This editorial is brought to you by an active Chief of Police, writing under the name Sgt. A. Merica to protect his identity.
There has always been a saying that says politics is like sausage making. You may be okay with the result, but you probably don’t want to watch it happen.
In 2021, we are way past the historical partisan discomfort that comes after a contentious race. But this time we are going into some dark places that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should be concerned with.
We are in the middle of a 1st Amendment purge of Americans who reside on the right side of the political spectrum. And before you say the 1st Amendment applies to the government, not private companies, let me just stop you right there. The tech-giants that control literally EVERY bit of news that we consume are only where they are because of a government that protects them.
That’s a good thing right?
Well, when those who control the message act in a responsible and ethical fashion it is. But what do you do when these companies are protected by the government and they decide that certain political speech is no longer going to be allowed?
The first response to that comment is usually:
“If you don’t like it go build your own news/social media/internet company!”
Great idea! In fact that is what certain people have done, ala “Parler”, the “free speech” social media app that shot to the top of Apple’s app store this week.
But…when their success proved to be a threat to the choke hold big-tech has on the flow of information the public can see, they use their immense reach to make it difficult for Americans to use these new options by removing them from the very place we get our apps from, Google Play and the Apple App Store.
“But wait, that’s ok because resourceful people can still get on a computer and gain access to apps like ‘Parler’”.
— BertMartinez (@BertMartinez) January 12, 2021
Big-tech simply must conspire to make sure upstarts won’t have access to servers or support-side partners with which to run their platform. Which is exactly what has happened and continues to happen this week.
“Cross us and we will erase you” is the loud and crystal-clear message coming out of Silicon Valley in 2021.
We now live in a nation in which the Communist Party of America, celebrities who publicly call for the President of the United States to be assassinated, or terrorists like the Ayatollah of Iran and Nicholas Maduro, the murderous President of Venezuela, can have social media profiles and spout hate and genocide, but the President of the United States is silenced.
And it is not just the President.
Hundreds of conservative social media pages have been closed or deleted this week. Even Brandon Straka, the former liberal democrat who created the #walkaway movement, encouraging people of all walks of life to walk away from the democratic party, has been silenced and had his social media removed from platforms. No explanation. Just gone.
I used to like twitter but clearly its run by a bunch of clowns. @RTErdogan literally staged a fake military coup and he still has an account. Trump has only been linked to the capitol hill protest and they permanently banned him. Too bad puppet Biden won't do shit about big tech https://t.co/e1SV98g3T9
— Aerrow (@crunkdawg) January 12, 2021
This isn’t a 1950’s sci-fi drive-in movie… this is real. And it is happening right this minute.
For roughly half of America who do not support President Trump, you may not see the peril, but you should. We are no longer on a slippery slope of political silencing; we have stepped off a ledge.
Once it is acceptable to silence dissent, it is only a matter of time before the next group is in the crosshairs, then the next. Using history as a guide, the first round of political purging is always the hardest with each successive round getting a little easier and more acceptable.
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
Ask those in 1950’s Russia, 1970’s Cambodia or 1980’s China.
This country was founded around the core principle of free expression, even when that expression is not what we like to hear or agree with in any way, shape or form. In fact, the speech that we don’t agree with is the exact speech that needs the most protection.
More dialogue has always been the goal of this nation, not less. Our nation’s leaders have developed the very bad but predictable habit of using any and every event in the news cycle to consolidate power, this time it is through their proxies in the small number of big-tech companies that control what we see.
We can argue about whether or not President Trump instigated violence at the Capitol recently, and if you look at a transcript of his speech the evidence to convict him of that is pretty weak, but nonetheless the newly accepted practice of simply cancelling anyone who doesn’t conform is a practice that has traditionally been reserved for the most oppressive of regimes.
Dictators don’t get silenced. Dictators silence those who threaten their control.
The Communications Decency Act is a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Buried in there is “Section 230”, the often talked about legislation that protects social media companies and allows them to engage in the tactics of silencing dissent.
— Nixon-Kissinger (@NixonKissinger) January 12, 2021
These companies had not even been invented in 1996 when the internet was in its infancy (or if they did exist, they did not resemble in any way their current form) and legislators had no way to grasp what the next 25 years of advancement would bring.
In recent years this protection has allowed tech giants to quell free expression, and more specifically, political thought that doesn’t align with that of the company.
While there was no way to predict in 1996 what kind of control big-tech would have over the conduit of news and information we receive daily in 2021; the reality today is that a tiny number of gigantic corporations now have a stranglehold when it comes to the decision-making process that effects what any of us get to see.
Our reality today is that the lines have blurred to the point that traditional political ideologies and alliances are not recognizable. The right is now the party of free thought and expression. Republicans and the historically left-leaning ACLU are fighting together against the silencing of dissenting opinions.
Those on the left who in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were once the bastion of pushing the political boundaries, are now to varying degrees, working to make sure opposing voices can’t be heard on college campuses, can’t find airtime on legacy media and strive to “cancel” them from having an online presence.
As has been seen by totalitarian regimes throughout history, the idea of free thought and expression does not lend itself to the accumulation and centralization of power, and therefore has to be crushed.
Despite that the United States’ traditional adherence to including the widest variety of political views as possible under the American “tent”, is precisely why for almost 250 years the U.S. has been able to remain free of despots.
However, in less than a week that has all changed.
All of us both on the left and right should be encouraging our elected leaders to re-visit Section 230, and to do it quickly. Technology has made it easier than ever to share our thoughts, but it has also made silencing those ideas as easy as a keystroke.
We are taking the initial steps to going down a path that we can’t come back from, and moving from being the model that fledgling democracies have used to start their own democratic forms of self-governance, to replicating one of the many misguided nations throughout human history that make the fatal decision to quell dissent and silence opposition.
We all know how history treats those who choose this route.
Send a loud and clear message to your representatives that the issue of silencing political speech needs addressing now, or the next time you attempt to use your own political voice… you might find that it has been erased.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.