There is a reason that our right to free speech is perched upon the top spot in our Bill of Rights. To be free to speak ones mind, to think freely, to believe and practice ones own faith, to report and share ideas…these were not just ideas that were discussed by our Founding Fathers, they were the cornerstone principles upon which our nation was built. They were, and are among the core set of values that made the United States of America unique in a world where oppressive governmental control reigned supreme. For the average person to rise above the status of “subject” and join the ranks of “citizen”, the ability to put thoughts into words, and to do so without fear of reprisal was a God given right…a necessity that needed to be protected. While the people of other nations would hide their thoughts, suppress their ideas, and stifle their beliefs, Americans were able to break free of those restrictions, stand on the soap-box of their choosing, and scream at even their most powerful leader and have their say. This this is the bedrock on which the greatest Constitutional Republic to ever grace the globe was built.
However, Americans have seen, and felt the foundations on which we stand begin to erode. It is difficult to pinpoint a particular event, or even a specific time frame, but when we open our eyes, or better yet, our mouths, we are instantly slapped with the reality of what has happened to our ability, or freedom to use our voice. From the ivy covered walls of our most prestigious universities, to the publications that once spoke for millions through their editorial pages, and even the once blind judiciary, everywhere you go, an invisible curtain has enshrouded even the most audaciously loud, and once free institutions. A war has been being waged against the First Amendment, and in many cases, the greatest weapon in the attackers arsenal has been the First Amendment itself. They use terms like racist, fascist, deplorable, or Nazi…all used to silence opposing points of view. Rather than add conversation to the discourse, the discourse is halted with unrealistic, unreasonable, and faulty claims, Somehow, the right to free speech has morphed into the misguided idea that there is also a right to shut down, shout down, and punish those who do not comply with those that find things hurtful, or objectionable. Yes, there are instances where someone may say, or believe in something that someone else finds reprehensible, disgusting, hateful, or even dangerous, and instead of arguing against those ideas and remarks with valid points of opposition, the method instead is to have that person silenced.
Whether they be in the halls of our governmental institutions, or carried through the media cables attached to our homes, the “thought police” have been controlling the message for far too many, and for far too long.
This scourge of silence has attacked every bastion of free thought, and is seems as if the only way to “get along” is to “go along”. Once there was a controlling interest in controlling the message, the idea that it was acceptable to shut down your opponents speech not only became acceptable, it became a prerequisite. Even those people who used their words as blades, slicing to the spine of every sacred found themselves silenced, sidelined, sued, or unemployed. Gone are the days where a “Lenny Bruce” or “Richard Pryor” could take a stage and lay waste to all things for the sake of comedy. Forget the idea of Archie Bunker and George Jefferson trading barbs, or Fred Sanford arguing with Chico and The Man. Speech that was once shocking, but protected, or even looked back on as Bold and Refreshing, or dare I say, “culturally transformitive”, has now become Hate Speech and Unspeakable…IF you are on the “wrong side” of the issue.
I do not remember where I heard the phrase, but it seems to fit the narrative quite well…”Once you invite the Vampire into your home, you render yourself defenseless against him”. THAT seems to be what has happened to our 1st Amendment. Our society, in an effort to be more “civil” and acceptable, started putting labels on certain speech. It was derogatory, unproductive, inflammatory, controversial, conspiratorial, outlandish, and hateful. What everyone seemed to forget is that there was a label already, and permanently affixed to even the most reprehensible of speech….it was “FREE”.
We went from having a nation wherein a college campus would have all manner of speech, all manner of subject, all manner of individual thought, all happening on one campus every day, to one wherein a “Free Speech Zone” would be relegated to a small area behind the dumpsters, or ushered off the campus completely, and “Cry Rooms and Safe Spaces” are now being set up for those students so lacking in their own intestinal fortitude that they have allowed themselves to become “Huddled Masses Yearning to be Un-offended”.
What makes it all even worse, is that when the youth of America, a generation that has grown up within the padded walls of a self-imposed prison, step into the realm of the private, or government sectors, and seek employment, they are demanding that they be afforded the same “protections” from speech that they have become so accustom. Sadly, this has not only been a request, it has been a reformation. Almost every industry has fallen victim to the idea that restrictions must be made to curtail individual thought, individual freedom, individual expression. We now have quarterly “sensitivity training” and instead of Human Resources Departments helping employees manage their workload and hours so they can be more productive, get better pay, earn more money, or just spend time with families, employers are spending more time shuffling employees from one department to another because “Bob from accounting” has an NRA sticker on the bumper of his car, or because “Sally from the loading dock” mentioned that she has tickets to a Ted Nugent concert.
I would personally like to believe that the level of insanity has gotten to the breaking point, but I fear this is only the beginning.
All we need to do is look at how Social Media platforms have cracked down on free speech to know that the battle over our first Amendment is raging, and that those firing the shots at liberty are doing so from cover and from distance. We have been told by the leaders of Facebook, Twitter, Google, that they do not play favorites when it comes to speech. They have told us that they do not delete or suppress opinions based on the leanings of the author. We have been told that content is not “shadow banned” so that people have a more difficult time finding it. These have been the things we have been told…under oath. What we have also been told is that when certain individuals have been banned, blocked, or suppressed, it was because their content either violated “community standards”, was deemed to be unsafe, insight hate, or was “just a simple mistake brought on by misunderstanding of our A.I. algorithm”.
For me, I just find it odd that all of those mistakes, misunderstandings, and A.I. problems, the vast majority seem to fall on the side of one particular point of view over the other. More curious is that the originators of these “objectionable” points of view are almost always the very ones that are in the opposite camp of those that admit to an opposing ideology while at the same time proclaiming that neutrality guides their decisions. Another of the beauties of free speech is our ability to hear something, process it, and determine for ourselves if the statement we have heard passes the smell test….these statements do not.
So what can be done? This is the question that has been asked over and over again, and with each utterance of the question, emerges the same answer….The Free Market. Yes…THE FREE MARKET. However, here is the rub, and something that a lot of people just do not understand…When it comes to Social Media, Broadcast Media, Newspapers, and other Non-Government entities…I have bad news…There is No Free Speech. No, I don’t men that rhetorically, I mean that LEGALLY. As a private entity, most of the platforms that we employ to have our say are not legally obligated to protect your right to say something, post something, or share something. In fact, they have within their policies the expressed and legal right to curtail your content in any way they see fit. Their code of conduct is theirs, and when you signed on and agreed to those “Terms and Conditions” you agreed to be policed by someone, some thing that may find what you say to be too offensive, or maybe too hurtful….or maybe even too critical of them…And….They….WILL….Shut….You….Down. Yes, as a private entity, an entity that owns the platform that you are standing on, they have every right to pull it out from under you and tell you to behave in accordance with their rules.
That’s right friends, your First Amendment does have limitations, and one of them is being policed by an organization or agency that already has your permission to do so….regardless of their claims of neutrality. When it comes to Social Media, you long ago gave up your ability to expect fairness, even if you didn’t realize it. To put it into the simplest of terms, let us say that you invite someone over for dinner, and from the second they walk in your door they are critical of your home, your family, your spouse, the meal you serve, the chair they sit in, the drink you serve, and the smell in the air. It would probably be something that upset you. Now, imagine they became more than just critical….they became hostile and argumentative…In Your Home. How long would you let them stay? Does their First Amendment Right still apply when they are your guest?
So now that we understand the pitfalls and trapping about the Free Market and their ability to use their own judgement in determining what is and isn’t acceptable, the best and ONLY real option is to find the platforms that have the LEAST amount of restrictions …AND USE THEM. I have heard time and time again that “Someone needs to come up with a Facebook Alternative”. Guess what!!! There are literally HUNDREDS of Facebook alternatives out there…I know…I have an account on at least a dozen of them. The problem I have with those dozen accounts….I’m the ONLY one there. Yes, that’s right…I am the ONLY one there. No matter how many times I have published links, shared information, sent out invitations, there have only been a few people who have decided it was worth their time to create an account. Then, after they got there and it was only a handful of people, they left, and went right back to where they had their complaints filed and voices silenced.
When it comes to Social Media, people are their own worst enemy. It doesn’t matter how many times some people get hit in the head…the second the pain is gone, they forget they even got hit in the first place and are surprised the next time they get hit. Yes, this is me being very critical of the masses, and I myself am just as much to blame as the rest. Much of my life, my business contacts, my friends, my joys, all of them are on some Social Media platform, collecting likes, and hearts, and LOL’s….and yes, that positive affirmation is nice, but I have also been silenced too many times to let that outweigh my personal animus. I have also grown tired of hearing that there are no choices at our disposal, no options , no platforms to build on…especially when there are. Not only are there platforms, there are some that rival and even surpass the features offered by the most popular Social Media platforms. So, what is stopping people from exploring their options? Is it fear, is it loyalty, is it the Stockholm Syndrome? Yes…No?
If you want to break free and peel that tape off your own mouth, you MUST explore other media outlets and let your voice be heard. You may be the first among your friends or family to make the leap, or you may actually find that many already have and had not yet said anything for the same reasons you didn’t. The fact is that none of these Social Media Platforms started with a Billion members…they all started with 1 or a few, and in time, they grew into these omnipotent Goliath’s we have today, these gargantuan companies that are so powerful that we bend to their will in order to be granted the “luxury” of speaking our mind…even if half of what we say is censored.
So get out there and explore your options….join those pages…invite your friends. While you may think you are fighting an unwinnable fight, you may just be that one person that can start tipping the balance of power back to those that understand that the best thing that can be done is not to limit what people add to the conversation, it is to add MORE to the conversation. One such platform is WWW.ConstitutionalPatriots.US Not only have they been gracious enough to provide The Liberty First Foundation with a home on the internet, they have also been developing a Social Media Platform that is based primarily on our Individual Right of the 1st Amendment. There, you can speak your mind and not be afraid of going “to jail” or being shadow banned. You can have your say, and instead of being silenced, be engaged by opposing points of view. It is there that you will find that the remedy for speech you disagree with is not to silence that speech, but to counter it with superior arguments. Whether you choose to start an account with them or not, or if you decide to find your free-voice somewhere else, You MUST let yourself be heard. This, like the Second Amendment, should not come down to a Right Wing, or Left Wing…..These are AMERICAN WINGS, and if WE do not spread these wings, we will never fly.