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When Discussing Censorship, We Should Always Point Out that it Isolates People

When journalist Matt Taibbi testified before Congress recently, he exposed further chilling information about the Censorship Industrial Complex – a group of elitist government and corporate actors – who claim they know best what information people should and should not be exposed to. They use various pretexts for doing so, such as protecting us from misinformation or hate speech.

Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, and others have done valiant work exposing censorship. As Taibbi points out, we are witnessing a class war in which a tiny sliver of elites intends to control everyone’s access to virtually all information. Obviously, this is tyranny. 

But I believe there is a critical point that we must never forget to stress in this argument: censorship is ultimately about isolating us from one another.  If we want more people to understand what’s at stake, we must build awareness of the loneliness that arises from censorship. Censorship is isolating because it restricts whom we may and may not talk to. It nudges us into narrowing the circle of those we associate with. It’s tells us what we must think, and shuts down conversation. This might begin on a small scale, but when left unchecked, censors always push the envelop as far as they can.

So it’s not a stretch to say that censorship atomizes us, and essentially boxes us into a form of solitary confinement.  This is the essence of the thesis in my book The Weaponization of Loneliness. Only if people understand censorship in those terms can the argument against it resonate on a more effective, more personal level. It’s not as much an abstraction. People can relate to the discomfort of shutting up in compliance with political correctness.  They can relate to the fear of ostracism behind it all. So when we become aware of that trap, we’re more motivated to do something about it.

There is no alternative to non-compliance with censorship regimes.  To comply is akin to getting into the trunk of a car at gunpoint.  Nothing good is going to happen to you in that trunk.  It’s a fight-or-flight situation. And if you can’t flee, your only choice is to fight because the Censorship Industrial Complex that Taibbi and others have exposed has shown that it can never be trusted. It will keep you locked in solitary if it can.

I hope to follow up soon with another post that provides a specific “to-do list” of fighting the ill effects of censorship and the loneliness it breeds in us.

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