Don't Give In — The First Amendment STILL Protects Your Free Speech
We cannot allow powerful politicians, the mainstream media, and big tech to undermine our right to free speech.
Censorship has always been antithetical to freedom, but its form has evolved over the past two decades into a far more dangerous weapon. Whereas in generations past, certain governing bodies would take responsibility for pulling a television program off the air, limiting the distribution of a book, or canceling an event — the reasons were always made clear. Whether we agreed with the decision or not, we understood who was making the decision and why it was being made.
Today, censorship is far less transparent.
Social media is the new town square and big tech now suppresses any voice it deems “problematic.” They can limit how many people are exposed to your ideas, throttle your traffic, or suspend your account without citing any specific violations that were made to their terms of service. These tech conglomerates operate in total secrecy and are often composed of a highly partisan workforce.
The Twitter Files exposed how perfectly comfortable those in Silicon Valley are to privately embrace a culture of shadow banning and punitive practices while publicly denying that any such culture exists. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the great reporting of Matt Taibbi finally confirmed that the vindictive actions of these social media conglomerates were indeed politically motivated, and even executed at the behest of some of the most powerful people in our government and permanent Washington.
This censorship extends beyond individual voices and to the reporting of verifiable, factual events. Take for example the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, in which a legally obtained computer of a then presidential candidate’s son exposed information that implicated his father. In the weeks leading up to a presidential election, this information was certainly in the public’s interest to know, but Twitter blocked all reporting by the New York Post and then locked their account.
Most in the legacy media refused to cover the story, but when they did, they deemed the contents of the laptop to be “Russian misinformation” despite no shred of evidence to support that claim. Permanent Washington decided that was the narrative and they all stuck to the script. Over the summer, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke with Joe Rogan and outright admitted to suppressing the important story. No one on the Biden campaign ever denied the reporting from the New York Post, but they were rarely put in a position where they had to — thanks to this coordinated media blackout.
The power and influence of corrupt politicians in Washington working hand in glove with big tech monopolies has created a dangerously chilling effect on free speech.
Big tech and their legacy media allies can choose to amplify whatever they wish without fear of consequence in order to advance their preferred narratives. What may have been an acceptable mainstream view just last week can suddenly be deemed hateful or bigoted today because some hashtag went viral. A small group of activists can decide to manufacture backlash and get a topic trending, which is then picked up by the various “news" outlets that are desperate for provocative content, and before we know it, they have created the illusion of another issue being closed for debate.
This situation has created a culture of fear that has many Americans walking on eggshells. An entire volume of books could be published just citing the instances of people losing their jobs or having a college acceptance revoked because of an insensitive comment or lewd joke they posted on the internet several years prior. Corporations and universities that cave to the pressure have only served to normalize these tactics, empowering the rage mobs and fostering this culture of fear that leads to widespread self-censorship.
Democrats used to be the most reliable and passionate defenders of free speech, but not anymore.
Today’s Democrat leaders have become increasingly comfortable making public demands for censorship. A professor at UC–Berkeley urged her Twitter followers to illegally steal copies of Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage on transgenderism — and then burn them. An attorney for the ACLU, an organization that used to serve as the standard bearer for defending free speech, said that “stopping the circulation of Shrier’s book and her ideas is 100% a hill I will die on.”
Created by two-time Pulitzer Prize winning artist Michael P. Ramirez ()
More recently, a group of over 600 publishing industry workers signed an open letter calling on Penguin Random House to cancel the book deal of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett because of her vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. The letter to cancel the Justice's book included signatures from employees of Barnes & Noble, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House itself, and various authors and members of the press. Their reasoning? That publishing Barrett’s book would be a violation of international human rights. What?!!!
The newest tactic of the far left is to equate views they dislike with hate speech, and to equate hate speech with violence. Mainstreaming this idea would open Pandora's box to far reaching state sponsored censorship and an accelerated erosion of our First Amendment rights.
A CATO Institute and YouGov national survey from 2020 found that 62% of Americans feel the current political climate prevents them from expressing what they truly believe. When it comes to their professional lives, the survey finds “34% of conservatives, 31% of liberals, and 30% of moderates are worried their political views could get them fired or harm their career trajectory.”
When broken down by political affiliation, this same survey showed that 77% of Republicans have political opinions they’re afraid to share, compared with 52% of Democrats. More recently in 2022, a New York Times and Sierra College poll found that 84% of Americans see being afraid to exercise their freedom of speech as a serious problem. What this tells us is that the First Amendment is not a partisan issue.
An overwhelming majority of Americans across the political spectrum recognize how important our free speech truly is.
Self-censorship is what these cancel culture mobs desire most, and we cannot allow them to have it. The marketplace of ideas is foundational to who we are as Americans. Free and open debate is what has allowed us to excel, innovate, and prosper as a nation.
On this week’s episode of my podcast, The Tulsi Gabbard Show, I am joined by the former head of the ACLU, Ira Glasser. Often referred to as a free speech absolutist, Ira has led a remarkable life and fought valiantly to defend our First Amendment rights — even when it was extremely unpopular for him to do so. This is a conversation you don’t want to miss!
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We’ve pretty much destroyed the Bill of Rights, except for the second amendment.
Americans believe that their biggest problem is the government!.. The government has become a dictatorship, with O'bama and Biden having complete control over big-tech, the media, social media, the FBI and the justice dept!.. Now they're trying everything they can to destroy the second amendment!..
Good post, Tulsi. Thanks for using your platform to remind us all that free speech is under assault here in the U.S. The trajectory is incremental, interspersed with periodic junk science and history that seeks to redefine “truth” to fit a given narrative - 1619 Project, COVID, unlimited gender dystopia. The only constant in all these assaults on free speech is the government, which either does not defend the first amendment or actively seeks to undermine it.