Self-censorship in the US, by Judith Bergman

Remember different opinions, public expression, and arguments, sometimes heated? Those are fading remnants of the US that once was, replaced by “wokeness,” cancel, and self-censorship. From Judith Bergman at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • The US nominally enshrines the most far-reaching freedom of speech, thanks to the First Amendment of the Constitution. Yet the average number of Americans who self-censor is slowly beginning to approximate that of Germany, where… “Nearly two-thirds of citizens are convinced that ‘today one has to be very careful on which topics one expresses oneself’, because there are many unwritten laws about what opinions are acceptable and admissible”.
  • It is, however, not surprising. American campuses have steered a “leftist” course for decades. The tilt has had familiar consequences: the proliferation on campus of “safe spaces”, trigger warnings, de-platforming of conservative voices and a “cancel culture” aimed at professors and students who do not conform to an on-campus political orthodoxy that has become increasingly totalitarian. Most recently, the dean of University of Massachusetts Lowell’s School of Nursing, Leslie Neal-Boylan, was fired by the school after writing “Black lives matter, but also everyone’s life matters” in an email to students and faculty.
  • When citizens stop voicing their concerns in public about current events, policies and ideas out of fear that they will lose their livelihoods and social standing, it is — or should be — a huge problem in a democracy.
  • A democratic society of fearful citizens who dare not speak about what is on their minds — often important issues of their time — is doomed to succumb to the will of those who bully the hardest and shout the loudest.
A democratic society of fearful citizens who dare not speak about what is on their minds — often important issues of their time — is doomed to succumb to the will of those who bully the hardest and shout the loudest. (Image source: iStock)

A recent survey of 2,000 Americans by Cato Institute/YouGov found that 62% of Americans say “the political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive”. This is up from 2017, when 58% agreed with this statement. “Majorities of Democrats (52%), independents (59%) and Republicans (77%) all agree they have political opinions they are afraid to share”.

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