Elder Patriot – If I were to ask you the one thing that separates us from totalitarian states like China and Russia you would probably answer that it is our First Amendment right to free speech.
Forty years before America declared her independence from Britain, and a full half-century before the Constitution was ratified, a young Benjamin Franklin published an essay in The Pennsylvania Gazette entitled, “On Freedom of Speech and the Press.”
Franklin wrote, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the Constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. An evil magistrate entrusted with power to punish for words, would be armed with a weapon the most destructive and terrible.”
Almost three centuries later forces have conspired to silence dissenting opinions leaving us to consider the importance of Franklin’s warning, once again.
Mozilla Firefox, a popular internet browser, has announced plans to ban anything it determines to be “fake news” from its platform. This is the stuff of totalitarian regimes that can only survive when countervailing views cannot be heard.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” – Nazi Propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
People who believe in freedom should be up in arms at the decision of Mozilla’s policy-makers.
Those crying that fake news was responsible for Donald Trump’s election need to first answer what defines fake news and how can they be sure that any news if fake before it is viewed, and before history has proven it to be so?
Were all of the warnings about the pending economic crash that was going to follow the election of Donald Trump accurate?
Were all of the trade deals that stole the wealth of America’s middle class and cost millions of workers their jobs properly reported (sold to us) from the outset?
Has 53 years of unfettered immigration and entitlements left our country more unified or less so? To this day we’re told that unfettered immigration and entitlements make for a better society though there isn’t a shred of evidence to support either of those assertions.
We were exhorted to accept the bailouts of corrupt and malfeasant corporations because they were too “big to fail.” How has that turned out for most American workers and why has the misery of American workers been given a backseat to a booming stock market that reflects the success of the companies that screwed them earlier, and the rest of us since?
What gives Mozilla, or anyone else for that matter, the authority to determine what is real and what is disinformation?
The Framers realized the inevitability that some future power brokers would seek to control our discourse and they protected us with the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The original intention was to protect political speech from government censorship. As a private company, Mozilla believe that this doesn’t apply to them. Lawsuits that are being drafted as I write this will challenge Mozilla’s assertion.
The fact is the government has played a role in allowing these corporations to amass so much control – and power – over what we see and read that it is now complicit in this censorship.
This is why I suggest taking a few minutes to move to a new browser, “Brave,” that was founded by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich.
According to its website, Brave’s goal is “to transform the online ad ecosystem with micropayments and a new revenue-sharing solution to give users and publishers a better deal, where fast, safe browsing is the path to a brighter future for the open web.”
The last brick in the wall of tyranny is censorship. Our Framer’s instinctively knew this. Don’t be foolish enough to dismiss the protections they gave us.