When the press feels compelled to censor

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger balks at the bizarre circumstances that have turned so-called journalists into censors.

People whose jobs depend on the protection of the First Amendment have joined the cancel culture. The editorial page editor of the New York Times was ousted after fellow staffers demanded his scalp having the audacity of publishing an op-ed by a U.S. senator calling for sending troops to quell rioting. (It now has a lengthy editors’ note atop it online disavowing much of the op-ed’s content.) The editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer was forced to resign for daring to publish an opinion piece under the headline”Buildings Matter, Too.”

Henninger observes:

The issue here is not about the assertion that racism is endemic in the U.S. The issue is the willingness by many to displace the American system of free argument with a system of enforced, coerced opinion and censorship, which forces comparison to the opinion-control mechanisms that existed in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

In 2006, the movie “The Lives of Others” dramatized how the Stasi, the omnipresent East German surveillance apparatus, pursued a nonconforming writer, whose friends were intimidated into abandoning him. To survive this kind of enforced thought-concurrence in the Soviet Union or Communist Eastern Europe, writers resorted to circulating their uncensored ideas as underground literature called samizdat. Others conveyed their ideas as political satire. In Vaclav Havel’s 1965 play, “The Memorandum,” a Czech office worker is demoted to “staff watcher,” whose job is to monitor his colleagues. You won’t see Havel’s anticensorship plays staged in the U.S. anytime soon.

He concludes:

The ingeniousness of this strategy of suppression and shaming is that it sidesteps the Supreme Court’s long history of defending opinion that is unpopular, such as its 1977 decision that vindicated the free-speech rights of neo-Nazis who wanted to march in Skokie, Ill. But if people have shut themselves up, as they are doing now, there is no speech, and so there is “no problem.”

Free speech isn’t dead in the United States, but it looks like more than ever, it requires active defense.

Who will dare when their jobs are on the line?

 

9 comments on “When the press feels compelled to censor

  1. Bill says:

    I will be pleasantly surprised if you get much favorable comment on your piece on censorship. There has always been a bit of clandestine censorship in the media, e.g., decisions about coverage, headlines, etc.. But, now, the censorship is more overt and coming from new directions and new sources. Perhaps what we are witnessing is the ultimate form of censorship. Information nullification. People are no longer just prevented from expressing their opinions but instead are vilified for evening holding such opinions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Welcome back Thomas. You’re perspective on things was missed no matter how wrong or hypocritical it usually is.

    Whatever happened to “they can say what they want just not at a podium I own@ or some such idea that I’ve heard you repeat at various times.

    If the Senator from Israel, has something to say, let him start a blog and publish to his craven hearts content. And unless every right wing paper in the country is slammed for not publishing the opinions of the Rev. Al Sharptin why is the NYTs being attacked for not publishing which they did but noting how dumb Cotton was when he wrote the treasonous stuff he did?

    Good to have you back!

  3. Rincon says:

    Is it just me or are the mainstream media digging up dirt on the cops at every opportunity and giving the demonstrators (along with the rioters and looters) pretty much a free pass? Last I heard, there were 11 dead bodies, with only one being at the hands of police – and that at least appears to have been in self defense – but cops are bad and demonstrators are good?

  4. Bill says:

    Rincon. In the days of William Randolph Hearst, they had a name for it. It was called “yellow journalism”.

  5. Steve says:

    Eliminate the “blue shield”
    Its obstruction of justice and everyone who subscribes to it is an accessory after the fact.

    Looking for all those good cops to start coming forward and reporting those few and far between “bad apples”

    Not holding my breath while waiting.

    I have direct experience with this. Not to the life and death level, but it is illustrative of the reality our police institution faces today. Absolute power is corrupting absolutely.

  6. Steve says:

    “We’re being asked to believe that a police officer, fully armed, trained in combat and equipped to deal with the worst case scenario when it comes to violence, is so threatened by a yipping purse dog weighing less than 10 pounds that the only recourse is to shoot the dog?

    If this is the temperament of police officers bred by the police state, we should all be worried.

    Clearly, our four-legged friends are suffering at the hands of an inhumane police state in which the police have all the rights, the citizenry have very few rights, and our pets – viewed by the courts as personal property like a car or a house, but far less valuable – have no rights at all.”

    This is just simple reality. To “our police” WE are the enemy. All of us, including our purse dogs.
    About 10 years ago I was stopped by NHP. I was a Clark County vendor at the time, I had my badge on. The response as the cop approached my drivers side, “OH! I didn’t know you were one of us!” Didn’t even get a “warning” the cop stated “we were all going too fast”. That is how I know, beyond any doubt, the “us” vs “them” mentality is very real and very deadly…for us. ALL of us.

    The article has some excellent advice for the LE institution. Hopefully, this time, it listens and learns.
    But don’t hold your breath. The last time was late 1960’s and all that came out of those events was empty reforms that handed even more power to the institution.
    And why do school police need an armed assault vehicle? They afraid those elementary kids will bite them on the ankles? Like a chihuahua?

    https://www.overtoncountynews.com/lifestyles/don-t-shoot-the-dogs-the-growing-epidemic-of-cops-shooting-family-dogs/article_98757e76-318f-11ea-8d4f-e35f8b517936.html

  7. Anonymous says:

    At least one network is willing to show the damage protestors are doing.

    Oh wait, never mind, they’re showing fake damage, that protestors didn’t do, the posing people in front of the damage in an effort to make the protestors look worse than they really are.

    https://www.snopes.com/ap/2020/06/13/fox-news-removes-altered-photos-of-seattle-protest-zone/

  8. Anonymous says:

    What was that you used to say about satire being dead Thomas?

    “Reddit post that played off a famous Monty Python bit, mistaking it for a genuine message of discontent from among those at the so-called “autonomous zone” in Seattle.

    On Fox News Channel’s The Story, host Martha MacCallum read from a Reddit post that was shown on screen in a report on the self-declared autonomous zone around a police precinct, dubbed the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” or or “CHAZ” by the demonstrators. Rapper Raz Simone has faced controversy and has been characterized in the press as the “Warlord” of the zone.”

    https://www.mediaite.com/tv/fox-runs-monty-python-parody-post-from-reddit-as-example-of-infighting-at-chaz-protest-area-in-seattle/

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