When Speech is Silenced, Tyrants Rule

By: Lisa Van Houten

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1722. What would Ben Franklin think if he could see America today?  Three hundred years later, our nation “conceived in liberty” is at risk of being “overthrown” by many of her own citizens – and one of the means used to do so is the suppression of free speech.

A recent poll from Real Clear Politics (RCP) reveals a troubling anti-freedom movement: nearly half of Democrats stated that free speech should be legal only “under certain circumstances.” In addition, more than one-third of Democrats feel Americans have “too much freedom.”  An equally concerning poll result shows that a whopping 75% of Democrats believe government should restrict “hateful” social media posts – a clear violation of that pesky First Amendment, which supposedly prevents the government from abridging the freedom of speech.

And in this age when words are considered “violence,” what the left calls “hate speech” is any speech with which they disagree.  Tolerating others and different viewpoints is necessary for living in a pluralistic society. However, now for example, if one holds to objective reality regarding gender and sexuality and posts that truth online, it will be labeled as “hateful.”  As Catherine Salgado writes at PJ Media: “So not only is the term completely subjective, and thus highly dangerous as a standard for targeting content, but the First Amendment is not meant to apply only to speech that is non-controversial. It is mostly meant to apply to speech that could be controversial, with which some or most people disagree. The federal government thus has no right or ability at all to target free speech. And if this poll is accurate, the fact that so many Americans reportedly think it does is incredibly disturbing.”

Only 31% of Democrats strongly agreed when they were read this well-known quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This viewpoint, which is at the heart of free speech, traditionally has been a central premise of liberalism.  Liberals have been known for opposing censorship and promoting free expression.   Now they wholeheartedly approve of censorship – but only of conservative speech and opinions.

In addition, the RCP poll reveals that a majority of Democrats (52%) “approve of the government censoring social media content under the rubric of protecting national security.” It’s troubling that even one-third of Republicans and independents also agree.  After 9-11 we saw Congress implement the Patriot Act – giving the government the right to spy on Americans and violate their liberty under the pretense of “keeping us safe.”  Many Americans were willing to trade their freedom (as they did under Covid) for safety.  “Give me liberty or give me death” was a foundational principle of America and distinguished Americans from our European counterparts.  With the infiltration of Marxist ideology, we have gone from a nation relying upon God, to one dependent upon government.

The poll also showed that over half of Democratic voters believe that government censorship should take precedence over “social media users be[ing] able to post content they feel are in the national interest.”  In other words, it’s up to our overlords what information we’re allowed to have and to share.  We certainly saw that mushroom during Covid when any viewpoint that contradicted the government’s narrative – even from esteemed medical professionals – was censored.  And, thanks to information released by Elon Musk, we now have irrefutable proof of what we already knew – the government has been colluding with Big Tech to censor conservative American’s social media posts’. The “Twitter Files” released by Musk showed that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other social media “developed a formal system for taking in moderation requests” from government agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, and others. Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki publicly admitted that Biden administration officials were “in regular touch” with social media platforms to combat “misinformation,” reports the Daily Signal.

This alarming targeting of conservatives doesn’t just apply to online speech, but freedom in general.  We’ve seen parents hauled out of school board meetings for speaking out against transgender ideology.  We’ve written previously about our two-tiered justice system under Democrat leadership where Joe Biden’s and Hillary Clinton’s blatant corruption is ignored, but Trump is indicted for contesting an election.  Under Biden’s Department of Justice we see peaceful pro-lifers arrested – 26 convicted last year alone – while leftist Antifa rioters burn buildings with impunity.  Two pro-life grandmothers in their 70s were arrested for supposedly blocking an entrance to an abortion facility and are now each facing up to 11 years in prison.  Meanwhile, as the Federalist contrasts, “a 42-year-old North Dakota man who ran over and killed an 18-year-old kid for being a Republican was sentenced to just five years in prison on a manslaughter charge, and with credit for time already served on house arrest, will spend only about four years behind bars. 

“Seeing these two things, maybe you wondered how it could be that two grandmothers might well spend twice as many years in prison for the nonviolent offence of sitting in front of an abortion clinic as a man who intentionally killed another man for his political beliefs.”

The freedoms upon which our once-great nation was founded are quickly being eroded. As I was concluding this article, my colleague, Steve Huston, just shared this news from American Center for Law and Justice: “A Christian kid was unconstitutionally suspended for telling his classmates about Jesus. Now we’re filing a lawsuit.  It’s abhorrent. But if it could happen here, it could happen in any school in the nation.”

Without free speech, tyrants rule, opposition is silenced, and we will lose every one of our other rights as well.  We cannot be bullied into acquiescing to mob rule.

George Washington once said, For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”


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