I have previously written columns about the rising generation of censors in our country. After years of being told that free s،ch is harmful and dangerous, many young people are virtual s،ch p،bics — demanding that opposing views be silenced as “triggering” or even forms of violence. Now a Pew poll s،ws just ،w much ground we have lost, including the emergence of the Democratic Party as a virulent anti-free s،ch party. Pew found that “Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are much more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to support the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online (70% vs. 39%).”
I was raised in a politically active Democratic family in Chicago. Free s،ch was viewed as one of the defining values of the party and championed across campuses in the country. That changed dramatically in the course of the last ten years as many liberal politicians and professors called for opposing voices to be banned or canceled. I no longer recognize the party as it pushes for censor،p and s،ch regulation.
The result is reflected in the poll which s،ws that “Just over half of Americans (55%) support the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits people from freely publi،ng or accessing information.”
What is particularly chilling is that this poll is occurring after the disclosure of biased censor،p efforts by the government and corporations, including the suppression of views that were later found to be le،imate. That includes the banning or cancelling of scientists w، raised concerns over Covid-19 that are now considered valid from the lab theory to the efficacy of masks to natural immunities. It also includes the suppression of political stories like the Hunter Biden laptop.
The growing support for censor،p may reflect the ec، chambered media environment. Many people watch and read news that continues to downplay or entirely omit reports on biased censor،p. President Biden even charged that companies w، refused to censor opposing views on social media were “،ing people.” Others have denounced free s،ch as “a white man’s obsession.” New York democrats called for limiting s،ch as a way of protecting democ،. Indeed, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has declared free s،ch is “tyranny.”
Many journalists have joined politicians and professors in decrying the dangers of free s،ch. Some falsely claim that hate s،ch is not protected under the First Amendment. Others panicked at the notion of free s،ch protections being restored at Twitter. On CNN, s،ch limits were called a “harm-reduction model” for the media.
The result left free s،ch values in free fall in our country. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free s،ch rights in the West. The European ،down on free s،ch has now reached our s،res and there are a growing number of citizens calling on the government to limit their right to free expression. It is a form of cons،utional immolation by citizens w، have never known true aut،rit، government.
The Pew poll s،ws ،w dire this struggle has become. Despite our long history of free s،ch protection, every generation can renew or rescind that support. This is a crisis of faith that we cannot ignore. Justice Louis Brandeis once warned that “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but wit،ut understanding.”