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Is Censorship a Moral Paradox?

Censorship. We're surrounded by it.

Although speech is protected by the First Amendment, preventing government-instituted censorship, we have reached a new height of cronyism in the United States where the private sector is steering the ship.

These corporate Main Stream Media and Big Tech moguls are private entities, and have taken the helm on the matters of fighting misinformation, circumventing the rules of the game in efforts to protect the general public. Where do they get this power? Do they even have a right to this power? Is it justified in what they're doing?

As has been said many times, you cannot legislate morality and the moment that happens, liberty dies. So on what accord can we hold these corporations accountable, and allow speech to freely thrive once again?

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic we've begun to see a quickly developing war break out against freedom of speech. With citizens being socially secluded and separated with places of gathering either closed or completely reinvented through unconstitutional mandates for social distancing guidelines, it has become taboo to socialize with strangers, meet new people, or even dare to mingle with anyone outside your household.

Our entire society hangs by the threads of technology and social media, unlike the days of the American Revolution, where our founders gathered in pubs to discuss ideas and shared dissent. All of our actions, all of our conversations, literally everything we share with one another is under scrutiny by those whom provide the services we use today.

Extremist actions from fringe groups on both the left and right have infiltrated the way our society communicates, setting the stage for private censorship to take hold, extending it's grip onto anyone who raises a question that goes against a certain narrative. Voices on the progressive left have become amplified while voices on the center and right are suppressed. These outliers have created such a rift that now entire platforms, regardless where you stand, have begun to further create divisiveness, by assuming a moral effort to censor anything they deem to be dangerous.

How can we justify such acts of “morality” when it's often a censorship based in subjectivity?

“Free Speech has gotten the brand of a right wing issue … an ironic intolerance … I sometimes refer to the mythical place called the Left Pole. Now just as when you're at the North Pole all directions are south, the Left Pole is a mythical spot from where all directions are right.”
-Steven Pinker

Censorship throughout history has most often been used against obscenities in culture and arts, but we cannot forget the many times it has been used politically to prevent objection to government officials as well as war time propaganda.

The list is nothing to scoff at. John Adams made it briefly illegal to criticize government officials in 1798, reporters were arrested during the Civil War, Anti Civil War critics were banished to the South, the Comstock Act of 1873 permitted searches of mail without warrant, immigrants were threatened by deportation if they expressed unfavorable political views, the 1918 Sedition Act prevented anti government WWI rhetoric and in 1941 the War Powers Act established a Censorship Office under FDR. (History of Censorship in America, Fortunately, the Supreme Court has done it's due diligence to uphold the First Amendment in most of these instances and the brief dances with the devil were overturned.

As we can see, even the most benevolent and freedom loving government leaders can be subject to abuse their power.

With all that being said, I find it very interesting that it isn't directly government itself prohibiting the ability for individuals to practice their liberty to free speech these days. People have the freedom to run their businesses as they see fit, and it is strangely one of the grim realities of free enterprise. Alternatively, where we have cronyism running our government, this starts to become a bigger issue. Are these media and tech corporations in the pockets of government officials? How about the other way around? Have they become a trojan horse for government censorship?

It's easy to speculate, especially with political leaders on the Left openly using these same platforms to condemn anyone who disagrees with them. From an objective point of view, we can use censorship patterns in history to recognize when we're in danger of it repeating itself. When dealing with corruption and hypocrisy, how can we then, protect individual liberty while preserving the freedom for any group of individuals to do as they wish with their business? They are certainly in the right to censor their platforms, whether or not it is morally acceptable.

Censorship is being used not only in the Mainstream Media but through Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple, just to scratch the surface, in the name of condemning violence and domestic terrorism, while allowing violence and domestic terrorism in the name of social justice to prevail. In their moral conquest, have they began to do more harm than good? I think it's safe to say that this is true.

Free speech is one of the vital tenets of liberty in society. It is vastly important to not shield bad speech in the name of protection, but instead to allow these to remain in the open to be challenged, to encourage nuanced conversations, and allow people to live in collaboration and cooperation with one another. That is the beauty of the free world, we're given the tools to thrive despite having major differences as individuals.

We must then find a way to use the power we hold as liberty loving individuals. We the people have a responsibility to uphold and maintain the rights of our society and to prevent them from being infringed. We must find other ways around these censorship blocks. We have to cut the strings, resist, and build a better way to connect. The power is within us, and we have the power in numbers to take it away from those whom even under their own liberties, divert from the liberty of the many.

Cited Sources

History of Censorship in America,

How Progressives Define the Right Wing – Steven Pinker