Contrary to many claims I see, most of the censorship issues we are talking about today aren’t about the First Amendment. The First Amendment is solely about protection from the government infringing on your speech. So while its not an issue of legal free speech, there should still be serious concern over the attack on our culture of free speech.
The principles of free speech have nothing to do with speech you agree with, it exists solely to protect the speech you disagree with. This was one of the most founding principle of our country.
I can tell you with 100% confidence there is only one way to curtail bad speech, and that is with an airing of it and an abundance of good speech countering it. Bad ideas, conspiracy theories, and fake news all have their best chance of being combated and squashed when they are aired for everyone to see and hear and for correcting speech to combat it. Bad ideas need to be brought to light.
For years I’ve heard how people on the right live in an echo chamber, yet for the past number of years there has been a concerted effort to push people on the right out of normal society into their ‘own’ platforms. What do we think it will look like then?
(As a side note, while I believe we all live in various forms of our own echo chambers, I can tell you I have tried diligently to counter this in my own life. Thru civil engagement on a multitude of levels and organizations, I’ve continually tried to find opportunities to interact with people I disagree with. I strongly encourage everyone to find opportunities to do this. You will grow as a person in amazing ways)
Sigmund Freud theorized that when thoughts or experiences are repressed, they inevitably resurface in more dangerous and damaging forms. When what is unquestionably the de facto platforms for communication today seek to repress widely held beliefs and opinions, those beliefs and opinions aren’t going to simply disappear. They will reemerge elsewhere in less visible forums where they’ll face less scrutiny. This type of repression of voices society says they don’t want to hear from ends up pushing legitimate dissidents and dangerous extremists into the same channels. Let all that simmer together and you end up with a complete breakdown of society as we know it.
The ACLU has recognized this concept historically and they have had a consistent track record of fighting to keep speech free. Hopefully they will continue this fight now, and early indicators seem to show they will. If anybody isn’t familiar with it, Google the ACLUs involvement with defending Nazi’s right to march in Skokie in the 1970s. It’s a great example of the ill effects of trying to suppress speech you don’t agree with.
One final thought. I’m extremely bothered by this scenario where companies censor those who think differently, while their very existence is predicated on receiving shelter & protection under the wings of our government’s regulations. It may not be a direct First Amendment issue, but I don’t believe it’s as simple as just saying “they are a private company—they can do what they want.”