If you don’t stand up for speech you don’t agree with, you don’t believe in free speech.
And sooner or later, this will come back to haunt you.
With so many of today’s so-called progressives acting as though their way is the only way, and believing that anyone expressing a differing view is doing something dangerous, defense of free speech, long a cornerstone of liberal democracy, has been in awfully short supply.
Back in July, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden’s administration was “flagging” what it considered “problematic” posts on Facebook. Why? Just to keep misinformation from spreading, don’t you know.
“We are in regular touch with the social media platforms and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff and also members of our COVID-19 team,” Psaki said.
Put more plainly, the White House worked to see that the only message to get through was the message the administration wanted to be heard. Someone who knows a bit of history might suggest it was similar to how things worked in the Soviet Union in the bad old days.
Now comes a lengthy, detailed report in The Washington Post about Russia’s efforts to censor social media sites in advance of its invasion of Ukraine. The long and the short of it: Russians are getting only the Kremlin’s official narrative regarding what’s been going on.
This came to pass in part because the Kremlin managed to get an app sponsored by a Kremlin opponent kicked off Apple’s and Google’s servers.
Though one might have imagined that such would have resulted in torrents of outrage from the White House, the move was greeted with silence. Perhaps even Psaki understood that she’d be seen as not a little hypocritical if she were to blast Russian efforts at media control.
Democracy, by definition, is messy. So, too, is free speech.
But for a great many years, most folks understood that silencing those with differing views was not the way things are supposed to work. The best antidote to bad speech is better speech. Always has been, and always will be.
If Facebook or Twitter or Google are little more than mouthpieces for the administration, we are not living in a true democracy. It would be akin to living in, say, the former East Germany during the Cold War.
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