” we’re witnessing now is sustained by the flawed premise that Marxism should be our end goal.
If anyone stands in the way of that “utopia,” he or she had best move or succumb to a red wave different from the one we’ve anticipated before.
It’s horrifying to imagine almost half of America thinking this way — because what happens when the censor has the power to stamp out anything it doesn’t like?
We’d have an uneven playing field, no room for personal discretion, no room for growth or understanding.
When it all boils down to a “my way or the highway” mentality, what happens to those of us who elect to take the highway?
Where might that road take us?
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