An Autopsy of American Free Speech
“A republic. If you can keep it.”
- Benjamin Franklin -
“If you can keep it”: these words ring hollow at a eulogy of American free speech. Free speech, as we once knew it, is now dead and gone. Now, its’ murderers desecrate the corpse of our ‘inalienable rights’ in the streets without shame. How did this happen? How did we get to this place?
I attribute the beginning of the end of free speech to political correctness. Its’ death began the moment we decided that we would sacrifice security for freedom. We rooted out the racists, the bigots, the xenophobes, the transphobes, and the sexists and silenced them. We decided that cyberbullying would not be tolerated. The end, we believed, would justify the means. We would silence those who oppressed us, and through any means necessary. We loved the feeling it gave us. Because through it, we felt like the heroes and heroines that we grew up watching in our favorite films. Without this fight, without this struggle, we would be boring and ordinary. We wouldn’t be the virtuous leaders we envisioned ourselves to be. Then came the #MeToo Movement. We found the neighborhood bad guys, we stopped them, and we took them out of power. But, that wasn’t the end. We wanted more, we needed more. For in our minds, the more “bad guys” we stopped, the more moral we became.
All things come to an end, however, and so did our enemies. We ran out of bad guys. And it was at this point that we moved on to focus on first world problems. We started to create our own problems, our own self-fulfilling prophecies. We even started fabricating our own enemies. And it was at that point that we began to see ourselves as the villains.
It was not enough to have a bad guy. The bad guy, in society’s mind, was only a piece of a bigger problem - of systematic injustice, of the patriarchy, of systematic racism and white supremacy. Now, the bad guy did not have to oppress us directly to make him our enemy. All injustice, from any time in history, must, should and could be corrected despite its insignificant impact on our daily lives. But we couldn’t admit that problems of centuries past have since been corrected. We refused to acknowledge the progress we’ve made as a society. We wanted past wrongs to have a massive impact on our current reality. Otherwise, we would never be able to chase the bigger high that comes from victory over a bigger villain. We had become addicted to the thrill.
Meanwhile, innovation and technology have added to this dilemma. With the increased presence of online outlets, less and less people rely on reading newspapers. Advertisements and corporate sponsors dictate the stories that are pushed onto the masses. And without juicy headlines, these sponsors aren’t making the money they need. Foreign wars? Governmental regulation? Too boring. Traffic needs to be driven up in order to maintain advertisement revenue. Sensationalism therefore made a big return to media after a long, dormant sleep. Nothing sells more than a cause, an epic fight for justice, like civil rights.
These outlets therefore dig for villains - for someone they can target and bring down. But when you’ve run out of options, you’re left asking: who do we go after? Is it the struggle of climate change? Is it animal rights activism? Is it systematic racial injustice? What if all these issues and struggles can be personified into one person?
Enter Donald Trump. The scapegoat society needed. Who better to target and label a dictator, a tyrant, a racist, a xenophobe, and a homophobe than the president himself. Labeling him selfish, hateful and unbelievably corrupt was a way for the media to assert their power, to solidify their virtue. A man this evil must be worse than Adolf Hitler himself. Trump must be stopped. And, by any means necessary. With the desire to bring down the newest, most popular villain, the media launched their 2016 campaign to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president. With such a negative media campaign, they believed, they would ensure that such a tyrant would be offed even before he could begin. Enter Hillary Clinton, the savior of the free world. Fresh off the first black president in American history, it became time to shatter the glass ceiling by appointing the first female president of the free world.
Despite the media’s overwhelming attempts to discredit Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton was defeated in a landslide embarrassment. Woke culture was rejected by the American people. No, the media thought, this can’t be. Woke culture was the personification of morality. They were the good guys. It had to be something else. Enter a faux Russian collusion investigation. Donald Trump STOLE the election. That has to be it. That makes sense. The media must silence any misinformation that may help Donald Trump stay in power. And do so by any means necessary. Obviously, what they did last time was not enough.
Enter social media. Suppressing any voices who support such a monster such as Trump was totally necessary. This, they believed, would fix the problem altogether. Hence, the fact check is born. It was harmless at first, fixing corrections in data analysis, bringing the truth to the people. Truth. What a funny word. What even is the truth? The truth is relative. Does it fit the narrative? Maybe it will if we frame the truth in a specific way. In a way that will make others see that Donald Trump is the evil man he really is. Maybe it is not enough to only check opposing views. Maybe we need to censor the dangerous, opposing views. And what constitutes as dangerous is anything that will help the bad, orange man. Dangerous views must not be made public. We must throttle them. We must shadow ban them. It’s not like we are censoring valid opinions right? I’m sure those dumb conservatives would never even notice. Maybe we can get them to give up. We are just making sure that these views do not get into the hands of the masses. And we are doing so by any means necessary.
Hunter Biden’s laptop. No. This will ruin everything we have worked for. This can’t get out. We must stop it by any means necessary. And in comes the greatest use of censorship in American history. The New York Post, one of America’s oldest publications, is locked out of Twitter for publishing an article on Hunter Biden. A combined effort between Facebook and Instagram makes sure the link to the story is taken down systematically throughout social media. Hundreds of conservative influencer accounts are deactivated by “accident”, days before a consequential presidential election. They really did mean, “by any means necessary”.
This is where we find the state of free speech in the United States. We always thought it would be some outsider who came in and silenced us. Ironically, however, our inalienable right was murdered by our very own ego and neglect. Jack Dorsey was interviewed by the Senate. There was no evidence that the Hunter Biden story was part of any misinformation campaign. Jack admitted it himself. The cost of failure was too grave. The truth did not matter. The damage had already been done.
Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. We find ourselves in the age-old story of giving absolute power temporarily to those who never intend to return it. The truth is not about fact any longer. The truth is determined by a few in Washington DC and carried out by those in Silicon Valley. It is no longer about factual opinion but rather ‘popular opinion’. To stray from the popular opinion is dangerous to the institutions of America.
The “victors” have just begun to wake up from their highs. In their minds, they did it, they defeated tyranny. Now it is time to chase the next big high. We must prevent the next Donald Trump before he or she begins to gain traction.
Here enters the Trump Accountability Project. The Trump "sycophants” must be identified. It is time to go after his supporters. We can threaten their jobs, their family and their livelihood. It’s time to “unite”. If you don’t unite with us? We must stop you.
By any means necessary.