We’ve been suspended by Facebook and censored for our articles. This is not new in America, but it is an ugly road we need not travel again.
Today I’m censored – tomorrow it might be you
By Glen Morgan
Censorship in America today is a pertinent topic now as a handful of Billionaires have decided they will determine who will be allowed to speak or who will be silenced. They can now un-bank, actively suppress, and silence people based on their political alignment or just because they question authority. When Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and others decide they can silence free speech in America, it is hard to see a positive upside for the rest of the nation. The ugly cheering from the Left and Big Government in our country of these censorship efforts should be jarring to anyone who believed “free speech” existed in America. As ugly as the Lefty celebrations might be right now, do any of them realize when they are censored next (and some of them inevitably will be soon), there will be nobody left to defend them? Few appear to be considering the inevitable and logical next steps.
Please Note: Apparently, I was on a list somewhere. I’ve been suspended from my Facebook Page (5 years old) and my personal Facebook account (11 years old) with no specific cause or reason given and no appeal. If you want to see what I write in the future, it is best to subscribe to this website. Share with others who may also want to stay updated directly. You can also subscribe to my YouTube video channel, which is still operational for now (see here). I’ll start sharing articles and videos again on Facebook and other anti-free speech platforms as long as I’m allowed, in between suspensions apparently. I will force them to remove me rather than self-censoring what I post (which is mostly just the videos I produce and articles I write – scary and threatening for sure).
I have never understood the desire, almost exclusively from the Left today, with supporting censorship in America. It seems ultimately self-destructive. Do they really believe when they censor, de-platform, or assault someone they disagree with today, the same treatment won’t eventually boomerang back on them? This is exceptionally short-sighted. Historically, when a society devolves to this point where the powerful silence and destroy “unapproved” minorities – and they are successful in doing so – they begin to find other targets to silence and destroy. This will inevitably include many who are currently cheering this same censorship. Many of them are certainly not “woke” enough tomorrow, even if they believe they are today. The political orthodoxy is always in flux, and it is impossible to always commit right think. I’m sure when wrong think happens, the newly censored will be wondering “hey, this was supposed to happen to the other guys.” That rude awakening will be too late by then.
A sign at recent reject the lockdown rally in Washington State
Of course, this censorship movement has been growing for several decades. Intolerance and active discrimination at this scale did not happen overnight. It does not require a secret cabal or conspiracy to make this happen. In the “land of the free,” this happens when those who fear freedom believe they know better than the rest of us little people. They have been indoctrinated to believe that no acceptable alternatives are allowed, and their own ideas are so solid, debate is over and should be illegal. Even thinking the wrong thought should be punished.
Here is their message to us little people – Do not question authority. Do not challenge orthodoxy. Do not speak truth to power. Don’t believe what you see and experience– only what you are told to believe. Conform or be de-platformed. Silence yourself or they will destroy you.
If that doesn’t sound very “American” to you, well, you must be a racist. There is no word yet on how they plan to make those in the dis-favored classes wear yellow red stars yet, but I’m sure they will come up with something while they tell us what we need to do and think. The depressing aspect of this trend is not the effort to silence all dissent itself (the Elite and the Left have always done this), but the acceptance of the silencing by so many of the weak and timid who pretended to care about freedom in the recent past. Free speech is only “free” if you are willing to stand up for it. Don’t presume someone else will do that for you – particularly if those who do are silenced and crushed quickly today.
First page of an Alien and Sedition Act (source National Archives)
The slippery slope is real and ugly. If real history were still taught in school today, more of the country (including our Leftist friends currently celebrating censorship) would be aware of historical efforts to silence alternative or dissenting speech in America. Until recently, the Left at least pretended to believe in free speech, and this history was generally known. It is helpful to revisit the challenges the United States had with free speech shortly after we became a nation.
Only a few years after the founding, Congress pushed through four laws in 1798 commonly referred to as the Alien and Sedition Acts. The most controversial aspect of these laws at the time and to this day involved their effort to silence free speech and squelch dissent. The new laws outlawed any “false, scandalous and malicious writing” (fake news) against Congress or the President. They also made it illegal to conspire “to oppose any measure or measures of the government” (like lockdown orders, Covid data, election integrity, and the equivalent government plans of their day, etc).
Like most censorship, this effort was implemented by those in power and their allies. At the time the Federal Government was convinced France was undermining the nation and attempting to spread fake news. France was certainly up to no good at the time, just like China, Russia, and many other rival nations are today, but these historic laws, just like the laws of today, were excessive and primarily designed to target their political opposition.
Congressman Matthew Lyon from Vermont convicted and imprisoned under Alien and Sedition Act
Under those laws, passed by Congress, and signed by President Adams, 26 people (including newspaper editors and politicians) were convicted, put in prison, and fined. Their great crime? Writing negative articles about President Adams, or the Federalists in office at the time. Here are just a few of these classic examples:
- Republican Congressman Matthew Lyon of Vermont – fined $1000 (roughly equivalent to $28,000 + dollars today – at the time Congressmen were paid $6 per day – see here) and sentenced to prison for four months. Initially he was denied pen and paper in prison. He was sentenced to jail because he wrote a letter before the act was passed which had such rebellious and illegal statements about the Adams administration like “every consideration of public welfare swallowed up in a continual grasp for power, in an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, or selfish avarice.” He also read letters written by others at his campaign rallies that criticized the Adams administration for being responsible for the turmoil with France. Lyon was re-elected to office while in prison. He survived an attempt by the Federalists to remove him from Congress. Then, he was charged again the next year in 1799 for writings critical of the judicial process, particularly Federal Judge Paterson who instructed the jury that their deliberations had “nothing whatever to do with the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the sedition law” (we have judges just like this in Thurston County today). In Vermont, there were at least seven additional sedition cases brought before the district court during this time – all of which were directed at Lyon or involved writings in defense of Lyon. After the second set of charges, Lyon fled Vermont to Kentucky where he was elected to Congress in 1802. An interesting backstory for Lyon is that he originally came to Connecticut as an indentured servant when he was 15 years old. He moved to Vermont and joined a militia known as the Green Mountain Boys. During the American Revolution, he participated in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga and served in the Continental Army.
- Thomas Cooper, a resident of Pennsylvania had briefly edited a local paper there and drew the ire of the Adams administration for publishing a handbill which criticized the Adams administration (in response to an article written by a different Federalist paper attacking Cooper) and Cooper’s attempt to get an appointment to the Adams administration when it was still in the “infancy of political mistake.” Both Judge Chase and Peters who presided over the trial at the time clearly sided with the government prosecution and provided instruction to the jury including arguments they believe the prosecution should have made. The judicial misconduct in this case was epic, and further inflamed Republican mistrust of the judiciary at the time. Mr. Cooper was fined $400 (roughly $8,261 today) and 6 months in jail. A side note here – Cooper was released early after his wife died while he was in jail. In 1850, Congress voted to refund to Cooper’s heirs the $400 fine imposed on him in 1800. I suggest all students of fee speech review the biography of this American who had a long history of speaking truth to power (before he immigrated to America, he was denied an Oxford degree in England because he refused to swear allegiance to the Church of England).
- James Callendar was a newspaper publisher who made his living off political writings including a pamphlet he published titled “The Prospect Before Us” which was written to support Thomas Jefferson’s presidential aspirations. Callendar was accused of “false, scandalous, and malicious writing, against the said President of the United States.” The trial in the Virginia courtroom in May 1800 was filled with high drama and more abusive interference by the Federal judges. The judicial interference was shocking, even by today’s standards (at least today’s judges pretend to be neutral), and he was sentenced to 9 months in jail and a $400 fine (again roughly $8,261 in today’s dollars, at a time when American’s average annual income was much lower). While in prison, he continued to write articles in support of Republican candidates and in opposition to the Federalists who had jailed him.
Eventually, over the next few decades of the early 1800s, as political divisions in American became more familiar, and the concept of political opposition became more familiar, the idea of “free speech” closer to how we understand that concept today was developed. Additionally, these early cases so publicly discredited the judiciary that many of the judges in these cases came close to impeachment, and the popular anger about the judges of their day helped lead to judicial reform over the next few years. Obviously, we still have similar problems today with corrupt or dishonest judges as well as the recent absurd upsurge in censorship, but this is not a new fight. Nobody should pretend this is easy, nor that it is ever over. Those whose ideas are so awesome they can’t allow anyone to question them – they will always stoop to censorship in their quest for power. It is inevitable, but they need not succeed in silencing us.
Even Coins have been created recognizing the damage done to American liberties by censorship in the 1790s
I hope to write more on this subject soon, but many of us who have been questioning authority for a long time and who have been willing to speak truth to power know that censorship is real. The effort to silence us or even destroy our efforts to expose the truth are real. They always originate from the state (local or Federal) and includes their political/ideological allies in the corporate world (like Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc.). This is not new. It might seem new to us, but it is not. Just as it has been ugly in the past, so it is ugly today.
Just like the powerful politicians, judges, and their allies who pushed for censorship in the late 1700s and early 1800s became discredited in their own lifetimes – so too will those trying to repeat the same thing today. We should remember those today who celebrate censorship and work to expose and fight them so that they are not successful in their efforts – whether you agree with them or not. Otherwise, today it might be your political opposition – like me – who is censored. Tomorrow the censored and silenced most likely will be you.
OUR CONSTITUTION BEGINS WITH THE PHRASE “WE THE PEOPLE.” IT WAS THE FOUNDERS’ INTENT THAT GOVERNMENT BE CREATED BY THE PEOPLE, TO SERVE THE PEOPLE. IT WASN’T THEIR INTENTION FOR THE PEOPLE TO SERVE THE GOVERNMENT. IT WAS ALWAYS INTENDED THAT GOVERNMENT WHICH FAILED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE “ALTERED OR ABOLISHED.” UNTIL WE RETURN TO THE FOUNDER’S INTENT, WE REMAIN WE THE GOVERNED…
Background articles and documents:
A 2005 Federal Judicial Center article about the Alien and Sedition Acts – a great initial reference for summaries and to help point you towards more original sources. A great starting point for those who want to research more on this topic.
Transcript of Alien and Sedition Acts 1798 (for easier reading)
Governor Inslee Defied – Showdown at Spiffy’s Restaurant – the interview
Published with Permission of wethegoverned.com