Lately it seems issues relating to censorship come up with surprising frequency. While one might be tempted to say that people are trying to control our thoughts “more than ever before”, that simply is not true – censorship and attempting to control how other people think has been prevalent for centuries.
But the problem with censorship today is that it seems to be becoming increasingly mainstream and coming from people on all sides of different issues.
For starters, we have the Colin Kaepernick issue in regards to his protest of the national anthem and the American flag. His demonstrations have engulfed the media and people’s attention over the past weeks over this hot-button issue. While the validity and appropriateness of his protest can be debated, he has the complete freedom of speech to act how he pleases – his protest does not harm anyone nor is it particularly disruptive. No one, aside from his employers, possibly, has the right to try to tell him that he should think differently or behave differently in his benign protest.
But there are numerous people, claiming to be patriots, who say that Kaepernick’s usage of his first amendment rights is not patriotic. Now there are numerous discussions that could be had in relation to the issue – whether sports are or should be a vehicle for social issues and change and whether Kaepernick should behave as a representative of the sport or team rather than his own protest – but at the heart he has the freedom to behave as he wants and people are trying to control and vilify his usage of that right. And who knows how this will affect him, if at all, moving forward.
Likewise on the college campus front, “safe spaces” and trigger warnings are becoming more and more prevalent. While the people putting forth these reforms theoretically have people’s good at heart, the center of the issue boils back down to censorship. Many people putting forth these changes are advising that students consider whether their language is “necessary” before speaking, encouraging students to self-censor themselves before talking in even the most casual of social interactions.
While one’s right to freedom of speech does not give the freedom to libel or the moral grounds to disparage others, these safe spaces seem numerous steps too far. Asking people to censor themselves or indeed not talk at all in every circumstance when they interact with someone else is censorship in the highest degree and seems quite ridiculous.
What it comes down to is in today’s society more and more people stand to lose big and be censored for opinions that are completely normal. Kaepernick is expressing a sentiment that many people around the country feel to be true, and yet he is being disparaged for it: his reputation will never be the same. Likewise students in some campus environments stand to be censored or brought up on disciplinary charges for saying things that are not “necessary.” This is the biggest danger facing our progressive society and millennial attitude – we stand to oppress and censor ideas in our pursuit of good, even when not meaning to. And this is something that is becoming more and more common for people today, even for people on both sides of the political spectrum.