I like to talk about ideas. Ideas start with a free and open mind- able to imagine and create without restrictions or inhibition-a situation that exists very well in a place that has no restrictions on speech. I believe it’s one of the reasons so many innovative creations and beautiful creations happen in the United States.
Most times people approach a problem or challenge the same way their parents approached the problem, time tested and proven. I respect this approach but I almost always wonder if there is a better way and so will take the approach and try subtle changes to see if there is a better result. Sometimes, I will look at the traditional result and work backwards until I find flaws in the method or duplication of effort and then modify the approach. All of this happens because my mind is free and allowed to try these things.
Our 1st Amendment to the Constitution provides protections from governmental attacks to freedom of speech and seems to have done well in that capacity. This amendment however does not protect our freedom of speech from private entities that may be able to warp freedom of speech or even prevent it.
Mob mentality has shown itself to be a powerful force over time. The power of the mob has been harnessed on the internet in that a group of anonymous people may threaten or shout-down those who speak with little risk to the mob itself. It is a fantastic opportunity for a coward to feel powerful.
Author Amelie Wen Zhao recently decided not to publish her book, “Blood Heir” because of internet mobs who cited her book as being racist. There is no real defense against a mob limiting freedom of speech through anonymous intimidation. This sort of intimidation is a first cousin to book burning however it is much more cloaked and anonymous in nature.
My greatest fear from all of this is that it may lead to self-censorship. The pain a mob can create may make people fear their own thoughts. If you enjoyed a classic novel which becomes demonized by online mobs, do you dare speak of it? Do you dare read it or think about it as it may color your conversation? In George Orwell’s “1984” those whose unspoken thoughts were not condoned by the ruling mob were guilty of thought-crime. The ruling mob does not have to be a government, it could be any group of social-justice warriors who decide you don’t think as they do.
Here is my point; without freedom of thought, beauty does no exist. Beautiful art, thrilling novels, inspiring architecture or even good tools that make daily labor easier cannot exist without someone to think them up. If you are constantly on guard and forced by mobs to only thing as they want, this kind of free, creative though cannot exist.
It would be a prison of the heart and the mind that exists without shape or definition. We would not be able to fight against this sort of tyranny as it would only attack and never have to defend itself. We should not let it happen-so think your thoughts-freely.