For the first time in the life of this alternative opinion blog, the content of something I wrote was censored.
On Friday, a Barker’s View Angels & Assholes piece regarding the controversy surrounding Volusia School Superintendent Carmen Balgobin was unilaterally purged by the administrator of a local social media site ostensibly dedicated to our local school system.
“Your post was removed by admin.”
The reason? Language.
Now, I’m not sure the overseer of the site that touts itself as a “forum” – something classically defined as a public place for the free and open exchange, discussion, and debate of competing ideas – understands the concept, because just prior to deleting my post from her site, the administrator labeled it a “Monday morning quarterback” piece (which it was) before removing it from the site altogether in an apparent pique after I described Balgobin’s administration as a “shit show.”
Is there a better descriptor?
That bothered me.
Because it wasn’t the language, but the criticism, that offended.
I posted the piece on the site because it addressed a topical, and highly contentious, issue in Volusia County schools – and because the “forum” claimed that “Considerate and thoughtful discussion of ideas, thoughts, and concerns, regarding our schools, is welcome.”
Clearly critical thought isn’t welcome – but I’m not surprised.
After all, it’s hard to remain objective about the state of Volusia County Schools. . .
Suppression of free expression under the slippery, seductive, politically correct ruse that we be subjectively “kind and courteous” in thought and word is nothing more than velvet glove censorship – and it allows those in positions of appointed or elected power to run roughshod – as anyone who dares criticize them are marginalized and silenced by their shills.
So, I removed myself from what passes for an education “forum” in this foul year 2020, because I know there are competing ideas out there that will not be permitted to see the light of day – and that leaves only half the story being told.
In her 1906 biography The Friends of Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall summarized the French philosopher’s beliefs with the line, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
That infamously misapplied quote is returning to favor as those engaged in our current “cancel culture” seek to suppress free and open speech by limiting the exchange of views to only those messages which comport with their own.
Add to that the dangerous practice of social media monopolies attempting to bring censorship into the mainstream by sentencing those who engage in speech deemed offensive by some nameless/faceless “community standards team” to social media “jail” – blocking their ability to engage with others in an anti-discourse policy that essentially banishes anyone with a dissenting opinion to a purgatory of silence – an insidious suppression that, in my view, is slowly desensitizing the American people to the erosion of our God-given right to free speech.
In today’s world, if someone ventures an opinion that is counter to our own, rather than engage in the competition of spirited debate, we simply “report” that which we find offensive to those self-appointed persecutors who “monitor” content – or remove it from our so-called “forum” completely – so that others are not similarly butt-hurt by a contrary opinion.
As a result, the nation’s social, civic, and ideological rift widens – and, more disturbing, we begin shaping our thoughts to comport with those who hold the authority to affect our lives and livelihoods.
Those of us who vociferously exercise our right to be heard on the important issues of the day, slowly begin to reign ourselves in – adapting and modulating our voice – to avoid suppression or reprisal by those dictatorial martinets who police the thoughts and opinions of others.
This summer, a diverse group of academics, authors, and civic activists issued an open letter in Harper’s magazine espousing that “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments” are “[weakening] norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity”.
“This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.”
Look, I don’t expect everyone to agree with these hypercritical screeds.
They are not for everyone.
Because provoking higher thought can take people outside their comfort zone, you know, where real and lasting change begins.
My sincere hope is that these carping, critical, and faultfinding diatribes of mine help incite a larger discussion of the issues we collectively face here on Florida’s Fun Coast – a place where, for far too long, the influence of those with a chip in the game outweigh that of long-suffering taxpayers who are asked to pay the bills and suffer in silence.
Keep the light of free expression burning bright.
Read, write, comment, debate, let your voice be heard.