There is this growing mantra from one side of the global political spectrum to silence dissension from the other side online. I have for most of my life considered myself to be a liberal. For a long time I identified as a Classical liberal or libertarian. As the tide of progressivism sweeps across western culture I find myself more and more identifying as a conservative. When I say progressivism I am not trying to insinuate that I think social progress and moving our society in a direction of equality of opportunity is not the gold standard of social norms. This is where i stop with the progressive left. Trying to level the playing field should be the goal. Trying to make everyone’s score on the games field the same at the end of the game in my opinion should not be part of that goal. I mean more in the sense of Politically correct culture and the natural censorship that is leading to. I worry that identity politics on the left are causing issues that people cannot see. It is easy fro us to see when conservative politics moves to far to the right because it has certain hallmarks of behavior. One might say it Goose steps to a certain beat. When identity politics goes to far on the left we struggle to see the line because it is disguised in the clothing of empathy.
I understand why more left leaning people are upset with the way that people are sometimes treated online. I understand how it can be harder for women to engage in certain internet areas then from their male counterparts. I can even understand that someone who may read this that does not identify as one of the two genders I just listed may feel excluded. And in that last sentence lies the real crux of the censorship issue. If we look at these three issues and take action on trying to stop these problems we create an artificial hierarchy of social victims. I say it is artificial not because victims do not exists, but because outside the bounds of the internet you cannot protect these people from hurt and offense. Unless the long term goal is to enforce this type of censorship on peoples lives in every aspect of it. This sort of policing of societies behavior is possible, but it is what we call out as wrong in places like China, and yet we play with the notion we can start it here in the west; but we will be able to do it right, or we will not go to far as China has done. While the Chinese culture has existed for over 6000-8000 years and they still struggle with a fair application of these principles,.
If as a parent I censor too much of life from my child in a dishonest manner it will eventually have a net negative affect on him. When he emerges from the shelter I have built for him and has to face life on life’s terms he will not be prepared. I also have to be sure that as I allow my child to see more and more of the world that I do not allow him to be over exposed to things that are to mature for him to understand or that may discourage, dishearten, or traumatize him. Between those two statements exists the boundaries of how my wife and I try to manager our child’s ever developing sense of what the world has to offer.
The true difference between censorship of society and censorship of a child is that someday the child has to head out on their own. The idea of censorship on a mass scale is the idea that we can extend this childhood filter into adulthood. We cannot. There will always be interactions that ever human faces that are hard, mean, cruel, evil, and every feeling and emotion possible. This idea that censorship is something we understand the management of and can implement correctly is also concerning. As a parent I know that I am going to make mistakes. I know that I am going to allow my son to see things that he shouldn’t, and expose him to ideas and information before he is ready. This relationship of censorship is on a truly micro level. It is a relationship that is based on familial bonds and blood relations. There is love and trust truly at work in the relationship. Additionally as a parent I know I am in a better position in maturity, in wisdom, and in intellectual development in comparison to him. This Variance between my child and me is what justifies my actions of censorship and protectionism.
The argument on a social level, on any grounds cannot be justified in the same manner. The position comes from a place of protection of some at the cost of others freedom of expression. At some point in the censorship an individual or a group of people have to believe that there knowledge is superior to everyone else’s and from that position they can justify wielding power over large groups of adult human beings.
If you can see the arrogance in the statement above then we share a similar opinion. If you cannot see that the group above is taking actions based on arrogance we do not sit on the same side of this issue. If you feel my position is wrong and there are groups of people that need societies protection online, and that the administration of censorship will not be abused I ask you to really think about that perspective. I ask you to look around in the world to find similarities in behavior of those on the left and their ideas of censorship. Find other places in the world where you see censorship taking place. Can you find an instance of suppression of thought of one group for the benefit of the other group that has ever led to peace? I am not going to assert that I know for certain this outcome has never been the case. I will assert that I am fairly well educated and I am not aware of an instance where suppression of speech has led to a blossoming of peace. If one such example does exists I would be happy to revisit my views in this area.
I look at the internet and its potential for complete freedom of expression on a global scale and I see it slipping towards a tool that the powerful will use to repress. I see how China and now Russia are using their internet and I shudder. Places like that UK and New Zealand have already started down these paths. On top of these there is growing calls for censorship here in the United States. What will be the tipping point? Will there be a tipping point? I will continue to engage with people I have different views from. I will not hide my beliefs in fairness of law, freedom of speech, and individual choice above all else. These things are gifts, and if we are not careful we will allow them to be censored away from us one at a time.