The left has been slowly but doggedly promoting the idea that speech is a form of violence or that it can “incite violence” for years. They have taken the riot and break-in at the US Capitol by supporters of election transparency and the American Republic as well as President Trump (which was not on my 6 tips for enjoying a DC rally by the way so please read more carefully next time if you were one who decided to break a Capitol window. I said AVOID ANTIFA not BECOME them) as the perfect opportunity to finally silence their opponents in the name of safety. Here is a non-comprehensive timeline of the left’s censorship movement culminating in the banning of the sitting President of the United States from major social media platforms:
2015: Safe Spaces
A more disciplined researcher could probably cite the exact moment when the left ramped up their censorship efforts citing “violence” but I think the movement which first heightened the awareness of this effort was the “safe-space” movement. The concept was invented sometime in the 90s by the LGBT community but it reared its head in 2015 when college students began designating certain dorm floors and clubs as “safe spaces” for certain groups and banning those from outside the group from entry or participation. This escalated into scenarios where perimeters were drawn on the group and only certain types of people were permitted to enter the barrier. The implication of this movement was that: students of color (or women, or LGBT or liberal whatever the group was) were rendered unsafe by the opinions, speech and very existence of their fellow students who were different or disagreed. To the very small credit of the media, this initial movement did receive some negative feedback since many of the “safe-spaces” also prohibited the entry of journalists. The only line the media will draw is the protection of their own interests.
2017: Beginning of cancellation of conservative speakers
Though the safe-space movement received early criticism it continued to escalate until it received the full endorsement of official government leaders. In 2017, college campuses and other organizations began cancelling conservative events and speakers in the name of public safety. The first cancellation of a conservative didn’t take place in 2017, there were many instances before, but most famously, conservative personality Milo Yiannopoulos was slated to host “Free Speech Week” at many campuses across the country including UC Berkeley in that year. The campus erupted into violent protest because the aggressors claimed that Yiannopoulos was a “Nazi” (which is not) and that his speech would cause them harm. Instead of condemning the violent uprising, Berkey canceled Yiannopoulos’s speech and many other schools followed suit citing the violence at Berkley as their justification. As if Yiannopoulos’s ideas and ideas alone were the true source of violent rage.
In 2017, schools and cities across the nation would go on to cancel speaking events for Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, Lauren Southern and more all under the blanket of “safety” for their community.
The movement to silence conservative voices in the name of safety did not slow down after 2017. In fact, in February of 2020 – a second amendment rights activist, Katlin Bennett was violently mobbed by students at her visit to Ohio State. The response to this action was to allow students to call law enforcement to have her removed from areas of their campus they thought didn’t belong to her – because of her ideas – on campuses across the country.
2017: “Day of Absence” at schools for White Students
The safe space movement took on new life when students of color demanded that white students and faculty not come to school on certain days so the campuses would be for persons of color only (with a special focus on black students). These events were a tipping point in the conversation of speech/association being tantamount to violence. For the first time, there were serious professional consequences for any dissenting voice – for the simple act of dissent no other act.
Most famously, but not exclusively, at Evergreen College in Washington, students and the college’s “diversity program” coordinated an event which did not allow white students or faculty to attend classes on a certain day in order to create a “safe space” for students of color. The implication of the action was that white students or faculty, if they didn’t comply, were unsafe people. In fact, one professor wrote a letter with concerns about the format of the protest believing that speech and gatherings should never be restricted based on race. When he expressed his discontent with the messaging, the school police told him they would not protect him if he showed up to campus and he should stay home. Choosing peaceful civil disobedience, he came to school to do his job anyway and was surrounded by a violent mob. His crime? Only disagreement and existence.
Instead of condemning the students for harassment and violence, the national media as well as the school and state administration condemned the professor. He was ultimately forced to resign and went on the sue the college which was settled out of court.
2018: The era of social media censorship begins in earnest
After mounting pressure from the liberal media and leftist policy makers, Facebook began censoring and banning political content if they deemed it “dangerous.” They chose a wide ranging mix to kick-off their campaign by banning InfoWars and Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, the Nation of Islam, Paul Nehlen and others. Some of the individuals were involved in plots of terrorism and sponsor white supremacy – others just speak loudly about things the care about. Facebook’s goal was to lump the two together so that it was harder to distinguish between individuals who are dangerous and individuals who have ideas that might be considered extreme.
In the same year, Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica the polling firm who was contracted by the Trump campaign due to “data use violations” which seems not unrelated to the issue at hand -thought to their credit – they never tried to say it was because the group was “dangerous” though the implication was not thinly veiled.
Twitter, Instagram and other major social media outlets joined in the censorship by either banning individuals or implementing “shadow banning” policies which ensures that individuals cannot be found by searching for their profiles or tweets or posts, though, they are still allowed to post and participate. These efforts were to slow the spread of information these organizations deemed unsafe in their subjective terms.
Free Press Fail’s own Corinne Clark was shadow banned on Twitter for daring to express view points that were different from the CEO of the platform and growing her audience too quickly.
2020: Open censorship
The mask was lifted off the proverbial baddie once 2020 hit. At the pressure of leftists lawmakers, social media began putting disclaimers on only conservative posts to imply the information was false even when the “information” was an opinion.
Individuals who supported peaceful protests against the COVID-19 lockdowns were banned under the pretense of inciting unsafe behaviors (organizers of the BLM rallies were not equally banned). In fact, accounts which accused groups like ANTIFA of violence during the BLM riots were suspended for the sake of the accusation. The words alone were enough to be considered “dangerous” even though the words condemned violence.
Capitol Hill held dozens of hearings featuring the tech giants of Facebook, Twitter and Google with leftist lawmakers demanding that they censor users who use speech in a way that these politicians – government authorities – deem unworthy and unfit to be seen by the American public. When Senate republicans held hearings questioning the blatant censorship – lefitst law makers accused them of, once again, being “dangerous to the American election system.”
The search engine giant, Google and video giant, YoutTube, first took to demonetizing websites (banning ad buys) that they deemed “untruthful” under the guise of various user agreements and accusations of fraud. Free Press Fail was banned from ad use and unsearchable on Google for months during the 2020 election cycle due to false allegations that the site was essentially faking readers. There was no method to appeal this decision and no oversight body to prevent Google from making that decision. It was clear that Google did not want conservative viewpoints to be expressed during an election cycle.
2021: Banning of President Trump and more
On January 6, 2021 – members of Congress protested the electoral votes of certain states based on their illegal methodology of verifying (in that- they did not verify) mail-in ballots and polling procedures. President Trump supported this action having for months been using legal methods to challenge the outcome of the election based upon similar concerns. A rally was planned in support of this challenge and of President Trump in Washington, DC.
During this rally, where hundreds of thousands of people attended, a tiny fraction of those people made the decision to storm the US Capitol and break in through the locked doors. These individuals destroyed property, often acted violently toward police and escalated their protest to a violent place. It became a riot not a peaceful protest.
President Trump was asked to send the individuals home. This request was the first in a line of implications (followed by outright accusations) that President Trumps verbal and legal objection to the election result was a dangerous view point which was capable of inciting violence.
Regardless, President Trump complied. He expressed his shared frustration and his thanks for their support but asked them to remain peaceful and to go home. The leftist media and lawmakers as well as many conservatives decided that his appeal for the group to go home was further violent and further dangerous.
The social media giants took their opportunity and banned the President – the sitting President of the United States – from all platforms. Stating outright that the Presidents words were responsible for the violent actions of others.
Lawmakers are now using the same principle to suggest charging the President with crimes and removing him from office. The full culmination of legal ramifications for speech.
Its not just President Trump. The social media giants are removing images of the riot from their platforms. As if the simple knowledge that it existed is dangerous. Knowledge is now danger.
If we do not fight back against the notion that speech is capable of being dangerous, we will live in a world where anything you say can be used as a tool to silence you forever. Speech is the first right protected in our Constitution without it there is truly no nation left to protect. Defending speech does not mean you are defending content or agreeing with someone’s ideas or words. Its defending their right to have them and to express them freely.
Its does not go unnoticed that those who supported this riot are being treated very much differently than those who treated the riots which plagued all of 2020 regarding race relations and BLM. But that is for another article.
Speech is not violent. Violence is violence.