No time for silence

It is time to speak up and be heard.  It is time to stand up for maybe the most celebrated and revered of all American principles and traditions.  This is no time for silence.

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not an Alex Jones fan.  His brand of conspiracy insanity isn't my cup of tea, but nevertheless, he should be allowed to say such psychologically untethered things if he is so inclined.  There is nothing more American than saying foolish, nonsensical, and even offensive and idiotic things for all to hear.  It's called the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The ability to say what you think, no matter who may take offense, is one of the basic and founding principles of our republic.  The public square should not be off limits to offensive people just because the public square is now electronic and controlled by massive private companies.

The Constitution does not guarantee your right or mine never to be offended.  In fact it assures quite the opposite.

So when Twitter bans Jones and his Infowars show permanently, I take offense.  It offends my sense of fair play when people are silenced because other people say they are offended by what they hear.

You're offended?  So what?

The best way to decide what you believe and what defines you is to hear and evaluate as many points of view as possible.  Silencing public debate and controlling what people are allowed to see, hear, and read is the road to totalitarianism.  When you are fed a sanitized and homogenized diet of thoughts and ideas, you are becoming programmed to think the way they intend.

It doesn't matter if those controlling the message are big government or big business, and some days it's hard to tell the difference.

Free flowing conversations lead to free minds and free people.  Censoring what people are allowed to read, watch, or say leads to the destruction of liberty.  Denying our neighbors the right to be heard because it offends us will only lead to more people being denied.

It may start, innocently enough, as protecting kids from hate speech (it's always about the kids, you know), but as it gathers steam, that train will run right past piles of burning books, new government TV stations, re-education camps, and eventually the detention centers for the heretofore unenlightened.

The cure for offensive speech is more speech, not less.

How can you know what you believe if you are exposed to only one point of view?  The only way to get inoculated against stupidity is to be exposed to it.  I am not an Alex Jones fan because I have heard him talk and read what he writes.  Otherwise, I might be susceptible to that brand of conspiracy theories.

I believe that it is imperative for the health of the nation to let everyone be heard no matter how infantile or absurd he may be.  Again, this is why there is a First Amendment to begin with.

With giant corporations controlling ever more real estate in the digital space, where a vast majority of the conversations take place these days, we must look seriously at how we defend freedom with the same passion as our founders.

The inoculation for ignorance is free speech.  So when people I don't necessarily agree with like Alex Jones are shut down, I don't cheer.  No, I fight for their right to be heard.  We need a lot more of that these days than ever before.

The future of America depends on it.

Image: Tyler Menezes via Flickr.

It is time to speak up and be heard.  It is time to stand up for maybe the most celebrated and revered of all American principles and traditions.  This is no time for silence.

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not an Alex Jones fan.  His brand of conspiracy insanity isn't my cup of tea, but nevertheless, he should be allowed to say such psychologically untethered things if he is so inclined.  There is nothing more American than saying foolish, nonsensical, and even offensive and idiotic things for all to hear.  It's called the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The ability to say what you think, no matter who may take offense, is one of the basic and founding principles of our republic.  The public square should not be off limits to offensive people just because the public square is now electronic and controlled by massive private companies.

The Constitution does not guarantee your right or mine never to be offended.  In fact it assures quite the opposite.

So when Twitter bans Jones and his Infowars show permanently, I take offense.  It offends my sense of fair play when people are silenced because other people say they are offended by what they hear.

You're offended?  So what?

The best way to decide what you believe and what defines you is to hear and evaluate as many points of view as possible.  Silencing public debate and controlling what people are allowed to see, hear, and read is the road to totalitarianism.  When you are fed a sanitized and homogenized diet of thoughts and ideas, you are becoming programmed to think the way they intend.

It doesn't matter if those controlling the message are big government or big business, and some days it's hard to tell the difference.

Free flowing conversations lead to free minds and free people.  Censoring what people are allowed to read, watch, or say leads to the destruction of liberty.  Denying our neighbors the right to be heard because it offends us will only lead to more people being denied.

It may start, innocently enough, as protecting kids from hate speech (it's always about the kids, you know), but as it gathers steam, that train will run right past piles of burning books, new government TV stations, re-education camps, and eventually the detention centers for the heretofore unenlightened.

The cure for offensive speech is more speech, not less.

How can you know what you believe if you are exposed to only one point of view?  The only way to get inoculated against stupidity is to be exposed to it.  I am not an Alex Jones fan because I have heard him talk and read what he writes.  Otherwise, I might be susceptible to that brand of conspiracy theories.

I believe that it is imperative for the health of the nation to let everyone be heard no matter how infantile or absurd he may be.  Again, this is why there is a First Amendment to begin with.

With giant corporations controlling ever more real estate in the digital space, where a vast majority of the conversations take place these days, we must look seriously at how we defend freedom with the same passion as our founders.

The inoculation for ignorance is free speech.  So when people I don't necessarily agree with like Alex Jones are shut down, I don't cheer.  No, I fight for their right to be heard.  We need a lot more of that these days than ever before.

The future of America depends on it.

Image: Tyler Menezes via Flickr.