speak against censorship

Each morning, after some time of my own quiet reflection, I eventually face up to the news.

Now, more than ever, there is a lot of sorting out to do. Trying to find the truth of things is a job. And it doesn’t help things one little bit when someone somewhere decides for me what information or opinion I can or cannot access.

Censorship is damaging and disempowering – which is the intent. And I am alarmed at how rampant it is becoming.

There is so much we don’t know. Scientists don’t know everything. Doctors don’t know everything. One political party or another does not know everything. The CIA does not know everything. Fact checkers don’t know everything. 

And all of them have biases.

Investigation of both facts and ideas is a healthy thing. Discourse is a healthy thing. Awareness and education are fundamental. Critical thinking is – ahem – critical.

Even without outright censorship, the information made available to us already suffers from a lot of control and manipulation. There are the stories that rise to the front page, and the stories that don’t. 

There’s been plenty of censorship relative to the Coronavirus. This is a situation that should allow more information and viewpoints, not less. Still, viewpoints from certain perspectives, expert or otherwise, are routinely disappeared, suppressed, or disparaged.

As the protesting going on around the country progresses, one has to consider how censorship has played a role in both producing the situation and covering it. We often see in the news the police account of a given incident, with little to no input from individuals involved and with a complete lack of context. At the very least, this can easily create a bias towards certain people, or classes of people. And, as we have seen in far too many instances, it may not even be the truth at all. During the current crisis, we are repeatedly seeing journalists roughed up and arrested. Now, what would be the point of that?

On an entirely different matter, Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore’s documentary, Planet of the Humans, was taken down for an alleged copyright violation. It was available free for viewing until the movie’s criticism culminated in this allegation which apparently concerns 4 seconds of footage that Moore alleges was “fair use.” Rather than pursue the matter through appropriate legal channels, the aggrieved party appealed to YouTube which settled the matter by taking the movie down. So much for legal process. 

I did watch the movie before it went away. It is a disturbing and thought-provoking work which leaves the viewer with questions. That is the point. To ask questions. To wonder about the truth. To evaluate the path we’ve been on and see where we might be headed. I have been very disappointed to see people in the environmental movement just pile on against this film rather than to seize the opportunity for dialogue.

With such a constant barrage of information coming at us 24 hours a day, it is more important than ever to allow free thought and discourse. When we acquiesce to allowing “someone” to control what we are allowed to view or read, this is dangerous and dark. It is counter to a healthy and free society. 

The masks we now routinely see covering people’s mouths are emblematic. It is hard to see them and not think what censorship and control of information is doing to our society. 

Today marks the sad anniversary of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square. In the context of the ongoing protests we are seeing now, coupled with the aggressive stance the president has articulated, it is more important than ever to speak up – to be able to speak up.

Say NO to censorship.

Update 6-6-20: Planet of the Humans is now back up on YouTube, free viewing.