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IPFS News Link • Censorship

Self-Censorship and Despotism Over the Mind

•, by Richard M. Ebeling

The political atmosphere in the United States today is one of the most divisive and polarized in a very long time. In my lifetime, the only period with which I can compare it is the 1960s and early 1970s during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, when there were demonstrations on the streets of many cities throughout the country and episodes of destructive violence, along with calls for radical change. One difference between then and now is the increasing degree nowadays of self-censorship concerning politics and social issues.

Recently, the Cato Institute (July 22, 2020) released the results of a detailed survey on how people across the political spectrum are more and more fearful of sharing their political beliefs with others. Whether the respondents labelled themselves as "strongly liberal" or "liberal" or "moderate" or "conservative" or "strongly conservative," noticeable numbers of them replied that they withheld telling about their political views for fear of "offending" someone and getting into some type of trouble, and therefore practicing forms of self-censorship.

Of those categorizing themselves as "strongly liberal," which in the American political lexicon really means someone who views themselves as or sympathetic to "progressivism" or "democratic" socialism, 42 percent said they self-censor their political ideas in various public arenas; 64 percent of political "moderates" said they censor themselves; while 77 percent of those considering themselves as "conservatives" or "strong conservatives" said they feared to publicly express their political opinions for fear of negative consequences.