Editorial: Erasing the freedom to disagree

Column By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

Every person has a story. Every person is a story. Our world is laced and leathered together by stories about humanity; the rights and the wrongs. Threads of history wrap around and around and around a never-ending spool of narratives.  

And while we anger at the silencing of stories in communist countries, we dare not fathom the suppressing of the pen in America. How can censorship take root and live in the United States, a great country built upon a foundation of civil liberties? By igniting and fanning fear during a pandemic, that’s how.   

We witnessed the shushing, hushing, and crushing of written words by the private sectors, Facebook and Twitter, concerning the 2020 presidential election. But, the flames of internet censorship continue to blaze.  

Jessica Berg Wilson’s husband said Twitter censored Jessica’s obituary. Doctors diagnosed her with vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). And VITT is a rare, and sometimes fatal, blood-clotting condition triggered by COVID vaccines. How interesting that the Twitter fact-checkers failed to check the facts. Visit clarkcountytoday.com for more of this story.  

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, “YouTube is banning prominent anti-vaccine activists.” Since when is questioning any medical information a crime? Since when is an opposite belief or opinion about medical treatments considered an enemy to democracy? Since megalomaniac Anthony Fauci rolled out his pandemic plan as the truth, the light, and the way for healing.  

But, there’s a sticky wicket. Social Media platforms are private companies and legally able to establish rules within their communities. And this includes censorship of content. That’s a big fly in the ointment.  

Has Big Brother entered the Whitehouse? Is George Orwell’s dystopian 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, coming to pass? “Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively, and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages.” Visit www.politico.com

What actions can citizens take to protect civil liberties? 

Write to your state representatives. Write Letters to the Editor of your local and state newspapers. Join organizations that promote freedom of speech and freedom to write. 

Thirty states are in the process of enacting laws against internet censorship.  

The Stop Social Media Censorship Act passed Florida’s Republican-majority House and Senate. DeSantis signed it into law, but a judge blocked it. 

In Wisconsin, Assembly Bill 589 would prevent the censorship of media enterprises based on the content of their publication or broadcast. Assembly Bill 530 would prevent the censorship of posts by or about political candidates and elected officials.  

Founded in 1922, PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network. PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. “We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.” Visit pen.org

The Free Expression Network (FEN) is an alliance of organizations dedicated to protecting the First Amendment right of free expression and the values it represents, and to opposing governmental efforts to suppress constitutionally-protected speech. Visit ncac.org

The First Amendment Coalition is a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation in civic affairs. Visit firstamendmentcoalition.org

We cannot allow freedom of speech or any civil liberties to be erased by anybody, no matter how powerful or greedy or corrupt. 

“If all printers were determined not to print anything until they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” ― Benjamin Franklin 

Melissa Martin is an opinion editorial columnist, author, and educator. The opinion in this editorial is her own.