As an American, I was always taught that censorship was bad, and that banning books was even worse. I was always taught that totalitarians and fascists censor their citizens and ban their books. America was always a bastion of free speech. We were taught that we must always defend free speech even if a person is saying something that we completely disagree with. In 1977, the Supreme Court, in the Skokie decision, ruled that even Nazis were allowed to march in the town of Skokie, Illinois, a town whose population was 50% Jewish and was the home to hundreds of Holocaust survivors. No matter how vile Nazi ideology is, American citizens still have the right to express it. And defending someone’s right to express their beliefs does not mean you are defending those beliefs.
There is a Communist party of the United States. There have been communists who have been on the Presidential ballot. Communist ideology is a direct threat to the United States of America. It is a threat to our democracy. So, the irony of allowing communists to espouse their beliefs on the grounds of free speech is that communists do not believe in free speech. They believe that the state should and must censor its citizens, especially people who speak out against those in power. So, in the past, our country believed so stridently in protecting free speech that we are willing to allow people to voice an ideology which promotes eliminating free speech.
So, the negative backlash that Elon Musk has taken for purchasing Twitter and promising to roll back its censorship of its user, is antithetical to one of the founding principles of the United States. Late Night host Stephen Colbert called Elon Musk, “unhinged,” and “nuts,” and “a tool of Russian” for promoting free speech on Twitter. I can barely believe my ears when I hear people openly argue for censoring other voices. And they’re not talking solely about censoring threats or pornography or vulgar language, they are talking about censoring political opinions that they disagree with. There is nothing that is more of a threat to our country, to our democracy then the calls and the implementation of censorship. But it is happening all over our country, and from places you would least expect.
This week, over 500 literary figures all signed an open letter appealing to the publishers at Penguin-Random House to stop the production of the upcoming book of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And ironically, they claim they are doing so in the name of protecting freedom. They disagree with her opinion on abortion, so they believe she should be denied the ability to publish a book. These are people who write and publish books for a living, yet they are in favor of banning the book of a sitting Supreme Court Justice. And they used a very Orwellian argument when they wrote, "this is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship… this is a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits." They are saying in essence, ‘we are protecting freedom, rights and the Constitution by attacking the First Amendment in the Constitution by calling for banning a book.’
The bases of these types of arguments stems from our anti-hate speech laws. Many people believe that if someone espouses an opinion they disagree with, that constitutes a direct threat to them, should be considered a form of hate speech, and must be censored. This type of thinking has carried over into and is promoted by our institutions of “higher learning”. Many colleges and university have created “safe spaces” for students to be free, not from threats or violence, but from opinions they disagree with. And it has gotten to a point that many people at these schools believe that white students should not be allowed to talk in class because to certain students of color an opinion of a white person is considered hateful. And if a white person does speak in class, he is told to “check your privilege,” which is code for ‘shut-up’.
It is usually the biggest proponents of censorship who lie the most. They are the ones who said that Covid-19 didn’t come from a lab, that Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation, that Vladimir Putin rigged the 2016 election, that Donald Trump was an agent of the Kremlin, that inflation was transitory, that our border is secure, that men can become women. The people who have promoted these lies are pounding the drum for censoring so called “misinformation” on the internet while they know that their lies will never be censored.
None of this is about protecting anybody. It is solely about political power. A leaked FBI document, by a whistleblower, details what the FBI now considers to be “election crimes.” At the top of the list were, “misinformation”, described as “false or misleading information spread mistakenly or unintentionally,” and “disinformation” described as “false or inaccurate information intended to mislead others.” The document went on to say that “disinformation campaigns on social media are used to deliberately confuse, trick, or upset the public.” Has anyone, in their lifetime, ever seen a political ad by any politician from any party which was not false or misleading or inaccurate or confusing? That is what American politics is. That what all politics is. That is what most of human life is. And we all know which side will be censored and which side will have their lies amplified. We cannot give this type of power to the FBI because everything becomes politicized.
Less than 12 hours after the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went on TV and tried to tie the attack to the right wing when she said, “the vast majority of incidents of domestic terror come from white nationalism.” That is a provable lie. White nationalists did not commit 550 riots in our cities in 2020, Black Lives Matter and Antifa did. Those two groups have committed the vast majority of domestic terrorism in our country over the last ten years. Nothing anyone on the right has done comes close to that.
President Joe Biden tried to blame the attack on Donald Trump and January 6th to gain a political advantage in the run-up to the mid-term elections. He said, “the same chant was used by this guy they have in custody that was used on January 6th in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. I’m not making this up… The chant was ‘Where’s Nancy!? Where’s Nancy!? Where’s Nancy!?’” And as it turned out, the attack on Paul Pelosi was committed by a far left lunatic, David DePape, but Biden and AOC will never be banned or blocked, their false accusations will never be rescinded, and the FBI will never come knocking at their door for “election crimes”.
The blame for this attack falls directly and solely on the person who attacked Paul Pelosi, and no one else. It doesn’t matter what some politicians have said, that man made an individual choice to do what he did. He is the one solely responsible for this. But the problem is that in our politicized world right now, anything negative that happens people will knee-jerk and blame the other side for it. This is the reason why we can’t come together as a nation. Instead of using this moment to bring people together as it would have in the past, certain elements in our society are using the tragic situation like this to smear their opponents which only works to further divide us. Along the same lines, instead of using principles of free speech to bring us together in robust debate on the important issues of that effect all of us, certain people are using selective censorship to silence political voices to divide us so they can seize and maintain power. It is always putting party over country which in the end will destroy both the country and their party.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.