If there is one thing that all tyrants agree on, it’s that dissent must be prevented. Eliminating free speech has been one of the primary tools of control throughout history. A free thinking population is difficult to control. All tyrants, regardless of political affiliation, recognize that there is some truth to the platitude “the pen is mightier than the sword”. Today we will discuss how dissent is being ruthlessly attacked in our modern world. Times, technology and cultures change, but tyrants remain the same.
If one looks up the definition of dissent, they will get the following or similar: “the expression or holding of opinions at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially held”. What is happening in today’s society is, the word “dissent” has been replaced by two euphemisms, misinformation and disinformation.
Technically disinformation refers to information put out by a country to confuse its enemies, other countries doing the same, or perhaps even internal enemies doing the same. Misinformation is more generally incorrect information, whether intentional or not. (1) The drive today is to eradicate this misinformation from society without taking into account free speech statutes, laws or the United States constitution. Both of these terms are being used to squelch dissent in the USA and other countries.
One resource that is used by authoritarians in our country to squelch dissent is the use of so-called fact checking sites. A list of popular “fact checking” sites can be found on the St. Louis Community College website. (2) It is a travesty that an organization that is supposed to be about learning and information would support sites whose primary reason for existing is to squelch free speech by portraying sites that have a certain political orientation as unreliable.
One notoriously left wing organization that is dedicated to squelching free speech using so-called fact checking sites is the Annenberg Foundation. (3) A number of so-called fact checking sites are used by the Anneberg Foundation in attacking the credibility of right leaning sites. Other “fact checking” sites come from major news organizations such as NPR.
The censorship of dissent has become synonymous with social media. The major social media sites that we are all familiar with all have censorship policies aimed at crushing dissent. (4) Leftist media organizations have free reign, while right wing posters have routinely been censored in order to crush dissent. There is a general perception of this according to a Pew research poll. (5) This point is disputed, however, by Politico, a left-leaning political site which claims that right wing posters still rule social media. (6)
One argument that is commonly used is that social media companies are private companies, and thus not subject to the First Amendment or other free speech measures. On December 2, 2021 this position was taken by a federal judge in the case of a Texas law, HB 20, which would have supported the right of the people to reasonably post information online. (7)
This argument that these are private companies falls apart, however, when lawmakers get involved and pressure social media companies to censor political opinions and information. An example is Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania: ‘“Your companies need to be held accountable. … Ours is the committee of jurisdiction, and we will legislate to stop this. The stakes are simply too high,” warned Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, at the March 25 hearing.’ (8) This pressure on social media companies is a direct violation of First Amendment rights. Some lawmakers want to go as far as to censor private text messages! (9)
Censorship of dissent has been especially intense in pandemic times. Youtube has banned all negative information about the coronavirus “vaccines” in order to silence people from saying anything to oppose the use of vaccines. (10)
At least as bad, perhaps worse, is the censorship and persecution of January 6 protesters. There is 14,000 hours of video footage that has been shown to lawmakers, but not to the public. We therefore cannot judge very well what happened in Washington DC on January 6, 2021. (11) The taking of political prisoners, and prisoners being routinely abused in a DC prison, is horrifying but true. (12, 13)
The horrendous attacks on our free speech rights will continue. There is some hope in the rise of free speech sites such as Parler.com. The best hope is for a free people guarding their free speech rights. If you are tempted to ask the question who guards free speech rights, just read the preamble of the American constitution. The answer is, “we the people”.